While the Pink Panther films may be best remembered for Peter Sellers' hilarious portrayal of a bumbling French detective, their intricate and equally hilarious animated opening title sequences are just as memorable. The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection Vol. 1 brings together 20 animated shorts featuring the titular infamous Pink Panther giving the rib to a hapless detective character. They're quick, noncommittal pieces of animation, but they're fun and provide diverting entertainment. No Pink Panther movie collection is truly complete without this set. With terrific picture and audio quality, consider this Blu-ray Recommended.
When Blake Edwards' 1963 comedy romp The Pink Panther landed in theaters, it was greeted with howls of laughter. While Peter Sellers may have been the comedic heavyweight of that film and its subsequent sequels, the Pink Panther prominently featured in the opening animated titles was an instant sensation. While it took some time for the sequels to come out, audiences were satiated with a barrage of animated shorts featuring the titular pink embodiment of the swinging 60s.
As a kid growing up I got to enjoy a number of these. As my Dad was a frequent customer of Columbia House stocking up our VHS collection with MGM classics and all of the James Bond films, it seemed like almost every tape we owned opened with a Pink Panther short before the main feature. Sitting back and watching these shorts again after all these years; it was like dunking into a warm bath of nostalgia. So many of my favorite movies, A Fistful of Dollars, You Only Live Twice, in addition to the all of the Peter Sellers Pink Panther films were opened with an extra short or two featuring the sly pink feline.
Granted, this isn't the sort of disc that I would naturally pull out on a quiet afternoon in need of visual stimuli, but they are a lot of fun. Starting out with the Oscar-winning short The Pink Phink, this collection of shorts from DePatie Freleng is a terrific example of visual comedy. Nearly void of any dialogue, you're left to quickly infer the scenarios, what the goofy Panther is up to, and what the episode's hapless chump is going to have to endure. Thankfully, each of these shorts is accompanied by a terrific Hanry Mancini score that perfectly accompanies the action.
Like I said, these are very short; each episode is all of about six-minutes long. So if you're looking for something to put on that's noncommittal but will quickly pass the time, The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection Vol. 1 offers up enough fun to fill that quota. Given their short runtime and stylized hijinks timed perfectly to a swinging jazzy score, I'm curious to see how kids take to these shorts. I don't have little ones of my own, but I recently spent a few days with my nieces and I couldn't help but wish I had this disc with me at the time. Considering all of the bizarre stuff they pulled up on YouTube, I'd be willing to bet real money that they'd find these a lot of fun. At least my inner child who wants to pass down a legacy of cinematic memories onto the next generation hopes they would enjoy it.
While I have a lot of love for these shorts, they really are for the fans of the DePatie Freleng studio style. If you're not gung-ho for that sort of short subject style, or if you're simply not a Pink Panther fan, you may not take to these. For me, watching these shorts was like a stroll down memory lane and thankfully it was a pleasant one. I always worry about not enjoying something that I used to love when I was a kid. Nostalgia can be fickle that way. Thankfully, this collection of short-subject hilarity holds up - at least to my memories. I probably won't pull them out all the time, but on those days where I'm scouring my shelves for something to watch, I'll be glad when I spot these.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection Vol. 1 arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber Animation. Pressed onto a Region A locked BD-50 disc, the disc is housed in a standard sturdy Blu-ray case and features reversible artwork. The disc loads directly to a static image main menu with traditional navigation options. You can select which short you want to watch, or you can view them all in one go through the "play all" function.
Considering their relative age and low-budget production stylings that is indicative of the DePatie Freleng studio, The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection Vol. 1 actually makes for a pleasing 1.33:1 1080p bow on Blu-ray. Aside from some slight speckling and a couple of scratches on some of the shorts, each short story generally appears to be in great shape. Colors are robust while leaning heavily on pastel-tinged purples, pinks, and reds. Details are strong for what they are and depth is appreciable. It's pretty obvious which shorts had a better budget as the animation can look pretty rudimentary, almost recycled in places. All around, fans of these shorts should be very pleased with their appearance.
Each of the shorts presented in this collection arrives with a decent but not fully remarkable DTS-HD MA 2.0. With only a few exceptions, these shorts are void of any vocal work and instead rely on the jazz scores and Mancini theme to push the action forward. Some musically motivated sound effects work their way in and help punch things up. While most of the shorts are in great shape, a few of them suffer from softness and hiss issues that keep things from truly coming to life. Taken as a whole, these audio mixes are about on par with previous Kino Lorber Animation releases of past DePatie Freleng releases.
Audio Commentaries Each short is given a quick audio commentary by either filmmaker Greg Ford, cartoon writer William Hohauser, author Mark Arnold, or Bob Kurtz. While these commentaries aren't afforded a lot of time to explore each production, they do offer up enough trivia to make them worth a listen.
If you're a die-hard Pink Panther fan and prominently feature the Pink Panther Collection on your shelf, The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection Vol. 1 is a terrific companion piece. With twenty six-minute shorts, you're treated to over two hours worth of fun and entertaining jazzy shenanigans featuring the titular pink feline. Not all of the shorts are amazing comedy classics, but enough of them are great that even if you just let them all roll you'll be laughing enough to make the venture worth the time. Kino Lorber Animation has done a solid job bringing these shorts to Blu-ray in this first collection. While some of the shorts are in a little rougher shape than others, overall they display a pleasing A/V presence. The commentaries offered for each short is a welcome bonus. If you're a fan or enjoy the DePatie Freleng stylings, The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection Vol. 1 is an easy one to call Recommended.