(Released November 30, 2010 by Warner Home Video)
Another Looong DVD Review by Joe Torcivia
“Foghorn Leghorn and Friends Barnyard Bigmouth”?
After the Tasmanian Devil (who appeared only a scant few times during the original theatrical run of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies – but achieved superstardom nevertheless), director Robert McKimson’s signature character was Foghorn Leghorn.
As is our custom in these reviews, we’ll break it into CONS and PROS.
For the record, this is the FIRST TIME the category of “Robo-Promos” is listed as a PRO, rather than a CON! Good for you, WHV!
Directors: The severely underrated Robert McKimson is finally showcased, directing 13 of the set’s 15 shorts. Joining him is I. (Friz) Freleng for the remaining two.
Writers: Warren Foster, Michael Maltese, Tedd Pierce, the also-underrated John Dunn (…who stepped into the breach when Foster and Maltese moved-on to Hanna-Barbera), Charles McKimson, and Sid Marcus.
Music is by “Classic Carl Stalling”, Milt Franklyn, and the also-also-underrated William Lava – who had the sheer misfortune to follow Stalling and Franklyn. Oh yes… there are some additional music oddities that will be noted at the proper time.
And, of course, “Voice Characterizations” are by the great Mel Blanc – with additional roles by Arthur Q. Bryan (as Elmer Fudd), Daws Butler, and June Foray.
Image Quality: In previous releases, “Looney Tunes Superstars: Bugs Bunny Hare Extraordinaire” and “Looney Tunes Superstars: Daffy Duck Frustrated Fowl”, there was a notable controversy over the presentation of post-1953 cartoon shorts having been remastered in some sort of WIDESCREEN effect. (See the BUGS BUNNY REVIEW for more details!)
Initially, I’ll admit that it looks nice when viewed on a widescreen HD TV, but closer inspection reveals that the TOP AND BOTTOM OF THE SCREEN IMAGE look to be cut off – or, are far too close to the frame than I recall from nearly a lifetime of viewing these cartoons.
In an unusual bow to the hardcore fans, WHV offers an option to view the cartoons in either “Full Frame” (as we’ve long been accustomed to) or “Widescreen”! For the second time in this review, I must say: Good for you, WHV!
If the choice is not made within a certain amount of time, “Full Frame” automatically activates as a default. Meaning, don’t insert the DVD and walk away, if you desire the “Widescreen” option. You’ll find WHV has already made the selection for you.
Though, typical of today’s Warner Animation DVDs, even this step forward is not without its inconvenience. The CHOICE between “Full Screen” and “Widescreen” is ONLY offered BEFORE the display of the main menu. Meaning that you cannot “toggle” back and forth between the two options once the DVD is engaged.
Given this, I’ve tended to stay with “Widescreen”, as moving between the two options is far too time consuming for the “reward” involved.
And, the ultimate “PRO” for “Looney Tunes Superstars: Foghorn Leghorn and Friends Barnyard Bigmouth”…
Cartoons starring a character or characters other than Foghorn Leghorn will be noted as such.
“Fox Terror” (McKimson, 1957): A rare occasion for the great Michael Maltese to write Foghorn Leghorn, and does he ever make the most of it. Breaking with the established “Foggy-formulas”, Maltese gives us a “Wile E. Coyote-esque” fox, but with a verbal touch of Bugs Bunny, who is out to steal the chickens under Barnyard Dog’s protection. Aiding the Dog (if you can call it “aid”) is a hyperactive yet mute little rooster whose job it is to warn the Dog, by pulling a bell-cord labeled “In Case of Fox, Pull Rope”. The Fox counters by using an unwitting Foghorn to stymie or otherwise waylay the Dog, allowing the Fox to prowl about the henhouse. In what is strictly my view, this is one of the BEST Foghorn Leghorn cartoons of all time. Certainly, the best of the later efforts.
Whoa! I don’t know who Nick Bennion is – but I wonder why he and McKimson didn’t team up to write many more cartoons! They would certainly have made the “late-period” Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies a bit more interesting!
“Strangled Eggs” (McKimson, 1960): Running time of 6:19. All these years I thought that Looney Tunes that ran for less then seven minutes were cut for time and/or political correctness – when many of the later ones were just shorter to begin with!
With this, we bid adieu (…ad-doo-da-day?) to Foggy, and move on to “The Friends”…
“A Mutt in a Rut” (McKimson, 1958): “Rover”, an amalgam of the Barnyard Dog and Chuck Jones’ “Charlie Dog”, is swayed by a television program to turn against his loving master Elmer Fudd! An unfortunate mistake. Rover’s next mistake would be resorting to Wyle E. Coyote’s bag of tricks to eliminate Elmer… including “ONE ACME WILD CAT – Handle With Care”, and the unerringly defective dynamite detonation plunger!
This is actually a good cartoon for the period, which suffers from the short length of 6:18.
“Mouse-Placed Kitten” (McKimson, 1958): A husband and wife mouse suddenly find themselves with a baby kitten – in sort of a variation of “Strangled Eggs”. The mice are wise enough to leave the growing feline with a human, but trouble begins when they visit the cat, who is now all grown up.
Manuel: “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”
Jose: “Yeah, we see him in moving pictures, in a Chihuahua drive in!”
Manuel: “Yeah, he’s that gringo that’s all the time chasing El Conejo Bugs Bunny! Ha-Ha! I like that loco conejo! Heh-Heh!”
Manuel (continues, to scarecrow): “Now, why you try shoot my friend Bugs Bunny, huh?”
Jose: “Go ahead, Manuel, give him a punch in the nose! He’s afraid from you! He don’t talk back!”
Manuel (with club): “You gonna talk, or I gonna knock the stuffing out from you?
And he does! Jose tries on the scarecrow’s hat to further mock the as of yet unseen Elmer – and is conked by Manuel! By now you get the picture! Nice self-referential “Bugs and Elmer” stuff.