Never been a Wheeler and Woolsey fan. I’ve always felt more attuned to “the boys,” Chaplin and Keaton. Or if teams, Laurel & Hardy, or the Marx Bros.

Never did I ever believe that a Wheeler and Woolsey film would be restored.

Never did I ever expect a Wheeler and Woolsey film to arrive on Blu-ray.

But here we are, in yet another of a continuing wonderful parade of surprises from Warner Archive.

I can understand why this Wheeler and Woolsey made it to the fore.

It gives us “Spanky” McFarnland.

Margaret Dumont, not as a Marx Bros. foil.

And last but not least, it’s directed by George Stevens, who toiled throughout his early years on the Hal Roach lot, before moving to RKO, Universal, and some others, where he eventually directed some decent pictures.

Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey came out of vaudeville, and after appearing together in the 1929 film version of Rio Rita, were teamed in about twenty films, before Mr. Woolsey’s death in 1938.

What is rather unexpected here is to see one of their films fully restored from the camera negative, in close to the pristine a condition of its original release in 1934.

Personally, as a huge fan of Mr. Stevens’ work, I applaud this as one more addition to his canon on Blu-ray, giving us a glimpse of how he handled comedy in 1930s.

Image – 5

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD – Oh, yes!

Recommended.

RAH

Published by

Robert Harris

editor,member

[email protected]

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Jan 27, 2010
Messages
248
I hope we see more films of Wheeler and Woolsey on Blu-ray. And of course other comedians from that era, as well. But it's just nice to see the underdogs get a nod here and there.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Randy Korstick

B-ROLL

Senior HTF Member
Joined
May 26, 2016
Messages
2,702
Real Name
Bryan
While I definitely appreciate this release. I do which WB would consider giving us a blu-ray of a comedy directed by a different George.

It features another Marx Bros foil. In addition, to make it more relevant to today it also features the Great-Grand-Uncle of a new chat show host (Premiering September 14th) .

To paraphrase Red Buttons We "never got a Dinner!" (at Eight) on blu-ray!

I'm sure I'm not the only HTF member who would bestow our own Jean Hersholt humanitarian award to WB upon it's release!
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: PMF

Marc Hampton

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Feb 2, 2011
Messages
51
Real Name
Marc
Another interesting credit : written by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby... who wrote the Marx’s “Duck Soup” and “Horse Feathers”.

I’ll definitely support this release. This is kinda thing I used to play hooky from work to go see at places like the Film Forum. Only reparatory theaters right now are in our living rooms.
 
  • Like
Reactions: PMF

Mark-P

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2005
Messages
5,250
Location
Camas, WA
Real Name
Mark Probst
The problem I have with Warner Archive is that movies I have zero interest in, and never would have otherwise purchased, suddenly become “must-haves“ for my collection!
 
  • Like
Reactions: PMF

Robert Harris

Archivist
Reviewer
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 8, 1999
Messages
13,244
Real Name
Robert Harris
The problem I have with Warner Archive is that movies I have zero interest in, and never would have otherwise purchased, suddenly become “must-haves“ for my collection!
Warner Archive releases are far more palatable than a sudden desire to own a set of the Shakespeare Folios...
 

OLDTIMER

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Jul 11, 2019
Messages
129
Location
Melbourne, Australia
Real Name
Ken S-B
I'm not a lover of Wheeler and Woolsey per se but I do enjoy their musical numbers. Unfortunately, as far as I'm aware, Kentucky Kernels only has two songs ... and it doesn't have cute Dorothy Lee. However, the song "One Little Kiss" is a good one.
I'd love to see good-quality prints of those of their movies that had two-color Technicolor sequences.
 

Randy Korstick

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2000
Messages
5,012
Really looking forward to this one. I 1st discovered Wheeler and Woolsey on Laserdisc and AMC in the early 90's and quickly became a fan. I also love underdogs although they were one of the biggest comedy teams of the 1930's. Strangely forgotten after the 1930's most likely because their films did not play on TV much until AMC resurrected them in the late 80's/ early 90's.
 

PMF

Senior HTF Member
Joined
May 6, 2015
Messages
4,391
Real Name
Philip
[...]
It features another Marx Bros foil.
[...]
Warner Archive releases are far more palatable than a sudden desire to own a set of the Shakespeare Folios...
I, myself, am too hard pressed to find an answer; to that which is either folio or foil.
Yet, it is without question,
as friends may even wonder,
that Kentucky Kernels shall be my purchase pure; without nary or ever a further ponder.:)

FILE UNDER: Corny before Coffee.:D
 
Last edited:

TJPC

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2016
Messages
3,896
Location
Hamilton Ontario
Real Name
Terry Carroll
This may be total crap, but I had always heard that W&W were never revived like the Marx brothers etc., because there films were considered so "pre-code" that they were impossible to re-cut for the Hays office, and therefore not ready when TV came along. By the late '40s they were largely forgotten, and belonged to a bankrupted studio. We all know about the notorious cutting of scenes from the Marx brothers, and "Love Me Tonight", etc. and how those cuts were lost. These last films were ready for the puritanical standards of early TV, W&W films were not, and who ever heard of them anyway?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Randy Korstick

Bert Greene

Supporting Actor
Joined
Apr 1, 2004
Messages
802
The Wheeler and Woolsey RKO's were indeed in syndication, and I've seen listings for their airings on local stations in late-1950s TV Guides, along with other similar early films from the studio. But I don't think it was a syndicated package that circulated too much and for too long. The RKO's more commonly circulating (under that 'Movietime' moniker) for years afterward were the more prominent A-level stuff. Might have been a different tier system. For example, the first batch of Fox films put in syndication (via NTA) around 1954-55 were strictly the shorter-length B-films, usually from the 1935-42 era, full of things like the Jane Withers and Jones Family films. A few short years later, the bigger batch of much more prominent Fox "A" films from the 1930s/40s were syndicated, and these stayed around in syndication in local markets for decades, whereas that earlier batch all but disappeared rather quickly. There was such a massive glut of old movies made available for stations in the late-1950s, and some of the packages (usually containing the older, creakier stuff) got basically squeezed out, and weren't utilized as much, even with cheaper fees that relegated them to struggling independent stations. I don't know exactly when the 'older' early-talkie RKOs, including the W&W titles were necessarily withdrawn from availability, but it was certainly a rarely-shown batch already by the 1960s and especially 1970s. With the floodgates opening back up in the late-1980s thanks to Turner.

My favorite bits in the Wheeler and Woolsey films usually involves the combination of musical numbers and goofy-romantic byplay between Wheeler and Dorothy Lee (when she's leading lady, which is most of the time). Although I've never remotely been an autograph hound (the whole idea of asking for one makes me uncomfortable), I can't deny that I couldn't resist asking one from Lee, when I saw her at a film festival. Anyway, I'm definitely getting "Kentucky Kernels." Already ordered it. It totally blows my mind about the original elements surviving, and being utilized for this transfer. I do recall also being surprised at how good the print of "Half Shot at Sunrise" (1930) is on that Warner set. Now if Warner could only locate that "Oh, Oh, "Cleopatra" short and release it!
 
  • Like
Reactions: RBailey and Jack K

Arthur Powell

Second Unit
Joined
Feb 15, 2018
Messages
407
Real Name
Arthur
The Wheeler and Woolsey RKO's were indeed in syndication, and I've seen listings for their airings on local stations in late-1950s TV Guides, along with other similar early films from the studio. But I don't think it was a syndicated package that circulated too much and for too long. The RKO's more commonly circulating (under that 'Movietime' moniker) for years afterward were the more prominent A-level stuff. Might have been a different tier system. For example, the first batch of Fox films put in syndication (via NTA) around 1954-55 were strictly the shorter-length B-films, usually from the 1935-42 era, full of things like the Jane Withers and Jones Family films. A few short years later, the bigger batch of much more prominent Fox "A" films from the 1930s/40s were syndicated, and these stayed around in syndication in local markets for decades, whereas that earlier batch all but disappeared rather quickly. There was such a massive glut of old movies made available for stations in the late-1950s, and some of the packages (usually containing the older, creakier stuff) got basically squeezed out, and weren't utilized as much, even with cheaper fees that relegated them to struggling independent stations. I don't know exactly when the 'older' early-talkie RKOs, including the W&W titles were necessarily withdrawn from availability, but it was certainly a rarely-shown batch already by the 1960s and especially 1970s. With the floodgates opening back up in the late-1980s thanks to Turner.

My favorite bits in the Wheeler and Woolsey films usually involves the combination of musical numbers and goofy-romantic byplay between Wheeler and Dorothy Lee (when she's leading lady, which is most of the time). Although I've never remotely been an autograph hound (the whole idea of asking for one makes me uncomfortable), I can't deny that I couldn't resist asking one from Lee, when I saw her at a film festival. Anyway, I'm definitely getting "Kentucky Kernels." Already ordered it. It totally blows my mind about the original elements surviving, and being utilized for this transfer. I do recall also being surprised at how good the print of "Half Shot at Sunrise" (1930) is on that Warner set. Now if Warner could only locate that "Oh, Oh, "Cleopatra" short and release it!
FWIW, I have a Digiview DVD of the W&W film Hook, Line, and Sinker which I paid the princely sum of one dollar at Walmart probably around fifteen years ago. On the disc, the film features the C&C Movietime credits and not the RKO ones. For that matter, I caught the George O'Brien western Painted Desert on TCM a few weeks ago, and it also featured the C&C Movietime credits.
 

Bert Greene

Supporting Actor
Joined
Apr 1, 2004
Messages
802
FWIW, I have a Digiview DVD of the W&W film Hook, Line, and Sinker which I paid the princely sum of one dollar at Walmart probably around fifteen years ago. On the disc, the film features the C&C Movietime credits and not the RKO ones. For that matter, I caught the George O'Brien western Painted Desert on TCM a few weeks ago, and it also featured the C&C Movietime credits.
Yeah, I recall when the first wave of RKO b-films resurfaced on Turner's TNT network in late-1988, and seeing how there were occasionally new, super-imposed "RKO" graphics covering up the "Movietime" logo on the title-cards of many films. Occasionally these would also sport a different-sourced RKO Radio opening (all the more apparent when you'd see a post-1936 "RKO Radio" opening attached to an earlier film which should have had the earlier "Radio Pictures" opening).

It's still a mystery to me as to why there are still a few early RKO's that appeared on TNT or AMC back in those days, but still have yet to be aired on TCM in all these ensuing 25 or 26 years... films like "The Great Jasper" (1933) with Richard Dix, "Midnight Mystery" (1930) with Betty Compson (and the appealing June Clyde), "Farmer in the Dell" (1936), a Fred Stone comedy, "Second Wife" (1930) with Lila Lee (still looking fairly pert, before the booze dragged her down), and also, unless I'm mistaken, the rather drab "Village Tale" (1935), with Randolph Scott, who looked none to happy to be in it.

"Half Shot at Sunrise" (1930) apparently fell into public domain, and I recall encountering a well-worn print of it on the long-forgotten SPN network back in 1984. They used to run PD films all night long, for a few years. Apparently "Hook, Line, and Sinker" (1930) was also eventually deemed PD, but I didn't see it floating around in those kind of circles until later years.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jack K