Warner Bros. Academy Awards Animation Collection
More Than just a Rehash
Review by Matthew Hunter
Warner Home Video's Academy Awards Animation Collection is a DVD set that might not have been possible a few years ago, and nothing like it has been done before. Eager to show off its massive library of classic cartoons, and faced with the growing problem of limited TV exposure, Warner Bros. has created a set of cartoons from three different studios, all of them brilliantly restored. The theme is Oscar-wining and nominated cartoons from the Golden Age of Hollywood, and the results are surprisingly good. While many of these shorts have been previously released as part of Tom and Jerry, Droopy, Looney Tunes and Popeye sets, a good number of them are new to DVD, and a few others are improvements over those past releases. The variety is what makes this set fun...cartoons featuring Bugs Bunny, Tom And Jerry, Popeye, Droopy, Foghorn Leghorn, Superman, Pepe Le Pew, Speedy Gonzales, Hubie and Bertie, Sylvester, Tweety, and others, by animation greats like Bill Hanna, Joseph Barbera, Friz Freleng, Max and Dave Fleischer, Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Hugh Harman, and Robert McKimson.
Most of the Warner Bros. cartoons are repeats from the Golden Collection series, but all are restored, and the two Bugs Bunny entries, "A Wild Hare" and "Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt", boast full restorations and original titles never before seen on DVD. "Rhapsody in Rivets" and "Walky Talky Hawky", though still minus their full credit sequences, have been restored and look fantastic. ("Walky Talky Hawky" appeared as part of "Bugs Bunny Superstar" on a previous set, but was unrestored.) All of the other Warner cartoons are the same versions used on previous Golden Collections, and well worth the second look.
The MGM cartoons look great as well. Nearly all of the Tom and Jerries look just as good as they did on the Spotlight Collections, or better. "The Little Orphan", which was edited in previous release, is included here uncut and with superior print quality. In fact, out of the thirteen Tom and Jerry cartoons included here, none are censored, and all but one look great. "Quiet Please!" looks absolutely terrible, with a very dark, faded, grainy and out-of-focus print that appears to have been a later reissue copy...not at all the wonderful copy released on the Spotlight DVD and shown on Cartoon Network and TCM. In fact, it's the only cartoon on the set that looks noticeably bad! Shame on the guy who fell asleep at the wheel on that one! The non-Tom and Jerry MGM cartoons here, "Milky Way", "Peace on Earth", "Blitz Wolf" (Completely unedited, by the way!) "Good Will to Men", "Dot and the Line", and "One Droopy Knight" all look great.
The two Fleischer entries, "Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor" and "Superman" are both fantastic. "Sindbad" is the same version from last year's Popeye set, "Superman" is a superb restoration I had never seen before. Though not a newcomer to DVD, the first-ever "Superman" cartoon has never looked as good as this!
The commentaries and documentary are all new, and feature familiar voices like Jerry Beck, Greg Ford and Eric Goldberg along with some new insight from Amid Amidi, Ray Pointer and Leslie Cabarga, among others. All of these names should be familiar to classic cartoon enthusiasts, and if not, look them up! The documentary, "Drawn For Glory", is not to be missed. Warner Bros. must have spent some extra money to produce it, as it includes clips from several Disney and independent films, and provides a very informative and fair history of animated shorts and their history of winning Academy Awards. Included as a bonus is Bob Clampett's classic Bugs Bunny film "What's Cookin' Doc?", neither a winner nor nominee, in which Bugs Bunny campaigns to win an Oscar. Sadly, it is not restored, but looks decent and is a welcome inclusion nonetheless.
Whether the set is worth your money or not depends on which aspect of it interests you. If you are in search of elusive uncensored cartoons, you may want to pick it up for the MGM stuff. If you want to see a couple Warner cartoon restorations and can't wait until their inclusion on future Golden sets, this is for you. "Superman" is well worth checking out, and the commentaries and documentary are new, different, and top notch. It's a well-done set with a lot of great animation all in one place.
Disc 1: Winners|
1. The Milky Way
2. Yankee Doodle Mouse
3. Mouse Trouble
4. Quiet Please! - commentary by Mark Kausler
5. Cat Concerto - commentary by Eric Goldberg
6. Tweetie Pie
7. The Little Orphan
8. For Scent-imental Reasons - commentary by Greg Ford
9. So Much For So Little - commentary by Jerry Beck
10. The Two Mouseketeers
11. Johann Mouse
12. Speedy Gonzales - music only audio track
13. Birds Anonymous
14. Knighty Knight Bugs
15. The Dot and the Line - commentary by Eric Goldberg, music only audio track
Disc 2: Nominees|
16. Popeye Meets Sindbad - commentary by Jerry Beck, Leslie Cabarga, Ray Pointer, and Bob Jaques
17. Peace on Earth - commentary by Greg Ford
18. A Wild Hare - commentary by Greg Ford
19. Puss Gets the Boot - commentary by Mark Kausler
20. Superman - commentary by Paul Dini
21. Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt
22. Rhapsody in Rivets
23. The Night Before Christmas
24. Blitz Wolf - commentary by Eric Goldberg
25. Pigs in a Polka
26. Swooner Crooner
27. Walky Talky Hawky - commentary by Jerry Beck
28. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Mouse
29. Mouse Wreckers
Disc 3: Nominees|
30. Hatch Up Your Troubles
31. Jerry's Cousin
32. Little Johnny Jet - music only audio track
33. Touche, Pussy Cat! - music only audio track
34. From A to Z-z-z-z - commentary by Amid Amidi
35. Sandy Claws
36. Good Will to Men - vocal chorus section isolated audio track
37. Tabasco Road - music only audio track
38. One Droopy Knight - music only audio track
39. High Note
40. Nelly's Folly
41. Now Hear This - commentary by Amid Amidi
New Documentary - Drawn for Glory: Animation's Triumph at the Oscars
Bonus Short - What's Cookin', Doc?
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All cartoon characters are (c) and TM their respective owners. Images © Warner Home Video, DC Comics, Turner Entertainment Company and King Features Syndicate. Textual content © 2008 by Matthew Hunter.