Allow me to position my cinema perspective toward 1930s wise-cracking, physical comedians.
From an earlier era, I love Keaton and Chaplin. as well as early Laurel & Hardy.
Get to the ’30s, Laurel & Hardy reigned, along with The Marx Brothers. I could never stand the Stooges. And then came Abbott and Costello, with their own brand of humor.
But there was a time, as I recall, in the early 1970s, when some nitrate footage was discovered of Biffle and Shooster. It was an incomplete short. It was copied to safety, and I was invited to see the fragments.
I was amazed.
I had heard of this duo, played by Will Ryan and Nick Santa Maria, but had never seen a frame.
I knew immediately, that they were the real thing.
Over the past few years, I’ve been following Michael Schlesinger’s perseverance after prints (there were apparently, 20 in all) of some of the shorts were finally found, mis-marked at a European archive.
The sad truth of the matter is that Biffle and Shooster destroyed the studio, for which they worked.
It was a nitrate fire, c. 1939, that took down the stages and destroyed the library. Hence, the fact that their work has gone unheralded.
Thanks to Mr. Schlesinger’s work, you can now bask in the aura of these extraordinary entertainers. It doesn’t get any better.
As an aside, whilst working on the reconstruction of Mad World, I did come upon their scene, included as an extra in Kino’s new disc. I was unable to use it, as it never made it to the final preview.
As far as image and audio quality are concerned, what you’re seeing is the final product of some extraordinary restoration work, with full use of all available digital tools. A bit of occasional movement, but beyond that, perfection.
Image – 4.5
Audio – 4
Pass / Fail – Pass
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