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Tex Avery's Droopy
DVD disk
06.01.2007 By: Mathew Plale
Tex Avery's Droopy order
Director:
Tex Avery, Dick Lundy, Michael Lah

Actors:
Droopy
The Wolf
Butch

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
In this collection of all 24 Droopy shorts, we follow the lovable Tex Avery-created bassett hound as he thinks fast but walks slow to outwit enemies The Wolf and Butch/Spike.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
On March 20th, 1943, a basset hound by the name of Droopy burst (or rather, strolled) onto the screen, and in a voice reminiscent of that of Alfred Hitchcock, muttered, “Hello all you happy people…I’m the hero.” The MGM hound (voiced by radio personality Bill Thompson) was a creation of Fred “Tex” Avery’s, who had already established himself at Warner Bros. by developing iconic cartoons Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.

It would be two years after Droopy’s debut (Dumb-Hounded) until he would appear again—in two westerns, The Shooting of Dan McGoo and Wild and Woolfy. From his very first scene, Droopy was always lagging behind, yet always one step ahead of his early nemesis, The Wolf. Avery’s fourth Droopy outing, Northwest Hounded Police (a sequel to Dumb-Hounded), is another featuring the witty Droopy as he pursues The Wolf after a second prison escape.

Between 1949’s Señor Droopy (where Droopy is first referred to by name) and 1951’s Droopy’s Double Trouble, the slow-pawed, quick-minded hound’s range included portraying a bullfighter, an heir to a family fortune (Wags to Riches, which marked Spike/Butch the bulldog’s first appearance), a foxhunter (where Droopy politely asked his “prey” to surrender), a casual athlete (The Chump Champ, in which our hero is in top form, both physical and comedic), a circus hopeful, a pup-scout, and a butler (the introduction of his twin brother Drippy is classic).

Following Double Trouble, Avery was on hiatus from the MGM animation studio. During this time, Dick Lundy (creator of Donald Duck) directed his only Droopy short, Caballero Droopy. Avery’s absence looms over the short, as Lundy stoops to tactics and animation not generally traveled in the land of Droopy.

Avery returned the following year for 1953’s The Three Little Pups, a clever take on the Three Little Pigs tale featuring an updated version of The Wolf. Drag-A-Long Droopy and Homesteader Droopy (with out of place narration) followed the western approach of Avery’s earlier works. One of the more groundbreaking Avery shorts was 1954’s Dixieland Droopy, a hip story that featured a modern approach to animation and cigarette-smoking fleas. It would be Avery’s next-to-last Droopy short as the sole director, and one of his final works at MGM. His assistant, Michael Lah, would serve as co-director on Deputy Droopy and take over the final six Droopy shorts after the Cinemascope-shot Millionaire Droopy, a remake of Wags to Riches.

Lah kept up with the times, assuring that Cinemascope would be featured in the remaining six Droopy shorts (most of which are mediocre at best), including the Academy Award nominated One Droopy Knight (1957). This was a feat that Avery never accomplished, at least not with his beloved hound. But the Oscar nomination (the award went to the Sylvester & Tweety short Birds Anonymous) means little in the long run of the Droopy saga. The stories, animation, and appeal of Droopy had faded without Tex Avery.

It isn’t the catchy one-liners (which Bugs Bunny essentially relied on) that make Droopy so appealing to audiences, though his monotonous delivery marks “You know what? I’m happy” as a staple in animated catchphrases. It’s his mild-mannered approach to being a “hero,” as he labeled himself in 1943 that is so endearing…and the genius gags certainly don’t hurt.

We should thank Tex Avery and Bill Thompson (producer Fred Quimby shouldn't go unmentioned, either) for this. Without these two men, Droopy would be less than a memory. Following a break from showbiz, Droopy appeared in a series of television shorts, this time voiced by both Frank Welker (Scooby Doo) and producer Lou Scheimer. In 1988, Droopy had a memorable cameo in Who Framed Roger Rabbit as an elevator operator. The lovable hound has made his way into the 21st century, courtesy of Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, using Droopy’s trademark vocals to mock Senator Joe Lieberman.

Though he gets little work today, Droopy is implanted in our minds. He may not have the fanbase of a Bugs Bunny, but he’s got just as much wit, charm, creativity, and overall appeal to place him in the ranks.
THE EXTRAS
Droopy & Friends: A Laugh Back (18:18): This lovely piece follows animation god Avery’s journey to Hollywood through narration and commentary from cartoonists, with an obvious emphasis on his MGM/Droopy days. The narration informs us of the adult content laced throughout the shorts, while the animators offer an analysis of everyone’s favorite pooch. This tribute is an excellent addition to this double-disc set.

Doggone Gags (5:03): This is a short collection of Droopy’s “best” gags, at least according to those putting together the disc. Worth a look, but only after viewing the original shorts.

There are also Trailers for upcoming DVD releases, including a strange looking cartoon called Wait Till Your Father Gets Home and Popeye the Sailor (1933-1938), Vol. 1.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
We’ve had numerous Disney collections, and Looney Tunes has released their Golden Collection series. Now, as MGM and cartoon nuts, we’ve got Tex Avery’s Droopy: The Complete Theatrical Collection, a must-have not just for fans of the clever basset hound and animation-lovers, but those who appreciate the Golden Age of Animation at its finest.
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