Category Archives: ClassicFlix

Blu-Ray News #327: Blondie – The Complete 1957 TV Series.

Arthur Lake was put on this earth to play Dagwood Bumstead from Chip Young’s Blondie comic strip. That’s an absolute fact. And he did it marvelously in 28 features from 1938 to 1950 — and again in a TV series in 1957. And that series is coming to Blu-Ray from ClassicFlix in April, transferred from original 35mm elements of all 26 episodes.

Blondie is played by Pamela Britton, who many of us know from My Favorite Martian. (Penny Singleton played Blondie in the movies.) The show perfectly captures the spirit of the strip, with many episodes directed by Paul Landres. Funny stuff, easy to recommend!

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Filed under 1957, ClassicFlix, DVD/Blu-ray News, Paul Landres, Television

Blu-Ray News #326: The Human Monster (AKA Dark Eyes Of London, 1939).

Directed by Walter Summers
Starring Béla Lugosi, Hugh Williams, Greta Gynt

ClassicFlix is doing us all a big fat favor, bringing another Bela Lugosi picture — 1939’s Dark Eyes Of London (released in the States in 1940 as The Human Monster) to Blu-Ray.

Though distributed in the US by Monogram, this is not one of Lugosi’s infamous “Monogram Nine.” This is a British adaptation of an Edgar Wallace novel. It was the first British film to receive an “H” certificate (for “Horrific”) from the British Board of Censors. Children under 16 weren’t allowed to see it.

Lugosi sailed over on the Queen Mary to do this one, shot in about a week. He has a dual role, as Dr. Feodor Orloff and John Dearborn, in this story of a series of murders traced back to insurance policies with the Dearborn Home For The Blind as the beneficiary.

This is great stuff, and I’m dying to see it in high definition. Coming at the end of February. Highly, highly recommended.

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Filed under 30s Horror, Bela Lugosi, ClassicFlix, DVD/Blu-ray News, Monogram/Allied Artists

Blu-Ray News #319: The Long Wait (1954).

Directed by Victor Saville
Starring Anthony Quinn, Charles Coburn, Gene Evans, Peggie Castle, James Millican

Looks like the New Year’s gonna be pretty good — at least when it comes to DVDs and Blu-Rays. ClassicFlix has just announced another Mickey Spillane picture, The Long Wait (1954), with Anthony Quinn and the great Peggie Castle.

It was shot by Franz Planer, who did all kinds of great stuff: The Face Behind The Mask (1941), Criss Cross (1949), The 5,000 Fingers Of Dr. T (1953), 99 River Street (1953). 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (1954), The Big Country (1958), The Unforgiven (1960), King Of Kings (1961), Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961) and many more. Seeing Planer’s work in high definition is always a treat.

ClassicFlix does great work, so this’ll look wonderful. They’re promising a commentary from Max Allan Collins and an image gallery.  This is one I’ve never seen, and I can’t wait. (The long wait, indeed!) Coming in March.

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Filed under 1954, Anthony Quinn, ClassicFlix, DVD/Blu-ray News, Mikey Spillane, Peggie Castle, United Artists

Blu-Ray News #309: The Abbott & Costello Show, Season 2 (1953-54).

The Abbott & Costello Show, Season 1 Blu-Ray set from The 3-D Film Archive and ClassicFlix was really something to see. It blew everybody away. Well, now they’re getting started with Season 2. The Kickstarter campaign has begun, and I encourage you to get in on it. The restorations/transfers (from the camera negatives) and extras will be incredible, as we’ve come to expect from these folks. Highly, highly recommended.

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Filed under 1953, 1954, Abbott & Costello, ClassicFlix, DVD/Blu-ray News, Television, The 3-D Film Archive

Blu-Ray News #390: I, The Jury (1953) In 3-D!

Directed by Harry Essex
Starring Biff Elliot, Preston Foster, Peggie Castle, Margaret Sheridan, Alan Reed, John Qualen, Joe Besser, Elisha Cook, Jr.

Peggie Castle appears in the first film based on one of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer novels — and it’s in 3-D shot by the great John Alton. And to top it all off, the folks at The 3-D Film Archive are getting I, The Jury (1953) ready for Blu-Ray for ClassicFlix.

Will come through with more info as it comes available. Man, I can’t wait!

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Filed under 1953, 3-D, ClassicFlix, DVD/Blu-ray News, Elisha Cook, Jr., John Alton, Peggie Castle, United Artists

Abbott & Costello & Carrots.

In a recent update on the Jack And The Beanstalk (1952) restoration, The 3-D Film Archive shared this great old ad for Jack And The Beanstalk brand carrots.

The 3-D Film Archive’s previous A&C titles, Africa Screams (1949) and the first season of The Abbott & Costello Show, are really something. Jack And The Beanstalk and its Super Cinecolor are really in need of some TLC. Can’t wait to see this thing!

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Filed under 1952, Abbott & Costello, ClassicFlix, DVD/Blu-ray News, The 3-D Film Archive

The Abbott & Costello Show, Season 1.

I’m hesitant to actually review a DVD or Blu-Ray title that I have something to do with. But I have to say something about this one.

It was a real honor to provide a commentary for an episode (“The Western”) of new The Abbott & Costello Show, Season 1 Blu-Ray set from The 3-D Film Archive and ClassicFlix. The restorations/transfers (from the camera negatives) are incredible and the package is first-class.

Of course, the series itself is terrific, one of my all-time favorite TV shows. So if you’re a fan of it, this set is an absolute must.

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Filed under 1952, 1953, Abbott & Costello, ClassicFlix, DVD/Blu-ray News, Hillary Brooke, Television, The 3-D Film Archive

Blu-Ray News #347: The Abbott & Costello Show, Season One (1952).

Bob Furmanek of The 3-D Film Archive has announced their most ambitious and labor-intensive effort yet — working with TCA Television Corp. and the Lou Costello Estate to restore and preserve The Abbott & Costello Show from its original 35mm camera negatives! This mammoth project is being propelled by a Kickstarter campaign. Click the title card above to participate.

What we see today comes from standard-definition transfers done back in the 80s, that have been “sharpened” and monkeyed with over the years for DVD release. (My old 16mm prints were better-looking!)

For this new release, the 26 Season One episodes will be scanned from 35mm master elements in 4K resolution — and each episode will be digitally cleaned, frame by frame.

These shows are terrific — it’s still considered one of the greatest TV shows ever, and I’m so stoked The 3-D Film Archive is giving them the four-star treatment they did for Africa Screams (1949) and Jack And The Beanstalk (1952). Can’t wait to see Stinky, Mike The Cop and Hillary Brooke in all their 4K glory. Essential.

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Filed under 1952, Abbott & Costello, ClassicFlix, DVD/Blu-ray News, Film Preservation, Television, The 3-D Film Archive

Let’s Help Bob With Bud And Lou And Jack!

Robert Furmanek restored one of Abbott & Costello’s funniest films, Africa Screams (1949), for its stunning Blu-Ray release, and he and his are are back with Jack And The Beanstalk (1952).

Working with the only surviving 35mm color camera negative footage, this should be incredible. As before, there will a Kickstarter campaign to help cover the restoration costs — and to let you help make it happen. More details to come!

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Filed under 1952, Abbott & Costello, ClassicFlix, DVD/Blu-ray News, Film Preservation, Jean Yarborough, Warner Bros.

Blu-Ray Review: Africa Screams (1949).

Directed by Charles Barton
Original Story and Screenplay by Earl Baldwin
Music by Walter Schumann
Cinematography: Charles Van Enger
Film Editor: Frank Gross
Music by Walter Schumann

Cast: Bud Abbott (Buzz Johnson), Lou Costello (Stanley Livington), Clyde Beatty (himself), Frank Buck (himself), Max Baer (Grappler McCoy), Buddy Baer (Boots Wilson), Hillary Brooke (Diana Emerson), Shemp Howard (Gunner), Joe Besser (Harry), Burton Wenland (Bobo), Charles Gemora (The Ape)

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Back in December, we were given the opportunity to help The 3-D Film Archive restore Africa Screams (1949) for Blu-Ray. If you were one of those that did, you’re probably feeling pretty good about yourself right now. And you should, because the results of that Kickstarter campaign, and the painstaking work it funded, are really something to see.

The new Africa Screams Blu-Ray, available from ClassicFlix, shows what a little money — coupled with a whole lot of love, dedication and technical knowhow — can accomplish. One of Abbott & Costello’s funnier movies, an independent production, Africa Screams has been rescued from the PD slag heap and allowed to shine every bit as bright as its richer cousins from Universal. And that’s quite a feat indeed.

Robert Furmanek of The 3-D Film Archive is the author (with Ron Palumbo) of one of my all-time favorite film books, Abbott & Costello In Hollywood. This is not Bob’s first time working with this movie — he put together a terrific, extras-packed laserdisc back in the pre-HD late 80s. (That’s it on the left.) My love of Africa Screams came from watching that disc many, many times. For Blu-Ray, Bob had to start all over. The 35mm camera negative and a fine grain positive, both on nitrate stock, were scanned in 4K, and those scans were given a painstaking clean-up. The results are staggering at times.

Africa Screams (1949) was an independent production from Nassour Studios. It offered a chance for more dough for Bud & Lou, so they were pretty stoked for this one. The team was riding high — they’d just done Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), both one of their best pictures and one of their biggest hits.

Charles Barton, who directed A&C Meet Frankenstein, was hired on, along with Charles Van Enger, who shot it, and Frank Gross, who cut it. Bud & Lou also brought in friends like Hillary Brooke, Shemp Howard, Joe Besser and Max and Buddy Baer. So they both stacked the deck and made sure they’d have a good time doing it.

Africa Screams is a spoof of jungle pictures, complete with appearances by Clyde Beatty and Frank Buck. Costello works in the adventure books section of a department store (he even wears a safari outfit). He and Abbott end up joining an expedition to search for a giant ape. It’s really a bunch of crooks after a secret diamond mine. A map to the mine was printed in an old book, which Costello claims to remember. They end up not only battling the bad guys, but being captured by cannibals and coming face to face with Charles Gemora in one of his great gorilla costumes.

The picture has plenty of opportunities for Costello’s classic scared routine (the gorilla, a crocodile, etc.) and Abbott’s abuse of his chubby friend. Shemp Howard is terrific as a near-sighted big game hunter and Hillary Brooke is as perfect as she ever is when dealing with Bud & Lou. Of course, it’s all very silly — and at times, extremely funny. 

Now back to the Blu-Ray. Black and white movies really benefit from high definition, and Africa Screams is a sterling example. The sharpness, the deep, rich shadows and the expanded contrast levels help create a sense of depth that can be really effective at times. You see it in film noir quite a bit, and in this picture, it makes the scenes shot on the jungle set really come alive (though you never, ever think it’s an actual jungle). This restoration was probably an uphill battle, but you’d never know if from looking at the results. Every frame is perfection.

It’s loaded with special features, too — trailers, outtakes, stills, a TV appearance, some old interviews, a 3-D comic book (with glasses even!) and a wonderful commentary from Ron Palumbo, Furmanek’s co-author on Abbott & Costello In Hollywood.

Africa Screams is one of Abbott & Costello’s best pictures (I’d put it at #2). This is certainly the best presentation any of their films has received on Blu-Ray — and if you’ve seen the Shout Factory box, you know just how high the bar is. Highly, highly recommend.

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Filed under Abbott & Costello, Charles Barton, ClassicFlix, Hillary Brooke, Shemp Howard, The 3-D Film Archive, United Artists