Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 2
This volume also features the participation of more of the few surviving people who worked on the original cartoons, an invaluable document as more and more of our classic animation heroes pass away. Animator Bill Melendez provides a commentary track on Clampett's hilarious Bugs/Elmer short The Big Snooze, in which he outlines some of the contrasts that make Warner cartoons so appealing: having worked at both the measured Disney studio and at undisciplined Termite Terrace, Melendez is in a unique position to describe his view of the difference between "bad" animation and "funny" animation, "wild" directors (Clampett) versus "effete" directors (Jones), and even going so far as to say that "cartoons" and "animation" may, in fact, be two separate disciplines. Voice actress June Foray uses her commentary on Broomstick Bunny as somewhat of an extended love letter to Chuck Jones, a collaborator who clearly had quite an effect on the actress, and on her career. Cartoon historians (read: giant raging nerds... men after my own heart, really) Greg Ford, Jerry Beck and Michael Barrier provide commentary on certain key shorts, carefully interspersed with their personally-gathered anecdotes from the filmmakers themselves. These recordings are the true treasure-trove of the collection, as they allow men long dead to describe their intentions to a new generation of fans. Comments from cartoon participants as esoteric as layout man Hawley Pratt, voice actor Stan Freberg and background artist extraordinaire Maurice Noble get to join incisive quotes from heavy-hitters Jones, Freleng and writer Michael Maltese in unusually informative cartoon companion tracks.
Three shorts are singled out for special consideration, including the title considered by many to be the perfect cartoon, Jones and Maltese's One Froggy Evening. This surreal masterpiece gets its own documentary, along with commentary and a music-only track. The Wagnerian epic What's Opera, Doc?'s treatment goes even further, with a revelatory voice-only track (accessible on the DVD by clicking on a small anvil—cute) featuring rough, uncut recordings of Mel Blanc and Arthur Q. Bryan singing their lines and receiving direction from Jones in the control booth. Finally, Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi is called upon to add his frenzied fanboy take on his favourite cartoon, and the film to which he credits much of his love for the medium, Bob Clampett's Daffy Duck vehicle The Great Piggy Bank Robbery.
In the end, this volume takes the collection in the direction most cartoon geeks like myself want to see it go. If we can't have the complete Warner Bros. archive, then at least we have these carefully chosen classics, lovingly restored and informatively presented, with the enticing promise of more to come.