Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Book Review: THE 100 GREATEST LOONEY TUNES CARTOONS, edited by Jerry Beck (Insight Editions, 2010)
Herein lie the considered opinions of numerous gurus, animation figures, and fans as to the 100 best Warner Bros. short cartoons (and, yes, Merrie Melodies are considered to be Looney Tunes for the purposes of this volume; let's don't be too pedantic). I don't have many complaints with most of the choices that were made. Certain characters, such as Pepe Le Pew and Foghorn Leghorn, get rather short-sheeted, but, then again, they're not among Warners' most inspired creations. The small number of Coyote and Road Runner epics that made the list is a little more surprising, given Chuck Jones' exalted reputation. I'd prefer to think of this as a simple realization of the severe limitations of those rigidly structured, mercilessly repetitive little enterprises. Far better for the critics to draw from the deep, nourishing well of the 1940s and early 1950s, when the Warners cartoons were at their very best. (And... of course... Baseball Bugs is among those drawn. For me, that cartoon is like the wanted poster that gets attached to people's legs during John Ford's The Informer. I simply can't escape it, either on TV, in print, or in puzzle form at the old Warner Bros. store in Manhattan. Ask Joe Torcivia about this sometime if you don't believe me.) Most of the critical comments are cogent, and only a few fly off into a postmodern Wackyland. This book really should be reissued in a larger, handsomer form at some point... and wouldn't it be great if a future edition could also include DVDs with the 100 greatest Loonies on them?