Category Archives: Cartoons

Blu-Ray Review: Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 1.

I discovered Frederick Bean “Tex” Avery in high school. While my classmates were spending their after-school hours at football practice, rehearsing for some school play, working at McDonald’s or God knows what else it was that they did, I was watching Tom & Jerry cartoons on one of the TV stations out of Philadelphia. Scattered in-between shorts like Texas Tom (1950) or The Flying Cat (1952) would be something from a guy named Tex Avery.

It didn’t take long to figure out that the Sony Betamax needed to be brought into play, and armed with it and a copy of Leonard Maltin’s book Of Mice And Magic, I was checking off Avery cartoons like Deputy Droopy (1955) as I captured them. Maybe this made me a bit of an obsessive shut-in loser, but I sure laughed a lot.

What makes Tex Avery’s cartoons so good, and him the widely-acknowledged King Of Cartoons, was his experimentation. How fast could a gag be and still register in the mind of the audience? How over-the-top could a reaction be and still be relatable? How many visual puns can you cram into six minutes? The pace of his pictures just got faster and faster, and if you watch the Tom & Jerry cartoons in chronological order, you can see that Avery’s experiments were rubbing off on William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. 

All that insider baseball is great, but who would care if the cartoons themselves weren’t so damn funny? There’s terrific evidence of just how funny they are in Warner Archive’s new Blu-Ray Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 1.

You get —
Tex Avery Classics
Red Hot Riding Hood (1943)
Who Killed Who? (1943)
What’s Buzzin’ Buzzard? (1943)
Batty Baseball (1944)
The Hick Chick (1946)
Bad Luck Blackie (1949)
Garden Gopher (1950)
The Peachy Cobbler (1950)
Symphony In Slang (1951)

Screwy Squirrel
Screwball Squirrel (1944)
The Screwy Truant (1945)
Big Heel-Watha (1944)
Lonesome Lenny (1946)

George & Junior
Hound Hunters (1947)
Red Hot Rangers (1947)

Dumb-Hounded (1943)
Wags To Riches (1949)
The Chump Champ (1950)
Daredevil Droopy (1951)

This red-hot helping of wonderfulness looks and sounds fabulous, better than I’ve ever seen these things look. I found myself pausing them to study the beautiful backgrounds from MGM’s incredible stable of artists. And I really appreciated the way the disc was set up — you can watch ’em straight through, one at a time, or grouped as you see them above. A tremendous amount of care went into this set, and a big fat thanks to everyone involved.

But maybe the best thing about this Blu-Ray is the “Volume 1” in its title. I’m already waiting for Volume 2.

Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 1 is absolutely essential. How’d we all make it this long without this thing?

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Filed under Cartoons, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Hanna-Barbera, MGM, Tex Avery, Warner Archive

DVD/Blu-Ray News #204: Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s, Volume 1.

Well blow me down! The DVD sets of the Fleischer Popeye cartoons have been crown jewels in my DVD collection for years, and I’ve always wondered if more would ever show up. Our friends at Warner Archive have done it again with their upcoming Popeye the Sailor: The 1940s, Volume 1. And they’ll be available on both DVD and Blu-Ray this time around!

Popeye spinach

Who’d eat any other brand?

By 1943, Max and Dave Fleischer had been forced out of their own cartoon business — 1942’s Baby Wants A Bottleship was their last Popeye picture, and their animation studio became Paramount’s Famous Studios. The whole Fleischer-Paramount-Famous Studios saga is a tragic mess.

But the Popeye The Sailor series stayed afloat — powered by spinach, no doubt, and the cartoons are wonderful. This set includes shorts produced from 1943 to 1945: Her Honor, The Mare; The Marry-Go-Round; We’re On Our Way To Rio; The Anvil Chorus Girl; Spinach Packin’ Popeye; Puppet Love; Pitchin’ Woo At The Zoo; Moving Aweigh; She-Sick Sailors; Pop-Pie A La Mode; Tops In The Big Top; Shape Ahoy; For Better Or Nurse; and Mess Production.

Warner Archive is promising 4K masters from the original nitrate negatives. These’ll look strong to the fin-ich for sure.

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Filed under Cartoons, DVD/Blu-ray News, Paramount, Warner Archive

Blu-ray News #48: The Inspector.

the-inspector-750In April, Kino Lorber will release all 34 The Inspector cartoons in a two-disc Blu-ray set. Of course, the Inspector’s based on Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau. Made by DePatie-Freleng, they played theaters from 1965-69, then became part of the Pink Panther TV show. As a kid, I loved these things.

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Filed under 1965, Cartoons, DVD/Blu-ray News, Kino Lorber, Peter Sellers