Search - First Kings of Comedy Collection ("The Golden Age Of Comedy" and "When Comedy Was King") on DVD

First Kings of Comedy Collection ("The Golden Age Of Comedy" and "When Comedy Was King")
First Kings of Comedy Collection
"The Golden Age Of Comedy" and "When Comedy Was King"
Actors: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, Ben Turpin, Charley Chase
Director: Robert Youngson
Genres: Classics, Comedy
NR     2007     2hr 40min

The First Kings of Comedy Collection is a hilarious, joyous, and timeless tribute to the era of silent slapstick comedy and all the uproarious comedians who built the comedy genre. The collection consists of two great fea...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, Ben Turpin, Charley Chase
Director: Robert Youngson
Genres: Classics, Comedy
Sub-Genres: Silent Films, Comedy
Studio: Genius Entertainment
Format: DVD - Black and White - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 10/16/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 2hr 40min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Definitely a keeper . . . .
Silent film comedy lover | The Jersey Shore | 10/23/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This DVD consists of "The Golden Age of Comedy," and "When Comedy Was King." These two full-length documentaries about silent film comedy were created by Robert Youngson in 1957 and 1960, respectively. Some people even say that these movies were largely responsible for the revival of silent film comedy in the 1960's. In any event, they were an eye-opener at the time of their release, and will still be an eye-opener to anyone not familiar with the Keystone Cops, Charlie Chase, Harry Langdon, Buster Keaton, and the silent films of Laurel & Hardy, particularly their wonderfully clever 1929 short, "Big Business," which serves as the finale of "When Comedy Was King."

Although "Golden Age of Comedy" won an Academy Award, ironically it is the sequel, "When Comedy Was King," that probably is the better of the two. The comedy sequences in each film are all priceless, but the sequel is better arranged and paced, and the narration is quieter and better integrated into the action. Golden Age's narration was done like the old-fashioned Fox newsreels -- a little on the breathless side and a bit shrill to boot. That style is fine for a 5-minute newsreel, but after an hour or so in a feature-length film, it can become grating and annoying.

The print quality of "Golden Age" is flawless. This looks like a pristine new print and may even be from 35mm elements. Most of the comedy sequences are also in superb shape, even though they were already 30-40 years old at the time they were copied for this 1957 documentary. Unfortunately, the "Comedy Was King" transfer appears to have been taken from a 16mm reduction print which also suffers from a fair amount of wear in numerous places, particularly in some of the Keystone sequences. It's still a very good transfer, especially in the opening Charlie Chase sequence, and it's certainly an improvement over the various bootleg editions that have been available from time to time, but there's just no comparison with the print quality of "Golden Age." Since "Comedy Was King" is the better film, in my opinion, it's a shame that Genius Entertainment couldn't locate a better print for the DVD transfer. The audio is fine on both films, and the music soundtracks, particularly the one for "Comedy Was King," are tremendous.

So for the amazing price of $14, you certainly would be well advised to snap up a copy of this DVD and enjoy every minute of it. Genius Entertainment is to be commended for picking up these two films, which undeservedly languished since their original release, and finally issuing them on DVD.

A trivia note: in 1957, producer Robert Youngson could not find a distributor for "The Golden Age of Comedy". Every major studio thought he was crazy and no one would touch the film; "Who would want to see that old silent stuff?" was the usual response. So he finally distributed it through the Distributor's Corporation of America, a bargain-basement indie outfit that also handled Ed Wood's infamous "Plan 9 From Outer Space." After the film won an Academy Award, it was picked up by 20th Century Fox, and Youngson was hailed as a genius. Go figure."
Silent Film Comedy 101
Brent R. Swanson | Crooper, Illinois | 11/04/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I was just a little bit afraid to watch "Golden Age of Comedy" and "When Comedy Was King" again, remembering the yackety, way-too-eager to please narrators and their all but non-stop patter. I also remembered the sometimes deceptive editing of the excerpts, turning slower, occasionally clumsy footage into snappy comedy (it's probably safe to say that most of Mack Sennett's comedies never looked as good on their own as they did in Youngson's documentaries).

However, if there's a lot of narration, at least it's informed (William Everson apparently had a hand in "Golden Age"). Watching either or both of these anthologies is an excellent crash course in the history and vocabulary of silent film comedy. "Golden Age" launched the Youngson comedy documentaries and "rediscovered" (and preserved) the great pie fight from Laurel & Hardy's "Battle of the Century." The second movie, "When Comedy was King," built upon the successful elements of the previous film and gave more time to material from the Hal Roach Studios. Both movies succeeded in reviving interest in silent-era comedy, and prompted a further string of documentaries from Youngson, as well as misfire ripoffs like "Fractured Flickers."

Overall reproduction of both documentaries is pretty good, though "Comedy was King" could have been better. This is particularly galling since Youngson seldom used anything but first-generation source material, and the resulting quality, seen in a good reproduction (or ideally, in a movie theater), is breathtaking.

All griping aside, these movies are a great way to introduce kids to silent film comedy and its superstars. It might not hurt today's comedy makers to have a look at 'em too."
Imperfect WHEN COMEDY WAS KING transfer, but DVD is still go
Daniel J. Mccormick | Madtown, WI | 11/23/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The DVD is a delight, as it combines two of Youngson's best silent-comedy compilations, which will make you roar with laughter. The DVD presentation is the best I've seen for a Youngson movie. My problem is that the WHEN COMEDY WAS KING transfer was not done as carefully as it should've been. There's cropping in many scenes, particularly in the Chaplin/Keystone segment at the start. It's most evident in a shot where Chaplin walks in front of an eatery with a sign in their window that should read "DINNER 25 CENTS". On all of the other DVD releases for WHEN COMEDY WAS KING, the whole sign can be seen, but on this set, you can only see the left-half of the sign, so it reads like "DIN 2". That makes it harder to understand the narrator when he says, "Read that sign of 30 years ago... and weep."

My advice: Buy this set for THE GOLDEN AGE OF COMEDY, but also buy the standalone WHEN COMEDY WAS KING dvd, so you don't have to put up with this problem."
A Valuable Introduction to Silent Comedy
Scott T. Rivers | Los Angeles, CA USA | 02/01/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Yes, the narration is excessive at times, but the Robert Youngson compilations introduced new generations to the silent-film comedy of producers Hal Roach and Mack Sennett. Most importantly, "The Golden Age of Comedy" (1958) and "When Comedy Was King" (1960) helped elevate Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy to the pantheon of immortal comedians. This value-priced "double feature" offers vintage slapstick from Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Harry Langdon, Fatty Arbuckle, Mabel Normand, Will Rogers, Gloria Swanson, Snub Pollard, Ben Turpin and the sadly underrated Charley Chase. Nevertheless, it is Stan and Ollie who steal the show with hilarious excerpts from their classic 1927-29 shorts: "Two Tars," "Big Business," "We Faw Down" and "The Battle of the Century." If you want to know more about Youngson, there is an entire chapter devoted to the silent-film preservationist in author Scott MacGillivray's "Laurel and Hardy: From the Forties Forward" (1998)."