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The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection
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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!
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 Some cartoons are more interesting as historical documents than entertainment.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
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Sure he's cute, little, and talented, but I think what Woody did in these cartoons was exactly what a lot of the stressed-out urbanites sort of fantisized about doing but of course would never actually do. I think the humor in these cartoons hit home for a lot of people in a way that the rural Bugs Bunny never could.
I'm also a fan of "Rocko's Modern Life", and I see very much the same thing going on with Woody Woodpecker a half century earlier. The big city is complex, stressful, and can drive someone nuts. Woody Woodpecker I think was a nut on behalf of untold thousands who watched him in the theater, and if we pay attention we can gain a much greater understanding of urban life during the forties and fifties, including World War II.
Yet, the one thing that I was amazed about was the fact that I enjoyed the 1950's WOODY WOODPECKER output more than i thought i would, with voice work by Dal McKennon and Daws Butler. "HYPNOTIC HICKS", "WRESTLING WRECKS" and "REAL GONE WOODY" being stand-outs and fond memories from my daily viewings of "THE WOODY WOODPECKER SHOW" back in the day. I even liked "TO CATCH A WOODPECKER", a cartoon that is not only included but whose story board is given narration in one of the behind-the-scenes special features.
If there is a third and final set, we could get more of those strange 1930's titles like "SHE DONE HIM RIGHT", "JOLLY LITTLE ELVES" and "CANDYLAND", all of which are included here. They sometimes resemble the experiments that came from Warner Brothers cartoons of this period (maybe it has something to do with the voice work; in one documentary spoof or newsreel spoof, we even hear the familiar narration that we'd also gotten in Warners titles of this type created by Tex Avery). The Lantz toons of the 1930's can't be entirely confused with the SILLY SYMPHONIES or other one shots as they have a spikier edge, even though they can sometimes seem like direct steals from the earliest Disney musical series. I'm just a sucker for any cartoons from the 1930's. It is an era that isn't seen at all anymore, so why not restore what's left of the source material and give it one last go-round! In the '30's, Walter Lantz was still finding his way, but then I think we can say that about practically any studio, except perhaps for Max Fleischer Productions which had established itself and its humor quite prominently at that time, standing out beyond all others!!
Ah, but I digress... It would also be nice to check out more of the earliest ANDY PANDA shorts like "ANDY PANDA GOES FISHING", "MOUSE TRAPPERS" and "CRAZY HOUSE" which gives old grumpy Papa Panda his comeuppance, although baby Andy is at his best when he, alone, is the focal point of the cartoon. The first three make me wish that Lantz had allowed the baby panda to wander off into little adventures with Mr. Whippletree, a Rochester-like turtle, reluctantly by his side to keep him out of the usual trouble he finds himself in. We have the first and third of these earliest cartoons, thankfully!
One other cartoon that I am utterly delighted is here is "FIVE 'N' DIME", an OSWALD cartoon that has a thoroughly wonderful production number around the popular hit "I Found a Million Dollar Baby (In a Five 'n' Ten Cent Store)". The music and soundtrack of this title is enough to keep you wishing for more of these, and I know there has to be more!!
Yes, there is life in this studio, and I'm glad that these volumes are around to show it off! These first two volumes are testaments to this, and I'm so glad that we now all have access to them.
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