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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Shorts > Comedy > Satire > Tom & Jerry – The Chuck Jones Collection + Greatest Chases, Vol. 2 (Warner DVDs)

Tom & Jerry – The Chuck Jones Collection + Greatest Chases, Vol. 2 (Warner DVDs)

 

Picture: B-/C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B-/C-     Animated Shorts: B/B-

 

 

In the 1960s, MGM had tried a new strategy that they would move away from the musicals, but not from either big productions or putting the money out for top rate product to keep the studio’s legendary reputation for producing the best releases in Hollywood.  This extended to animation and though they never had features as good as Disney or shorts as good as Disney and Warner, they had Tom & Jerry, but original creators Hanna-Barbera had moved to TV and formed their own company.  That left the studio searching for new producers of the shorts, which they decided to continue and two new DVD releases from Warner Bros. shows the results.

 

Greatest Chases, Vol. 2 is not a bad single DVD of 14 well-produced shorts into the 1950s of the cat & mouse team in action, complete with the budgets, flowing animation and exceptional color to match, but I would have to look at all the older shorts again to see if I agreed with the title of the release.  Still, these hold up very well, can be very politically incorrect and include the following:

 

1)     Sufferin’ Cats

2)     Baby Puss

3)     The Million Dollar Cat

4)     The Bodyguard

5)     Mouse Trouble

6)     Flirty Birdy

7)     Quiet Please!

8)     Cat Fishin’

9)     The Invisible Mouse

10)  Heavenly Puss

11)  Jerry & The Goldfish

12)  Cue Ball Cat

13)  Slicked-up Pup

14)  Jerry’s Cousin

 

 

The last one refers to his tough street cousin.  They are all high-quality, but can seem random and many would ask, why not a mega set or two of all the shorts in chronological order?  Either way, it is a nice set for fans and justifies its release.

 

After Gene Deitch did a dozen shorts with limited but interesting, surreal art and animation, MGM decided they wanted something fuller and more expensive, so they managed to hire Chuck Jones as Warner Bros. decided to fold their Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies production in house (though another studio took over) leaving Jones suddenly available.  The result was a new contract at MGM, more creative control than ever and the following shorts:

 

1)     Pent-House Mouse

2)     The Cat Above, The Mouse Below

3)     Is There A Doctor in The Mouse?

4)     Much Ado About Mousing

5)     Somebody Loves Me

6)     The Unsinkable Jerry Mouse

7)     Ah, Sweet Mouse-Story Of Life

8)     Tom-ic Energy

9)     Bad Day At Cat Rock

10)  The Brothers-Carry-Mouse Off

11)  Haunted Mouse

12)  I’m Just Wild About Jerry

13)  Of Feline Bondage

14)  The Year Of The Mouse

15)  The Cat’s Me-Ouch

16)  Duel Personality

17)  Jerry, Jerry, Quite Contrary

18)  Jerry-Go-Round

19)  Love Me, Love My Mouse

20)  Puss ‘N’ Boats

21)  Filet Meow

22)  Matinee Mouse

23)  The A-Tom-inable Snowman

24)  Catty-Cornered

25)  Cat & Dupli-Cat

26)  O-Solar-Meow

27)  Guided Mouse-ille

28)  Rock ‘N’ Rodent

29)  Cannery Rodent

30)  The Mouse From H.U.N.G.E.R.

31)  Surf-Bored Car

32)  Shutter Bugged Cat

33)  Advance & Be Mechanized

34)  Purr-Chance To Dream

 

 

Though derided at the time for not being as edgy and antagonistic as the classic shorts before, I think that always sold the characters short.  This is why I think the Deitch shorts (limited as they are) are interesting.  Like Deitch, Jones brought the characters into the 1960s by dealing with new ideas and three in particular, consumer culture, pop culture and space-aged technology.  Jones started this with his Warner work in the 1950s and really runs with it here, all the way to a great Man From U.N.C.L.E. spoof.  Their work should not be the 1950s work because that is an era that ended.  If anything, it shows how enjoyable and likable the duo is and after these shorts, MGM (and later Turner Entertainment) never could relaunch them well in a fully realized new version, no matter what the efforts were.

 

That is why they hold up so incredibly well and on these DVDs, people will see what they are missing.  Also, they are the end of the era of high quality, fully animated shorts before limited TV animation took over for decades to come.  As good as computer generated animation can get, it is not and never will be like hand-drawn at its best.  The idea that Jerry and Tom are always friends here is untrue, that happened on the later TV series.  Instead, they are antagonists, but it is gentler and more thoughtful.  It is also charming like Jones’ best work and that is the #1 reason to see this set and for those who have seen them before, give them a serious second chance.  Tom & Jerry – The Chuck Jones Collection deserves rediscovery and revisionist thinking to its advantage as among (along with many Fleischer Studio one-shot shorts) some of the most underrated theatrical shorts ever made.

 

The anamorphically enhanced shorts on Jones start at 1.66 X 1, then they go 1.78 X 1, meaning you loose some top & bottom versus analog TV copies, where you lose the sides.  This might upset purists, but I can say that the picture quality is really impressive and will shock even the biggest of fans; especially for this format.  The color is great, prints clean and clear, detail fine enough and are like never having seen them before.  The 1.33 X 1 image on the Chases disc also looks good color-wise, but detail is not always as good.  The Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono on both is decent sounding, but Jones sounds a bit better.  Still, the tracks are clean and combined with the picture quality, is a treat.  Can’t wait for the Blu-rays.

 

Extras on Jones include a trailer for the other release and two fine featurettes everyone will want to catch.  Tom & Jerry... and Chuck (narrated by the great June Foray and on DVD 1) tells of the rise of the characters and how Jones landed up making these shorts.  DVD 2 has Chuck Jones: Memories Of Childhood, a brand new look at the master artist and creator’s life that is yet another must see.  You also get a Scooby Doo DVD trailer.  Chases only offers trailers for other Warner animated releases on DVD.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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