Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Perfect Snafu

Steve Stanchfield, proprietor of Thunderbean Animation, is already held in the highest regard for his historical animation DVD releases. Stanchfield works on a shoestring, yet the quality of the prints he uses, the commentaries and extras he includes, rival DVDs from multinational corporations. The simple fact is that he cares more for the contents of his DVDs than they do.

Steve has outdone himself with his latest release, the Private Snafu Golden Classics. These cartoon shorts were made for the American military during World War II and were humorous tales of the many ways a soldier could screw up, risking his own life and the lives of others.

What makes this release so special is that Steve has located the original 35mm negatives to use as his video masters and these cartoons, which represent the Warner Bros. studio at the height of its skills, have never looked better. Cartoons directed by Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett, Frank Tashlin and Friz Freleng, with animation by Ken Harris, Bob Cannon, Bob McKimson, Rod Scribner, Art Davis, Izzy Ellis, Virgil Ross, and Gerry Chiniquy, look as good as the cartoons restored by Warner Bros. The stills included here are from the DVD.

Besides great looking films full of wonderful gags and animation, Steve has recruited John Kricfalusi, Eric Goldberg, Jerry Beck, Mike Kazaleh and yours truly to provide audio commentaries. In addition, there are storyboard panels, magazine covers of Snafu by Ray Harryhausen(!) and a maquette of Snafu from the collection of Tony Eastman.

Whether you're interested in animation history, Warner Bros, great animation or you just want to laugh -- because these cartoons were for soldiers, they're a lot more risque than any Looney Tune -- you will find this collection highly satisfying.

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