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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Academy Awards Animation Collection:
15 Winners, 26 Nominees DVD Review

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41 Shorts (Click title to jump to that portion of review)
Disc 1 - 15 Winners: The Milky Way (1940), The Yankee Doodle Mouse (1943), Mouse Trouble (1944), Quiet Please! (1945), The Cat Concerto (1946), Tweetie Pie (1947), The Little Orphan (1948), For Scent-imental Reasons (1949), So Much for So Little (1949), The Two Mouseketeers (1951), Johann Mouse (1952), Speedy Gonzales (1955), Birds Anonymous (1957), Knighty Knight Bugs (1958), The Dot and the Line (1965)

Disc 2 - 14 Nominees: Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor (1936), Peace on Earth (1939), A Wild Hare (1940), Puss Gets the Boot (1940), Superman (1941), Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt (1941), Rhapsody in Rivets (1941), The Night Before Christmas (1941), Blitz Wolf (1942), Pigs in a Polka (1942), Swooner Crooner (1944), Walky Talky Hawky (1946), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse (1947), Mouse Wreckers (1948)

Disc 3 - 12 Nominees: Hatch Up Your Troubles (1949), Jerry's Cousin (1951), Little Johnny Jet (1953), Touché, Pussy Cat! (1954), From A to Z-Z-Z-Z (1953), Sandy Claws (1954), Good Will to Men (1955), Tabasco Road (1957), One Droopy Knight (1957), High Note (1960), Nelly's Folly (1961), Now Hear This (1962)

Video & Audio; Bonus Features: Audio Commentaries, Isolated Musical Scores, "Drawn for Glory: Animation's Triumph at the Oscars", What's Cookin' Doc?; Menus and Packaging; Closing Thoughts

Running Time: 323 Minutes (5 hours, 23 minutes) / Rating: Not Rated
1.33:1 Fullscreen and 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (Original Aspect Ratios)
Dolby Digital Mono 1.0 (English); Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Three single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s); Six-sided Digipak in Cardboard Slipcover
Suggested Retail Price: $44.98
Originally Released between 1936 and 1965; DVD Release Date: February 12, 2008

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Page 1: Overview and Disc 1 Shorts
Page 2: Disc 2 & 3 Shorts, Video & Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, Closing Thoughts

Disc 2: 14 Nominees

What better way to put the little ones to sleep on Christmas Eve than to tell them the story of how mankind violently wiped itself off the face of the Earth? Bugs Bunny utters "What's up, Doc" for the very first time while busting Elmer Fudd's chops in "A Wild Hare." Tom and Jerry assume the position in an iconic freeze frame from their debut, 1940's "Puss Gets the Boot."

Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor (1936) (16:30) (Dave Fleischer)
In Popeye's first of three Technicolor two-reel outings, proud sailor Sindbad (Bluto) and the various monsters under his command work together to scare off three visitors approaching their island: Popeye, Olive Oyl, and Wimpy. Sindbad seizes the lady and expects his large beasts to take care of Popeye, but the sailor has more than enough fight in him.

Peace on Earth (1939) (8:47) (Hugh Harman)
On a snowy Christmas Eve,
Official Shop of Looney Tunes
an old squirrel educates his two young grandchildren on just who the "men" being sung about in a carol were. He paints a rather unflattering picture of the race's willingness to wage war and how it brought on extinction.

A Wild Hare (1940) (8:15) (Tex Avery)
Bugs Bunny makes his historic debut here, as Elmer Fudd goes hunting for rabbits. Fudd is bothered both by his lack of success with the playful target, but then repentant when he thinks he's gotten a kill.

Puss Gets the Boot (1940) (9:09) (William Hanna and Joseph Barbera)
In their big debut, Tom and Jerry look a little different and act a little less violent. They're no less competitive, however. The mouse seizes power when he realizes he can get the cat (called Jasper here) in trouble for broken kitchenware.

Superman bursts onto the scene of a destructive villain whose wardrobe Dr. Evil will one day raid. As Bugs Bunny begins reading about Little Hiawatha, a Native American figure rows by in the background. It's a good thing that Tex Avery's "Blitz Wolf" makes clear that the Big Bad Wolf in this version of the Three Little Pigs represents Adolf Hitler, because the tiny mustache, uniform, German accent, and the name Adolf Wolf might have otherwise added up differently.

Superman (1941) (10:26) (Max Fleischer)
In this notable first of 17 Fleischer cartoons starring the DC Comics icon, Superman is here on Earth incognito as Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent. Lois Lane is assigned to cover a mysterious mad scientist who promises destruction at midnight. Lucky for all, Clark is able to secretly suit up as the superhero who just might be able to save the day and the city.

Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt (1941) (7:45) (Friz Freleng)
Once he realizes he's the one being hunted, Bugs Bunny stops reading the story of Little Hiawatha. But that doesn't stop the Indian boy from pursuing the rabbit, which he does in spite of Bugs' sly efforts to throw him off.

Rhapsody in Rivets (1941) (7:30) (Friz Freleng)
On a construction site, a foreman conducts his crew of anthropomorphic animals like a symphony orchestra as they build a skyscraper.

The Night Before Christmas (1941) (8:37) (William Hanna and Joseph Barbera)
What begins as a reading of Clement C. Moore's famous poem changes gear when one mouse (Jerry) begins stirring. His under the Christmas tree exploration brings him into contact with Tom and their usual charades ensue around Yuletide objects. After Tom locks Jerry outside the house, some holiday remorse kicks in, in this likable and (for Tom and Jerry) sweet cartoon.

Blitz Wolf (1942) (9:49) (Tex Avery)
This topical Tex Avery cartoon reimagines the well-known tale of the Three Little Pigs with Adolf Wolf bearing deliberate resemblance to the German dictator of the time. After the Hitler caricature pays a visit and breaks a treaty with the pigs, a number of visual gags ensue, most of them involving missiles and swipes at the Axis powers.

In "Swooner Crooner", the Sinatra-inspired rooster Frankie (whose talons are seen here) is responsible for a farm full of hens fainting their way out of egg-laying duties. With looming shadows, prominent fangs, and an arsenal of household poisons, Tom looks especially devilish in this shot from the not-so-aptly titled "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse." Hubie and Bertie may not rank among the most well-known of Warner's Looney Tunes characters, but the mice are represented on this set in this Oscar-nominated 1948 short "Mouse Wreckers."

Pigs in a Polka (1942) (7:51) (Friz Freleng)
The tale of the Three Little Pigs is given apolitical treatment here in the Merrie Melodies series. Set to Brahms' Hungarian Dances, the Big Bad Wolf threatens the harmless hogs who build their houses of straw, bricks, and... matchsticks.

Swooner Crooner (1944) (7:18) (Frank Tashlin)
Everything is running smoothly at Porky Pig's egg farm, until the singing of a gangly, Sinatra-esque rooster named Frankie leads all the hens to leave their posts. After Frankie's crooning literally melts the hens, Porky auditions several roosters (all caricatures of the time's popular singers) to set things straight again.

Walky Talky Hawky (1946) (6:58) (Robert McKimson)
Upon learning about his kind, young chicken hawk Henery Hawk gets coached by Foghorn Leghorn (making his debut) on how to catch a chicken (who's actually Foghorn's feuding partner Barnyard Dawg).

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse (1947) (7:23) (William Hanna and Joseph Barbera)
Jerry won't stop sipping from Tom's milk bowl, no matter how hard the cat tries to discourage it. As the ultimate punishment, Tom concocts a poisonous blend of chemicals. Rather than killing, however, it makes Jerry stronger than ever, but only in short bursts. The changing statures are enough to make this short stand out in the canon.

Mouse Wreckers (1948) (6:52) (Chuck Jones)
Before moving into a new home, two rambling mice (Hubie and Bertie) attempt to evict the owner's cat, an award-winning mouser, in a number of psychological ways.

Disc 3: 12 Nominees

Directing this baby woodpecker elsewhere, Jerry isn't yet ready for fatherhood in "Hatch Up Your Troubles." Rather than just raising his middle finger, blowing up his hand results in Jerry's cousin Muscles Mouse having an extremely enlarged fist with which to knock out Tom. Anthropomorphic airplane John is pleased to have a son with wife Mary, but not too thrilled that Little Johnny is a jet.

Hatch Up Your Troubles (1949) (7:39) (William Hanna and Joseph Barbera)
Jerry wakes up to find himself on top of a bird egg, out of which pops a baby woodpecker. Jerry and the baby work together to stave off the hostile antics of Tom.

Jerry's Cousin (1951) (6:42) (William Hanna and Joseph Barbera)
Jerry summons his tough cousin Muscles Mouse to deal with Tom, who is no match for the street-wise alley rodent.

Little Johnny Jet (1953) (7:03) (Tex Avery)
A decorated old military plane who can't stand jets changes his tune when his newborn son comes to his aid in an air race.

Touché, Pussy Cat! (1954) (6:42) (William Hanna and Joseph Barbera)
Jerry receives a French-speaking infant who wants to become his fellow mouseketeer. The two of them are forced to square off against royal guard Tom in this CinemaScope sequel to The Two Mouseketeers.

What may look like a mundane arithmetic class to some is in fact the site of many mental adventures for schoolboy Ralph Phillips in Chuck Jones' "From A to Z-Z-Z-Z." Dramatic shadows are cast as this mouse preacher (re-)tells the story of mankind's violent extinction in Hanna-Barbera's depressing "Good Will to Men." Inebriated mice seem as good a target as any for this fierce alley cat in the sombrero-filled Speedy Gonzales short "Tabasco Road."

From A to Z-Z-Z-Z (1953) (7:05) (Chuck Jones)
Life is an adventure for Ralph Phillips, a schoolboy whose daydreams during an arithmetic lesson take him airborne, to the Wild West, on a nautical adventure, and inside a boxing ring.

Sandy Claws (1954) (7:08) (Friz Freleng)
Granny takes Tweety to the beach and while she's changing into her swimsuit, the caged bird is approached in various ways by a hungry Sylvester.

Good Will to Men (1955) (8:27) (William Hanna and Joseph Barbera)
This fairly faithful remake of Peace on Earth begins with the pleasant Christmassy scene of an all-mouse church choir singing "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" and quickly turns into a scathing criticism of now-extinct mankind and its appetite for deadly warfare. Jingle all the way...

Tabasco Road (1957) (6:31) (Robert McKimson)
After an intoxicating fiesta, Pablo and Fernando need help from Speedy Gonzales to escape the clutches of an alley cat. This is not a cartoon you expect to be Oscar-nominated, but I guess it makes sense in a year of five nominees and drying candidate wells.

Musical notes are quite alive in Chuck Jones' fanciful cartoon "High Note", which makes its DVD debut here. Nelly is a talented giraffe who leaves Africa behind for a popular American singing career. Her "Folly" is getting involved with this married zoo creature, a mistake the tabloids are eager to report on. Chuck Jones' "Now Hear This" is a freewheeling short in which shower water can travel straight through a devil's horn and the portly, hunched man listening through it.

One Droopy Knight (1957) (6:45) (Michael Lah)
To win the princess' hand in marriage, Sir Droopalot (Droopy the basset hound) and Sir Butchalot (his foe, Spike the bulldog) both try to rid their kingdom of a dragon in this colorful CinemaScope cartoon.

High Note (1960) (6:31) (Chuck Jones)
Musical notes come to life to arrange the Strauss composition "The Blue Danube", with many obstacles arising to serve as diversions to us.

Nelly's Folly (1961) (7:25) (Chuck Jones)
A singing giraffe named Nelly signs a contract and leaves Africa behind for the United States, where she finds success on stage until a scandal wrecks her.

Now Hear This (1962) (6:33) (Chuck Jones)
This surreal, abstract Chuck Jones short plays with noise and silence as a portly man listens through a devil's missing horn and experiences an assortment of unusual sights.

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This construction site foreman from "Rhapsody in Rivets" likes to think of himself as an orchestra composer who oversees his workers with precision and harmony. In "One Droopy Knight", Droopy the basset hound squares off against a dragon and a rival in hopes of winning the princess's hand. In a mind-baffling move, it and the set's two fellow CinemaScope cartoons aren't enhanced for widescreen televisions.


In spite of the front cover's claim that the shorts have been "Restored from the Original Masters", there's nothing to suggest that the cartoons previously released on DVD look any better here than on their earlier releases. That is not a problem for most of the shorts, which look quite good for being somewhat cheaply-produced and ranging from 43 to 76 years old. The early Tom and Jerry works are an exception, for they are quite rough looking next to their contemporaries. Scratches and artifacts can easily be spotted on the four Tom and Jerrys that predate 1946.
They're far more difficult to find on the other cartoons, aside from the well-worn Superman.

Thirty-eight of the 41 shorts are presented in 1.33:1 fullscreen, approximating the intended Academy Ratio of exhibition and creation. The remaining three (Touché, Pussy Cat!, Good Will to Men, and One Droopy Knight) appear in 2.35:1 widescreen, reproducing the CinemaScope aspect ratios in which they were created. Disappointingly, these three widescreen shorts are not enhanced for 16:9 televisions, in contrast to how they were presented on their prior DVD releases and to what the back cover states.

Every short's primary audio offering is a Dolby Digital 1.0 mono soundtrack, reflecting the fairly simple nature of their design. Though you can easily tell the sound wasn't recorded anytime recently, the elements have some vitality to them and all dialogue is easily discerned.

The similarities between Tom and Jerry's Oscar-winning "Cat Concerto" and Bugs Bunny's concurrently-nominated "Rhapsody in Rabbit" are discussed both in Eric Goldberg's audio commentary and Disc 3's documentary, but we sadly don't get Bugs' version in full. Foghorn Leghorn points Henery Hawk towards a chicken (Barnyard Dawg) in "Walky Talky Hawky", which receives an audio commentary from animation historian Jerry Beck. France's royal guard Tom is none too pleased with Nibbles/Tuffy's artistic rendering of him. This Cinemascope sequel "Touché, Pussy Cat!" is one of six cartoons on the set to feature an alternate music track.


In number, the set's greatest supplemental offering is the audio commentary,
supplied for 14 of the 41 short films. All but one of the tracks feature a single speaker, chosen from a small list of respected animators, animation filmmakers, and animation historians. Inevitably, the commentaries vary in style and caliber.

Animator/director Eric Goldberg (Pocahontas, Looney Tunes: Back in Action) is observant and spirited on his commentaries for The Cat Concerto (in which he discusses an interesting controversy), The Dot and the Line, and the propagandistic Blitz Wolf. The same is true of historian/modern Looney Tunes writer/director/producer Greg Ford, who talks over For Scent-imental Reasons (with a bit of archival audio from director Chuck Jones), Peace on Earth, and A Wild Hare (with a clip from animator Virgil Ross).

Others are less compelling. Historian Jerry Beck doesn't have nearly enough to sustain the 10-minute So Much for So Little, though he fares better discussing Foghorn Leghorn's scene-stealing introduction in Walky Talky Hawky. Beck is also joined by animators Leslie Carbarga, Ray Pointer, and Bob Jaques for a fairly dry discussion of Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor that's ported over from the Sailor Man's 4-disc Volume One collection that the studio released last summer. On Quiet Please! and Puss Gets the Boot, animator Mark Kausler succumbs to merely name-dropping animators, something that must do more for him than us.

Paul Dini, a longtime writer-producer of Warner/DC Comics cartoons, gives a fact-filled commentary on Superman that speaks most to fans of the character. Author and historian Amid Amidi remarks upon Disc 3's From A to Z-Z-Z-Z and Now Hear This, delivering notes of interest but sounding like he's reading a prepared speech.

Isolated musical scores are provided in stereo for six shorts: Disc 1's Speedy Gonzales and The Dot and the Line and, on Disc 3, Little Johnny Jet, Touché, Pussy Cat!, Tabasco Road, and One Droopy Knight. Self-explanatory in execution, these tracks allow one to appreciate the versatile musical cues easily taken for granted when accompanied by vocals and sound effects. Welcome and easy inclusions, they're not likely to get much play. In addition, Disc 3's Good Will to Men offers an alternate soundtrack of isolated chorus audio and coached dialogue takes hosted by Greg Ford.

A gold Oscar statue shines proudly in the original hour-long documentary "Drawn for Glory: Animation's Triumph at the Oscars." Bugs Bunny is entirely confident that the Oscar will be his in the bonus short "What's Cookin' Doc?" Warner thought this main menu was so nice, they used it thrice. A few of the listings change, but Bugs and his film strip friends claim each disc.

The two video bonus features are found on Disc 3. The substantial one is the new hour-long documentary "Drawn for Glory: Animation's Triumph at the Oscars."
Rather than just pay lip service to the set's featured cartoons, this outstanding piece does a thorough job of celebrating the animated short format at large, including substantial looks at non-Warner properties. The works of Walt Disney, UPA, Hanna-Barbera, the Fleischer brothers, Tex Avery, Chuck Jones, and others are discussed and studied in a fairly chronological fashion.

Narrated by Bonnie Hunt, this doc excels with a winning blend of film excerpts (primarily windowboxed, to preserve aspect ratios) and interviews both new (animators and historians) and old (including Avery, Jones, William Hanna, and Joseph Barbera). Attention is given to the animated Short Subject Oscar, but more than a parade of winners and nominees, the piece seeks to contextualize the honor, recognizing politics and shortcomings, in relation to the medium it covers. The bulk of the supplement deals with the 1920s through 1960s; it expectedly whizzes through some of the subsequent years (following the dissolution of studio shorts) in the final five minutes. The biggest complaint you can expect to level against the piece is that it will make you want to see many of the excerpted shorts in full, a number of which aren't on such great DVD sets.

Bringing the extras to a close is the bonus short "What's Cookin' Doc?" (8:08), an appropriate inclusion because this 1944 Bugs Bunny cartoon is set at the Academy Awards. In it, the rabbit does impressions of celebrity actors like Katharine Hepburn and Bing Crosby and campaigns for himself with an excerpt of Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt.

Disc 3 launches with previews for Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Volume 5 and Tom and Jerry: Spotlight Collection, Volume 3. A Trailers menu holds additional promos for "The Smurfs": Season 1, Volume 1, Bonnie and Clyde: 40th Anniversary, Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who: Deluxe Edition, and Justice League: The New Frontier.

The static menus place the set's most iconic characters against black backgrounds. Each disc's main menu features an Academy Awards-sounding celebratory orchestra score. The Digipak devotes two of its six sides to the 3 discs and places the set's animated stars against white and gray backdrops. This case slips into a snazzy cardboard box that's embossed on both sides.

Much preferred to edits or unskippable video cautions, all we get here is a short text disclaimer upon loading each disc explaining, as animation buffs already know, that these cartoons are products of their time and therefore include once acceptable content that would be deemed inappropriate today.

Bugs Bunny wields his newly-claimed singing sword in the "Knighty Knight Bugs", the wise-alecky rabbit's only Oscar-winning cartoon. Tom reveals himself to be quite the scaredy cat after the elixir he feeds Jerry gives the mouse newfound strength in "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse."


Picture quality isn't always satisfactory, there are at least a dozen excluded shorts that belong here, and you may already own a large number of these cartoons on other DVDs. That said, Warner's Academy Awards Animation Collection still gives us an outstanding lineup of Oscar-nominated and winning short films. The casual fan -- who can appreciate vintage Looney Tunes, Merrie Melodies, Tom and Jerry shorts but hasn't seen fit to purchase the exhaustive DVD collections given all -- should be most delighted by this package, but everyone should take notice for the quality and variety of animation on display. For a sampling of some of the best cartoons starring Popeye, Superman, Bugs Bunny, Foghorn Leghorn, Droopy, Tweety Bird, as well as a look at fine non-series work from the likes of Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, and Hanna & Barbera, you're unlikely to ever do better in a single item purchase than this very set. The terrific new hour-long documentary is merely the delicious icing on an already scrumptious cake.

There are a few things keeping this DVD from being perfect and those most heavily invested in the featured properties should be able to summon worthwhile complaints rather easily. But the strengths greatly outnumber the weaknesses and Collection still gets a hearty recommendation. Whether you're looking for a crash course on classic animated shorts or just open to the idea of rebuying many of these films for the few exclusives and the convenience factor, you should definitely take notice of this set.

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Page 1: Overview and Disc 1 Shorts
Page 2: Disc 2 & 3 Shorts, Video & Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, Closing Thoughts

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Reviewed February 26, 2008.

Text copyright 2008 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 1936-1965 Warner Bros./ MGM/Paramount and 2008 Warner Home Video. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.