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Abbott and Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection Blu-ray Review

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“Abbott and Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection” delivers a whole lot of content.

As the title suggests, this box set contains the complete 1940-1955 Abbott and Costello Universal Pictures Collection comprised of 28 films: “One Night In The Tropics,” “Little Giant,” “The Naughty Nineties,” “Buck Privates,” “Buck Privates Come Home,” “Who Done It?,” “In Society,” “Here Come The Co-Eds,” “The Wistful Widow Of Wagon Gap,” “The Time Of Their Lives,” “Meet The Killer, Boris Karloff,” “In the Foreign Legion,” “Mexican Hayride,” “Keep ‘Em Flying,” “Ride ‘Em Cowboy,” “Go To Mars,” “Lost In Alaska,” “Pardon My Sarong,” “Comin’ Round The Mountain,” “In The Navy,” “Hold That Ghost,” “It Ain’t Hay,” “Hit The Ice,” “Meet The Keystone Kops,” and the Universal Monsters films “Meet Frankenstein,” “Meet The Invisible Man,” “Meet The Mummy,” and “Meet Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde.”Throughout these feature films, the titular comedy duo enter a haunted house, bump into Universal Monsters, enlist in the army, get mixed up in murder plots, join the air corps and French Foreign Legion, act as cowboys and confidence men, encounter gangsters and so on.

When it comes to comedy teams, the talents of Abbott and Costello cannot be overlooked. Not only were they highly influential and huge movie stars, but they were responsible for many iconic comedic routines and films that have continued to endure to this day. The two actors just seem to play off each other so well even though they couldn’t be more different. Bud Abbott was the straight man who played the smarter character that tended to be annoyed, angry and slap happy. Lou Costello often played the bumbling dope who made loud noises, embraced physical comedy, caused trouble and was a scaredy cat. Together the two created cinematic magic in stand-outs like the highly entertaining “The Naughty Nineties” (which contains the ever iconic “Who’s On First” bit), the 4 crossover films with the Universal Monsters (with “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” being the crown jewel of the lot) and the joyful army comedy “Buck Privates” where everything just seems to click.

Of course, given that there is such a large body of work, not everything here is perfect. Many of the plots are interchangable or recycled, plots tend to feel wrapped around routines, cliched romance stories are tossed in, there are numerous random musical moments (including several by The Andrews Sisters) which seem to pad the runtime, and many movies are downright average or just duds (“Mexican Hayride” comes to mind). And yet, none of this really matters as the movies are designed to be comfort comedies that appeal to fans young and old. You want to see wordplay, character antics and adventures, one-liners, and the two playing different characters in different settings. Basically, you know what you’re getting with an Abbott and Costello comedy and you wouldn’t have it any other way.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.33:1 or 1.85:1 1080p. How do they look? For the most part, these films have never looked better as the majority of the films have pristine B&W prints. Granted, some vary in quality (“Hit The Ice” looks a bit rough) and contain print defects, but those are minor quibbles.

Audio Track: 2.0 DTS-HD MA. How do they sound? The tracks do the job, but they do sound a bit flat as tends to be the case for 2.0 tracks.

Extras:

* Theatrical trailer, image gallery and production notes for all films except no trailers for “Pardon My Sarong,” “It Ain’t Hay,” “The Naughty Nineties,” “Little Giant,” “In The Foreign Legion,” “Comin’ Round The Mountain,” “Meet The Keystone Kops” and no production notes for “The Time Of Their Lives.” There is also an Abbott and Costello trailer reel.

* Bloopers for “It Ain’t Hay,” “Hit The Ice” “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” and “Little Giant”

* A booklet featuring a bio, a guide to the movies, and trivia.

* Commentary on “Buck Privates” by Ron Palumbo and Bob Furmanek

* Commentary on “Hold That Ghost” by Jeff Miller.

* Commentary on “Keep ‘Em Flying,” “It Ain’t Hay,” “Hit The Ice,” “The Naughty Nineties,” “Little Giant,” “Mexican Hayride,” and “Ride ‘Em Cowboy” by Scott Allen Nollen.

* Commentary on “Ride ‘Em Cowboy” by James L. Neibaur

* Commentary on “Who Done It?” by Frank Conniff. As a Frank fan, it was great to hear his thoughts along with some historical facts.

* Commentary on “The Time Of Their Lives” by Frank Thompson.

* Commentary on “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” by Gregory W. Mank

* Commentary on “Meet The Killer, Boris Karloff” and “Meet The Mummy” by Troy Howarth

* Commentary on “Meet Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde” by Tom Weaver and Richard Scrivani

* “Abbott and Costello Meet Castle Films”- 8 shorts and poster stills.
* “Abbott And Costello Meet The Monsters”- A 33 minute special about the Universal Monsters crossovers.
* “Abbott And Costello Meet Jerry Seinfeld”- Jerry Seinfeld hosts a 45 minute special about the history of Abbott and Costello.
* “The World of Abbott and Costello”- A 74 documentary about the comedy duo
* “Abbott And Costello Behind The Scenes”- A 17 minute featurette about Abbott and Costello cinema history.
* “Abbott and Costello Film Stories”- A 50 minute interview with film historian James L. Neibaur.
* “Abbott and Costello Life and Legacy”- A 73 minute special that sheds light on their lives

 

December 30, 2019 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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