Blu-ray Review: Tex Avery Screwball Classics: Volume 1 (1943-1951) | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Thursday, December 3rd, 2020  

Tex Avery Screwball Classics: Volume 1 (1943-1951)

Studio: Warner Archive

Apr 01, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Longtime readers will know we hold a special place in our hearts for animation from Hollywood’s golden age . . . and earlier. While Blu-ray has spoiled us for Disney classics, Looney Tunes, and a handful of other re-mastered releases, some big names have been suspiciously absent from the HD format: perhaps none more notable than Tex Avery, who bounced from working on Bugs to headlining his own shorts in the 1940s.

In his early career at Warner Bros., Tex Avery had a hand in creating several beloved Looney Tunes characters including Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, and Bugs Bunny. After butting heads with the studio boss, Avery moved to MGM, where the Technicolor films found in this set came to fruition. The shorts collected on Screwball Classics: Volume 1 aren’t nearly as well-remembered as the Merrie Melodies or Silly Symphonies of the era, but that’s likely because they skew more adult than those—and thus, didn’t make their way into the Saturday Morning Cartoon rotation for the next half-century. If you’re not familiar with these particular films, you’ll probably know a few of the characters they introduced, such as Droopy Dog, Screwy Squirrel, or his bug-eyed, tongue-rolling Wolf character.

Beautifully re-mastered here, Avery’s bright colors and madcap motion look incredible. These are Avery’s trademark fast-paced, gag-every-five-seconds style of storytelling, but geared towards the grown-up moviegoer of the day. Kids will laugh at the visual jokes, while adults will better appreciate the retelling of Red Hot Riding Hood with Red as something of a gangster’s moll, and Symphony in Slang – which plays visually on popular, ‘40s turns-of-phrase – could potentially fly over a child’s head. But, for the adult enthusiast, this is a superb archive of hilarious cartoons that reputedly haven’t been re-released since the LaserDisc era. We’re hoping it does well enough to merit a volume two which collects another large swath of Avery’s MGM-era filmography.



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