Animated Word

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Review: Tom and Jerry Spotlight Collection

I just purchased the new T&J set at Tower Records this weekend. Yeah, I know, I probably could have saved $3.00 by purchasing it on Amazon, but I was in a hurry to check it out. Also, it was raining this weekend and I was bored.

I have only viewed all of Disc 1 and part of Disc 2, but I can report thus far that I have mixed feelings about this set.

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1. First of all, those PC nimrods at Warner Bros. have struck again!!!!!!! They cut scenes from 3 of the cartoons:

  • "The Little Orphan" - The scene where a lit candle fired by Nibbles lands on Tom's tail and burns him to a crisp.
  • "The Truce Hurts" - The Scene where Tom, Jerry, and Spike are about to cross a mud puddle and then get splattered by a passing meat wagon.
  • "The Milky Waif" - The scene where Jerry and Nibbles try to sneak past Tom with shoe polish on their faces.

I was REALLY P.O.'d by this. But wait, there's more...

2. The quality of the restoration (if indeed any was done at all) is not up to par with that done for the first volume of the LTGC. The colors are, for the most part, vibrant enough; but one can see specks and tiny scratches throughout. Also, the sound quality of some shorts is a little dim in places (in "Heavenly Puss", especially, which has a noticable film scratch as well.) I suspect that the producers were simply working from slightly-less-than-pristine prints, and not from the original negatives. A number of the cartoons in this set have already been released on previous DVD's, and it's most likely that the prints used for those were recycled for the new compilation. I have VHS copies of the MGM/UA compilations: "Tom and Jerry 50th Birthday Classics" and "Starring Tom and Jerry". I plan to view these again to compare/contrast the print quality with the new set. Granted, the VHS tape has a lower resolution; but I can still tell if the actual film print quality is cleaner than or the same as that of the DVD.

3. The featured documentary: "How Bill and Joe Met Tom and Jerry" is valuable because they contain interviews with William Hanna and Joseph Barbera--who, sadly, are no longer with us. There are also interviews with George Sidney, who directed the musical "Anchors Aweigh", and Jerry Beck. Oddly enough there are no comments from Leonard Maltin or Mike Barrier, who are prominently featured on the LTGC, Volume 1. There is also an interesting point brought up by Joe Barbera concerning "The Cat Concerto" which will be the subject of another post.

4. The featured documentary: "Behind the Tunes: The MGM Orchestra" is of slightly lesser value, only because there are no interviews with any of the orchestra personnel who played under Music Director Scott Bradley. There are also no original recording session outtakes to listen to as bonus features, as there are in the LTGC1. MGM must still have Bradley recording sessions in their vaults... there are hours of recording session tapes, optical film elements, and acetate discs extant from "Singin' in the Rain", "The Wizard of Oz" and "Kiss Me, Kate." Still, I learned one or two things from watching this documentary that I hadn't known before. For example, Bradley had scored at least two MGM feature films: "The Yellow Cab Man" (starring Red Skelton) and one of the "Lassie" films. I also learned that he had taken some of his cartoon cues and arranged them as a concert orchestral suite (that was performed by Leopold Stokowski at the Hollywood Bowl, no less.)

5. The featured clips from "Anchors Aweigh" and "Dangerous When Wet" are a nice added bonus, but the print quality is only marginally better than that of some of the earliest shorts on Disc 1. I should point out that the one Cinemascope short I did watch on Disc 2, "Touché, Pussy Cat!", had much better visual quality and was in original letterbox format.

My personal rating for this set is as follows:

Using a three-star system, one star being low (poor) quality, two stars being good, and three being excellent. a star in parenthesis means that I have reservations about the total rating:

Visual Quality/Restoration *(*)
Sound Quality *(*)
Feature Documentaries **(*)
Ease of Navigation ***
Featured Clips **(*)

A critique by zavkram
First Published on October 27, 2004

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