Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Looney Tunes: Spotlight Collection, Vol. Five

This collection of hilarity features 30 cartoons. From the start, The Spotlight Collection was always meant to be a cheaper collection of cartoons derived from the more exhaustive Golden Collection sets. By cheap, I mean dollars and cents...not quality of the packaging.

The Spotlight Collection would feature 30 cartoons, 15 on 2 DVD's, culled from the latest installment of The Golden Collection, which in turn would feature 4 DVD's altogether. So, The Spotlight Collection was simply a much shorter collection of cartoons at a more smaller price.

In Volume Five of The Spotlight Collection we have 30 cartoons that also appear on The Golden Collection, Volume Five. DVD #2 is dedicated to the fairy tale parodies...and there were plenty. The funny thing is...there are various cartoons on DVD #2 that tell the same story but each and every cartoon is hilarious due to the writing and characters involved. In "The Bears Tale" from 1940 we see the telling of The Three Bears but with a twist. Tex Avery is the director...in the cartoon we see the blending of two fairy tales. The Three Bears and Little Red Riding Hood...the connection being the wolf who decides to exit Grandma's house and flee to The Three Bears place to attack Goldilocks instead. It's very funny...particularly the characterizations...Papa Bear's laugh is infectious. Robert Bruce narrates.

There are three parodies of Little Red Riding Hood back to back to back...but they're are so cleverly written that you don't mind the same story. In "Red Riding Hoodwinked" we see the goings-on between Tweety, Sylvester, a Wolf, Red Riding Hood, and Granny. In this parody, Sylvester and the Wolf are in the pursuit of Tweety and Red respectively. Granny falls into the scene as she's the "Grandmother" in the fairy tale. Her line, "Pow...right in the kisser!", is lifted from The Honeymooners. "Red Riding Hoodwinked" was released in 1955. In "Little Red Walking Hood", directed by Tex Avery, we're treated to a Katherine Hepburn version of the fairy tale character who uses typical reaction to almost everything that we know is suppose to happen in the story...the Grandmother is portrayed as a kind of loose cannon, hip to the scene. "Little Red Rodent Hood" is the third cartoon to spoof the Red Riding Hood fairy tale.

"Goldimouse and the Three Cats", from Friz Freleng, is easily one of the stand-outs on DVD #2 among many others. This parody of the Three Bears features three cats and a female mouse with flowing blond hair. The cats, headed up by Sylvester and his son, Sylvester Jr, plus a mama cat...make up the cat family who eat porridge, just like in the Three Bears. Before you all can ask: "what are cat's doing eating porridge?" Sylvester Jr wonders the same thing. Throughout the cartoon Sylvester tries his best to capture Goldimouse. She's voiced by June Foray, who also narrates the cartoon. "Bewitched Bunny" kicks off DVD #2. It's a Chuck Jones cartoon about Bugs Bunny encountering Witch Hazel who's plotting to cook Hansel and Gretel. A running joke is the pronunciation of the boy's name. "Hansel?", "Honsul?", "Han-so". After freeing the kids, Witch Hazel has ideas of having Bugs for dinner.

"Foney Fables", from Friz Freleng, is a grouping of fairy tale spoofs in one cartoon. Narrator Robert Bruce explains things as we see illustrations of Tom Thumb, the nursery rhyme about the piggie's that go off to the market, the boy who cried wolf, and others.

In DVD #1 we have traditional Warner Brothers cartoons. The kick-off cartoon is "14 Carrot Rabbit". In it, Yosemite Sam is a gold miner who doesn't have much luck. All of the sudden Bugs comes along with a huge gold boulder...having it weighed. All that he wants as a payment is a supply of carrots. Sam gets the idea to stalk and befriend Bugs...it seems Bugs has this "feeling" that comes over him whenever gold is in the area. The ending of the cartoon is hilarious as well. Friz Freleng directed this...as he directed most, if not all, the cartoons with Yosemite Sam.

"The Stupor Salesman" tells the story of Daffy Duck as a door-to-door salesman. The joke is that Daffy's at the hide-out of a crook who doesn't want any interruptions. Daffy, being a salesman, won't back off no matter how much torment and torture the crook puts him through. Finally, in the climax of the cartoon, Daffy discovers something that the guy needs since throughout the cartoon he kept telling Daffy to scram or get lost. In "Buccaneer Bunny" we see another classic Bugs Bunny-Yosemite Sam team-up. In this one, Sam is a pirate and Bugs happens to be on a beach where Sam wants to bury his treasure. Since Bugs claims the area to be his home and Sam stubborn and won't bury the chest elsewhere, a battle of wits ensues on and off the pirate ship. This cartoon includes the famous cannon scene where Sam repeatedly gets shot in the face by a cannon.

"Bugs' Bonnets" is a surreal cartoon...a truck hauling hats hits a bump in the road and the back door becomes unlatched and the woods are littered with hats. Bugs and Elmer Fudd proceed to take on various personalities as hat's pop on and off of their heads. "Ali Baba Bunny", directed by Chuck Jones, has Bugs and Daffy on the run from an Arabian guard named Hassan...Daffy had discovered a hidden treasure after he and Bugs dug their way under a cave and come up on the inside. Meanwhile, Hassan has forgot the password. He finally discovers the password and goes running in after the trespassers. Throughout the cartoon we see a character study of opposites. Daffy wants to claim all the gold for himself while Bugs has no desire for it. Daffy's antics get him into trouble...always causing him to turn to Bugs for a way out of the mess. Bugs dresses up like a genie in one memorable scene. Later, Daffy discovers a lamp and rubs it. A genie pops out and a miserly Daffy will have no more threats to his wealth and he literally stomps the genie back into the lamp. This causes severe consequences, though.

Friz Freleng directs "A Star Is Bored" which pits Bugs against Daffy in a movie setting. Daffy wants to be a big star like Bugs and when he thinks he's finally gotten his big break he soon regrets it. Yosemite Sam and Elmer Fudd make cameo appearances. Daffy plays Bugs' stand-in...inserted into any scene that is potentially dangerous for Bugs to carry out. A running gag is Daffy's demand of "MAKE-UP!!" after every explosion and every scene. "Hollywood Daffy" has Daffy trying to get into the Warner Brothers lot. In the cartoon it's referred to as 'Warmer Brothers'. In most cartoons that spoof their own studio, it's referred to as Warmer Brothers. In "Hollywood Daffy" we see an over-zealous guard with a Joe Besser-like voice preventing Daffy from entering. By cartoon's end, Daffy insists that he isn't leaving until he see's some stars and the guard relents and affords him the ability to see star's.

"Stupor Duck", a cartoon from Robert McKimson, has Daffy spoofing Superman, of course. In the cartoon he's on the look-out for a villain, Aardvark Ratnik, but the villain is from a crime drama...Stupor Duck, in his secret identity of Cluck Trent, misunderstands while eavesdropping and he spends the episode on the hunt for this villain. Mel Blanc voices Daffy and Daws Butler voices the Editor and the narrator at the start of the cartoon. Porky Pig makes an appearance in "Paying the Piper". He plays a pied piper in charge of ridding a town of rats. He seems to have succeeded at the start of the cartoon until things go awry. The supreme ruler of the cats has other idea's and the fight ensues as the cat dresses up as a big rat...this causes the local mayor to angrily take away the sack of money he had given Porky for ridding the town of ALL rats. The cat's of course want the rats to stay because they chase after them for food. A battle of wits ensues...Porky ends up winning by cartoon's end. Mel does his famous "stuck-up" characterization for the Mayor while the supreme cat carries a thick New York accent. Robert McKimson directed the cartoon.

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