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April 10, 2015
Bonus cartoons as extras; still coming April 21
With barely two weeks to go before its street date, pre-order links have finally been popping up for Warner Archive's upcoming Blu-ray release of the classic 1933 musical 42nd Street. The Busby Berkeley movie is still scheduled to make its high-definition debut on April 21.
At the moment, Amazon is the only retailer offering a pre-order for the Blu-ray, as the title has yet to even show up on WBShop.com. It's doubtful that it makes any difference, but it should probably be noted that WBShop recently had a change in management and is no longer being directly handled by Warner Bros., with an outside company named Bolder Road LLC now operating the site. The Warner Archive site has occasionally been sluggish about listing pre-orders, so there is no reason to think the lack of a 42nd Street pre-order is anything out of the ordinary.
Amazon is currently indicating that the regular retail price for 42nd Street will be $21.99, but their list prices for Warner Archive product haven't always jibed with those posted on WBShop.
The 42nd Street Blu-ray is still scheduled to include the 1933 Merrie Melodies Young and Healthy and Shuffle off to Buffalo, with the latter making its debut in 1080p high definition. Young and Healthy, meanwhile, will be unremastered and in standard definition.
42nd Street is scheduled to be released on Blu-ray on April 21 and may or may not retail for $21.99. Pre-order it now on Amazon.
March 20, 2015
Bonus cartoons as extras, including HD debut of Shuffle off to Buffalo
Earlier this week, Warner Archive announced the Blu-ray debut of the 1933 musical 42nd Street. Continuing the Archive's sub-collection of made-to-order Blu-rays of select Warner Bros. classics, the iconic Busby Berkeley movie will be making its high-definition debut through WBShop.com and other online retailers on April 21.
Similar to Warner Archive's Blu-ray release of Yankee Doodle Dandy last year, and typical of the label's other releases on the format, 42nd Street will contain a number of special features, many of which came from the film's original DVD release. In addition to the movie's trailer, a 2006 documentary, and a selection of vintage short subjects and newsreels, the Blu-ray will also contain two Warner Bros. cartoons.
42nd Street is scheduled to include the 1933 Merrie Melodies Young and Healthy and Shuffle off to Buffalo. Interestingly, though both cartoons appeared on the same 2006 Busby Berkeley Collection boxed set as 42nd Street did--and though the actual songs "Young and Healthy" and "Shuffle off to Buffalo" both originally came from 42nd Street--neither short were actually featured on the movie's specific disc (Young and Healthy was featured alongside Footlight Parade, while Shuffle was a bonus for Gold Diggers of 1935). So, for whatever it's worth, this Blu-ray edition tries to put things back into a historic perspective.
Young and Healthy will be the same off-the-shelf mid-90s Turner transfer that appeared on the 2006 DVD (two words that Cartoon Network viewers will recognize in a heartbeat: "Dubbed version"). Meanwhile, Shuffle off to Buffalo will be the 2008 HD transfer originally restored and remastered for the Golden Collection Volume Six, this time presented in 1080p resolution for the first time. In fact, Shuffle off to Buffalo will be the disc's only special feature in high definition!
42nd Street is scheduled to be released on Blu-ray on April 21. Warner Archive has not announced a retail price yet, and a pre-order link will be posted as soon as one becomes available.
March 13, 2015
Something may be on the horizon through Warner Archive!
This past Wednesday, the one and only Jerry Beck made one of his regular appearances on Stu Shostak's online radio show...um, Stu's Show. Hopefully most everyone was able to listen to the episode live for free, but if you missed out on it, you can download a "rerun" for just ninety-nine cents at the show's web site: www.stusshow.com
Although a considerable amount of time was devoted to discussing home video (at least, more so than even in past appearances), there was very little major significant news. As Jerry states almost every time he appears on the program, DVD and Blu-ray animation releases intended for collectors are now just too much of a niche market for the studios to invest heavily in (even referring to the upcoming Tom and Jerry: The Gene Deitch Collection as the "last" of the Warner releases to target collectors and completists). Even Stu lamented that things weren't looking good when one minor bright spot was a DVD of a few Format Films Alvin Show episodes from the 1960s.
What did slightly reassure listeners, though, was a small tease Jerry gave during the first half of the show regarding Warner Archive.
According to Jerry, "We are working on a classic Looney Tunes project."
Absolutely no further details were offered, and the comment was made so casually that Stu had even forgotten about it when Jerry brought it up again later in the show. Jerry did, however, diffuse any possibility of the shorts appearing on the Warner Archive Instant streaming service anytime soon, as Cartoon Network currently holds the streaming rights to the library in addition to the broadcast rights.
The only other significant Looney Tunes news came not from Warner Home Video but from Thunderbean Animation, as the label's Private Snafu Golden Classics compilation will be released on Blu-ray in June. Jerry said the set will be a slight upgrade from the DVD version, as the shorts are undergoing another round of remastering to ensure that they are all in high definition.
Sadly, the good news pretty much ended there, at least as far as the major studios go. Warner properties were especially in a holding pattern. Obviously, there has been no movement on either Tom and Jerry Golden Collection Volume Two or the missed-it-by-that-much "Censored 11" collection (leading to a quick discussion about how Warner is so PC-paranoid when it comes to Looney Tunes that the "censored 11" has unofficially ballooned to something more like the "censored 111"). Meanwhile, the Tex Avery MGM shorts as a whole are simply too expensive to remaster for any kind of comprehensive release, and (at least to their credit) Warner refuses to simply release off-the-shelf copies in the era of HD television and Blu-ray.
And in related news, things aren't looking good on the Popeye front. As most fans know, the fate of the Famous Popeye shorts on home video are tied to whether or not Sony will release its long-awaited Popeye CGI movie, as Warner sees no real reason to invest in remastering the cartoons without some "event" to create awareness for the property. Unfortunately, the movie itself is hanging by a thread because it's consistently at the mercy of Sony executives who simply don't "get" Popeye and don't believe anyone would want to spend money seeing a movie about him. Jerry explained that he's tried to help the cause as much as he can, even revealing that he was partly responsible for the "leaked" test footage that made the rounds online a few months ago. So unless Sony has a serious change of heart or the movie eventually goes into turnaround and another studio takes a leap of faith and picks up the project, it's becoming less and less likely that the movie will be released. Why all of this is important to the shorts is because Warner is aware of the situation at Sony and is not going to just start proactively remastering the cartoons on the off-chance the movie eventually gets released. Once the movie is given a guaranteed release date will Warner even consider moving forward with putting the Famous shorts on Blu-ray or DVD.
Speaking of our favorite one-eyed sailor, Jerry did offer one little piece of insight when Stu asked about Warner's political correctness when it comes to classic cartoons, specifically why the studio is so protective about "controversial" Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry shorts but had no problem releasing all of the Fleischer Popeye cartoons in all of their sexist and racist glory. Simple answer: Warner Bros. doesn't own the Popeye character, so it's no skin off their nose how the character is perceived by the public and (perhaps more importantly) how that may affect licensing.
So it seems that the Warner Archive will be the future of decent Looney Tunes releases on home video...but we've heard that before. Still, fingers crossed!
March 5, 2015
The latest news (if any) of Looney Tunes on home video!
It's that time once again! This upcoming Wednesday, March 11, Jerry Beck will be making his semi-annual appearance on Stu's Show, the online radio show hosted by cartoon/pop culture/television nut and home video pioneer Stu Shostak. Airing at 7PM EST, the show offers a free stream for those who tune in live, but fans can hear a "rerun" of the episode for a mere ninety-nine cents at the show's web site: www.stusshow.com soon after.
Whenever Stu has Jerry on the show, the two often engage in lively discussions about all things animation. Everything under the sun comes up, from recent theatrical movies to book projects to television series...and everything else inbetween! And of course, Jerry will report on the latest news on the home video front.
And hey, since this year marks not only Bugs Bunny's 75th birthday but also the 85th anniversary of the Looney Tunes franchise, might we hear some good news from Warner Home Video? Hey, stop laughing.
You can send questions via the web site linked above, and Stu may or may not convey them to Jerry during the show.
And like we always say beforehand and afterward, please remember that Jerry only works as a consultant for Warner Home Video on select projects. He does not control or have final say on programming or release matters; he can only try to comment on situations as best as he can...and even then, he is sometimes contractually required to not say anything about certain upcoming releases. The information he gives is never meant to be inferred as any sort of official statement from the studio and that the studio can and does change its plans on a whim without telling him.
If there is any specific relevant DVD or Blu-ray news, we will of course report it here after the show...IF. And as we usually do, we hope to be posting live updates as they happen on our Facebook page...but of course, you should tune in and give the show a listen, too. Hey, it's free!
Stu just recently aired his landmark 400th episode, and the weekly topics cover everything from comic books to classic TV to movies to everything else a pop culture nut loves. You may become an addict if you listen in!
Meanwhile, it's also that time of year for us where we will soon be moving last year's news updates away from this page, creating a new "2014 Archive" page linked to at the bottom. So if you've linked to any our updates in the past year, be prepared to update any links to go to the new archive page. Just a heads up.
Be sure to check out Stu's Show this Wednesday!
February 17, 2015
NOT REAL CARTOONS! AVOID! AVOID! AVOID!
We cannot stress enough that these DVDs do NOT contain any classic Looney Tunes shorts. Instead, they feature unfunny, derivative Flash webtoons that were created for the Looney Tunes web site a decade and a half ago, parodying such heavily mined territory as movies and reality TV.
Stranger Than Fiction includes the following....
The Bermuda Short
Who Wants to Be a Martian-aire?
Gone in 30 Minutes
The Taming of the Screwball
Loch Ness Mess
Twick or Tweety
Daffy's Meet Market
Hogs & Kisses
Island of Dr. Moron
Planet of the Taz
Beneath the Planet of the Taz
Enough with the Planet of the Taz
Reality Check includes the following....
Sports Blab #1
Sports Blab #2
Aluminum Chef #1
Aluminum Chef #2
Junkyard Run #1
Junkyard Run #2
Junkyard Run #3
Inherit the Windbag
Survival of the Dimmest
Bleach, Blanket, Bang-O
I've Misplaced My Piano
Speared, Seared and Feared
Oh My Darlin' Serpentine
Obstacles, of Course
Fowl Be Comin' Round the Mountain
As we said when these reissues were first announced, we do NOT consider these webtoons to be traditional Looney Tunes shorts, nor do (or will) any of the webtoon titles appear in the filmographies presented throughout our site. We do NOT recommend these titles at all!
Still, if you need to complete some sort of misguided character-merchandise collection, Looney Tunes: Stranger Than Fiction is now in stores on DVD only and retails for $9.97. Order it now on Amazon.
Looney Tunes: Reality Check, meanwhile, is also in stores on DVD only and also retails for $9.97. Order it now on Amazon.
DO NOT BUY THESE THINGS!
January 29, 2015
In stores May 26; all repeats
It's the first bit of Looney Tunes news of the year; it's not great, but at least it's not more webtoons. Yesterday, Warner Home Video announced the first classic shorts compilation of 2015, Looney Tunes Musical Masterpieces. The single-disc title will be released on DVD only on May 26.
Those hoping for any new-to-DVD content will be disappointed, especially if one was expecting a DVD version of the 1999 Columbia House VHS of the same name. Instead, the disc is a simple hodgepodge of cartoons already released on various Golden and Platinum sets.
Here is the main content. Shorts that have already been released on DVD are noted....
A Corny Concerto (1943) (Golden Collection Volume Two)
Rabbit of Seville (1950) (Golden Collection Volume One)
One Froggy Evening (1955) (Golden Collection Volume Two)
Rhapsody Rabbit (1946) (Golden Collection Volume Two)
What's Opera, Doc? (1957) (Golden Collection Volume Two)
Hillbilly Hare (1950) (Golden Collection Volume Three)
Pizzicato Pussycat (1955) (Golden Collection Volume Four)
Nelly's Folly (1961) (Platinum Collection Volume Three)
I Love to Singa (1936) (Golden Collection Volume Two)
Page Miss Glory (1936) (Golden Collection Volume Six)
Katnip Kollege (1938) (Golden Collection Volume Two)
High Note (1960) (Platinum Collection Volume Three)
Pigs in a Polka (1943) (Golden Collection Volume Three)
Three Little Bops (1957) (Golden Collection Volume Two)
Rhapsody in Rivets (1941) (Platinum Collection Volume Three)
Back Alley Oproar (1948) (Golden Collection Volume Two)
Holiday for Shoestrings (1946) (Golden Collection Volume Five)
Lights Fantastic (1942) (Golden Collection Volume Six)
The announced bonus features are also recycled, as they are all Behind the Tunes featurettes from various Golden Collection volumes. The segments included are Merrie Melodies: Carl Stalling and Cartoon Music, It Hopped One Night, Wagnerian Wabbit, and Sing-a-Song of Looney Tunes.
The studio's official synopsis for the title reads as follows....
Prepare for a musical experience as only Looney Tunes can deliver! From the brilliant minds of maestro Carl Stalling and animation legends including Friz Freleng and Chuck Jones, [comma NOT needed, for once!] comes [sic - come] 18 musical treasures. Join the likes of Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, and Porky Pig in classics including Corny Concerto, What's Opera, Doc? [comma needed] and Rabbit of Seville. Dive deeper into the vaults with gems like Three Little Bops, I Love to Singa [comma needed] and Rhapsody in Rivets. Let's go to the symphony with this must-own collection of Musical Masterpieces!
The cover art (at right) is nothing to write home about, but at least it's more than just a collage of the standard-issue shaded control art (well, except for Michigan there). The inclusion of Daffy on the cover is odd considering he doesn't appear in any of the cartoons contained on the disc (despite the persistence of some who think the nondescript black baby duck in A Corny Concerto must be Daffy, even though black is a pretty normal color for ducks).
If you already own all of the boxed sets then obviously there is no reason to purchase this DVD. But, if for some reason you needed a single-disc "best of"-style collection, this actually looks like it will be a pretty satisfying disc, perhaps more so than the similar Center Stage DVDs from last year.
Looney Tunes Musical Masterpieces is scheduled to be released on May 26 and will retail for $19.97. Pre-order it now on Amazon.