Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tex Avery's Droopy: The Complete Theatrical Shorts

In 1942, Tex Avery left Warner Bros. animation studio, where he had developed Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig, mentored Chuck Jones and Bob Clampett, and pioneered the fast-paced, gag-heavy style of animation with which the studio is associated. He ended up at MGM, where he produced the wildest, wackiest cartoons of the classic era. This DVD collects those MGM cartoons featuring Avery's most famous recurring character, Droopy Dog.

I've been hoping for a collection of Avery's MGM work for some time now, so I'm both happy to have this and a little disapointed with how chintzy it is. I'd much rather have a 4 disc set of all Avery's MGM toons, but this is a nice start (Wikipedia lists 70 MGM Averys, so it would probably be two volumes). The set also includes several post-Avery Droopys, none of which seem particularly exceptional.

I can accept that. I understand that Droopy is going to sell better than the name of Tex Avery. But I don't like that this is such a bare-bones set. There is a 15-minute documentary on Tex, but none of the commentary tracks, archival footage and other goodies you get from the Looney Tunes sets. I would think that the success of those sets would show that it's a good investment to load these sets up with good stuff. The weird part is that this set is put out by Warner Bros. Even has the same word-for-word disclaimer about politically incorrect content.

Having said that, I can't complain about the packaging. Above is the back cover of the inner case, below is the inside of the case. Both make me very happy.

I hadn't seen any of these films in a while, and I was wondering if they were as funny as I remembered. After watching the Looney Tunes Vol. 3 collection, I had come to the conclusion that Avery's protege Bob Clampett may have actually done this type of stuff better. Well, maybe he does, maybe he don't, but these are some fantastic cartoons.

It's not just the animation, but the design as well. Check out this scene, where the wolf escapes from jail by drawing a door on the wall and walking through it. But he doesn't draw a realistic, square door. His door is bursting out at odd angles, as if exploding from the energy. Everything is at some bizzarre angle!

Seriously, check out the backgrounds in this one. It's like a cartoon drawn by Picasso!

This sherriff character is my favorite. Check out the tiny legs and the mouth that's always in profile, even when he's looking straight ahead.

This scene is about as wacky as it gets...


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