Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Kino Lorber Animation - THE INSPECTOR, THE ANT AND THE AARDVARK & CRAZYLEGS CRANE on Blu-ray ""

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Kino Lorber Animation - THE INSPECTOR, THE ANT AND THE AARDVARK & CRAZYLEGS CRANE on Blu-ray

These three Blu-rays are the inaugural releases from the new (and greatly anticipated by me) Kino Lorber Animation imprint. All three sets sport good-looking new HD transfers and some nice supplements. Based on these, I'm very much looking forward to more KL Animation discs.
Ryan and I talked about these discs a bit on this episode Off the Shelf (from about 57:00-1:08) if you wanna listen to that as well:
http://criterioncast.com/podcast/off-the-shelf/episode-87-filmstruck-alien-day-and-new-blu-rays

THE INSPECTOR "Crow de Guerre" (excerpt) from Bret Wood on Vimeo.
THE INSPECTOR (1965-69)
This is a really fun show. It's obviously playing off of the Inspector Clouseau character from the PINK PANTHER movies (and the cartoon was later a part of the Pink Panther animated show), which is an enjoyable scenario. The Inspector himself is not exactly like Peter Sellers' rendition, but they have many similarities. This inspector is rather bungling at times (though prone to moments of poor judgement more so than the complete buffoonery of Clouseau) and always taking heat from his boss. He has a sidekick (Sergeant Deux-Deux) who is not exactly like Kato, but the dynamic is familiar. There's a running gag where his sidekick always says, "Si" instead of "Oui", which somehow never gets old somehow. Both The Inspector and Deux-Deux were voiced by capably and humorously by Pat Harrington, Jr. Also, each cartoon typically features a new and colorful evil villain type dude with some scheme or robbery in the works. And the Henry Mancini theme music adds some nice groovy flavor to the whole affair. Good stuff. Two-disc set. Even the episode names are wonderfully clever.

Cartoons Included: (Disc 1) The Great Degaulle Stone Operation, Reux Reaux Reaux Your Boat, Napoleon Blown-Aparte, Cirrhosis of the Louvre, Plastered in Paris, Cock-A Doodle Deux Deux, Ape Suzeete, The Pique Poquette of Paris, Sicque! Sicque! Sicque!, That's No Lady That's Notre Dame!, Unsafe and Seine, Toulouse La Trick, Sacre Bleu Cross, Le Quiet Squad, Bomb Voyage, Le Pig-Al Patrol, Le Bowser Bagger. (Disc Two) Le Escape Goat, Le Cop On Le Rocks, Crow De Guerre, Canadian Can-Can, Tour De Farce, The Shooting of Caribou Lou, London Derriere, Les Miserobots, Transylvania Mania, Bear De Guerre, Cherche Le Phantom, La Great Dane Robbery, Le Ball and Chain Gang, La Feet's Defeat, French Freud, Pierre and Cottage Cheese, Carte Blanched.

THE INSPECTOR "Crow de Guerre" (excerpt) from Bret Wood on Vimeo.

THE ANT AND THE AARDVARK (1969)
Of these three cartoons, I remember seeing this one the most. I did remember that it was kind of a Roadrunner/Wile E. Coyote vibe. It had been a while though and I had totally forgotten that the voice characterizations of the two foes so clearly resembled Dean Martin (in the case of the ant) and Jackie Mason (the aardvark). If that sounds like an unusual comedic rivalry, it is, but it's actually pretty entertaining. It's slightly reminiscent of the Looney Tunes cartoons with Bugs Bunny and The Coyote squaring off against each other. In that case though, there wasn't all that much verbal reparte. In THE ANT AND THE AARDVARK, both characters have sort of a running commentary about their attempts to trick each other. The ant is, like Dino, a cool customer who is always one step ahead. The aardvark is determined, but also quite self depricating - which is certainly a change up from Wile E. Coyote. The whole show is underscored by this peppy, jazzy and goofy horn-based music that gives it all a light Herb Alpert kinda feeling. I think this was my daughter's favorite of the three shows (I made sure to let her sample all of them).

Cartoons Included: The Ant and the Aardvark, Hasty But Tasty, The Ant from Uncle, I've Got Ants in my Plans, Technology Phooey, Never Bug an Ant, Dune Bug, Isle of Caprice, Scratch a Tiger, Odd Ant Out, Ants in the Pantry, Science Friction, Mumbo Jumbo, The Froze Nose Knows, Don't Hustle an Ant with Muscle, Rough Brunch, From Bed to Worse.

THE ANT AND THE AARDVARK "I've Got Ants in My Plans" (excerpt) from Bret Wood on Vimeo.

CRAZYLEGS CRANE (1978)
This was a show that I somehow missed completely in my younger years. There's a very similar dynamic to THE ANT AND THE AARDVARK here. CrazyLegs Crane and his son are often out to catch a dragonfly (he is a literal dragon fly of course and even breathes fire), but are thwarted every time. This reminds me more of a Sylvester and Tweety type situation in that the dragonfly is more innocent and naive than the ant and has few wisecracks, but more often says cute things in a kind of baby voice (almost Andy Kaufman-esque). CrazyLegs himself sounds like a dumb old grandfather and is even less intelligent than the aardvark. It's still entertaining though, if the lesser of the three cartoons releases in this first round.

Cartoons included: Life With Feather, Crane-Brained, Sonic Broom, Winter Blunderland, Storky and Hatch, Fly By Night, Sneaker Snack, King of the Swamp, Barnacle Bird, Animal Crack-Ups, Jet Feathers, Nest Quest, Bug Off, Beach Bummer, Flower Power, Trail of the Lonesome Mine.

CRAZYLEGS CRANE "Sonic Broom" (excerpt) from Bret Wood on Vimeo.

Special features:
Each of these three discs include a couple new short documentaries (directed by animator Greg Ford) about the history and background of these cartoons. The first, "Goodbye, Warner Bros., Hello Depatie-Freleng" (17 mins) tells the story of how former Looney Tunes director/Animator Friz Freleng and David Depatie (who had been running Warner Bros Animation in the mid to late 1950s) ended up forming Depatie-Freleng with United Artists. The second, "Of Aardvarks, Ants, Inspectors, and Cranes" (17 mins) speaks more directly about those productions. Both documentaries have interviews with animation historian Jerry Beck, Will Friedwald, Doug Goodwin, Art Leonardi, Joe Siracusa, Barbara Donatelli, and some archival audio of Friz Freleng himself. I personally am a huge Jerry Beck fan and love to hear him speak about animation, so both of these docs were a delight as far as I was concerned and gave some nice background for these shows.

Each set also have a handful of commentaries on select cartoons by Jerry Beck and author Mark Arnold, Greg Ford with some more archival audio of Friz Freleng as well. Typically there are about 4 episodes that get the commentary treatment for each of the three releases.
The CRAZY LEGS CRANE set only features commentary by Beck and Arnold.

All told, these are a very nice round of discs from Kino and I cannot wait for more!

All three sets are available for purchase from Amazon:
http://amzn.to/20qIJhp

2 comments:

Dr. Freex said...

These are very welcome releases, and they give me hope for my fondest dream: DePatie-Freleng's 1967 entry into the superhero craze, Super President. I waving my money at you right now, Kino-Lorber.

Rupert Pupkin said...

I'd buy that too!