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Looney Tunes Super Stars: Pepe Le Pew - Zee Best of Zee Best

DVD Review by Jon Cooke

dvd cover
Available to own on DVD 12/27/11


To get the obvious joke out of the way early - this DVD doesn't stink. I am happy to report that Pepe Le Pew - Zee Best of Zee Best suffers from none of the past mistakes that have plagued other releases in the Looney Tunes Super Stars DVD line. The DVD doesn't limit itself to a random sampling of Pepe's "best" or just cartoons made after 1955. You get the romantic French skunk's entire cartoon filmography here in one nice package, including a couple of surprises. Since Pepe's shorts weren't featured very much on the Golden Collection sets, 14 of the 17 cartoons on this disc are new-to-DVD. All the shorts have been restored and look excellent (and before anyone asks, yes, 1947's "Scent-imental Over You" is still a Blue Ribbon reissue print).

Pepe first appeared in a 1945 cartoon directed by Chuck Jones, "Odor-able Kitty", where the punchline is that the French accent was a fraud and the skunk was actually married with a wife and kids! When the character returned, Jones and his writers made Pepe a purely French skunk with an eye for the ladies. The common formula of these cartoons is that a female black cat will somehow get a white stripe painted down her back and Pepe will mistake her for a female skunk. A chase ensues as Pepe believes that she is merely playing hard to get. The highlight of the cartoons is the very funny faux French wordplay (usually courtesy of writer Michael Maltese).

Like watching multiple Road Runner cartoons in a row, it may become a bit repetitive watching a number of these Le Pew cartoons in one sitting. However, to break up the monotony, the disc does have some unexpected surprises. Arthur Davis' 1948 short "Odor of the Day" is included which features a rather goofy, silent skunk who pesters a sleepy dog who intrudes in his cabin. While many sources cite this as a Pepe cartoon, I have my doubts it was intended to really be Pepe. However, it is still a very welcome inclusion here. You'll also find "Dog Pounded", a 1954 Tweety and Sylvester short directed by Friz Freleng where Pepe only makes a very brief cameo at the end ("That puddy tat is an awful stinker!"). "Really Scent" (1959) is the only true Pepe short not to be directed by Chuck Jones, but rather by Abe Levitow. The clever plot turns the Le Pew formula on its ear, as a female cat named Fabrette actually wants to be with Pepe!

The full listing of cartoons included is as follows: "Odor-able Kitty" (1945), "Scent-imental Over You" (1947), "Odor of the Day" (1948), "For Scent-imental Reasons" (1949), "Scent-imental Romeo" (1951), "Little Beau Pepe" (1952), "Wild Over You" (1953), "Dog Pounded" (1954), "The Cat's Bah" (1954), "Past Perfumance" (1955), "Two Scents Worth" (1955), "Heaven Scent" (1956), "Touche and Go" (1957), "Really Scent" (1959), "Who Scent You?" (1960), "A Scent of the Matterhorn" (1961), and "Louvre Come Back to Me" (1962).

Like the Foghorn Leghorn and Road Runner Super Stars collections, the disc gives you an option of viewing the cartoons in the original fullscreen format or the cropped "widescreen" format. The cartoons from 1945-1953 are only available in full frame format no matter which viewing format you choose, the cartoons from 1954 onwards are available in both fullscreen or widescreen (the exception being 1956's "Heaven Scent" which is only available in full frame). While I personally feel having the phony "widescreen" versions is a waste of space, I am glad they are still giving us a choice.

This DVD is must-own for Looney Tunes (or Pepe) fans.

Click here to order LOONEY TUNES SUPER STARS: PEPE LE PEW (available Dec. 27, 2011)

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