Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Paramount Comedy Shorts 1929 - 1933 - Cavalcade of Comedy|
Director: Bret Wood
Studio: Kino International Release Date: 02/21/2006 Run time: 216 minutes
Rare glimpses of Vaudeville & Radio stars performing on film
Paul J. Mular | San Carlos, CA USA | 03/01/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I want to give this set ***** 5 stars because of the rarity of the material. But it is rare for a reason, it is hard to sit through more than two comedy shorts at a time.
The shorts from Paramount are defenately a different breed of short. These are not matured Keystone Comedies like the Hal Roach & Columbia comedies, these are filmed radio. The fact that they use vaudeville & radio stars is the reason for this. I give Paramount credit for doing something different, but they are a bit difficult to sit through as a group. I find myself watching no more than two at a time.
GEORGE BURNS & GRACIE ALLEN are a delight to see in their young radio days, but you will yearn for the crisp banter of their later 1950's TV show.
Young JACK BENNY will also bring out the same reaction. It is nice to see him forming his character, although in this short he is not necessarily the cheapest one on screen.
EDDIE CANTOR has no memorable TV series for us to compare him to, although he did appear on TV, so he is a joy to see. Some of the picture at the end of his short seems lost, the dialogue keeps going while a replacement Paramount logo fades up.
One gem I found was a SMITH & DALE comedy about a pants factory. It is a two-reeler, the first reel is pretty standard then suddenly reel change & story arc change, surreality enters the short! I won't spoil it here with any details. Smith & Dale are a long forgotten comedy team worth seeing again.
It is followed by a strange suicide comedy starring GEORGE JESSEL that I almost turned off, it was so dull. However it was interesting to get the opportunity to see Jessel.
I have only gotten through 1/3 of it, but I will be continuing through the land of vaudeville greats for more rare glimpses.
The Paramount shorts have been abused over the years when they got sold to television in the early 1950's. UM&M TV chopped up the openings & closings and used the master fine grains as printing negatives. Kino has made a vallient effort to restore these with 1930's style Paramount logos, but the title cards are still the re-shot TV titles with UM&M as the copyright holder. As mentioned above, some picture segments at the beginning & end have been lost, and the original negatives show much wear & damage. These are mastered from 35mm, so they look fairly sharp and until a computer restoration is done (and likely won't be) this will be your best presentation of these rarely seen comedies!
Below average comedy shorts at a premium price.
tendays komyathy | U.S.A. & elsewhere traveling | 07/06/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"8 Paramount comedy shorts (from 1929-1931) are included on this DVD; just under 2 hours total. They are: "Fit to be tied"---a Burns & Allen sketch wherein George tries to buy a tie from Gracie. Gracie sings an amusing song, but other than that it is lifeless; "Getting a ticket"---Eddie Cantor. This is the best short herein by far. Cantor sings 'My wife is on a diet' as part of an wacky attempt at confusing a traffic cop trying to give him a citation; "A Broadway Romeo"---Jack Benny gives a poor gal a newspaper then offers to treat her for lunch, but pawns off the bill to an unsuspecting other in the end. Dull, Dull, Dull; "What Price Pants?"---Smith & Dale, the guys who Neil Simon patterned his 'Sunshine Boys' on, are actually funny; "It might be worse"---George Jessel lamely tries to convince a suicidal friend that being married is worse than being jilted; "The African Dodger"---Tom Howard short that really has no ending, about a circus owner trying to get a person to dodge balls thrown at one's head; "Cleaning up"---Conklin & Swain act out a Laurel & Hardy-like skit wherein they go from street cleaners to policemen; "100% Service---George & Gracie at a hotel desk that is not even as good as Gracie's song in the first selection of this offering. Paramount's musical shorts (Bing Crosby, Lillian Roth, Ethel Merman, Helen Kane, et al) are 10x better. Check out that collection (confusingly entitled Hollywood Rhythm Vol. 02 - The Best of Big Bands & Swing) if so interested, but do ignore this one. You're much better off watching 1930s comedy films the likes of "International House," "Going Hollywood," "Animal Crackers" etc. Those films, at least, you can enjoyably watch again & again. The same cannot be said for the shorts on this DVD (other than the Eddie Cantor one). Cheers!"
A Collector's Curiosity
J. PAUFF | Texas | 04/28/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"These are stage routines filmed as "shorts" to accompany a feature motion picture. Audiences in larger cities saw these performed live in traveling shows. Most are too early to have been used on radio. Jokes are corny and no longer funny--like Eddie Cantor's quips about the Depression and financiers jumping out of windows. Cantor was a stage personality who developed a following from Broadway musical shows and his patter falls flat today. These shorts are interesting just the same if you pay attention. Note the dialogue in Fit to be Tied (1930) with Burns and Allen. A sales girl is talking about being picked up by a boy in a fancy car who is "all racooned up," who suggests to her they both go and "flirt with a couple of queers"--era code for boot-legged hooch. The African Dodger is a standard vaudeville routine with the excellent Tom Howard--and one wonders what ever happened to him? Watch Howard closely (he is also in Breaking Even) and it is obvious how well-honed his talents were: he listens and reacts to his straight man, and his verbal timing is first-rate. Forget Lulu McConnell--she is horrible, poor thing. Karl Dane was paired with the Englishman George K. Arthur in A Put Up Job in the hopes the two had comic chemistry--which they didn't. Poor Karl--he had a career in silent films as a character actor then couldn't find a niche in talkies. He later killed himself. Smith and Dale are a delight in What Price Pants--another filmed stage routine. The second half of Jack Benny's A Broadway Romeo is actually funny. Although Benny hasn't yet developed that familiar cheap, egocentric character that won him success, the short is a record of the way he appeared in Vaudeville, and he is nevertheless interesting and endearing."