A few words about…™ Tex Avery Screwball Classics – Volume 1 – in Blu-ray

Every card carrying cinephile needs a copy of this. 0 Stars

Between 1937 and 1955, Fred Quimby produced over 240 animated shorts, ie Cartoons. You’ll see his name as producer on this set.

The Tex Avery shorts included – 19 of them – are some of his finest work at the studio. But let’s get numbers out of the way.

He started his career working for Walter Lantz in 1930, and moved to Warner in 1935, working under Leon Schlesinger. His first there was Gold Diggers of ’49, working on many of the Daffy and Porky films.

In 1942, he made the move to M-G-M, starting with Blitz Wolf, which currently has an element problem.

During his tenure there, he directed over 90 films, through 1957.

Warner Archive’s initial offering, 19 in total makes a nice dent toward getting the complete M-G-M Avery films to Blu-ray, and it does it in the requisite quality, even using secondary elements for many of the films.

Most of you are aware of the Eastman House fire.

The majority of the M-G-M nitrate cartoon SE negatives were lost.

Volume 1 is a treasure trove of Technicolor cartoons.

Red Hot Riding Hood – 1943
Who Killed Who – 1943
What’s Buzzin’ Buzzard – 1943
Dumb-Hounded – 1943
Batty Baseball – 1944
Screwball Squirrel – 1944
Big Heel-Watha – 1944
The Screwy Truant – 1945
The Hick Chick – 1946
Lonesome Lenny – 1946
Hound Hunters – 1947
Red Hot Rangers – 1947
Bad Luck Blackie – 1949
Wags to Riches – 1949
The Garden Gopher – 1950
The Peachy Cobbler – 1950
The Chump Champ – 1950
Symphony in Slang – 1951
Daredevil Droopy – 1951

For those who truly know their color, some may see a small difference between SE material and CRIs, but it’s nothing about which to be concerned.

I can only think of two words that need to be said:

“More please!”

Every card carrying cinephile needs a copy of this. It arrives in a couple of weeks, and is currently at a street of $22. That’s $1.16 per film.

Possibly illegal in some states.

Image – 4.25 – 5.0

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD – without a doubt

Highly Recommended

RAH

Published by

Robert Harris

editor,member

59 Comments

  1. Pre-ordered and patiently awaiting delivery later this month after waiting 20 years for this. A lot of these I simply haven't seen in years (or even decades), but this volume is worth it just for Red Hot Riding Hood (obviously), Dumb-Hounded, Wags to Riches, Symphony in Slang, Who Killed Who?, and Screwball Squirrel.

    Really, I'll buy absolutely any theatrical animation Warner Archive puts out. I'm not even a big fan of the Famous Studios Popeyes, but the new 4K-sourced Blu-rays of those make even lesser cartoons into something special. I can only imagine essential classics like Avery's work given the same treatment.

  2. Neil S. Bulk

    Both of those sites are more expensive than Amazon. As someone who doesn't need to have the disc the exact day of release I'm happy paying less for it.

    Not if you're in AUS or NZ like Murray once you add shipping and GST. Amazon appears to be $29USD to NZ, WOWHD appears to be $4-5NZD less

    If you're in the US — Deep Discount had it for 16.50 a few days ago and Bullmoose will likely have it under $16 when they get their pre-order up probably this week so cheaper and most likely get it earlier than Amazon. OTOH if you really don't have to have it early just wait until it's $10-12 around Father's Day at B&N or this summer at WbShop

  3. Rob_Ray

    I would add BAD LUCK BLACKIE and HOUND HUNTERS to the list of what makes this release a must-buy.

    They could have rounded the shorts off to an even 20 for a 115-minute collection and included one of those, or both, but even before receiving this disc, I am already looking forward to Volume Two!!

  4. Dick

    They could have rounded the shorts off to an even 20 for a 115-minute collection and included one of those, or both, but even before receiving this disc, I am already looking forward to Volume Two!!

    presuming either of those films is ready to go

  5. I’m unfortunately unable to double check tracks, but noted nothing untoward. If one was really desirous of doing so properly, best thing is to run an original print on a non-updated projection system, using ancient amps and speakers, set up to run the films as they were at the time of release.

    I did listen to a bit of one of the YouTube samples, and it did sound a bit tinny on my iPad, which has a smaller amp, and no Voice of the Theater speakers.

    Way too bulky, and will not fit in the overhead compartment.

    Thought it sounded fine on my projection system, but will recheck. Dealing with other problems lately.

  6. I do have Daredevil Droopy in 16mm and it sounds fine there. But the cartoon on the Boomerang app and the Droopy DVD sounds much better than that YouTube clip. Sounds like someone just threw a noise reduction filter on the track for the BD.

  7. ThadK

    OK but what does that have to do with the sound being worse here than on the DVD?

    Generally, combined audio from the nitrate era will come from a track print, combined fine grain, or print.

    From one (or more of those sources) 24 track tapes, full coat mags, or digital material will be produced as an archival source.

    If you’re referencing Daredevil, my playback showed the music and some effects, along with the ringmaster’s voice to be a bit brighter than one might have expected. Mr. Droopy’s voice seemed fine. As noted, I am unaware as to precisely how this should sound, as I’ve never heard a surviving original, presuming a 35mm print exists.

    I don’t make a habit of referencing old video tracks, nor heavily compressed YouTube material. I am aware that WB does not generally filter their archival tracks, so I highly doubt that this has been modified from whatever archival source was accessed.

    Not to sound confrontational, as this is not meant in that way, but if you have a problem with the audio on one of the 19 cartoons, I would suggest enjoying the other 18, as the investment is around one dollar.

    If WB were to find a problem, and / or if better, more original, tracks might be located, this cartoon could be added to a future offering of 18, 19, 20, 21 shorts on that release.

    No harm, no foul.

    I’d be interested in knowing how Jerry Beck feels about this, as he’s the expert in the field. I’m comfortable discussing sequential picture negatives, masters, CRIs, and other dupes, as well as how they age over time, but the minutia of cartoon tracks, which did not always seek normalcy, is not my arena. And a bit of brightness on the track of a single short, when what I’m hearing may actually have been as intended, does not affect my overall score for those that sound more average for their age.

    Again, I’m not seeking to be argumentative, merely stating my position.

    And pictorially, these films look very, very nice.

  8. It clearly was poorly filtered if you listen to the other versions of the cartoon where there is no distortion. I doubt YouTube compression is the issue here. But I agree 1 out of 19 cartoons having some sort of minor issue is not bad and certainly not a deal breaker – that's the typical average with these cartoon releases, however disappointing that minor, but avoidable, issue may be.

    And 35mm release prints exist for all the MGM cartoons. Not sure why that's being called into question…

  9. ThadK

    It clearly was poorly filtered if you listen to the other versions of the cartoon where there is no distortion and doesn't sound like it was recorded in a bathroom. I doubt YouTube compression is the issue here. Other MGM cartoons have had this issue in the past, to a far more extreme degree. Sound problems have been a long-standing issue with Warner cartoon releases going back to the Golden Collection days.

    But I agree 1 out of 19 cartoons having some sort of minor issue is not bad and certainly not a deal breaker – that's the typical average with these cartoon releases, however disappointing that minor, but avoidable, issue may be.

    And 35mm release prints exist for all the MGM cartoons. Not sure why that's being called into question…

    Because that’s what I’d like to hear. And I’ve not researched what survives.

  10. Even if Warner is using the same source elements for sound as the old laserdisc transfers (doubtful), there's going to be significant improvement just going from lossy Dolby Digital encodes to WAC's usual lossless DTS-HD MA.

  11. ThadK

    The preview clips posted by Warner Archive look very nice, but Daredevil Droopy and Symphony in Slang have obviously distorted audio noise reduction. Are these the only titles affected?
    .

    That does not sound to me like "distorted audio noise reduction". It sounds like the normal distortion inherent in most optical tracks of the era, possibly compounded by whoever mastered the audio trying to push up the mid-high frequencies and the fact that these were probably mastered without the Academy roll-off. I thought "Symphony" sounded better than the other two previews – it has a more rounded frequency response with a bit more bottom. I thought "Red Hot…" and "Daredevil…" sounded somewhat thin and distorted. "Red Hot…" is understandable because it was released in 1943. "Daredevil.." and "Symphony…" were released in 1951 and might have originally had the audio recorded on mag tracks (not on the prints), but I suspect those mag tracks are long gone, so the audio is coming from a print.

    Decades ago, I used to get 16mm prints from the library and I'd output the projector sound to my stereo system. I found it sounded best when I would roll-off the high end, just the opposite of what one would think it needs.

  12. This is a great set ,and real deal All look a lot better than Laser set, They released some of these on dvd along with movies
    these are somewhat improved on with this set , while some cartoons look perfect ,some of the older ones like Dumb Hounded Droopy look petty much like dvd version,The First Screwy Squirrel cartoon looks good,but the other two look near perfect I could have use Blitz Wolf
    over any of those late cartoons on this set They didn't edit anything out either

  13. It seems my Amazon order will not be arriving until the end of March, even though I preordered on February forth.

    Set is currently $16.99 at Deep Discount ($19.99, plus 15% off with discount code VALENTINE (good thru 2/12 only); though you would need to add something else to get over the $25 level for free shipping).

  14. Malcolm R

    Set is currently $16.99 at Deep Discount ($19.99, plus 15% off with discount code VALENTINE (good thru 2/12 only); though you would need to add something else to get over the $25 level for free shipping).

    Thanks Malcolm. The code was enough to compensate for shipping costs and then some.

  15. Robert Harris

    would look nice on your 35” Mitsubishi

    Oddly enough I wanted to show "Rock-a-Bye Bear" to some young relatives last weekend and all I had it on was the "Compleat Tex Avery" LD set, so it got projected 8.5 feet wide. Didn't compromise the laughter, anyway.

  16. Bullmoose.com finally dropped their preorder price to the usual WAC 15.97. Added a second title to get to Bullmoose $30 FS and it's one of the last No Sales tax (outside Maine ) sites remaining. A few folks already have preorders shipping.

  17. In a compromise between budget, price, existing accounts and speed of shipping, my pre-order from Movie-Zyng (Allied-Vaughn) shipped last night and is due to arrive this coming Friday (21st).
    (Droopy) "I'm happy." (/Droopy)

  18. Sunday delivery via Wal-Mart and Fedex. Clean bill of health here… All cartoons look and sound fine for the most part (Wags to Riches has a similarly distorted track as Daredevil Droopy, but nowhere near as obvious), and are indeed uncut.

Leave a Reply