DVD Review: The Classic Comedy Team Collection

The Classic Comedy team collection offers viewers a chance to see three of the all-time best comedy teams in action: the Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, and Abbott and Costello. The films, rather than being public domain works, are rare films that were made by MGM. This is particularly notable for Abbott and Costello as most of their pictures were made with Universal.

The Three Stooges discs offer two films, Gold Raiders, and Meet the Baron. Both films are obscure. Gold Raiders is an extremely low budget 1951 Western  notable for being the only film made with Shemp, but  unremarkable otherwise. Meet the Baron (1933) is an interesting film for fans of 1930s entertainment as you get some great performers all in one film, including Edna May Oliver, Jimmy Durante, and Zasu Pitts,  who all had pretty good performances elsewhere. In fact, the Stooges barely feature. This is a film where the whole is far less than the sum of it’s part as it falls short under the weight of weak writing, as do many of the all-star comedies of that era.

Laurel and Hardy were past their prime but I found both of their war time films to be entertaining. Air Raid Wardens (1943) finds them taking on volunteer war work in an effort to help the country. It’s not only patriotic, but it was so hilarious, when I watched it while giving blood, it ended the donation because I was laughing so hard, the needle moved, so consider yourself warned. Nothing But Trouble (1944) offers a nice contrast between the Depression and World War II with Laurel and Hardy’s butler/cook team having left America in the 1930s when jobs were scarce and returning in the middle of war when demand for any job was high. The story features political intrigue and they find themselves in the middle of a plot to kill a pro-Democracy, football-loving teenage king. It’s not quite as good as Air Raid Wardens, but it’s funny and charming in its own right.

Abbott and Costello are the only duo to be at the height of their popularity and talent in this collection. Lost in a Harem (1944) finds them as magicians helping an Arabian prince regain his throne, and then, Abbott and Costello in Hollywood has them playing barbers who end up playing agent for a young star who is hated by a stuck up and egotistical actor determined to stay on top at all costs. Both films are great comedies with some classic sketches and I think they do a better job of balancing the pair vs. the romantic story line involving other actors, something Universal struggled with. Of the two, I like Abbott and Costello in Hollywood  the best. The film has hilarious madcap sequences, such as when Costello pretends to be a dummy on a movie studio set. For fans of old films, there are brief appearances by Lucille Ball, Mike Mazurki, and Rags Ragland, with Carleton Young making a very good villain.

Overall, this is an enjoyable DVD set. While the Stooges films are more curiosities, the Laurel and Hardy and Abbott and Costello installments are delightful wartime entertainment.

Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0

EP1880: Dragnet: The Big Casing

Jack Webb
Friday and Romero arrive on the scene of a woman’s death. Her husband says it was suicide. The evidence says otherwise.

Original Air Date: May 3, 1951

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Mail a donation to: Adam Graham, PO Box 15913, Boise, Idaho 83705
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EP1879: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Casque of Death Matter

Bob Bailey

Johnny investigates a series of unexplained disappearances in Pennsylvania.

Original Air Date: May 24, 1959

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EP1878: Boston Blackie: Alice Manleder, Dead or Alive?

Chester Morris
Boston Blackie is supposed to show a friend’s niece around New York City, but another man picks her up, and Blackie ends up accused of her murder.

Original Air Date: August 4, 1944

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Support the show on a one-time basis at http://support.greatdetectives.net.

Mail a donation to: Adam Graham, PO Box 15913, Boise, Idaho 83715

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EP1877: Screen Director’s Playhouse: Spellbound

Mercedes McCambridge
A psychiatrist tries to unravel the mystery of a man who believes he murdered another psychiatrist. Will she find out the truth or become his next victim.

Original Air Date: January 25, 1951

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Support the show on a one-time basis at http://support.greatdetectives.net.

Mail a donation to: Adam Graham, PO Box 15913, Boise, Idaho 83715

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