Walter Lantz produced cartoons for Universal for more than 40 years, from 1929 until 1972, but his studio's output remained the animated equivalent of "B" pictures. His cartoons broke no new ground in animation, story telling, or humor. This generous set includes the first 45 Woody Woodpecker cartoons, 10 "Cartune Classics," five "Swing Symphonies," and five shorts with Andy Panda, Chilly Willy, and Oswald Rabbit (a character originally created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks). Woody Woodpecker made his debut in "Knock Knock" (1940) as a loony-bin zany, similar to the very early Bugs Bunny. But Woody never developed the kind of nuanced personality Bugs displays in later cartoons, despite the impressive array of animators and directors who passed through the studio. Tex Avery directed "The Legend of Rockabye Point" (1955), probably the funniest cartoon Lantz ever released, but he failed to make any lasting changes in the house style. Some cartoons are more interesting as historical documents than entertainment. In "Confidence" (1933), Oswald cures the effects of a spectre labeled "Depression" with a hypodermic needle full of confidence that he gets from Franklin Roosevelt. The "Swing Symphonies" and "Cartune Classics" feature performances by noteworthy jazz musicians, including Jack Teagarden in "The Pied Piper of Basin Street" (1945). But they lack the lavish beauty of Disney's "Silly Symphonies" and the rambunctious energy of the Fleischer jazz cartoons, their obvious models. "The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company 'B'" (1941) earned Lantz his first Oscar nomination, but decades later, it's little more than a collection of spot gags featuring unflattering African-American stereotypes. (Unrated, suitable for ages 10 and older: violence, tobacco use, ethnic and racial stereotypes) --Charles Solomon
Relive all of the hilarious, crazy adventures of Woody Woodpecker, everyone's favorite wacky red-headed bird, in The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection! Created by renowned cartoonist Walter Lantz, these 75 original theatrical cartoons - all digitally remastered and completely uncut - showcase some of the wildest antics in animation history. Join Woody and his friends Chilly Willy, Andy Panda, Wally Walrus and Buzz Buzzard in hours of outrageous adventures. Featuring rare treasures from the Walter Lantz archive, including Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Cartune Classic and Swing Symphony cartoons, this side-splitting collection will keep fans laughing out loud time and time again!