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Zee Sweet Aroma of a Release Magnifique!
on December 27, 2011
Writer Mike Maltese came up with the idea of a cat disguised as a skunk getting chased by an oversexed French version of the genuine article for Chuck Jones to use in 1945's ODOR-ABLE KITTY, but the idea of a continuing series was laughable. After all, the punchline of that cartoon was that the skunk was henpecked and the French accent fake (not to mention the cat he had been chasing was male -- draw your own conclusions). But it must have been in the cards that the skunk was destined for stardom. He returned as "Stinky" in 1947's SCENT-IMENTAL OVER YOU, and achieved immortality when Jones won his first Oscar for FOR SCENT-IMENTAL REASONS in 1949.
This release collects all of the Jones unit's cartoons featuring Pepè Le Pew in one neat little package, and makes no discriminations or reviled alterations like earlier "Super Stars" releases did. Everything is present and accounted for in full-screen, and none of that "1954 and on only" nonsense (making the excuses for the selection on the Foghorn Leghorn release pretty flimsy). The cartoons look absolutely stunning too, allowing one to truly appreciate the work of designers like Robert Gribbroek and Maurice Noble.
In spite of this being a selection of cartoons from one of the most important animation directors of all time at the height of his power, poor Pepè's cartoons don't exactly shine when stacked in a row like this, given that nearly all of the cartoons follow FOR SCENT-IMENTAL REASONS' formula - a black cat gets a white stripe on her back and Pepè tries to woo her. It's not Jones and Maltese at their most creative; these were their bread-and-butter pictures after all. Still, the Pepè formula doesn't embrace a hip iconic status like that of the Road Runner series. Don't judge too harshly though - all of these cartoons were made over a period of some fifteen years, when reuse was an accepted practice in short subjects and the chance of actually seeing a Pepè cartoon at the theaters was one in fifty.
In spite of any aesthetic shortcomings, "Zee Best of Zee Best" is a solid and watchable compilation, much more so than the Speedy Gonzales disc on the fourth "Golden Collection", and any of the Warner guys' attempts at formula beat the spitfire out of the other studios'. Plus, you get two oddball selections: Art Davis's disgusting ODOR OF THE DAY, featuring a skunk that looks like Pepè but isn't, and DOG POUNDED, a Friz Freleng Tweety & Sylvester classic with a cameo by the skunk at the end. Abe Levitow's REALLY SCENT (him filling in for Jones on a sabbatical from the studio) is also an underrated, charming gem, with the cat _wanting_ to be with Pepè!
So be like Pepè himelf with the ladies, and just _go_ get this without hesitation! Vive L'Amour!