Foghorn Leghorn was created by animator Robert McKimson, who directed all 28 cartoons that featured the character between 1946 and 1963. Voiced by Mel Blanc, as so many Looney Tunes / Merrie Melodies characters were, Foghorn is an adult rooster with a Southern accent and was influenced by a couple of radio personalities: Jack Clifford, who played a character known as The Sheriff on a number of West Coast radio programs, and Kenny Delmar, who played Senator Claghorn, a Southern politician on The Fred Allen Radio Show.
Foghorn was a funny character, a fast talker who was always up to a bit up mischief. His cartoons usually find him playing pranks on his main nemesis Barnyard Dawg (who has been known as other names), trying to avoid the clutches of the diminutive Henry Hawk, or wooing Miss Prissy and dealing with her son the smart-but-silent Egghead Jr. He also had a distinctive way of talking and made occasional jokes direct to the audience.
These cartoons have been remastered and 14 out of the 15 are appearing on DVD for the first time and McKimson directed almost all of them. Before getting to select the cartoons, there’s an option to view them Widescreen or Full Frame. However, not only is it disappointing that they aren’t releasing all 28 Foghorn Leghorns in one release, which they could easily do, but only 9 out of the 15 star Foghorn. The rest is a mix, which is what the “Friends” in the title refers to.
“Gofer Broke” stars the overly polite gophers as they antagonize Barnyard Dawg. I never found them very funny. “A Mutt in a Rutt” features Rover concerned that his owner Elmer Fudd, though the character comes off a little different than usual, is going to try to get rid of him.
In “Mouse-Placed Kitten” a pair of mice adopt an abandoned kitten and visit him when he’s older, but this upsets his new female owner. “Cheese It, The Cat!” feature two mice based on The Honeymooners‘ Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton
The disc concludes with two cartoons directed by Friz Freleng that are the reason there’s a disclaimer about racial insensitivity when the disc begins. Jose and Manuel are two bumbling Mexican crows, although they are only Mexican because of their accent and their sombreros, much like the usually triumphant Speedy Gonzalez. Their portrayal isn’t as egregious as some incidents in animation’s past towards African Americans and Asians, so the disclaimer is only for those with heightened sensitivities. In “Two Crows from Tacos” the hungry birds try to catch a grasshopper, and in “Crows’ Feat” Elmer keeps them away from his cornfield. Here again, Elmer is slightly different than his usual characterization, much more devilish and smarter than when he deals with Bugs Bunny.
Foghorn Leghorn & Friends is a good set of cartoons for 97 minutes, although there’s a reason some of the Friends didn’t appear in many cartoons, evident by what little laughs they derive. Foghorn fans might want to hold out for a better release, but for those who collect rare Warner Brothers cartoons, access to 14 DVD debuts will make this set a valuable addition.