More Classic Animated Fun From A Legend

Containing twenty more fantastically funny shorts from the influential animator Tex Avery’s MGM tenure, we now have nearly all of his output on Blu-ray thanks to Volume 3. Let’s hope the rumors of a volume four finishing out Avery’s shorts, including the more problematic material, are true.

Unlike prior volumes, the shorts are presented in chronological order starting with the fascinating WWII propaganda piece Blitz Wolf. It adapts the three little pigs fairytale with the wolf playing Adolph Hitler. Blitz Wolf is a product of its time and Warner gives an obligatory warning disclaimer before the disc plays.

Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 3 contains some of the animator’s most essential work at MGM

For my money, Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 3 contains some of the animator’s most essential work at MGM. Senor Droopy and Cellbound are two of my personal favorites. The beloved animator explores holiday themes with wicked twists in One Ham’s Family and Jerky Turkey. Familiar characters like Droopy, Screwy Squirrel and Butch the Dog all have their moments in various settings – Volume 3 spans everything from prison to Western saloons.

Packed with visual gags galore and an uncanny knack for unexpected twists, Tex Avery’s immense talents are on full display in Volume 3. These are some of his funniest and most engaging animated shorts.

Volume 3’s Shorts

BLITZ WOLF (09:51)
THE EARLY BIRD DOOD IT (08:50)
ONE HAM’S FAMILY (07:37)
HAPPY GO NUTTY (07:17)
JERKY TURKEY (07:30)
THE SHOOTING OF DAN McGOO (07:51)
SWING SHIFT CINDERELLA (07:44)
WILD AND WOLFY (07:37)
NORTHWEST HOUNDED POLICE (07:30)
SLAP HAPPY LION (07:26)
KING SIZE CANARY (07:55)
WHAT PRICE FLEADOM (06:57)
LITTLE TINKER (07:17)
SENOR DROOPY (08:20)
COCK-A-DOODLE DOG (06:43)
ROCK-A-BYE BEAR (07:24)
LITTLE JOHNNY JET (07:04)
BILLY BOY (06:05)
DEPUTY DROOPY (06:33)
CELLBOUND (06:29)

Video

Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 3 features far more organic transfers than the questionable work sometimes found on Volume 2. This is how Avery’s classic MGM shorts should have been treated from the beginning. The included shorts never looked so good, featuring vivid colors in stark clarity and focus.

Hollywood was economically hit hard during the COVID pandemic and it seriously affected staffing over at Warner Archive. Consultant George Feltenstein is back, who has provided guidance on projects like Tex Avery at Warner for many years.

Most blame the heavy DNR occasionally seen on Volume 2 from a lack of oversight while Feltenstein was away from the company. That has been corrected here with all twenty shorts of Volume 3 mostly employing the best extant film elements. The new 4K scans produce properly saturated colors, strong black levels, and beautifully crisp definition.

Most importantly for classic animation fans and purists, no overzealous processing is evident. Some shorts pop more than others with stronger depth and animated detail. Overall, it’s a large upgrade over DVD for virtually every short included in Volume 3.

The early war propaganda piece Blitz Wolf unfortunately has to use a rougher dupe element for its first couple minutes, softer and less vibrant than most everything else on this disc. The rest of Blitz Wolf however looks fantastic, a massive bump up in video quality with a sharper focus and enhanced colors. It comes from a 2nd generation color reversal internegative.

All twenty shorts are shown at their native 1.37:1 aspect ratio. The bold 1080p video is encoded in fully transparent AVC. The encode utilizes strong parameters on a single BD-50, smoothly rendering the cel animation, warts and all, without artifacts. Grain reproduction is unfiltered, which does vary a bit between shorts depending on which elements were used. Fans should be eminently pleased with Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 3’s picture quality.

Audio

The original monaural soundtrack for each cartoon short is heard in 2.0 DTS-HD MA, chosen from the best-sounding optical elements available. These are dated recordings with limited dynamic range but generally offer excellent dialogue reproduction. What Price Fleadom’s audio sticks out for its slightly muffled sound. The Shooting of Dan McGoo may offer the best soundtrack. Its effects are heard in resoundingly crisp quality.

Scott Bradley’s musical scores and the myriad toon effects stand out the most in robust fidelity. The earlier shorts from the 1940s have more audible wear but are generally free of serious distortions. The latter shorts produce cleaner sound quality with smoother highs and better mid-ranges.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font.

Extras

Thanks to animation historian Jerry Beck, a Tex Avery short has been restored to its original, uncensored audio. Volume 3’s lone bonus is from Avery’s WB tenure, a 1941 cartoon in which a dog mostly fails hunting down a quail. The restoration is exclusive to this disc.

Warner Archive has retained the same trade dress from prior volumes of Screwball Classics.

The Crackpot Quail (07:40 in HD) – For the first time ever, the short’s censored audio has been restored to its original soundtrack, enhancing its comedic value.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Tex Avery Screwball Classics Vol 3
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
5

Movie

Twenty more classic cartoon shorts from Tex Avery’s MGM tenure comprise this third volume featuring some of his very best work, from Screwball Squirrel to Droopy.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 55 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray: