This should be one of the most important Christmas gifts for cinephiles in 2019. 4 Stars

Let’s look at some numbers.

1929 – 1933 Five films – Paramount

1935 – 1941 Five films – M-G-M

The Marx Brothers

_______________
1924 – 1932 More shorts than can be counted – Hal Roach
followed by more shorts between features to 1937

1932 – 1940 Ten films for Roach
followed by a handful at Fox

Laurel & Hardy
______________

1940 – 1955 28 feature films for Universal plus a few for other studios.

Abbott & Costello

______________

By numbers of feature films alone, releasing a complete collection of Abbott & Costello’s work at Universal is a daunting project.

You know that you’re not doing 28 new image harvests, so selecting the best that exist is also not a minor bit of work.

All of which causes a tip of the hat to the folks at Shout Factory – this is their 92nd “select” release, as well as the team at Universal.

I’m going to generalize here, as I don’t have the ability to fully screen 28 films, but I have sampled each disc.

Some have window-boxed main titles.

Except for a couple which are noted by lessor scores, and which are from problematic dupes, all are of very pleasing quality.

Some have minor stabilization of clean-up issues, but never anything troublesome.

This should be one of the most important Christmas gifts for cinephiles in 2019.

Let’s examine more numbers, by title:

One Night in the Tropics – 1940

Image – 3.5

Audio – 3 (noisy)

Buck Privates – 1941

Image – 4.5

Audio – 5

In the Navy – 1941

Image – 3.5 (grainy dupe)

Audio – 5

Hold That Ghost – 1941

Image – 4

Audio – 5

Keep ‘Em Flying – 1941

Image – 4.25

Audio – 5

Ride ‘Em Cowboy – 1942

Image – 4.25

Audio – 5

Pardon My Sarong – 1942

Image – 4.25

Audio – 4.25

Who Done It? – 1942

Image – 4.5

Audio – 5

It Ain’t Hay – 1943

Image – 4.25

Audio – 5

Hit the Ice – 1943

Image – 4.25

Audio – 5

In Society – 1944

Image – 4.25

Audio – 4.75

Here Come the Co-eds – 1945

Image – 4.25

Audio – 4.5

The Naughty Nineties – 1945

Image – 4.25

Audio – 5

Little Giant – 1946

Image – 4.5

Audio – 5

The Time of Their Lives – 1946

Image – 4.5

Audio – 5

Buck Privates Come Home – 1947

Image – 4.5

Audio – 5

First with new Universal Logo

The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap – 1947

Image – 4.5

Audio – 5

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein – 1948

Image – 4.25

Audio – 5

Mexican Hayride – 1948

Image – 4.25

Audio – 5

Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer – 1949

Image – 4

Audio – 4 (noisy)

Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion – 1950

Image – 4.25

Audio – 5

Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man – 1951

Image – 4.35

Audio – 5

Comin’ Round the Mountain – 1951

Image – 4.35

Audio – 5

Lost in Alaska – 1952

Image – 3.5

Audio – 5

Abbott and Costello Go to Mars – 1953

Image – 4.5

Audio – 5

Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – 1953

Image – 4

Audio – 4

Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops – 1955

Image – 4.5

Audio – 5

First in 1.85

Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy – 1955

Image – 4.75

Audio – 5

A final note about pricing and value.

The set has a list price of $170, and is available for pre-order at $125.

15 Blu-ray discs. 14 with two features each, plus a disc of extras.

28 feature films.

This works out to $4.46 per feature.

Highly Recommended

RAH

 

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Robert Harris

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Gary OS

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I’m really excited to see this set coming soon! I pre-ordered it the day it became available from Shout Factory. I am, however, somewhat disappointed that One Night in the Tropics and In the Navy are still using the same poor prints. I was hoping for an upgrade on both of those, especially In the Navy.

On the plus side, of the boys first 10 films those two are my least favorite. So I’m trying to look at it glass half full. Everything else looks tremendous about the set and I am very much looking forward to it.

Gary “counting the days” O.
 

Tony Bensley

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I’m really excited to see this set coming soon! I pre-ordered it the day it became available from Shout Factory. I am, however, somewhat disappointed that One Night in the Tropics and In the Navy are still using the same poor prints. I was hoping for an upgrade on both of those, especially In the Navy.

On the plus side, of the boys first 10 films those two are my least favorite. So I’m trying to look at it glass half full. Everything else looks tremendous about the set and I am very much looking forward to it.

Gary “counting the days” O.
I don't recall IN THE NAVY (1941) looking terrible on the DVD sets, but it's been a long time since I've given that title a viewing.

ONE NIGHT IN THE TROPICS (1940) is the stand out disappointment for me, in terms of the mish mash of original and reconstructed opening and closing cards and credits. That they were all original on the VHS release makes the likelihood these weren't reinstated all the more annoying. Is it possible that print was a casualty of the 2008 Universal fire?

Everything else looks great, especially with the apparently improved (Based on RAH's 4.5 Image rating!) BUCK PRIVATES (1941), and ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE KEYSTONE KOPS (1955) finally getting a proper Aspect Ratio release. A very limited budget means I'll be sticking with the Reissued 2014 DVD set, though!

CHEERS! :)
 

Gary OS

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I don't recall IN THE NAVY (1941) looking terrible on the DVD sets, but it's been a long time since I've given that title a viewing.
Yes, In the Navy has always been under par in the previous releases. Was hoping it would get cleaned up for blu. But apparently that’s not the case. Too bad.
 

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I don't recall IN THE NAVY (1941) looking terrible on the DVD sets, but it's been a long time since I've given that title a viewing.


CHEERS! :)
Certainly in the DVD suitcase release, I thought IN THE NAVY was the worse looking of all the releases. Bad contrast, lack of sharpness, it looked like a dupe of a dupe of a dupe. I guess something happened to the negative that couldn't be fixed or the negative just went bad or was disposed of at some point. Frankly, I don't think we will ever see the quality and care on blu ray as we did on the Classic Monster Series Universal. I can only guess they cost a fortune to restore, fixing both sound and picture. Not to say very good fine grains and other sources have not been used for their other films of the period, but going from nitrate camera negative with 4k scans, and post production work to make them look as pristine as can be, I think are reserved for only a handful of their classics of the 30s and 40s.
 
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Robert Harris

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Certainly in the DVD suitcase release, I thought IN THE NAVY was the worse looking of all the releases. Bad contrast, lack of sharpness, it looked like a dupe of a dupe of a dupe. I guess something happened to the negative that couldn't be fixed or the negative just went bad or was disposed of at some point. Frankly, I don't think we will ever see the quality and care on blu ray as we did on the Classic Monster Series Universal. I can only guess they cost a fortune to restore, fixing both sound and picture. Not to say very good fine grains and other sources have not been used for their other films of the period, but going from nitrate camera negative with 4k scans, and post production work to make them look as pristine as can be, I think are reserved for only a handful of their classics of the 30s and 40s.
To make the overall point again...

Of the 28 films, only a few are of lesser quality. The vast majority are a pleasure.
 

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To make the overall point again...

Of the 28 films, only a few are of lesser quality. The vast majority are a pleasure.
I agree. But. And I realize it’s only an extra but the transfers in the “Abbott and Costello Meet Castle Films” segment are terrible. Soft focus. A hair in the gate. Poor detail. I had to pull out some of my 16mm Castle prints to make sure it wasn’t me. I’m still grateful for this set but the Castle extra could have been a real treat.
 

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I guess I'm the odd-man out with extras. I rarely bother with them - even for much loved movies/actors/etc. If I do watch them it's normally a once and never again proposition and I've never watch the extras on my A&C DVD set. I'd rather watch the movies. For me, *that's* the main attraction. Frankly, if leaving off extras on any set would mean better quality on a movie or two then leave 'em off.
 
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I guess I'm the odd-man out with extras. I rarely bother with them - even for much loved movies/actors/etc. If I do watch them it's normally a once and never again proposition and I've never watch the extras on my DVD set. I'd rather watch the movies. For me, *that's* the main attraction. Frankly, if leaving off extras on any set would mean better quality on a movie or two then leave 'em off.
If there was a choice, I would certainly go for the best possible looking Main Feature. As far as the A & C set, I am sure they got what Universal gave them and went out of their way to include the extras. The ones I look forward to are the outtakes. I read that Lou Costello had outtakes from virtually all his films...I guess he had the clout. Haven't seen the set yet, but they have a relatively small percentage of outtakes, but of course, maybe all of them don't exist anymore. Some of them were included in the suitcase edition. Off hand, I remember HIT THE ICE, BUCK PRIVATES COME HOME and I think LITTLE GIANT.
By the way, Robert Harris didn't mention it, but I would assume MEET FRANKENSTEIN, MEET THE MUMMY and BUCK PRIVATES are same masters from previous Blu rays. Some of their films I don't really care for, but I am going to see all of them in order when I get the set. I love too many to list, but LOST IN ALASKA, IN THE FOREIGN LEGION, even MEET THE MUMMY looks too shoddy and cheap for me. But I never dreamt that all the Universal Abbott and Costello films would be released in a set on Blu Ray. Maybe physical media is in its death throes, and since I began collecting blu rays from the time they first appeared, my monthly budget of new product has doubled in the last couple of years. So whatever is to happen, I am still excited that so many British and foreign and American films are released. I should get stock in Amazon the way my money goes to them.
 

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If there was a choice, I would certainly go for the best possible looking Main Feature. As far as the A & C set, I am sure they got what Universal gave them and went out of their way to include the extras. The ones I look forward to are the outtakes. I read that Lou Costello had outtakes from virtually all his films...I guess he had the clout. Haven't seen the set yet, but they have a relatively small percentage of outtakes, but of course, maybe all of them don't exist anymore. Some of them were included in the suitcase edition. Off hand, I remember HIT THE ICE, BUCK PRIVATES COME HOME and I think LITTLE GIANT.
By the way, Robert Harris didn't mention it, but I would assume MEET FRANKENSTEIN, MEET THE MUMMY and BUCK PRIVATES are same masters from previous Blu rays. Some of their films I don't really care for, but I am going to see all of them in order when I get the set. I love too many to list, but LOST IN ALASKA, IN THE FOREIGN LEGION, even MEET THE MUMMY looks too shoddy and cheap for me. But I never dreamt that all the Universal Abbott and Costello films would be released in a set on Blu Ray. Maybe physical media is in its death throes, and since I began collecting blu rays from the time they first appeared, my monthly budget of new product has doubled in the last couple of years. So whatever is to happen, I am still excited that so many British and foreign and American films are released. I should get stock in Amazon the way my money goes to them.
Regarding BUCK PRIVATES (1941), I'm doubtful it's the original Blu-ray release for two reasons:
1. RAH's 4.5 Image Rating! (BP was reportedly DNR'd to death on the individual 2012 Blu-ray release!)
2. Ron Palumbo and Bob Furmanek's commentary track is listed as being included, which it wasn't on the 2012 Blu-ray, either.

I would assume the other Blu-ray titles mentioned, plus ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN (1951) are probably from the same transfers.

Of course, there's the long overdue proper aspect ratio home video debut of ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE KEYSTONE KOPS (1955)!

Huge thanks to Bob Furmanek for his most valued input! I know he's been after Universal for years in getting the Aspect Ratios right for the last two A&C Universal Features, and this now appears to finally have been fully realized!

If only I had $140 - $150 CDN to spare! ^_^

CHEERS! :)
 

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I love too many to list, but LOST IN ALASKA, IN THE FOREIGN LEGION, even MEET THE MUMMY looks too shoddy and cheap for me.
I have the Elephant Films Meet the Mummy which is open matte. I started watching it zoomed in to the correct aspect ratio, but got curious what it looked like wide open. I found that the picture looks considerably less cheap when you can see more of the sets. They were repurposing sets from older Egyptian themed movies and some of them were really nice. When it's all cropped down to a two shot, you can't really appreciate that.
 

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Now that many of us have, or will soon have, this set in our hands I thought I'd list my favorite Top Ten films again and see if others want to compare. I tweaked my just a tad from the earlier thread on this release:

1) Keep 'Em Flying
2) Ride 'Em Cowboy
3) Hit the Ice
4) Here Come the Co-Eds
5) Buck Privates
6) Pardon My Sarong
7) In Hollywood
8) Who Done It
9) A&C Meet the Killer
10) Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap

Honorable Mentions: Hold That Ghost, A&C Meet Frankenstein, In the Navy, Buck Privates Come Home, Meet the Invisible Man and Comin' Round the Mountain.

A couple of things are obvious in my list. First, I don't much care for the boys' foray over to MGM. Other than 'In Hollywood', I just didn't care for those pictures much. Second, I'm obviously a big fan of their earlier work. The musical numbers never bother me much at all. In fact I downright love many of the songs. And to be honest, I feel like Lou was never the same after coming back from his bout with RF and the loss of his son (and who could blame him?). If I could only pick one 'era' of their films, it would be that first one before Lou went down. Those were the best of the best in my book.

Not nearly as big a fan of the monster films as others are. They are fine, and I do appreciate 'Meet Frankenstein' for reviving the boys career somewhat and for it being a well-done movie. But I vastly prefer 'Meet the Killer' to any of the others.

Gary "so happy to have this set in my hands. Am contemplating waiting until the start of the New Year to begin watching these again - in order" O.
 
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Glad to hear this came out well. My favorite release of 2019. I ordered from Amazon so hopefully I will have this next week.
My Top 10 (and really tough for me, as it could easily be every film from 41-45 as my top). I'm not as big a fan of the monsters pictures as others either as they were made when they were older and aging.
1.) Who Done It
2.) Rio Rita
3.) Here Come the Coeds
4.) Pardon My Sarong
5.) Ride em Cowboy
6.) In Hollywood
7.) Buck Privates
8.) Hold That Ghost
9.) In Society
10.) Keep em Flying
Honorable mentions to In The Navy, Lost in a Harem, Buck Privates Come Home, Hit the Ice and Meet the Killer
 

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Now that many of us have, or will soon have, this set in our hands I thought I'd list my favorite Top Ten films again and see if others want to compare. I tweaked my just a tad from the earlier thread on this release:

1) Keep 'Em Flying
2) Ride 'Em Cowboy
3) Hit the Ice
4) Here Come the Co-Eds
5) Buck Privates
6) Pardon My Sarong
7) In Hollywood
8) Who Done It
9) A&C Meet the Killer
10) Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap

Honorable Mentions: Hold That Ghost, A&C Meet Frankenstein, In the Navy, Buck Privates Come Home, Meet the Invisible Man and Comin' Round the Mountain.

A couple of things are obvious in my list. First, I don't much care for the boys' foray over to MGM. Other than 'In Hollywood', I just didn't care for those pictures much. Second, I'm obviously a big fan of their earlier work. The musical numbers never bother me much at all. In fact I downright love many of the songs. And to be honest, I feel like Lou was never the same after coming back from his bout with RF and the loss of his son (and who could blame him?). If I could only pick one 'era' of their films, it would be that first one before Lou went down. Those were the best of the best in my book.

Not nearly as big a fan of the monster films as others are. They are fine, and I do appreciate 'Meet Frankenstein' for reviving the boys career somewhat and for it being a well-done movie. But I vastly prefer 'Meet the Killer' to any of the others.

Gary "so happy to have this set in my hands. Am contemplating waiting until the start of the New Year to begin watching these again - in order" O.
Lost In A Harem was probably the best of the 3 they made at MGM. Rio Rita had a few good scenes too.
 
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Lost In A Harem was probably the best of the 3 they made at MGM. Rio Rita had a few good scenes too.
Everyone has different tastes, and that's what makes the world go 'round. But for me, Lost in a Harem was my least favorite of the 3 MGM films, Jimmy Dorsey and his orchestra not withstanding. The Murray Leonard bit in the jail really falls flat with me even though I know it's a classic bit.

Of the other 5 non-Universal films the boys did, I think I'd rank them (and shock everyone here):

1) The Noose Hangs High
2) Jack & the Beanstalk
3) Africa Screams
4) A&C Meet Capt Kidd
5) Dance with Me, Henry

I know placing Jack/Beanstalk at #2 will be extremely controversial to most fans here, but I stand by it.

Gary "spot-checked In the Navy last night and unfortunately have to agree with the reviewer - it's below par visually" O.
 

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Of the other 5 non-Universal films the boys did, I think I'd rank them (and shock everyone here):

1) The Noose Hangs High
2) Jack & the Beanstalk
3) Africa Screams
4) A&C Meet Capt Kidd
5) Dance with Me, Henry

I know placing Jack/Beanstalk at #2 will be extremely controversial to most fans here, but I stand by it.
Why do you think any of us would be shocked or think your opinion is controversial??
It’s just your opinion. Not shocking or controversial to me in any way. :)
 

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I'm not going to rank them simply because I like them all - even the lesser ones. It's somewhat like when my grandson asks me who my favorite band or what's my favorite song. The one I'm currently watching is my favorite. For me it's easier to rank them among the other comedy duos in film history than rank the individual films. Sure I like some better than others but will watch any of them at just about any time. That's not something I can say about many film series. For me, Abbott and Costello rank among The Marx Brothers, The Three Stooges (Curly and Shemp films only), and Laurel and Hardy series of films where I'm happy with any one you want to put on. I enjoy many of the films from Martin and Lewis but there are one or two I just don't like. Truth be known I'll also watch just about any Little Rascals, Andy Hardy, Ma and Pa Kettle, East Side Kids/The Bowery Boys, or Francis the Mule film too but each of those series have one or two (or a small handful from the Little Rascals later years) that I just don't particularly care for and will skip fairly frequently if watching the full series. I can't think of a single Abbott and Costello film I skip if doing a complete series rewatch.
 

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My Top 10 (At the moment). ;)

Hold That Ghost
Time Of Their Lives
Pardon My Sarong
Buck Privates
Meet Frankenstein
Who Done It
Meet The Invisible Man
Buck Privates Come Home
Ride Em Cowboy
Keep Em Flying.

I love them all by the way.