Coming Up Shorts! with… The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 5

Welcome back for another full post of Coming Up Shorts! This time, I’m going with the Hal Roach theatrical shorts featuring The Little Rascals, and some of their shorts from 1935-1936 that have been released together on disc in The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 5.

Here’s a list and quick plot description for each of the shorts included in this set (for my comments on the individual shorts, click on the title to go to my previous reviews):

  1. Anniversary Trouble (1935) (Length: 19 minutes, 22 seconds)
    • Spanky (George McFarland) has been elected the treasurer of the Gang’s club (“Ancient and Honery Order of Wood Chucks Club, Inc.”) and the Gang have decided to trust him with the money. However, it’s also his parents’ wedding anniversary, and the envelope containing the Gang’s money has gotten mixed up with his father’s gift to his mother.
  2. Beginner’s Luck (1935) (Length: 18 minutes, 38 seconds)
    • After having Spanky (George McFarland) recite for some of her lady friends, Spanky’s mother decides to enter him in an amateur talent contest. However, Spanky has no desire to win, and enlists the Gang’s help to sabotage his performance.
  3. Teacher’s Beau (1935) (Length: 19 minutes, 3 seconds)
    • The Gang’s teacher, Miss Jones (Arletta Duncan) announces that she will get married, and that they will have a new teacher for their next year, Mrs. Wilson. Not wanting a new teacher, the Gang try to find ways to break up the engagement.
  4. Sprucin’ Up (1935) (Length: 16 minutes, 58 seconds)
    • The kids are all complaining about how their mothers make them clean themselves up. However, when a new truant officer (and his beautiful daughter) move in, everybody changes their tune!
  5. Little Papa (1935) (Length: 19 minutes, 41 seconds)
    • Spanky (George McFarland) and the Gang want to play football, but he’s forced to babysit his younger sister. Hoping that she will be less trouble if she is asleep, Spanky and Alfalfa (Carl Switzer) try to find ways to make her sleepy.
  6. Little Sinner (1935) (Length: 17 minutes, 31 seconds)
    • Spanky (George McFarland) was just given a new fishing pole for his birthday, and he wants to try it out! However, it’s Sunday, and all the other kids warn him against skipping Sunday School (but he ignores them, to his regret).
  7. Our Gang Follies Of 1936 (1935) (Length: 17 minutes, 54 seconds)
    • Spanky (George McFarland) and the Gang put on a show for the kids of the neighborhood. However, one highly-demanded act is missing, so the Gang has to figure out what to do instead.
  8. The Pinch Singer (1936) (Length: 17 minutes, 26 seconds)
    • A local radio station holds an amateur talent contest with a $50 prize. The Eagles Club (that’s the Gang) decide to have Darla (Darla Hood) perform, but when she’s late, it’s up to Alfalfa (Carl Switzer) to go on in her place!
  9. Divot Diggers (1936) (Length: 14 minutes, 51 seconds)
    • The Gang are all out having fun playing golf. When the caddies at the course go on strike, the owner convinces the Gang to help caddie for some of his golfing customers.
  10. The Lucky Corner (1936) (Length: 16 minutes, 21 seconds)
    • Scotty (Scotty Beckett) and his grandfather are selling lemonade, but a bully and his father (who have a store of their own) force them to move their stand when some potential customers go to them for lemonade. So, with Scotty and his grandfather now situated in a different spot where almost nobody goes, it’s up to the Gang to help them drum up some business!
  11. Second Childhood (1936) (Length: 19 minutes, 11 seconds)
    • A cranky old lady (Zeffie Tilbury) is miserable on her birthday (and making her servants miserable) until a toy airplane comes flying in and breaks her vase. Spanky (George McFarland) and the Gang volunteer to do some work around the yard for her when they can’t pay for the vase, and in the process, help her start to enjoy life again!
  12. Arbor Day (1936) (Length: 17 minutes, 39 seconds)
    • It’s Arbor Day, and the school is putting on a pageant featuring all the kids, which is something that Spanky (George McFarland) wants to avoid. He is caught by the truant officer, along with a pair of midgets from a nearby circus mistaken as kids.

After nearly forty-five talkie shorts, the Our Gang/ The Little Rascals series was starting to settle into the cast it would become most known for. Matthew “Stymie” Beard left the series after Teacher’s Beau (1935), finishing a run that had started back in Teacher’s Pet (1930). Scotty Beckett left the series to go into the movies after filming Our Gang Follies Of 1936 (1935), although his appearance in the short The Lucky Corner (1936) was the result of that short’s release being delayed almost a year after filming began. Marianne Edwards left the series after The Pinch Singer (1936), but, like Scotty Beckett, her last appearance was in the delayed The Lucky Corner (1936). Meanwhile, in 1935, the series introduced the likes of Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer (making his debut in Beginner’s Luck), Eugene “Porky” Lee (Little Sinner) and Darla Hood (Our Gang Follies Of 1936), cementing some of the series’ most well-known members, and resulting in the shorts becoming a bit more musical.

As I have said in my previous reviews of Volume 1 (which contained the shorts 1929’s Small Talk through 1930’s A Tough Winter), Volume 2 (1930’s Pups Is Pups through 1931’s Dogs Is Dogs), Volume 3 (1932’s Readin’ And Writin’ through 1933’s Forgotten Babies) and Volume 4 (1933’s The Kid From Borneo through 1935’s Shrimps For A Day), these shorts are all quite new to me. For me, the shorts included in this fifth volume have continued to be a lot of fun! As has been the case, I’ve continued to enjoy those focusing on George “Spanky” McFarland, as he continues to be one of the funnier members of the group. Anniversary Trouble (1935), Beginner’s Luck (1935), Our Gang Follies Of 1936 (1935), The Pinch Singer (1936), The Lucky Corner (1936) and Second Childhood (1936) all left me laughing, and certainly left me with a strong desire to come back to them again! As did Teacher’s Beau (1935), even if that one did border on being a retread of an earlier short. There are a few scattered problems that date some of these shorts, but the worst one would have to be Little Sinner (1935), which goes on a little too long with its portrayal of some rather spirited African-Americans during a baptism ceremony at night. I do admit, I miss Scotty Beckett as he is phased out, since I thought he and Spanky made a great comedy team in their appearances together in some of the shorts included in the fourth volume, but Alfalfa manages to add to the fun rather memorably! All in all, this set was still quite entertaining, and just as highly recommended as some of the earlier volumes (and I eagerly look forward to the sixth and final volume of the talkie shorts from Hal Roach)!

As I mentioned in my reviews of the earlier volumes, ClassicFlix announced (in late 2020) that they had licensed the Little Rascals shorts, and planned to restore the talkies and the silent shorts. The film elements for many films and shorts originally produced by Hal Roach’s studio have changed hands a number of times over the years, and haven’t been as well preserved as most would hope. ClassicFlix tried a crowdfunding campaign to help fund the restorations for the Little Rascals series, but that ended up falling short. Still, they went through with their plans to restore the shorts, and, much like the first four sets, these shorts look fantastic (some minor damage is still present, but it’s just about not even worth mentioning)! This set doesn’t necessarily give any hints as to what film elements were used like the first one did (beyond the comment on the disc case about scanning from original Hal Roach 35mm film elements), but the results speak for themselves (and if you don’t believe me, I included some of the YouTube clips posted by ClassicFlix at the bottom of the post so that you can get a better idea)! Once again, the team at ClassicFlix have put a lot of hard work into restoring these, and I would certainly recommend this fifth volume (plus the first four as well, if you haven’t gotten them already)! With the sixth set already released (thus completing all the talkies before MGM took over the series), we only await the arrival of the silents in 2023 and beyond (some of which will be on Blu-ray while others will be DVD-only due to the quality of the available elements)! In the meantime, there is also The Little Rascals: The Complete Collection Centennial Edition on Blu-ray (or DVD) from ClassicFlix. This set includes all the talkie shorts included in the six volumes (although it has been condensed onto five discs instead of six) plus a bonus disc of extras (that bonus disc, a limited release, is also available separately, and comes with a six-disc box for all those that previously bought the individual volumes).

The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 5 is available on Blu-ray from ClassicFlix. The whole set has a runtime of three hours, thirty-four minutes.

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) Roundup Featuring… Bing Crosby

Welcome back to my new “Whats Old Is A New Release Again Roundup” series! This time around, I’m focusing on titles released in 2022 featuring Bing Crosby, whether they be on DVD, Blu-ray or 4K UHD. Short of something having been released that has escaped my notice (which is always possible), this post should essentially be completed now (outside of adding links if and when I do full reviews for any of these films). So, let’s dig into some of Bing’s films that have seen a new release in 2022. That list includes Here Is My Heart (1934), Holiday Inn (1942), Blue Skies (1946), Welcome Stranger (1947) and A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court (1949)!

Remember, as an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Notes: Due to the fact that I had already added some comments on different shorts to my original reviews of Holiday Inn, Blue Skies and A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court, I will not be adding any more to those posts or this one (except for two shorts to accompany the films not yet reviewed).

Table Of Contents

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Lucky Corner (1936)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 5 (1935-1936) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 16 minutes, 21 seconds)

Scotty (Scotty Beckett) and his grandfather are selling lemonade, but a bully and his father (who have a store of their own) force them to move their stand when some potential customers go to them for lemonade. So, with Scotty and his grandfather now situated in a different spot where almost nobody goes, it’s up to the Gang to help them drum up some business! This one was an all-round entertaining entry in the series. I thought that the kids’ “parade” was fun to see, as were some of the performances as they got the crowd together. Of course, the rivalry between the bully and the kids added to the fun (especially when the bully’s attempts to steal away their customers backfired on him). This one was very enjoyable, and worth giving a chance (I certainly know that I want to keep coming back to it)!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Second Childhood (1936)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 5 (1935-1936) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 19 minutes, 11 seconds)

A cranky old lady (Zeffie Tilbury) is miserable on her birthday (and making her servants miserable) until a toy airplane comes flying in and breaks her vase. Spanky (George McFarland) and the Gang volunteer to do some work around the yard for her when they can’t pay for the vase, and in the process, help her start to enjoy life again! This was yet another fun short. Zeffie Tilbury was fun as the grouchy old lady (even with her brief moments of happiness when she caused trouble for her servants), and her performance as she regains her joy for life helped make this short work! The scene with Spanky and Alfalfa (Carl Switzer) joining her in a rendition of “Oh, Susanna” was fun, especially with her learning to use Spanky’s slingshot after it accidentally hit her. Overall, this one was a lot of fun, even though it did use some obvious rear-screen projection when Zeffie Tilbury was on roller skates (but, at the same time, I can’t blame the filmmakers, since the actress was legally blind at the time she made this short, not that you can tell from her performance). Certainly one that I would gladly come back to again and again!

Here Is My Heart (1934)

  • Plot Synopses: Singer J. Paul Jones (Bing Crosby) has achieved some success, and is looking to fulfill many dreams that he couldn’t do when he was poor. One of those ambitions is to buy the two original pistols that belonged to Revolutionary War hero John Paul Jones, and present them to the Naval Academy. He’s got one already, but the other currently belongs to the Russian Princess Alexandra (Kitty Carlisle), who refuses to sell to him. In his attempts to buy the pistol, he is mistaken for her waiter, and makes use of the opportunity to spend some time with her and her associates. Will he achieve his dream and get the pistol, or will he find himself with a greater goal (love)?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 17 minutes
  • Extras: None
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Label: Universal Studios
  • My Rating: 7/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: Check overall impressions.
    • On The Transfer: The new Blu-ray appears to be making use of an HD scan. For the most part, it looks quite good. The opening credits look a bit rough, and there are some scratches present throughout (although nothing so terrible as to take away from the movie itself). It looks good enough for me, and is likely to be the best this movie will look for the near future.

Holiday Inn (1942)

  • Plot Synopses: A three person song-and-dance team splits up when one of their members, Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby) gets the urge to buy a farm where he can rest and retire from show business. Farming doesn’t prove to be as easy or as restful as he thinks, and he decides to turn the farm into an inn that is only open for holidays (fifteen days a year). Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds) is sent to the inn to audition, and she gets a job there. Jim falls for her, but one of his former partners, Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire), finds himself partnerless. Upon meeting Linda, Ted also falls in love with her and wants to dance with her. Will Linda stay at the inn with Jim, or will she become a big star with Ted?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 40 minutes
  • Extras (on both the 4K disc and the included Blu-ray): “A Couple Of Song And Dance Men;” “All-Singing All-Dancing;” “Reassessing ‘Abraham;'” Theatrical Trailer; and Feature Commentary By Film Historian Ken Barnes, including Audio Comments From Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby And John Scott Trotter
  • Format: 4K UHD
  • Label: Universal Studios
  • My Rating: 8/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: Check overall impressions or see the full review here.
    • On The Transfer: Honestly, this is a bit of a disappointing release. The 4K disc looks terrible, with a picture that is darker at times and loses some of the detail, and grain tends to be very distracting here, as if they are working from elements (or an older transfer) that doesn’t have 4K worth of data, although there are some moments here and there where the 4K disc actually looks good. Frankly, the included Blu-ray (which appears to use the same transfer, or close enough) actually looks better throughout. The Blu-ray is lighter and the grain is nowhere near as prevalent as it is on the 4K. Also, depending on your feelings about this, the film starts with a vintage Universal logo preceding the film’s Paramount logo. I only mention this because the film was originally produced by Paramount, was part of a large group of films sold to Music Corporation Of America (MCA)/EMKA , Ltd. in the 1950s, before becoming part of Universal Studios’ library when MCA took over the studio in the 1960s. Realistically, this release is at best recommended to those who don’t have the Blu-ray already (and even then it is questionable). If you already have the Blu-ray, then don’t bother with this one. If you want either the Broadway show or the colorized version of the film (neither of which is included as extras with this release), then I would suggest going with one of the earlier Blu-ray releases.

Blue Skies (1946)

  • Plot Synopses: Dancer Jed Potter (Fred Astaire) likes chorus girl Mary O’Hara (Joan Caulfield), but he makes the mistake of taking her to a nightclub owned by his friend, Johnny Adams (Bing Crosby). Mary falls instantly for Johnny, and he for her, much to Jed’s regret. However, Mary takes a slight issue with Johnny not being too responsible, as he has a bad habit of constantly buying and selling his nightclubs. That’s not enough to stop them from getting married, but Johnny’s refusal to change his ways really comes between them after they have a child, and they divorce. With Jed’s love for Mary growing over time, will she give him a chance, or will things go sour between them, too?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 44 minutes
  • Extras: Audio commentary by film critic and author Simon Abrams, Trailers for Road To Morocco (1942), Daddy Long Legs (1955), Love Me Tonight (1932) and Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Label: Kino Lorber Studio Classics
  • My Rating: 10/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: Check overall impressions or see the full review here.
    • On The Transfer: According to the Blu-ray case, the transfer is coming from a new 2K master with newly remastered audio. In general, this release looks quite wonderful. It improves on Universal’s earlier DVD by fixing the previously windowboxed opening and closing credits, and the colors look quite good in general. It’s not quite as perfect as similar releases from Warner Archive, but it’s about as good as I can hope for with this film. The image has been cleaned up of scratches, dirt and debris. Quick note: on the initial pressing of this Blu-ray, there were some audio issues in which Fred Astaire’s taps were a lot more muffled. Kino Lorber Studio Classics looked into it and decided to fix the issue (it’s already been taken care of by this time). Customers are guaranteed to get the right copy at Kino’s own sites, but in case you get the incorrect copy from somewhere else, this link will take you to their replacement program.

Welcome Stranger (1947)

  • Plot Synopses: Dr. Joseph McRory (Barry Fitzgerald) has served the town of Fallbridge, Maine faithfully for nearly thirty-five years, and is looking forward to a well-deserved vacation. However, his temporary replacement being sent by the medical board is the younger Dr. Jim Pearson (Bing Crosby), whom Dr. McRory takes an instant dislike to, and encourages him to leave (advice that the younger doctor ignores). Dr. McRory’s opinions are shared by many of the townspeople, including schoolteacher Trudy Mason (Joan Caulfield) (whom Dr. Pearson takes an immediate liking to). Things start to change when, upon trying to leave for his vacation, Dr. McRory suffers from appendicitis, with no choice but to have Dr. Pearson operate on him (an operation that goes successfully). However, Trudy’s boyfriend, Roy Chesley (Robert Shayne), REALLY doesn’t like Dr. Pearson, and tries to use his influence to take away Dr. McRory’s position at a new hospital in the process of being built. Can Dr. Pearson help Dr. McRory regain the town’s favor, or will they both leave town with their tails tucked between their legs?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 47 minutes
  • Extras: None
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Label: Universal Studios
  • My Rating: 8/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: Check overall impressions.
    • On The Transfer: This Blu-ray appears to be using an HD scan which looks pretty good for the most part. Most of the dust, dirt and other debris has been cleaned up. The opening credits are just a little shaky (but that’s the only part of the movie that has that problem), and there are a few (very) light scratches still present throughout the movie (but nothing that takes away from the movie itself). Overall, likely the best this movie will look, and it’s certainly the recommended way to see it!

A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court (1949)

  • Plot Synopses: In the early twentieth century, blacksmith Hank Martin (Bing Crosby) tries to return a horse to his owner during a storm, but gets knocked out when he runs into a tree. When he awakens, Hank finds himself in the past, in the kingdom of Camelot under King Arthur (Sir Cedric Hardwicke). At first, Hank is mistaken for a monster, but quickly becomes popular with the people when he uses some basic tricks to make himself look like a powerful sorcerer. He falls for King Arthur’s niece, the Lady Alisande “Sandy” la Carteloise (Rhonda Fleming), but has to contend with her betrothed, Sir Lancelot (Henry Wilcoxon). Having also earned the ire of the wizard Merlin (Murvyn Vye), Hank finds himself in a lot of trouble. Will he be able to return to his own time, or gain the affections of Sandy if he stays?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 47 minutes
  • Extras: None
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Label: Universal Studios
  • My Rating: 9/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: Check overall impressions or see the full review here.
    • On The Transfer: This Blu-ray seems to be working with an HD scan that looks pretty good. Most (if not just about all) of the dust, dirt, and other artifacts have been cleaned up. For the most part, the color looks pretty good, similar to the recent Blu-ray release of Blue Skies (1946) from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. There are some minor sections where the color doesn’t look quite as vivid as it seems like it should, but it’s an overall good release of a wonderful film (and certainly as good as it is likely to get anytime soon).

My Overall Impressions

Like all of my previous “What’s Old Is A New Release Again” posts focusing on the stars or screen teams that I picked for my “Star/Screen Team Of The Month” in 2022, I have gone without comments on the individual films as I reflect on my Star (from way back in March), Bing Crosby. Here Is My Heart (1934) is the oddball of this bunch, as it’s a film from fairly early in Bing’s career (and as such, his singing style and voice are quite different from the later films). He really only has three songs in this film, with the tune “June In January” being the most memorable. He has some comedic moments, especially when he poses as an alternate “incompetent” waiter, and when he is drunk interacting with Roland Young’s Prince Nicholas near the end of the film. For the rest, we move into the 1940s, when his career had taken a different direction. Holiday Inn finds us early in the decade, when his star was on the rise after finding success through the Road series with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour. Holiday Inn follows a similar formula, with Bing and Fred Astaire competing for the affections of two different ladies. Of course, the biggest highlight for Bing is his introduction of the classic Irving Berlin song “White Christmas,” which became a major hit for both Bing and Irving. He also croons a few other big tunes, including “Easter Parade,” “Be Careful, It’s My Heart” (which was actually the initial hit song from the movie) and “Happy Holiday”, plus we have him singing (and “dancing” if you can call it that) with Fred Astaire to “I’ll Capture Your Heart Singing.” Moving ahead a few years, Blue Skies follows up his Oscar win for Going My Way (1944) and his nomination for The Bells Of St. Mary’s (1945). As such, his role in Blue Skies is more dramatic, even though his character still competes with Fred Astaire’s Jed Potter for the affections of Joan Caulfield’s Mary O’Hara. Bing’s main highlights are him singing the title tune and the Oscar nominated “You Keep Coming Back Like A Song,” as well as dancing with Fred Astaire to “A Couple Of Song and Dance Men.” Welcome Stranger (1947) reunites Bing with his Going My Way co-star Barry Fitzgerald in what almost feels like a remake of Going My Way (except this time with the two of them as doctors instead of Catholic priests). The music is decent (personally, I prefer the song “Country Style”), but the main fun is in watching the developing friendship between Bing’s Dr. Jim Pearson and Barry Fitzgerald’s Dr. Joseph McRory as they go from bickering to working together. A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court (1949) was made during the same time period, when Bing’s popularity at the box office gave him enough clout to choose his directors and castmates. The movie has some comedic moments, including Bing’s character “modernizing” the music and dancing at a ball, and the jousting tournament. On the musical side, Bing’s romantic duet with Rhonda Fleming to “Once And For Always” and him singing along with William Bendix and Sir Cedric Hardwicke to “Busy Doing Nothing” are the film’s big highlights.

Well, now that I’ve commented on these films, I’ll give you my rankings on these releases, from highly recommended (1.) to least recommended (5.):

  1. (tie) Blue Skies (1946)
  1. (tie) A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court (1949)
  1. Welcome Stranger (1947)
  1. Here Is My Heart (1934)
  1. Holiday Inn (1942)

I’ll admit, this is a slightly harder group to pick one film that I would solidly recommend. I’m not trashing any of the movies, as I think they are all good, and worth giving a chance. Transfer-wise, I think that Blue Skies (1946) and A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court (1949) are pretty similar, and look the best. Here Is My Heart (1934) and Welcome Stranger (1947) look pretty good, although they have some minor issues that pull them down. Holiday Inn (1942)’s transfer is the weakest of the bunch (in spite of the fact that it is a 4K UHD and not a Blu-ray like the others). In a normal situation, my top pick would be easy: Blue Skies. I think the film looks just a hair better with this new release, it’s got some extras and I prefer the film itself overall. However, we’re discussing Bing Crosby here, and the things I like about that film are Fred Astaire, the Irving Berlin music and some of Fred’s dances. It’s not otherwise remembered as much for Bing’s presence. If it had a better transfer, I would be recommending the other Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire/Irving Berlin collaboration, Holiday Inn, since it features Bing introducing that classic song “White Christmas” (which became Bing’s best-selling song, and one of the biggest selling of all time), along with a few other fun tunes. But, again. the weak transfer leaves me not wanting to recommend the 4K UHD at all. A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court is also very much Bing’s film, and he is what makes it fun (even if I don’t think the film itself is quite as good as Blue Skies). Thus, I would put Blue Skies and A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court at a tie for the top recommendations if we are talking strictly about Bing’s films. Welcome Stranger (1947) mainly suffers from its similarity to the far better (in my opinion) Going My Way (1944), although it’s certainly still an entertaining film in its own right. Here Is My Heart (1934) is still a little too early in Bing’s career, without the music or story coming off quite as memorably. Still, I have enjoyed all of these films off and on for years, and the four Blu-ray releases are all worth it to me, and certainly worth a recommendation (again, ignore the 4K UHD for Holiday Inn)!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) Roundup Featuring… W. C. Fields

Welcome back to my new “Whats Old Is A New Release Again Roundup” series! This time around, I’m focusing on titles released in 2022 featuring W. C. Fields, whether they be on DVD, Blu-ray or 4K UHD. Short of something having been released that has escaped my notice (which is always possible), this post should essentially be completed now (outside of adding links if and when I do full reviews for any of these films). So, let’s dig into some of W. C. Fields’ films that have seen a new release in 2022, which includes You’re Telling Me! (1934), Man On The Flying Trapeze (1935) and You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man (1939)!

Remember, as an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Table Of Contents

Coming Up Shorts! with… Sprucin’ Up (1935)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 5 (1935-1936) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 16 minutes, 58 seconds)

The kids are all complaining about how their mothers make them clean themselves up. However, when a new truant officer (and his beautiful daughter) move in, everybody changes their tune! This one was decent (although a bit of a letdown after the last few). Mostly, the fun is watching Spanky (George McFarland) and Alfalfa (Carl Switzer) competing for the affections of the new girl, but it also gets old fast as they get on the father’s bad side. It’s not terrible, as I’ve certainly seen far worse shorts than this. It’s just not one that leaves me with a strong desire to rewatch it as soon as possible.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Little Papa (1935)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 5 (1935-1936) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 19 minutes, 41 seconds)

Spanky (George McFarland) and the Gang want to play football, but he’s forced to babysit his younger sister. Hoping that she will be less trouble if she is asleep, Spanky and Alfalfa (Carl Switzer) try to find ways to make her sleepy. This one was fairly amusing. Admittedly, it’s really a two-joke short, with Spanky first trying to wear his sister out (and getting tired himself), and then he and Alfalfa try to quietly sneak out of the bedroom (and fail to do so) after she is fast asleep. Still, it was entertaining and left me laughing, so it would be worth seeing again!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Little Sinner (1935)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 5 (1935-1936) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 17 minutes, 31 seconds)

Spanky (George McFarland) was just given a new fishing pole for his birthday, and he wants to try it out! However, it’s Sunday, and all the other kids warn him against skipping Sunday School (but he ignores them, to his regret). This one was a lesser short, in my opinion. It certainly had its moments, especially with all the stuff that goes wrong for Spanky as he attempts to go fishing. It goes a little off the rails for the last few minutes as Spanky and his compatriots Buckwheat (Billie Thomas) and Porky (Eugene Lee in his debut as the character) find themselves stumbling upon a baptism ceremony for blacks during an eclipse, with the kids getting scared by the spirited members. Those last few minutes drag this short down (and certainly aren’t politically correct nowadays, either), which is more or less why this one didn’t work quite as well for me.

You’re Telling Me! (1934)

  • Plot Synopses: Optometrist and inventor Samuel Bisbee (W. C. Fields) is in trouble with his family. His daughter, Pauline (Joan Marsh) wants to marry Bob Murchison (Larry “Buster” Crabbe), but his high society mother (Kathleen Howard) won’t hear of it. Samuel tries to sell his puncture-proof tire to the National Tire Company, but a mix-up in cars results in his sale falling through, leaving him pondering suicide by taking iodine. He decides against it, and ends up “helping” another passenger who had some iodine (but was NOT considering suicide). That passenger turns out to be the princess Marie Lescaboura (Adrienne Ames), who decides to help him out after hearing his story. Will things turn out all right for Samuel and his family with the princess’ help, or will his family be forever ashamed of him?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 6 minutes
  • Extras: “Wayne And Shuster Take An Affectionate Look At W. C. Fields” Vintage Documentary, Trailers for The Old-Fashioned Way (1934), You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man (1939), The Bank Dick (1940), My Little Chickadee (1940) and Alice In Wonderland (1933)
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Label: Kino Lorber Studio Classics
  • My Rating: 10/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: Check overall impressions.
    • On The Transfer: According to the Blu-ray case, this transfer comes from a new 2K master. Quite simply stated, this transfer looks quite good! It really shows off the detail in the picture. There is some minor damage in the form of scratches, dust and debris, but it’s not so bad as to mar an otherwise fantastic release!

Man On The Flying Trapeze (1935)

  • Plot Synopses: Although he caught a pair of burglars in his cellar, Ambrose Wolfinger (W. C. Fields) finds himself in jail briefly for making liquor without a permit. While he’s in jail, his brother-in-law Claude Neselrode (Grady Sutton) steals Ambrose’s ticket to a big wrestling match. On the advice of his daughter, Hope (Mary Brian), Ambrose decides to take the afternoon off from work to try to see the match anyway. However, when asking his boss for the afternoon off, he lies and says that his mother-in-law had died and he was going to her funeral. He gets the afternoon off, but will he manage to see the wrestling match (or survive when his wife and still-alive mother-in-law find out about his lie)?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 6 minutes
  • Extras: “Wayne And Shuster Take An Affectionate Look At W. C. Fields” Vintage Documentary, Trailers for The Old-Fashioned Way (1934), You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man (1939), The Bank Dick (1940), My Little Chickadee (1940) and Alice In Wonderland (1933)
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Label: Kino Lorber Studio Classics
  • My Rating: 9/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: Check overall impressions.
    • On The Transfer: According to the Blu-ray case, this transfer comes from a new 2K master. Like You’re Telling Me!, this one looks pretty good as far as detail is concerned. Again, not all the scratches, dirt and debris have been dealt with, but what’s there doesn’t really interfere with enjoying the movie itself.

You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man (1939)

  • Plot Synopses: Circus owner Larson E. Whipsnade (W. C. Fields) has been keeping a promise to his late wife to put his kids through college. However, the circus is losing money as a result, and he has to stay on the move to keep ahead of his creditors. Larson’s daughter, Victoria (Constance Moore) has fallen for ventriloquist Edgar (Edgar Bergen), even though he and his dummy Charlie McCarthy can’t stand Larson. However, with the circus close to being taken over by its creditors, Victoria feels she must do her part by marrying the wealthy Roger Bel-Goodie (James Bush). Will true love win out, or will Victoria marry a man she doesn’t care for to help her father out?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 19 minutes
  • Extras: Audio commentary by Filmmaker/Historian Michael Schlesinger, Trailers for You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man (1939), The Old-Fashioned Way (1934), The Bank Dick (1940), My Little Chickadee (1940), Alice In Wonderland (1933), The Ghost Breakers (1940) and Murder, He Says (1945)
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Label: Kino Lorber Studio Classics
  • My Rating: 10/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: Check overall impressions.
    • On The Transfer: According to the Blu-ray case, this transfer comes from a new 2K master. Again, this one looks pretty good. There are some scratches and other debris to be found, but nothing serious. Likely to be the best this movie will look, and I have no problem with that, as good as it came out!

My Overall Impressions

Like with the other entries in my “What’s Old Is A New Release Again Roundup” series that have focused on my “Stars/Screen Teams Of The Month,” I’m sticking to comments about my stars (in this case, comedian W. C. Fields). In these three films (You’re Telling Me!, Man On The Flying Trapeze and You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man), W. C. Fields is up to a lot of his usual antics. In all three films, he plays a father to a very loving daughter. The earlier two films have him married to a nagging wife (of varying degrees), and have him resorting to booze a bit more. In You’re Telling Me!, the film’s memorable moments include his drunken entrance to his home at the start of the film, him buying an ostrich for his wife as an “apology pet” and the golfing sketch that ends the film. For Man On The Flying Trapeze, the whole opening sequence, in which Field’s character Ambrose is first being admonished by his wife to hurry up and come to bed (while he slowly takes off his socks and neatly folds them up) before she pushes him to get up and go after some burglars in the cellar, is quite funny, as is a later sequence in which he keeps receiving tickets from different policemen for being parked in a “no parking zone,” even though he was asked by one to pull over. You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man has some unforgettable moments, mostly within the running feud between Fields’ Whipsnade and Edgar Bergen’s dummy Charlie McCarthy (capitalizing on the “feud” between them on the radio show “The Edgar Bergen And Charlie McCarthy Show”) plus his daughter’s engagement party (in which he tells stories about some rattlesnakes, which keep causing the hostess to faint, as she fears snakes) and also him partaking in a heated game of ping pong. While these films are humorous throughout due to W. C. Fields, I personally consider these to be some of his strongest moments in each.

Well, now that I’ve commented on all of these films, I’ll give you my rankings on these releases, from highly recommended (1.) to least recommended (3.):

  1. You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man (1939)
  2. You’re Telling Me! (1934)
  3. Man On The Flying Trapeze (1935)

With this group of films, it really does come down to what I think of the movies themselves as to which I would recommend. Transfer-wise, they’re all pretty similar, with each sporting a new 2K scan that contains some scratches and other debris in small amounts. So, the films themselves are the thing. I admit, even though I recommend it the highest, You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man has the most politically correct issues, with Edgar Bergen’s dummy Charlie McCarthy wearing blackface briefly (in order to cover up a black eye), not to mention Eddie Rochester’s stereotyped character. Apart from those two issues, though, it really was the most hilarious, especially with Edgar Bergen and his dummies Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd adding to the fun. The other two films are generally quite good (with the golf sketch alone in You’re Telling Me! making that film worth seeing). Man On The Flying Trapeze does feel the weakest overall as a film, but it’s still strong enough that I could recommend that film just as easily as the other two. So, I certainly suggest giving all three a try, especially on Blu-ray!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 4

Welcome back for another full post of Coming Up Shorts! This time, I’m going with the Hal Roach theatrical shorts featuring The Little Rascals, and some of their shorts from 1933-1935 that have been released together on disc in The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 4.

Here’s a list and quick plot description for each of the shorts included in this set (for my comments on the individual shorts, click on the title to go to my previous reviews):

  1. The Kid From Borneo (1933) (Length: 18 minutes, 47 seconds)
    • Dorothy (Dorothy DeBorba), Dickie (Dickie Moore) and Spanky’s (George McFarland) mother has received a letter from her brother stating that he is in town with a carnival and wants to meet the kids. The kids go to the carnival, but they mistake the “Wild Man From Borneo” (their uncle’s “sideshow attraction”) as their uncle.
  2. Mush And Milk (1933) (Length: 18 minutes, 18 seconds)
    • The gang are all stuck at a boarding school run by a cranky old lady (Louise Emmons). Her husband, Cap (Gus Leonard) promises to give the kids a better life when his back pension comes through.
  3. Bedtime Worries (1933) (Length: 20 minutes, 23 seconds)
    • Spanky’s (George McFarland) father (Emerson Treacy) has just been promoted to head shipping clerk, and has decided that Spanky must now sleep on his own. However, Spanky has a lot of trouble getting to sleep on his first night alone.
  4. Wild Poses (1933) (Length: 18 minutes, 31 seconds)
    • Spanky’s (George McFarland) parents decide to have his picture taken. However, after listening to the other kids from the Gang who tag along, Spanky refuses to sit for a picture!
  5. Hi’-Neighbor! (1934) (Length: 17 minutes, 54 seconds)
    • Jerry (Jerry Tucker), the new kid in the neighborhood, has his own small fire engine (and the envy of the Gang). However, he doesn’t want to share it with them, leading them to put together their own fire engine.
  6. For Pete’s Sake! (1934) (Length: 18 minutes, 6 seconds)
    • Wally (Wally Albright) and the Gang try to fix up a doll for Marianne (Marianne Edwards), but a bully breaks her doll. So the Gang tries to get her a new doll, but they have to deal with the bully and his father to get it.
  7. The First Round-Up (1934) (Length: 18 minutes, 46 seconds)
    • The Gang all decide to go camping at the nearby Cherry Creek. However, when night falls, the kids all start to reconsider the idea.
  8. Honky-Donkey (1934) (Length: 16 minutes, 42 seconds)
    • Little rich boy Wally (Wally Albright) wants to play with some poor kids, and hangs out with the Gang. When they’re chased off the vacant lot that they’re playing on, Wally decides to bring them (and their pet donkey) to his home.
  9. Mike Fright (1934) (Length: 17 minutes, 26 seconds)
    • The “International Silver String Submarine Band” (that’s the Gang) auditions as part of an amateur radio talent contest against a bunch of other talented kids.
  10. Washee Ironee (1934) (Length: 16 minutes, 38 seconds)
    • Rich boy Waldo (Wally Albright) tries to get into a football game with the Gang, and ends up falling in the mud. His mother is throwing a society party (at which she expects him to play the violin), so the Gang tries to help wash out his clothes.
  11. Mama’s Little Pirate (1935) (Length: 18 minutes, 6 seconds)
    • Upon listening to his father read about the discovery of pirate treasure in a cave, Spanky (George McFarland) decides to lead the gang on a treasure hunt in a cave. However, his mother is opposed to the idea and orders him not to go.
  12. Shrimps For A Day (1935) (Length: 20 minutes, 42 seconds)
    • The Gang are taken to a party hosted by the sponsor for their orphanage, where an adult couple finds a lamp and wishes to be kids again. They are mistaken for being part of the group of orphans, and are brought back to the orphanage.

With thirty-three talkie shorts from the Our Gang/ The Little Rascals under their belts, the Hal Roach series continued to make changes as they kept plugging along. Longtime Our Gang director Robert McGowan (who had been with the series essentially since the beginning) had tired of doing the series and wanted to leave for a few years, but his departure kept getting delayed as the studio couldn’t come up with a replacement for him. The Hal Roach studio tried to change up the series, including shrinking the cast down to a small handful to appease McGowan (with Dickie Moore, Bobby “Wheezer” Hutchins and Dorothy DeBorba leaving after Mush And Milk), but McGowan finally had enough and left after directing Wild Poses. As a result, the series went on hiatus for four months. When they came back, they had a new director (Gus Meins) and several new cast members, including Wally Albright (who only lasted for a handful of shorts), Scotty Beckett and Billie Thomas (“Buckwheat”).

As I said in my previous reviews of Volume 1 ( which contained the shorts 1929’s Small Talk through 1930’s A Tough Winter), Volume 2 (1930’s Pups Is Pups through 1931’s Dogs Is Dogs) and Volume 3 (1932’s Readin’ And Writin’ through 1933’s Forgotten Babies), these shorts are still new to me. For me, the shorts included in this fourth volume continued to be as much fun (if not more!) as the earlier talkie shorts. George “Spanky” McFarland continues to be the main appeal here, and the two shorts that showcase him (Bedtime Worries and Wild Poses) left me laughing pretty steadily. Of course, the introduction of Scotty Beckett really added something as well, essentially making the two of them a comedy team that worked quite effectively (especially in The First Round-Up). Mike Fright, Mama’s Little Pirate and Shrimps For A Day also left me in stitches throughout, making them worth seeing again and again! Not every short in this set is perfect, as The Kid From Borneo and Washee Ironee in particular are both dated in some of their stereotyped depictions. Still, the rest of the set more than makes up for it, which makes this fourth volume of Our Gang shorts highly recommended in my book (and I certainly look forward to seeing more with the fifth volume)!

As I mentioned in my reviews of the earlier volumes, ClassicFlix announced (in late 2020) that they had licensed the Little Rascals shorts, and planned to restore the talkies (and the silents if the talkies sold well enough, which it sounds like they have). The film elements for many films and shorts originally produced by Hal Roach’s studio have changed hands a number of times over the years, and haven’t been as well preserved as most would hope. ClassicFlix tried a crowdfunding campaign to help fund the restorations for the Little Rascals series, but that ended up falling short. Still, they went through with their plans to restore the shorts, and, much like the first three sets, these shorts look fantastic (some minor damage is still present, but is BARELY noticeable)! This set doesn’t necessarily give any hints as to what film elements were used like the first one did (beyond the comment on the disc case about scanning from original Hal Roach 35mm film elements), but the results speak for themselves (and if you don’t believe me, I included some of the YouTube clips posted by ClassicFlix at the bottom of the post so that you can get a better idea)! Once again, the team at ClassicFlix have put a lot of hard work into restoring these, and I would certainly recommend this fourth volume (plus the first three as well, if you haven’t gotten them already)! With the fifth and sixth sets already released (thus completing all the talkies before MGM took over the series), we only await the arrival of the silents in 2023 (some of which will be on Blu-ray while others will be DVD-only due to the quality of the available elements)! In the meantime, there will also be The Little Rascals: The Complete Collection Centennial Edition on Blu-ray (or DVD) from ClassicFlix. This set will include all the talkie shorts included in the six volumes (although it will be condensed onto five discs instead of six) plus a bonus disc of extras (that bonus disc will also be available separately, and will come with a six-disc box for all those that previously bought the individual volumes, although it won’t be available through Amazon until after its release date).

The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 4 is available on Blu-ray from ClassicFlix. The whole set has a runtime of three hours, thirty-eight minutes.

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What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) Blu-ray Roundup #2

Welcome back to my new “Whats Old Is A New Release Again Roundup” series! This time around, I’m back to focusing on titles released on the Blu-ray format in 2022. Since it is focused on Blu-ray releases not related to any specific star or screen team (which means the rate of releases is much faster), I will not be updating this one (except to add links to full reviews if and when they are reviewed later on). So, let’s dig into the movies For Me And My Gal (1942), The Clock (1945), Adventures Of Don Juan (1948) and Jack And The Beanstalk (1952)!

Remember, as an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Note: Due to the fact that I’ve reviewed For Me And My Gal (1942) previously, I have added one of my “Coming Up Shorts!” comments to that review.

Table Of Contents

Coming Up Shorts! with… The First Round-Up (1934)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 4 (1933-1935) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 18 minutes, 46 seconds)

The Gang all decide to go camping at the nearby Cherry Creek. However, when night falls, the kids all start to reconsider the idea. I’ve been enjoying some of the previous shorts from the Our Gang series, but this one was REALLY entertaining! Plain and simple, the highlights of this short all have to do with Spanky (George McFarland) and Scotty (Scotty Beckett), especially as they continually prove to be smarter than the older kids (who didn’t want them tagging along). They definitely brought the humor here, and made it one that I definitely want to return to frequently!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Honky-Donkey (1934)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 4 (1933-1935) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 16 minutes, 42 seconds)

Little rich boy Wally (Wally Albright) wants to play with some poor kids, and hangs out with the Gang. When they’re chased off the vacant lot that they’re playing on, Wally decides to bring them (and their pet donkey) to his home. This was yet another entertaining short! Most of the fun centers around the donkey, who chases after anybody when they sneeze, but sits when they hear a bell. Of course, Spanky (George McFarland) and Scotty (Scotty Beckett) add to the fun, trying to help stop the donkey with an alarm clock while otherwise commenting on everything going on. It may be something of a one-joke short the way they use the donkey, but they keep it fresh enough that I certainly would willingly sit through this one again!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Mike Fright (1934)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 4 (1933-1935) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 17 minutes, 26 seconds)

The “International Silver String Submarine Band” (that’s the Gang) auditions as part of an amateur radio talent contest against a bunch of other talented kids. Plain and simple, this one was VERY FUNNY!! Much of the humor was in the kids loudly carrying around all their instruments and all the mechanical trouble they caused with the microphone. Spanky (George McFarland) and Scotty (Scotty Beckett) still seem to be the funniest two of the bunch, and get a lot of one-liners that kept me in stitches. I would say that this is one of the best shorts from the fourth volume of Our Gang talkies, and I would readily recommend it!

For Me And My Gal (1942)

  • Plot Synopses: In the small town of Clifton Junction, Iowa, in 1916, two different vaudevillian acts meet at the same theatre. Dancer Harry Palmer (Gene Kelly) makes an offer to Jo Hayden (Judy Garland) (who is part of a troupe led by Jimmy Metcalfe, played by George Murphy) to work together as a song-and-dance team. She accepts, but their rise to fame is slow (much slower than Harry wanted). The two fall for each other, but they make the mutual decision to wait for marriage until they can make it to the top, the Palace Theater in New York City. When they are finally signed to appear there, Harry gets his draft notice. Will they be able to play the Palace (and be a married couple), or will the war put an end to their plans?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 44 minutes
  • Extras: Commentary by historian John Fricke; MGM shorts La Fiesta De Santa Barbara (1935) and Every Sunday (1936); Outtake Musical numbers: Three Cheers For The Yanks and For Me And My Gal Deleted Finale; Screen Guild Players For Me And My Gal with Judy Garland, Gene Kelly and Dick Powell; Leo Is On The Air Radio Promo and Theatrical Trailer
  • Label: Warner Archive Collection
  • My Rating (after Blu-ray): 10/10 (previously 9/10)
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: I’ve seen this one many times, and always enjoy coming back to it! Judy Garland and Gene Kelly (in his film debut) prove that they have great chemistry in their first outing together. The film helps show the journey that some vaudevillians had to go through on their quest to get to the Palace Theater in New York City, helped by some authentic music of the era. The dances may not be on the level that Gene Kelly was later known for, but they’re still entertaining. I had a high enough opinion of the film to recommend it on DVD (see original review here), and it’s even more fun on Blu-ray!
    • On The Transfer: The transfer comes from a 4K scan of the best available preservation elements. Quite simply stated, it’s a typical (great looking) Warner Archive release. The detail is much improved over the previously available DVD, and the picture has been cleaned up of all scratches, dust and debris. Otherwise translated, the Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection is the way to go when seeing this movie now!

The Clock (1945)

  • Plot Synopses: Corporal Joe Allen (Robert Walker) is on leave for two days and has just arrived in New York City via train. He knows nobody there, until he accidentally trips Alice Mayberry (Judy Garland), breaking her heel. He helps her get it repaired, and they spend some time together. Alice has to leave, but they agree to meet later for a date. As they spend more time together having various adventures, they start growing closer. With Joe’s leave quickly coming to an end, will they go their separate ways, or will they find a way to stay together?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Extras: Pete Smith Specialty Short: Hollywood Scout (1945), Classic Tex Avery Cartoon: The Screwy Truant (1945), Audio-only Lux Radio Theater Adaptation with John Hodiak and Judy Garland and Theatrical Trailer
  • Label: Warner Archive Collection
  • My Rating: 10/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: This was my first time seeing this Judy Garland film, and it’s one that I enjoyed! The film mainly focuses on the relationship between Judy’s Alice Mayberry and Robert Walker’s Corporal Joe Allen, and their chemistry together proves to be good enough to carry the film! We see them go from being complete strangers to falling in love as they have a whole bunch of adventures together over a period of two days. Some of those episodes are fun, some are romantic, and some are heartbreaking. This movie has it all (even if it is a non-musical role for Judy), which makes it well worth seeing!
    • On The Transfer: The transfer comes from a 4K scan of the best available preservation elements. It’s from Warner Archive, so you know it looks great! The picture has been cleaned up of scratches, dust and debris, and really shows off the detail. Highly recommended!

Adventures Of Don Juan (1948)

  • Plot Synopses: When he is caught one too many times by irate husbands/potential suitors, Don Juan de Maraña (Errol Flynn) is deported back to Spain. There, it is hoped that he will reform himself in the service of Queen Margaret (Vivica Lindfors), who is trying to avert a war between Spain and England. Trouble has arisen in Spain due to the Duke de Lorca (Robert Douglas), who has been trying to control the Spanish King Philip III (Romney Brent) and lead the countries into war. Much to the duke’s annoyance, Don Juan continues to get in his way. Eventually, it is discovered that the duke has kidnapped the Spanish ambassador and is trying to torture him to find out where the ambassador has hidden some money that he is holding for the queen. This forces the duke out of the shadows as he attempts to more openly usurp control. Can Don Juan stop him, or will the duke successfully take over the country?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 51 minutes
  • Extras: Commentary by Director Vincent Sherman and Historian Rudy Behlmer; Warner Night At The Movies: Newsreel, Joe McDoakes Short So You Want To Be On The Radio (1948), Warner Bros. Short Calgary Stampede (1948), Warner Bros. Cartoon Hare Splitter (1948); Theatrical Trailer
  • Label: Warner Archive Collection
  • My Rating: 8/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: This was a new Errol Flynn film for me, and I very much enjoyed it! I can’t deny, the film does remind me strongly of the far superior The Adventures Of Robin Hood (1938) via a score that feels similar, and various plot points (not to mention some brief footage borrowed from that film and 1939’s The Private Lives Of Elizabeth And Essex). Errol Flynn is definitely showing his age here (especially since it was his first swashbuckler in nearly a decade), but he acquits himself very well in a very tailor-made role for him. The swordfights are still thrilling to see, especially the inevitable duel between Flynn’s Don Juan and Robert Douglas’ Duke de Lorca. It’s not Errol Flynn at his absolute best, but it’s still a very entertaining swashbuckler made better by his presence (and therefore recommended)!
    • On The Transfer: The transfer comes from a 4K scan of the nitrate Technicolor negatives. It’s from Warner Archive, and it’s a 3-strip Technicolor film. That pretty much says it all, as the transfer really brings out the color, and it’s been cleaned up of all scratches, dust and debris. So, if you like this film, the Blu-ray is indeed the way to go!

Jack And The Beanstalk (1952)

  • Plot Synopses: Jack (Lou Costello) has been tasked with babysitting an obnoxious little boy (David Stollery) and attempts to read him the story of Jack And The Beanstalk (although the kid ends up reading to him). As Jack imagines the story, he places himself in the role of the titular Jack, who sells his family cow to local butcher Mr. Dinklepuss (Bud Abbott) in exchange for some “magic beans.” When planted, the beans turn into a very tall beanstalk that reaches to the skies. Jack and Mr. Dinklepuss climb the beanstalk to go rescue the prince (James Alexander) and princess (Shaye Cogan) along with other objects of value that have been stolen by the giant (Buddy Baer). Will they succeed in their mission, or will the giant win out?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Extras: Newly Recorded Introduction By Lou’s Youngest Daughter, Chris Costello; Commentary by Abbott and Costello expert Ron Palumbo, with recollections from Jack And The Beanstalk co-star David Stollery; newly discovered footage of Abbott and Costello performing “Who’s on First” on December 2, 1940; Imperfect Spectrum: A Brief History of Cinecolor by Jack Theakston; Climbing The Scales: The Music Of Jack And The Beanstalk by Ray Fiola; Beanstalk Ballyhoo by Ron Palumbo; Cutting Down the Beanstalk by Ron Palumbo; Abbott And Costello Meet the Creature – Live TV Appearance from February, 1954; Rudy Vallee radio sketch (February, 1945) with photo gallery by Shane Fleming; Restoration Demo; Behind The Scenes photo gallery by Chip Ordway with 1952 children’s recording; Publicity Materials photo gallery by Chip Ordway; Abbott And Costello Trailer Rarities = 18 original “Coming Attraction” previews including Jack And The Beanstalk; Fireman Save My Child trailer and commentaries by 3-D expert Mike Ballew or Ron Palumbo; ClassicFlix Trailers for A Night In Casablanca (1946), Abbott And Costello TV Show: Mustard, The Little Rascals Vol. 4, Merrily We Live (1938), Zenobia (1939)
  • Label: ClassicFlix
  • My Rating: 7/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: I’ve seen Jack And The Beanstalk a number of times over the years, and, even though I consider it one of the lesser Abbott and Costello films, I still like to see it every now and then. My biggest problems with the film are with its less than memorable music (although the songs “I Fear Nothing” and the title song are at least decent), the less-than-polished dancing and the less-than-stellar performances of James Alexander and Shaye Cogan as the film’s central romance. Bud and Lou really don’t do any of their comedy routines here and instead try more to appeal to kids (and they do well enough that they still manage to be funny in the process). Of course, doing the film in a manner that evokes thoughts of the far superior The Wizard Of Oz (1939) with the opening and closing in sepia-tone while the rest of the film is in (SuperCine)color doesn’t exactly do it any favors either. Still, it’s fun for what it is, an Abbott and Costello movie in color (the only other one is the same year’s Abbott And Costello Meet Captain Kidd) and it’s worth giving a chance (especially now that it’s been restored)!
    • On The Transfer: This transfer comes from a 4K scan from 35mm SuperCinecolor elements. The 3-D Film Archive has painstakingly restored this film to get it looking as close to how it should, making the color look much better than it has in a long time, and allowing us to enjoy the opening and closing in its original sepia-tone. The vast majority of scratches, dust and other debris have been cleaned up here. It should be noted here that, for the color section of the film, it is a bit grainier than some might expect. This is due to the original film elements having disappeared when the film was sold off back in 1959 (long before it became public domain), and the best available elements are several generations away from that (meaning they are much grainier). As a result, we have the choice of a grainier picture that shows off the detail, or a picture with the grain removed (and the detail removed with it). I believe they made the right choice, making this the best release this film has seen in a long time (if you want the extras, don’t wait too long to get it, as it is a limited edition that will go out of print soon, although a barebones release may happen later on, depending on how this one sells)!

My Overall Impressions

Well, now that I’ve commented on these four films, I’ll give you my rankings on these releases, from highly recommended (1.) to least recommended (4.)

  1. (tie) For Me And My Gal (1942)
  1. (tie) The Clock (1945)
  1. Adventures Of Don Juan (1948)
  1. Jack And The Beanstalk (1952)

When you get down to it, this is a group of films in which I really have no hesitation in recommending each release, especially in terms of the transfer. I think that Jack And The Beanstalk (1952) has the weakest one, if only because the best available elements are several generations away from the original camera negative, which made it much grainier than some might like. I think the film itself is the weakest, but the release more than makes up for it with nearly two and a half hours of extras (making it the best release of this bunch from that perspective). Do keep in mind that, like I said before, it’s a limited edition which is likely to sell out soon, and if it comes back in print after that, it is very likely that it will only be a barebones release (so if you want those extras, get this one now). The other three releases really are on equal ground as far as their transfers go, as they all look exceptionally great. I think that, as a film, Adventures Of Don Juan (1948) is weaker than either of the two Judy Garland films, but it’s still an entertaining outing for Errol Flynn. And as for For Me And My Gal (1942) and The Clock (1945)? It really is a tie in my opinion, as both are absolutely wonderful films worth seeing. And that, my friends, is what I think of this group of new releases on Blu-ray!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) Roundup Featuring… Bob Hope And Dorothy Lamour

Welcome back to my new “Whats Old Is A New Release Again Roundup” series! This time around, I’m focusing on titles released in 2022 featuring either Bob Hope or Dorothy Lamour (or both), whether they be on DVD, Blu-ray or 4K UHD. Due to the slower pace of releases, I will be starting out with two films, and updating this post as I see more (with the updates showing up on the 2022 Releases page). This post will be completed when I have seen all of the titles released in 2022, or at the tail end of March 2023 (whichever happens first). So, let’s dig into some of Bob and Dorothy’s films that have seen a new release in 2022, which so far includes Monsieur Beaucaire (1946) and Where There’s Life (1947)!

Remember, as an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Table Of Contents

Coming Up Shorts! with… Wild Poses (1933)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 4 (1933-1935) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 18 minutes, 31 seconds)

Spanky’s (George McFarland) parents decide to have his picture taken. However, after listening to the other kids from the Gang who tag along, Spanky refuses to sit for a picture! This was yet another hilarious short, particularly with Franklin Pangborn playing the photographer (who frequently gets a punch in the nose from Spanky). Of course, as an audience member seeing the other kids messing with the photographer’s equipment, I can’t blame Spanky for not wanting his picture taken. There’s some humor to be found with Emerson Treacy and Gay Seabrook returning to play Spanky’s parents, although Gay Seabrook wears out her welcome a bit with her attempts at humor. Still, this was a fun one, and one that I wouldn’t mind revisiting with some frequency!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Hi’-Neighbor! (1934)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 4 (1933-1935) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 17 minutes, 54 seconds)

Jerry (Jerry Tucker), the new kid in the neighborhood, has his own small fire engine (and the envy of the Gang). However, he doesn’t want to share it with them, leading them to put together their own fire engine. Hi’-Neighbor proved to be a fun one! Jerry Tucker shows himself to be a good foil to the rest of the Gang, as he inadvertently pushes them to use their ingenuity to make their own fire engine! Of course, watching Spanky (George McFarland) try to help Stymie by “passing him a wheel” is one of the most amusing moments, as are the instances of Jerry getting his comeuppance. The only problem is the use of rear-screen projection during their final race, which takes away from the sense of speed and danger needed. Other than that, this one was fun, and worth seeing!

Monsieur Beaucaire (1946)

  • Plot Synopses: There are some forces pushing for war between France and Spain (led by Spanish General Don Francisco, as played by Joseph Schildkraut, who seeks to usurp the Spanish throne during wartime). However, the kings of the respective countries are trying to avoid war, and agree to an alliance via royal marriage of Princess Maria of Spain (Marjorie Reynolds) to the French Duke de Chandre (Patric Knowles). In leaving France, de Chandre lets the ex-royal barber Monsieur Beaucaire (Bob Hope) pose as the duke in order to escape being executed. Under this charade, the real duke meets the princess and falls for her (without knowing who she is), while Beaucaire has to deal with the Spanish general’s attempts to assassinate him and prevent the alliance. Can Beaucaire maintain this masquerade and convince his ex-girlfriend Mimi (Joan Caulfield) to come back to him, or will war break out between the two countries?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 33 minutes
  • Extras: KLSC Bob Hope Promo, Trailers for The Cat And The Canary (1939), Road To Singapore (1940), The Ghost Breakers (1940), Road To Zanzibar (1941), Caught In The Draft (1941), Nothing But The Truth (1941), My Favorite Blonde (1942), Road To Morocco (1942), Road To Utopia (1946), Where There’s Life (1947), The Paleface (1948), Alias Jesse James (1959) and Murder, He Says (1945)
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Label: Kino Lorber Studio Classics
  • My Rating: 9/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: Check overall impressions.
    • On The Transfer: According to the Blu-ray case, this transfer comes from a new 2K master. Apparently, there must not have been great elements to work with, as this has been one of the more disappointing transfers of a Universal-owned Bob Hope film to come from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. There’s still a fair amount of scratches, dust and dirt still present (although it’s only really egregious during the opening credits, and improves somewhat afterward). The image is also a bit darker in a lot of places than it seems like it should be. In spite of these issues, it’s not completely unwatchable, and likely to be as good as we can expect for now.

Where There’s Life (1947)

  • Plot Synopses: With the recent end of World War II, the small country of Barovia is looking forward to its first democratic election to replace the monarchy, but a secret society called the Mordia (who hopes to gain power) has attempted to kill Barovian King Hubertus II (William Edmunds). With him dying, the country’s only hope of preventing the Mordia from rising to power before the election is to find the son he had years earlier when he married an American woman (a marriage he was later forced to have annulled). Now, his son is radio announcer Michael Valentine (Bob Hope), who is about to marry Hazel O’Brien (Vera Marshe). A group of Barovian delegates, led by General Katrina Grimovitch (Signe Hasso), attempt to keep Michael alive and bring him to Barovia. But with the Mordia constantly trying to kill Michael, and Hazel’s cop family chasing after him when he misses the wedding, will he be able to survive and help Barovia in their time of need?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Extras: KLSC Bob Hope Promo, Trailers for Where There’s Life (1947), The Cat And The Canary (1939), Road To Singapore (1940), The Ghost Breakers (1940), Road To Zanzibar (1941), Caught In The Draft (1941), Nothing But The Truth (1941), My Favorite Blonde (1942), Road To Morocco (1942), Road To Utopia (1946), The Paleface (1948) and Alias Jesse James (1959)
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Label: Kino Lorber Studio Classics
  • My Rating: 9/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: Check overall impressions.
    • On The Transfer: When Kino Lorber Studio Classics originally announced that they had licensed this film (before they had a street date), it was said that this transfer was going to be from a 4K scan of the best available elements done by Universal. While that comment was later dropped for the official press release (and the back of the Blu-ray case), I can confirm that this film looks quite good! The picture is highly detailed, and most of the scratches, dirt and debris have been cleaned up (and what remains really isn’t that distracting). So, this release is indeed the best way to see this movie!

My Overall Impressions

Like my post in this series for Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, I have eschewed individual comments on these films to reflect on Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour’s presence in these films. At this point in time, I can only claim to look at two films for Bob Hope. Both Monsieur Beaucaire and Where There’s Life feature Bob Hope with his usual screen persona, that of a coward who keeps dishing out quips but manages to be a hero when the chips are down. While neither film has any “Bing-Crosby-cameo-in-a-Bob-Hope-film” appearances, Bing is referenced in both films (okay, it might be pushing it a bit to say that he’s referenced in Monsieur Beaucaire, but who says “bing” instead of “bang” when talking about someone being shot, especially in a Bob Hope film?). For Monsieur Beaucaire, Bob’s big comedic moments (apart from his quips) are his obsession with his girlfriend Mimi due to his worries about the other lotharios in the French court (which actually leads to them gaining an interest) and the final swordfight between him and Joseph Schildkraut’s General Don Francisco. As to Where There’s Life, some of his best moments come when dealing with William Bendix’s Victor O’Brien, the cop brother of Vera Marshe’s Hazel, especially when Bob’s Michael Valentine tries to explain the ridiculous situation that he finds himself in. There are certainly other fun bits in either of these films, but those are among the standouts.

Well, now that I’ve commented on both of these films, I’ll give you my rankings on these releases, from highly recommended (1.) to least recommended (2.):

  1. Where There’s Life (1947)
  2. Monsieur Beaucaire (1946)

When it comes to which of these releases are recommended, this is a slightly tougher decision. For me, both of these films are entertaining and manage to make me laugh and want to come back to them. So, realistically, my recommendation has as much to do with how the transfers for either of these look. And, for that, I easily recommend Where There’s Life. I don’t know whether it boils down to what film elements still exist for either of these two films or just who did the work on these, but Where There’s Life came out looking a lot better, both in terms of detail and being cleaned up. Monsieur Beaucaire just came out looking a lot darker, and therefore not as detailed, making it the harder release to recommend (but I still maintain that the film itself is good enough to overcome the deficits with its transfer).

Other 2022 Release Roundups

Blu-ray Roundup #1

Blu-ray Roundup #2

4K UHD Roundup

Fred Astaire And Ginger Rogers Roundup

W. C. Fields Roundup

Bing Crosby Roundup

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) 4K UHD Roundup

Welcome back to my new “Whats Old Is A New Release Again Roundup” series! This time around, I’m focusing on titles released on the 4K UHD format in 2022. Due to the slower pace of releases on the format (which is even slower when you account for the number of films that actually appeal to me), I will be starting out with two films, and updating this post as I see more (with the updates showing up on the 2022 Releases page). This post will be completed when I have seen all of the titles that I wanted that were released in 2022, or at the tail end of March 2023 (whichever happens first). So, let’s dig into some of the films that have been released on 4K UHD, starting with Singin’ In The Rain (1952) and West Side Story (2021)!

Remember, as an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Note: Due to the fact that I had already used a short from a different set on my original review of Singin’ In The Rain (1952), I will not be adding another one on that post or this one.

Update: On 11/16/2022, comments were added on the recent 4K UHD release of Holiday Inn (1942). Due to there being a previously written review for that film, the “Coming Up Shorts!” comments were added to that review.

Table Of Contents

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Kid From Borneo (1933)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 4 (1933-1935) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 18 minutes, 47 seconds)

Dorothy (Dorothy DeBorba), Dickie (Dickie Moore) and Spanky’s (George McFarland) mother has received a letter from her brother stating that he is in town with a carnival and wants to meet the kids. The kids go to the carnival, but they mistake the “Wild Man From Borneo” (their uncle’s “sideshow attraction”) as their uncle. This one is a bit of a mixed bag, but it’s pretty good. The short’s main problem is the characterization of the “Wild Man From Borneo” (who is a black man), but the short also makes sure to tell us that he is really not a threat (but the kids themselves certainly don’t know that). One of the short’s more amusing moments is when Spanky is cornered, and feeds this bottomless pit of a man everything in the icebox. It’s not a great short, but it certainly provided a few good laughs throughout.

Holiday Inn (1942)

  • Plot Synopses: A three person song-and-dance team splits up when one of their members, Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby) gets the urge to buy a farm where he can rest and retire from show business. Farming doesn’t prove to be as easy or as restful as he thinks, and he decides to turn the farm into an inn that is only open for holidays (fifteen days a year). Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds) is sent to the inn to audition, and she gets a job there. Jim falls for her, but one of his former partners, Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire), finds himself partnerless. Upon meeting Linda, Ted also falls in love with her and wants to dance with her. Will Linda stay at the inn with Jim, or will she become a big star with Ted?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 40 minutes
  • Extras (on both the 4K disc and the included Blu-ray): “A Couple Of Song And Dance Men;” “All-Singing All-Dancing;” “Reassessing ‘Abraham;'” Theatrical Trailer; and Feature Commentary By Film Historian Ken Barnes, including Audio Comments From Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby And John Scott Trotter
  • Label: Universal Studios
  • My Rating: 8/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: It’s a wonderful Christmas classic (obviously, it covers more than one holiday, but everybody remembers this film for its introduction of the song “White Christmas,” and for good reason)! Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire team up for the first time onscreen, with the resulting fun of “I’ll Capture Your Heart Singing” as the two of them try (and fail) to one-up each other in romance! Besides the two aforementioned songs, we also have some other fun Irving Berlin tunes including “Easter Parade” and “Be Careful, It’s My Heart.” The only real complaint about the film is the blackface number set to the song “Abraham.” The story may not be that great, but, apart from the blackface issues, this is a well-regarded film for good reason, and certainly recommended! If you need to read more on the film, check out my original review here.
    • On The Transfer: Honestly, this is a bit of a disappointing release. The 4K disc looks terrible, with a picture that is darker at times and loses some of the detail, and grain tends to be very distracting here, as if they are working from elements (or an older transfer) that doesn’t have 4K worth of data, although there are some moments here and there where the 4K disc actually looks good. Frankly, the included Blu-ray (which appears to use the same transfer, or close enough) actually looks better throughout. The Blu-ray is lighter and the grain is nowhere near as prevalent as it is on the 4K. Also, depending on your feelings about this, the film starts with a vintage Universal logo preceding the film’s Paramount logo. I only mention this because the film was originally produced by Paramount, was part of a large group of films sold to Music Corporation Of America (MCA)/EMKA , Ltd. in the 1950s, before becoming part of Universal Studios’ library when MCA took over the studio in the 1960s. Realistically, this release is at best recommended to those who don’t have the Blu-ray already (and even then it is questionable). If you already have the Blu-ray, then don’t bother with this one. If you want either the Broadway show or the colorized version of the film (neither of which is included as extras with this release), then I would suggest going with one of the earlier Blu-ray releases.

Singin’ In The Rain (1952)

  • Plot Synopses: Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) are two of the biggest silent film stars in Hollywood. However, an encounter with one of his fans (Kathy Selden, as played by Debbie Reynolds) has left Don questioning whether he really can act. And now he really needs to prove that he can, as sound has come to the movies! He’s got the support of Kathy and his old friend Cosmo Brown (Donald O’Connor), but Lina proves to be a problem since she speaks with a heavy accent (not to mention the fact that she can’t sing or dance). Will Don and Lina’s new sound film prove to be a hit with audiences, or a flop?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 43 minutes
  • Extras (on the 4K disc): Commentary by Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Cyd Charisse, Kathleen Freeman, Stanley Donen, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Baz Luhrmann and Rudy Behmer; Musical Numbers
  • Extras (on the included 2012 Blu-ray): Commentary by Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Cyd Charisse, Kathleen Freeman, Stanley Donen, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Baz Luhrmann and Rudy Behmer; Singin’ In The Rain: Raining on a New Generation, Jukebox, Theatrical Trailer
  • Label: Warner Home Video
  • My Rating: 10/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: The classic music of Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown. Gene Kelly’s iconic dance in the rain to the title tune. Donald O’Connor’s pratfall-filled dance to “Make ‘Em Laugh.” All the comedy and the romance a film could need. What more needs to be said? (If more does need to be said, please read my original full review here).
    • On The Transfer: I had always thought that the earlier Blu-ray (from 2012) looked pretty good, but the new UHD blows it out of the water! The resolution is certainly much improved, allowing us to see better detail in the image (and all this from a film whose original camera negative was mostly destroyed, save for one reel, in the infamous 1978 Eastman House fire, and which has relied mostly on dupe negatives ever since). The colors are much improved by the HDR, toned down from the slightly yellowish image on the Blu-ray and DVD (and, according to the experts on the subject that I’ve read, the UHD is closer to being what it is supposed to look like). Of course, if you’re looking to “future-proof” this film, then do know that the Blu-ray included with the UHD is still the 2012 release, and not a remastered Blu-ray with a new transfer (which admittedly does allow you to see just how different the UHD is from the older Blu-ray). I’ll certainly recommend the 4K UHD quite heartily as the best way to enjoy this wonderful classic!

West Side Story (2021)

  • Plot Synopses: In the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the Jets are fighting for control of their territory with the Puerto Rican gang, the Sharks. The Jets’ former leader, Tony (Ansel Elgort), is trying to stay out of it, but he finds himself drawn in when he falls for Maria (Rachel Zegler), the sister of the Sharks’ leader, Bernardo (David Alvarez). This really angers Bernardo, pushing the Jets and the Sharks into a big all-out fight, with control of their territory at stake. Neither Maria nor Tony nor the police want this to happen. But, with all the hatred going around, can they stop the rumble before any blood is shed?
  • Film Length: 2 hours, 36 minutes
  • Extras (only on the included Blu-ray): The Stories of West Side Story, The Songs
  • Label: 20th Century Studios/Disney
  • My Rating: 10/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: Plain and simple, I did not expect to like this version since I essentially hated the 1961 film. Boy, did that opinion prove to be wrong! The cast did right by their roles. The music and dancing proved to be very entertaining and memorable! Even the cinematography left an imprint on me! I would go so far as to argue that this may be the best film musical I’ve seen made within my own lifetime (if not the best movie made within my own lifetime, it’s so enjoyable)!
    • On The Transfer: I thought the accompanying Blu-ray for this film looked pretty good, but the 4K UHD blows it out of the water! The detail is exquisite and the color pops, especially for the extremely colorful “America” song and dance! The transfer really shows off the excellent cinematography here! A highly recommended release!

My Overall Impressions

Well, now that I’ve commented on both of these films, I’ll give you my rankings on these releases, from highly recommended (1.) to least recommended (3.):

  1. Singin’ In The Rain (1952)
  2. West Side Story (2021)
  3. Holiday Inn (1942)

Plain and simple, I think that Singin’ In The Rain is the better film of these three. It’s been a beloved classic for a long time (for good reason!), so it’s an easy choice. I do think that, as far as the 4K UHD releases go, West Side Story looks better, but I would also say that that has to do with modern filming technology which allows it to have much better detail combined with the fact that the original camera negative for Singin’ In The Rain no longer survives (but, as I said, that film still looks great on the 4K UHD, too). That being said, West Side Story is an easy recommendation for me as well. I enjoyed the film a lot (far more than I can say about the earlier 1961 film, for which I had the completely opposite reaction). I’ll give Singin’ In The Rain the edge here, but I can’t deny that both are wonderful films, and certainly deserve to be seen in the best possible format! Holiday Inn is another story. As to the movie itself? I would highly recommend it (maybe not as much as the other two films here, but it’s still a well regarded classic). However, as this is concerning the new 4K UHD release, Holiday Inn is easily the weakest of the bunch, with a poor transfer that leaves me recommending that you NOT look at the 4K, and instead go with one of the earlier Blu-ray releases.

*Singin’ In The Rain (1952) = ranked #2 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2022

**West Side Story (2021) = ranked #7 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2022

***West Side Story (2021) = ranked #6 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2022

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) Blu-ray Roundup #1

Welcome to my new way of doing my “Whats Old Is A New Release Again” series! As I mentioned in my post Upcoming Changes For The “Thoughts From The Music(al) Man” Blog earlier this year, life has forced some changes upon how I have to do my blog (at least, if I am to continue). As such, I will now be doing quick blurbs on each of the new releases that I try. Of course, the posts will differ, depending on what I am covering. With regard to new releases on Blu-ray, I will do posts on four films, which will not change (outside of adding in links to full reviews when they get written later). On the other hand, I will have posts on 4K UHD releases and some of my featured Stars/Screen Teams, which will be posted when I have at least two films to talk about (and those posts will be updated if more films get released throughout the year). Now, this post is my first focusing on some of the movies released on Blu-ray in 2022 (and therefore will not be updated). So, let’s dig into the movies Edge Of Darkness (1943), The Three Musketeers (1948), Black Magic (1949) and The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962)!

Remember, as an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Table Of Contents

Note: Initially, this post will have my comments on four different shorts, but when I eventually get around to writing individual reviews for any of these films I am looking at here, I will remove my thoughts on the shorts from this post and add them to the new post.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Birthday Blues (1932)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 3 (1932-1933) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 19 minutes, 31 seconds)

Dickie’s (Dickie Moore) father forgets to give his wife a present for her birthday, so Dickie decides to earn some money to give her a dress. He decides to bake a cake full of prizes, with some help from Spanky (George McFarland) and Stymie (Matthew Beard), and charge the rest of the gang for it. This one was quite a bit of fun (with a little bit of heart thrown in)! Much of the humor stems from the way they bake the cake, taking some instructions quite literally, as well as some of the “prizes” that get thrown in when the two kids baking it aren’t looking! A very enjoyable twenty minutes, and one well worth seeing again and again!

Coming Up Shorts! with… A Lad An’ A Lamp (1932)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 3 (1932-1933) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 17 minutes, 17 seconds)

After hearing the story of Aladdin and his magic lamp, the Gang all try to find a lamp with a genie. When circumstances lead them to believe that they found it, they try to figure out what to wish for. This one was a very entertaining short! Watching the kids try to find the lamp was fun, but so was seeing all the various situations that make it appear as if the lamp was genuine! Of course, we don’t see too many “wishes” come true, but Spanky (George McFarland) wishing for Stymie’s (Matthew Beard) little brother to turn into a monkey results in some of the short’s funniest moments! All in all, a lot of fun to be found with this one, and I certainly look forward to seeing it repeatedly!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Fish Hooky (1933)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 3 (1932-1933) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 18 minutes, 31 seconds)

Some of the gang decide to play hooky from school when Joe (Joe Cobb) and Farina (Allen Hoskins) invite them to go fishing. However, their teacher, Miss Kornman (Mary Kornman) has decided to close the school and take the students out to the beach for the day. This one was quite an entertaining entry in the series! It was fun seeing Joe and Farina again (however briefly), and the short also brings back earlier members Mary Kornman as the teacher and Mickey Daniels as the new truant officer. Most of the humor is derived from Mary and Mickey conniving to get the kids to regret their decision to play hooky (with Mickey constantly laughing to himself as he pretends to chase them in order to send them to reform school). A lot of good, clean fun, and certainly one I look forward to revisiting in the future!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Forgotten Babies (1933)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 3 (1932-1933) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 16 minutes, 58 seconds)

It’s Saturday, and the Gang wants to go swimming, but they’re all stuck taking care of their younger siblings. So, they decide to stick Spanky (George McFarland) with babysitting duties while they all go have fun. This one was fairly entertaining, getting to see Spanky take care of all the little kids. His version of the Tarzan story was one of the more memorable moments, as were the antics of the babies as they all quickly got away from him (and way out of hand). This short may not have been one of the more memorable entries in the series, but it was still fun.

Edge Of Darkness (1943)

  • Plot Synopses: It’s World War II, and the German army has taken over Norwegian territory. In the small village of Trollness, the Norwegian people resent the Nazi menace under the command of Captain Koenig (Helmut Dantine). The Norwegians look to Gunnar Brogge (Errol Flynn) for leadership, but they can’t revolt without any guns. According to Major Ruck (Henry Brandon), an undercover British agent, they can expect arms to come soon. But, with another nearby Norwegian village having failed to rebel against the Germans, can the people of Trollness manage to successfully get rid of the Nazis in their midst without being betrayed by one of their own?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 59 minutes
  • Extras: WB Short Gun To Gun (1944), WB Cartoon: To Duck… Or Not To Duck (1943), Theatrical Trailer
  • Label: Warner Archive Collection
  • My Rating: 10/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: This film was new to me, and proved to be a very entertaining war drama. While it held back some on the horrors of war (due, as much as anything, to the Production Code in place at the time), it still managed to portray what people went through under the Nazis in such a way as to help garner sympathy for the Norwegian people and hatred for the Nazis. Being made during the second World War, it definitely feels intended to help drum up patriotic support for the Allies, especially with the narration during the film’s ending. The action scenes worked quite well for the film’s big battle, and easily held my attention. Again, a very well-made film that I would highly recommend!
    • On The Transfer: The transfer comes from a scan of the best available preservation elements, and it looks wonderful! The picture is crisp and clear, allowing detail to show through, with all dust and debris cleaned up.

The Three Musketeers (1948)

  • Plot Synopses: A young lad from Gascony named D’Artagnan (Gene Kelly) has come to Paris, France, in the hope of becoming one of the king’s musketeers. After a rocky start, he quickly befriends Athos (Van Heflin), Porthos (Gig Young) and Aramis (Robert Coote), three of the best swordsmen in the musketeers. However, they have all run afoul of the king’s prime minister, Richelieu (Vincent Price). With the aid of the Countess de Winter (Lana Turner), Richelieu aims to increase his power in France by starting a war with England. Can the musketeers stop their plans, or will the country have more trouble under Richelieu’s leadership?
  • Film Length: 2 hours, 6 minutes
  • Extras: Fitzpatrick Traveltalks Short Looking At London (1946), Tex Avery Cartoon What Price Fleadom (1948), MGM Radio Promo, Theatrical Trailer
  • Label: Warner Archive Collection
  • My Rating: 10/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: This is the only one of this batch that I’ve seen previously, and it still holds up for me as a wonderful film! Gene Kelly is the main appeal here as D’Artagnan, in what he considered one of his favorite non-musical roles. His athleticism and dance ability help him out as he proves adept with a sword in one of his rare swashbuckling appearances. While most of the story is familiar to those who’ve seen various adaptations of the material, this version at least attempts to make use of more of the original novel’s story. It’s my favorite Three Musketeers film, and easily recommended!
    • On The Transfer: The transfer comes from a 4K scan of the original nitrate Technicolor negatives. As a result, the film looks much better than it has in a while, with the color popping much better and improved detail in the image. All dirt and other debris has been cleaned up.

Black Magic (1949)

  • Plot Synopses: As a child, young Joseph Balsamo witnesses the wrongful death of his parents at the hand of Viscount de Montaigne (Stephen Bekassy) (and barely escapes with his own life). As an adult, he reinvents himself as Cagliostro (Orson Welles), working as part of a traveling medicine show, until he meets Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer (Charles Goldner), who recognizes that Cagliostro has the power to help people with his ability to hypnotize them with his eyes. With this newfound knowledge, Cagliostro sets out to get his revenge on the Viscount. Opportunity presents itself when the Viscount (who doesn’t recognize him) needs his help in part of a conspiracy to discredit Marie Antionette (Nancy Guild) with a peasant named Lorenza who looks exactly like her. Will Cagliostro get his revenge and successfully gain power, or can he be stopped by Lorenza’s lover, Captain Gilbert de Rezel (Frank Latimore)?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 45 minutes
  • Extras: ClassicFlix Trailers for A Night In Casablanca (1946), The Little Rascals, Volume 3, Stand-In (1937), T-Men (1947) and Tomorrow Is Forever (1946)
  • Label: ClassicFlix
  • My Rating: 7/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: This film was new to me, and I will admit that I found it enjoyable! I’m still coming around to Orson Welles as an actor, but he is certainly one of the film’s main strengths, giving a solid performance as a more villainous character. Some of the other aspects don’t work as well, like the love triangle between him, Nancy Guild’s Lorenza and Frank Latimore’s Captain de Rezel; or the story itself after the original conspiracy is derailed upon the death of the king. Still, the film has some nice touches, especially in the way it portrays Cagliostro’s methods of controlling people hypnotically (even if you do question many of the characters not realizing how to stop him from doing so until the very end). It’s certainly a far from perfect film, but I found it entertaining and would certainly suggest giving it a shot!
    • On The Transfer: For the most part, this film looks quite well. The image has been mostly cleaned up of dirt and debris (although a few scratches appear here and there). It’s an overall pleasing image, even with a few moments where the image has some issues with emulsion consistency. It’s not absolutely perfect, but it’s still as good as one can hope for, given what film elements still survive.

The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962)

  • Plot Synopses: The Grimm brothers have been commissioned to write the family history of a local Duke (Oscar Homolka). Jacob Grimm (Karl Boehm) is very dedicated to his work, but his brother Wilhelm (Laurence Harvey) is prone to goofing off. Wilhelm is obsessed with fairy tales and wants to write them down for everyone, but nobody else believes that his idea will have any lasting value. His antics increasingly get the two brothers in trouble with the Duke, until he accidentally loses their manuscript in the process of seeking out more fairy tales. Will this mistake be the end of the brothers, or can they come back together?
  • Film Length: 2 hours, 20 minutes
  • Extras: the movie in both letterboxed and Smilebox aspect ratios (over two discs), Brothers Grimm Announcement Trailer, Brothers Grimm Theatrical Letterbox Trailer, Brothers Grimm Radio Interview with Russ Tamblyn, Brothers Grimm Radio Interview with Yvette Mimieux, Epic Art for the Brothers Grimm, The Wonderful Career Of George Pal, Rescuing A Fantasy Classic, Rothenberg, Germany Location Commemorative Plaque, A Salute To William R. Forman, Brothers Grimm Slideshow
  • Label: Warner Archive Collection
  • My Rating: 9/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: This was a new movie for me, and one I very much enjoyed! While your mileage may vary with regards to the main story about the brothers (I personally liked it), the main consensus from what I’ve read is that the movie is at its best during the three fairy tale sections, a point with which I heartily agree! It has a few fun musical moments (with music by Bob Merrill) scattered through the fairy tale segments, plus the main theme is a bit of an earworm itself! There are some scenes that really show off the fact that it was made for Cinerama, such as a ride through the forest in a horse-drawn coach, and Russ Tamblyn doing some tumbling through that same forest (all of which would either be shortened or cut completely for a regular film). It might be a little childish for some during the fairy tale sections, but it’s an overall entertaining movie if you can get past that!
    • On The Transfer: The transfer comes from a 6K composite scan of the original Cinerama 3-panel camera negatives. Quite simply stated, this movie looks FANTASTIC! All three panels have been put together seamlessly, with no join lines visible, thus giving us a nice, clear image. There are moments where some damage briefly peeks through, but nowhere near enough to mar an otherwise immaculate image (and I highly recommend the Smilebox version as the best way to watch the movie unless you’ve got a curved screen a la Cinerama)!

My Overall Impressions

Well, now that I’ve commented on these four films, I’ll give you my rankings on these releases, from highly recommended (1.) to least recommended (4.)

  1. The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962)
  2. The Three Musketeers (1948)
  3. Edge Of Darkness (1943)
  4. Black Magic (1949)

As you can tell from that list, I regard Black Magic as the weakest of the bunch (both in terms of the film itself and the transfer quality). Now, don’t get me wrong. The movie itself is still entertaining, and the transfer is quite good (after all, ClassicFlix is trying to work with films from smaller entities that haven’t always been able to take care of their holdings as well as the big studios can, and ClassicFlix’s budget is certainly nothing near what the big studios can handle, especially since they’ve had to devote more of their resources of late to their ongoing Our Gang/The Little Rascals project after their crowdfunding attempt failed). It’s just that the other three films are better overall. I think that The Three Musketeers and Edge Of Darkness are the best films of the lot, and their transfers look quite stellar. But, even though I have a slightly lower opinion of The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm as a movie, I would still call that Blu-ray release the best of the bunch (and an early contender for best release of the year). After all, they took a film that, due to the combination of it being a Cinerama film (and therefore, there is three times the film they have to go through and restore, compared to a normal film of the same length) and some water damage that the elements sustained quite some time ago, was long considered too expensive a proposition (compared to its supposed popularity) to be released on DVD, never mind Blu-ray. And yet, now it’s here on Blu-ray, sporting an absolutely fantastic transfer, along with some newly produced extras (a rarity for Warner Archive Collection releases) and a booklet partly replicating a souvenir program originally sold during the film’s original theatrical roadshow engagements. Plain and simple, I can easily recommend all four of these releases, but I think that The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm is a special release that is very much deserving of being in anybody’s collection now!

*The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962) = ranked #1 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2022

**The Three Musketeers (1948) = ranked #8 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2022

***Edge Of Darkness (1943) = ranked #9 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2022

****The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm (1962) = ranked #8 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2022

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) with… Song Of The Thin Man (1947)

We’re back for not only one final go-round with William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles, but one final (for now) individual review in my “What’s Old Is A New Release Again” series, as I switch to a roundup of quick blurbs about a group of movies (hopefully within the next few weeks). But enough about that, we’re here for the 1947 mystery comedy Song Of The Thin Man!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Free Wheeling (1932)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 3 (1932-1933) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 19 minutes, 49 seconds)

Young Dickie (Dickie Moore) has a stiff neck which requires a neck brace, but the doctors say that he can and should take it off (although his mother disagrees with them). Dickie ends up joining Stymie (Matthew Beard) and the Gang in their makeshift taxi. This one was another entertaining short, with quite a few humorous moments. I know I enjoyed Dickie’s attempt to avoid taking castor oil (and his subsequent revenge on his nurse). Then there is the taxi (pushed by a mule) and all the various devices to simulate a real taxi ride. The final ride through the countryside is less than convincing due to the rather obvious rear screen projection, but that’s a rare complaint about an otherwise very enjoyable short with the Gang!

Coming Up Shorts! with… A Really Important Person (1947)

(Available as an extra on the Song Of The Thin Man Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 10 minutes, 50 seconds)

Young Billy Reilly (Dean Stockwell) wants to write an essay on an important person for a contest, but he can’t think of anybody. It isn’t until he accidentally breaks a window during a baseball game and is pushed by his father to help repair it that he is able to come up with a subject. This short, part of John Nesbit’s Passing Parade series, was a good one. It has a good message of not always needing to look for heroes among the big names and celebrities, but also within your own neighborhood (and even your own home when applicable). It was well-acted, and very heartfelt. It’s the only short I’ve seen from that series so far, and, while not enough of a ringing endorsement for me to seek out more, it was at least an entertaining one.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Slap Happy Lion (1947)

(Available as an extra on the Song Of The Thin Man Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 26 seconds)

The lion is the king of the jungle and afraid of nobody. That is, until a mouse keeps picking on him. This Tex Avery short is quite funny, especially with the various lion roars (and the reactions of the different animals when they run in fear). Of course, the fight between the mouse and the lion (which is the majority of the short) is nothing new in and of itself. The main humor there is doing things Tex Avery’s way (which is certainly entertaining). It’s an overall fun cartoon (especially with that ending), and it’s one I don’t mind revisiting!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Phil Orval Brant (Bruce Cowling) is hosting a society benefit on his ship, the S. S. Fortune, and Nick (William Powell) and Nora Charles (Myrna Loy) are there hobnobbing with the rest of them. There is a jazz orchestra playing there, under the leadership of Tommy Edlon Drake (Phillip Reed). However, Tommy is getting into trouble in various ways, and, after the event is over, he is shot. The police think that Phil is the guilty party, but, when Phil and his new wife, Janet Thayar (Jayne Meadows), show up the next day to visit the Charles, Nick and Nora at first assume that’s it’s because of their new marital status (until Phil and Janet explain to them what has happened). They are shot at by some unknown assailant, and Nick decides to turn Phil in to the police for safety (since he thinks the shot was intended for Phil). Later, Nick sneaks onto the Fortune (which is being guarded by the police), where he meets the members of the jazz orchestra. He learns how none of them liked Tommy, particularly clarinet player, Buddy Hollis (Don Taylor) (who isn’t there with the rest of the group). Nick convinces another clarinet player, Clarence “Clinker” Krause (Keenan Wynn), to help him locate Buddy, but they have no luck. Nick later has an idea, and, with the aid of Nora, questions Janet and her father, David I. Thayar (Ralph Morgan) (who did not approve of Janet’s marriage to Phil) about an antique gun (since David has a collection of them). During their conversation, Janet gets a mysterious telephone call, and the whole interrogation ends abruptly. Nick and Nora follow Janet to an apartment, where they find the dead body of the band’s singer, Fran Ledue Page (Gloria Grahame). They find a clue that leads them to a rest home, where they find Buddy (who has been staying there after his alcoholism broke his mind). By all appearances, it almost looks like Buddy is the murderer, but Nick isn’t sure. Working with the police, he manages to gather all the suspects on the Fortune, where he hopes everything will be revealed. But will his plan work?

With Myrna Loy returning to Hollywood (after her failed marriage to John Hertz, Jr. and all her work for the war effort), The Thin Man Goes Home continued the success of the Thin Man series. However, things had changed enough that the series no longer had the guaranteed success it had previously known. With the death of W. S. “Woody” Van Dyke (who had directed the first four films), and different writers behind the scenes, only the onscreen talent remained the same. Song Of The Thin Man brought back actor Leon Ames from The Thin Man Goes Home (the original plan was to have him be the same character, except his onscreen wife from the previous film was unavailable, so he was instead given a different character to work with). The role of Nickie, Jr. (played in Shadow Of The Thin Man by Richard “Dickie” Hall) was recast with Dean Stockwell for Song Of The Thin Man. The presence of William Powell and Myrna Loy wasn’t enough to save the film this time for audiences, as the movie ended up losing money at the box office. In the process, it not only ended the series, it also ended up being the last full movie pairing William Powell and Myrna Loy (with her making a cameo appearance in another 1947 outing for William Powell, The Senator Was Indiscreet), as well as being Myrna’s last film at MGM.

Like all the previous entries in the series, this one was new to me. I will be very quick to admit that I still enjoyed this one, but, at the same time, it is indeed easy to see it was not as well done as the earlier films. The humor overall wasn’t as memorable, with the main comedy bits that stuck with me being the “Jive talk” that Keenan Wynn’s Clinker frequently engages in, to the particular confusion of Nick and Nora (and probably modern audiences who may not be as used to the slang). The mystery itself is decent here, but, at the same time, the final reveal wasn’t handled as well as the earlier films, lacking all the frequent misdirections (or at least, they were poorly handled here). My opinion may not be as favorable, but I can’t deny that the movie is still entertaining, and worth it for more time with William Powell and Myrna Loy’s Nick and Nora, who still have the same chemistry that had held all the series together. So, for them alone, this movie is still worth recommending (but, again, I don’t recommend binge-watching the whole series, as this film looks worse when compared directly against the earlier films).

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection, featuring a new 4K scan of the best preservation elements. Quite simply stated, the movie looks as good as all the earlier films, with a good image that has been cleaned up of dirt and debris. I certainly recommend this release as the best way to see and enjoy this movie!

Film Length: 1 hour, 27 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Ziegfeld Follies (1945) – William Powell – Mister Roberts (1955)

The Thin Man Goes Home (1945) – Myrna Loy – Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)

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An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2019) with… Holiday Inn (1942)

It’s certainly time for a holiday celebration, and what better movie than the classic Holiday Inn (1942), starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Pinch Singer (1936)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 5 (1935-1936) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 17 minutes, 26 seconds)

A local radio station holds an amateur talent contest with a $50 prize. The Eagles Club (that’s the Gang) decide to have Darla (Darla Hood) perform, but when she’s late, it’s up to Alfalfa (Carl Switzer) to go on in her place! This was yet another fun short! Some of the fun was in seeing various other kids (not otherwise connected with the Little Rascals) performing to various songs. Of course, with the regular cast, the auditions where Alfalfa attempted to sing (but kept getting the gong), and Buckwheat (Billie Thomas) lip-synching (if you can call it that, since he’s supposed to be whistling) to a record were comic bits that all managed to keep me laughing! There are a few problematic moments, such as Alfalfa wearing blackface as a “disguise” during one of his auditions, and another trio also wearing blackface during their performance. But, realistically, these moments didn’t really detract from this short that much, as I thought it was entertaining throughout (and I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing it again)!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby), Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire) and Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale) are a song-and-dance team working together in nightclubs. Jim, who is in love with Lila, has decided to retire from show business, marry Lila, and live on a farm. Lila loves Jim, but she also loves Ted and wants to keep dancing, so she decides to stick with the act. Jim still goes to live on the farm, but his dreams of a lazy life are quickly proven false. So, instead, he comes up with an idea to turn the farm into an inn that is open holidays only (as in, only fifteen days a year). Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds), a wannabe singer and dancer, is steered his way by Jim’s former manager, Danny Reed (Walter Abel), and she gets the job at the inn. On New Year’s Eve (when Jim’s “Holiday Inn” opens), Ted learns that Lila has left him to marry a millionaire, and, after getting drunk, makes his way to the inn. Upon his arrival, he dances with Linda, but passes out at the end of the dance. However, the audience appreciated the dance, and the late arriving Danny is ecstatic about the reception to Ted’s “new partner.” However, Danny never saw who Ted’s partner was, and, upon waking up in the morning, Ted doesn’t remember what she looked like, either. Jim (who likes Linda), sees Ted’s reaction of falling for his new partner (even if he doesn’t know who she is or what she looks like), decides to try to hide Linda’s existence at the inn on the next few holidays. However, it’s not enough, and Ted and Danny do find out who she is. However, Ted and Danny want to take her away from the inn, but she’s promised to stay at the inn (and she thinks she is engaged to Jim). So, Ted comes to the inn under the guise of wanting to work with them and “enjoy life’s simple pleasures.” Jim is suspicious of Ted’s motives, which is all but confirmed when, on July 4, he overhears Ted and Danny discussing some Hollywood agents who are coming to the inn to see Ted and Linda perform. Jim tries to keep Linda away, but she still manages to arrive (although after the show). Jim and Linda have an argument and break up, with Linda going to Hollywood with Ted while Jim stays at the inn. The question remains: will her Hollywood success with Ted be enough, or will Jim be able to convince her to return to the inn (and him)?

In 1917, composer Irving Berlin wrote a song called “Smile And Show Your Dimple.” It didn’t enjoy much success initially. At least, not until he repurposed the music for the 1933 Broadway musical revue As Thousands Cheer, in which he gave it new lyrics and a new title: “Easter Parade.” With the song now a hit, Irving Berlin came up with the idea to have a revue based on the various American holidays. On the stage, this idea never got off the ground, but a meeting with movie director Mark Sandrich (who had collaborated with Irving Berlin on three of the Astaire-Rogers pictures) resulted in them pursuing the idea for a film. Since they were both at Paramount Pictures, they wanted to go with the studio’s big musical star, Bing Crosby, and decided to bring in Fred Astaire (who had been freelancing after his contract with RKO had ended a few years before). Big female stars like Ginger Rogers and Rita Hayworth were considered, but a budget-conscious Paramount had fought hard enough against Fred being cast (since he and Bing were two of Hollywood’s highest paid stars), so they ended up going with some unknowns for the female leads, nightclub dancer Virginia Dale and Marjorie Reynolds (who had up to that point been known for her roles in various Poverty Row Westerns). The resulting film went over well with audiences, with the song “Be Careful, It’s My Heart” becoming a hit at first. The song “White Christmas” (which won Irving Berlin his only Oscar for “Best Song”) became more of a hit over time due to the war and homesick soldiers requesting it on the Armed Forces Radio.

I will readily admit that the song “White Christmas” is one that I enjoy listening to (as long as there isn’t any actual snow on the ground), but I can also definitely say that there are a few other songs and dances that I enjoy in this movie. One of them is the song “You’re Easy To Dance With,” sung and danced by Fred Astaire and Virginia Dale. Amongst Fred’s early Irving Berlin film musicals, it continues the trend of him doing a dancing-related song. He reprised it with Marjorie Reynolds at the New Year’s Eve party, except this time he was drunk (and I do mean drunk, as Fred had two drinks of bourbon before the first take, and one more between each take, with the seventh and final take being what we see in the movie). Even drunk, Fred still proves that he can dance better than others can sober.

Then, of course, there is the more patriotic song “Let’s Say It With Firecrackers” to go along with July 4. This is Fred’s big tap solo in the movie, and he worked with actual firecrackers for it! Apparently, it took about 38 attempts before Fred was satisfied with it, but it is very impressive to watch him do, just the same! Apparently, a little bit of animation was used to further emphasize some of the blasts, but I still have to give Fred credit for trying to pull this one off (and doing pretty well, at that)!

I will admit, this movie is certainly not a perfect one. I personally think that the lyrics for the song “I Can’t Tell A Lie” are rather cringeworthy, and the music itself is rather forgettable. The only redeeming quality with that song-and-dance is the fun of watching the music changing styles and “throwing off” Fred and Marjorie’s characters in their dance (since Bing’s character was trying to stop them from kissing in their dance). Then there’s the song “Abraham,” where the use of blackface really drags it down (and I have a really hard time understanding why Bing did it, especially since he had been so instrumental a few years earlier in getting Louis Armstrong cast in 1936’s Pennies From Heaven). The lyrics don’t help, either, and I certainly appreciate them not being used when the song was brought back for the “not-quite-a-remake” film White Christmas (1954) when Vera-Ellen and John Brascia danced to it. Still, in spite of those flaws, I do like this movie and would definitely recommend trying it out (for any holiday associated with this movie)!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Universal Studios.

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) with… Holiday Inn (1942)

On November 1, 2022, Universal Studios released Holiday Inn (1942) on 4K UHD. Honestly, this is a bit of a disappointing release. The 4K disc looks terrible, with a picture that is darker at times and loses some of the detail, and grain tends to be very distracting here, as if they are working from elements (or an older transfer) that doesn’t have 4K worth of data, although there are some moments here and there where the 4K disc actually looks good. Frankly, the included Blu-ray (which appears to use the same transfer, or close enough) actually looks better throughout. The Blu-ray is lighter and the grain is nowhere near as prevalent as it is on the 4K. Also, depending on your feelings about this, the film starts with a vintage Universal logo preceding the film’s Paramount logo. I only mention this because the film was originally produced by Paramount, was part of a large group of films sold to Music Corporation Of America (MCA)/EMKA , Ltd. in the 1950s, before becoming part of Universal Studios’ library when MCA took over the studio in the 1960s. Realistically, this release is at best recommended to those who don’t have the Blu-ray already (and even then it is questionable). If you already have the Blu-ray, then don’t bother with this one. If you want either the Broadway show or the colorized version of the film (neither of which is included as extras with this release), then I would suggest going with one of the earlier Blu-ray releases.

Film Length: 1 hour, 41 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

My Favorite Blonde (1942)Bing CrosbyRoad To Morocco (1942)

You’ll Never Get Rich (1941)Fred AstaireThe Sky’s The Limit (1943)

Marjorie Reynolds – The Time Of Their Lives (1946)

Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire (screen team) – Blue Skies (1946)

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