One of my all time favorite animators and contributors to Warner Bros.’ Termite Terrace, it’s nice to see Tex Avery being given the best treatment. His shorts haven’t aged at all, they’re still wildly funny, absolutely insane, and you’re guaranteed to laugh a few times, even if these shorts aren’t exactly your bag. As a hardcore animation fan, “Screwball Classics” has so far chronicled some of the best from Avery, all uncut and in their original format. Volume 3 offers a lot of the same classic Tex Avery toons that are always worth re-visiting.
Some of the best shorts include “Happy Go Nutty,” the only Screwy Squirrel short in Volume 3 where he attempts to outsmart a dim-witted guard dog after escaping from Moron Manor. “Little ‘Tinker” is an absolute childhood favorite about a lovelorn skunk who just can’t seem to attract a mate even after he performs as a Frank Sinatra-esque cooner the other girls adoringly call “Frankie.” The brilliant “Cellbound” centers on a prisoner escaping prison by means of a spoon a la “Shawshank Redemption.” He accidentally winds up in the warden’s TV and has to entertain him or else he might be caught.
This is another one of the genius shorts that never stops being funny. “Deputy Droopy,” despite being a lazy re-remake of “Rock-a-Bye Bear,” “Quiet Please,” and “Royal Cat Nap” is still pretty damn funny all the same. Plus it’s hard to not root for Droopy. “Rock-a-Bye Bear” on the other hand is a funny short with the exact same premise, but still fun overall.
Perhaps the main draw of this new release is the ten minutes “Blitz Wolf.” This is an uncut satire of WWII with the wolf portraying none other than Hitler. Or as his tank says “Der Fewer (Der Better).” This is an obvious on the nose mockery of Adolf Hitler with his efforts to eat the three little pigs. Of course, they manage to outsmart him every single time. Thankfully, this inclusion is completely uncut, allowing for appreciation from collectors and analyses from animation buffs alike. It’s a very good short that you don’t get to see on television anymore.
Other shorts includes “The Early Bird Dood It,” “One Ham’s Family,” “Jerky Turkey,” “The Shooting of Dan McGoo,” “Swing Shift Cinderella,” “Wild and Woolfy,” “Northwest Hounded Police,” “Slap Happy Lion,” “King-Size Canary,” “What Price Fleadom,” “Señor Droopy,” “Cock-a-Doodle Dog,” “Little Johnny Jet,” and finally “Billy Boy.” Despite some lesser shorts included (I’m not a fan of “Senor Droopy”) this is a solid addition to the Tex Avery collection. Sadly there’s only one (albeit great) feature included, the 1941 short The Crackpot Quail.
It’s a Merrie Melodies short, directed by Avery during his final year at Warner Bros. It follows an inept but lovable hunting dog as he tries to catch a quail… but mostly just runs into trees. It apparently hasn’t been seen on digital home video since the The Golden Age of Looney Tunes, Volume 1 (circa 1991) and is now restored to match the other Avery shorts. It also features the original 1941 soundtrack for the first time, making use of a very particular sound effect that apparently didn’t pass rigid Hays Code rules back in the early 1900’s.