The Looney Tunes Golden Collection was a yearly series of six four-disc DVD box sets from Warner Bros.` home video unit Warner Home Video, each containing about 60 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies animated shorts. The series began in October 2003 and ended in October 2008
Volume 6 (released on October 21, 2008). Disc four is filled with the most requested shorts, including Horton Hatches the Egg and Norman Normal. Volume 6 contains 60 cartoons: 41 in color and 19 in black and white. In addition, there is 15 bonus cartoons, including various Warner Bros. shorts and several shorts directed by Friz Freleng for MGM in the late 1930s.
Talk about saving the best for last! The Warner Bros. animation factory never lost sight of the need to stretch themselves creatively, and so they set up special slots in the production schedule where after a certain amount of the expected shorts, the teams could experiment with new ideas and one-off projects that weren`t tied to the iconic characters. This yielded wonderful and surprising results, including many cartoons that became iconic in their own right.
The programming begins with the Dr. Seuss adaptation `Horton Hatches the Egg,` a pleasing mash-up of the Seuss and Looney Tunes styles. You get the poetry and the story of the original, but with extra gags that were positively Warners. Peter Lorre as a suicidal fish, anyone? From there, it`s anything goes, with gag anthologies like `Lights Fantastic` (jokes using neon signs along Broadway) and the perils of the modern housewife in `Wild Wife` (the Little Mrs. sure gets hers!). No concept was too absurd, and so we get the Chuck Jones cartoon `Rocket-Bye Baby` about an alien boy being born into a human family and the similar Friz Freleng tale, `Goo Goo Goliath,` where a drunken stork delivers a giant`s child to a regular-sized couple. Or there is `The Oily American,` the tale of the Native American who rebuilds the plains inside a mansion after striking it rich on the oilfields. The animators could also experiment with style, changing up the usual approach. I love `Page Miss Glory,` which uses art deco designs created by artist Leadora Congden in following a dreaming country bellhop through a musical work day at a big city hotel. Chuck Jones and Maurice Noble adopt a more abstract illustrative style for their tribute to noise, `Now Hear This,` and Noble`s singular design style also makes `Martian Through Georgia` stand out as one of the more visually striking cartoons in the collection.
Of much interest to the animators, apparently, is the relationship between dogs and cats. There is the self-serving hound who steps all over his cohabitant feline in `Fresh Airedale,` or the bullying dog who puts a cat through its paces in `Chow Hound.` I remember this one being one of my favorites as a kid because of the final, wicked scene where the cat gets its revenge. More sadistic, though, are the almost Rube Goldbergian punishments the bulldog puts the cat through in `It`s Hummer Time.` The cat keeps trying to catch a humming bird, and the smart bird keeps tricking the cat into disturbing the sleeping canine.
The last disc finishes with a cartoon I`ve never seen before, `Norman Normal` from 1968. This rare piece of animation is a total oddity in the Warners canon, directed by Dave Dixon and N. Paul Stookie (of Peter, Paul, and Mary) rather than the usual names we expect to see in the credits. It begins with a British invasion-style band playing the main character`s theme song, and then the cartoon itself is an examination of the inner-workings of the neurotic brain of Norman. The animation style is a bit more simplistic than the classic Looney Tunes period, but is entirely befitting of the late `60s pop-art aesthetic. The two directors also do all the voices, making `Norman Normal` stand out even further. What a treat!
The full list of cartoons on DVD 4:
* Horton Hatches the Egg * Lights Fantastic * Fresh Airedale (Greg Ford commentary) * Chow Hound * The Oily American * It`s Hummer Time * Rocket-Bye Baby * Goo Goo Goliath * Wild Wife * Much Ado About Nutting * The Hole Idea (two alternate tracks: Mark Kausler commentary and music-only audio option) * Now Hear This * Martian Through Georgia (music-only audio option) * Page Miss Glory * Norman Normal
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