Presenting an in-depth look at the current state of Animation
Before I continue, I should mention two things:
1. First, I had neglected to take a look at the early Harman-Ising cartoon, Sinkin' In The Bathtub (which was the very first Looney Tune) and write a review for it. Although the packaging lists this cartoon as being included on Disc 4, in the "From the Vaults" section of the extra features, it has actually been left out of the compilation. I found out recently that this was done, unfortunately, because of space limitations. Hopefully this cartoon will be included in the next volume of LTGC.
2. Second, I had neglected to mention the classic Clampett short, Porky In Wackyland (1938), which is contained on Disc 3. The short, as presented here, has the original titles intact but is not as clean-looking as it could be. The visual quality is not too bad--a few light scratches and specks here and there, but I saw a better-quality 35mm print that was struck several years ago for a retrospective program on Bob Clampett. It looks as though the present remastering was done from an existing archival print rather than from the original negative, but I can't be absolutely certain about that.
Let us now turn our attention to Disc 2...
3. This disc is almost entirely devoted to cartoons featuring the Road-Runner and Wile E. Coyote. The very first Road-Runner cartoon, Fast And Furry-Ous, was featured on the first volume of LTGC and was presented in a stunning new transfer. The second cartoon in the series, Beep, Beep, is no less visually appealing. Mike Barrier's comments on the alternate audio track are revealing.
For instance, we learn that the Road-Runner's trademark utterance was created not by vocal artist Mel Blanc, but rather by background artist, Paul Julian (who substituted for Peter Alvarado on this production.) Julian reportedly used to make a "Mweep-Mweep" vocal sound whenever he roamed the corridors of the WB studio--in order to alert the others that he was approaching.
4. The other Road-Runner cartoons on this disc look and sound just as good; and I, for one, am thankful that so many of them include music-only tracks. The music-only track for There They Go-Go-Go has amazing fidelity for a mono recording. It was featured on the first volume of the Carl Stalling Project Audio CD, released in the early '90's.
5. One of the extra features on Disc 2 is the complete version of the television pilot, Adventures of The Road Runner. Excerpts of this extended short were featured in Volume 1, as part of the Toonheads: The Lost Cartoons segment. Unfortunately, the clips derived from a badly faded and scratched film print. Therefore the visual quality of this restored version is all the more appreciated. Granted, there are still some scratches remaining, but the colors are brighter. I noticed that the Ralph Phillips cartoon, From A To Z-Z-Z-Z is of somewhat better quality than the linking material. Perhaps a newer print was substituted for the original at that point in the segment.
6. There is one other thing I have noticed. It is, of course, of no real consequence; but not one of the Looney Tunes or Merrie Melodies cartoons that I have ever seen displays either the "RCA Sound Recording" or "Western Electric: The Voice of Action" logo in their title cards. MGM Cartoons (after the early 30's), the Fleischer Studio, and Columbia utilized the Western Electric (later "Westrex" Perspecta Sound) system, while Disney, UPA, Harman-Ising, Famous Studios, Walter Lantz, and Terrytoons utilized the RCA system.
The RCA logo is displayed in The Adventures of the Road-Runner and in the end credits for The Bugs Bunny Show. I'm not certain why this is; I can only surmise that Warner Bros. utilized their own sound recording system for the theatrical cartoons. I know that they perfected the "Vitaphone" process--which incorporated a synchronous sound-on-disc format--in the mid-1920's. This resulted in the world's first (partially) talking picture, The Jazz Singer, starring Al Jolson.
In any event this is a very funny short; the highlight of which is Mama Bear's riotous "buck-and-wing" dance number as animated by Ken Harris.
As for the other features on Disc 2, I will reserve my comments about The Looney Tunes 50th Anniversary Special, since it is split between two discs, for the final installment of my overall review.
I will close out here by saying that the segment on Treg Brown (Crash, Bang, Boom!) was informative, to a degree. Most of what is said about Treg Brown in that segment I have read before. It would have been nice if the producers had included more information or visual/aural demonstrations on how Brown achieved certain sound effects (ones that he didn't record "live" in the field.)
See you next week!
A Review by zavkram
First Published on December 2, 2004
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