A few words about…™ The Misadventures of Biffle and Shooster! — in DVD

Highly Recommended 4 Stars

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.

Literally.

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

Highly Recommended

RAH

Published by

Robert Harris

editor,contributor

14 Comments

  1. As a lifelong L&H devotee and a longtime fan of A&C, the Stooges and Gorcey/Hall I am thrilled that Mike S has managed to rescue these treasures from the ravages of time so that modern audiences can enjoy them.

    Since RAH has indicated that 20 were produced that leaves only 15 more to be “found”. No pressure Mike – we’ll wait until 2019 for Vol 2!

    Thanks to Kino for distributing these.

  2. Just finished watching this last night…literally watched everything on the disc in one session! Thoroughly enjoyed myself, these guys are spot on with humor of this vintage. Very much a cross between A&C and The Stooges. There are so many little pearls for folks familiar with 30s and 40s comedy. My favorite short was IMITATION OF WIFE, although they are all well done.

    I have the same question for Kino posed by others: why no blu ray? Were these filmed in SD? I seriously doubt it.

    I would double dip on this in a second if a blu ray release is in the offing. Hear us, Kino?

  3. Mike Frezon

    Here's a question which arose for me as I was researching this release for this week's RoundUp:

    Are the "Misadventures of Biffle & Shooster" identical to "The Adventures of Biffle & Shooster?"

    Hi, Mike, been out of town. I replied to this on the round-up page.

  4. cadavra

    Hi, Mike, been out of town. I replied to this on the round-up page.

    And just in case someone stops in this thread sometime in the future…and this week's RoundUp is long buried deep in the archives, I'm going to quote your answer here:

    No. "Adventures" is the feature compilation version, consisting of four shorts and a few bonus bits; it was created for theatrical, streaming and television. "Misadventures" is the DVD and contains everything.

    Thanks!
    Mike S.

    Thanks, Mike! :thumbsup: 😀

  5. Robert Harris

    They really deserved a Blu-ray.

    Thank you Mr. Harris for your review. As a huge Laurel and Hardy fan I will give Will Ryan and Nick Santa Maria a try.

    Anyway, with all the inflationary use of the term "restoration", I also want to support a project that really deserves the use of this term.

    But why DVD only? DVD is an obsolete format. Not so much, because it's SD only. The real problem of the DVD format is the old MPEG2 codec it is tied to. Big block sizes with the tendency to macroblocking and all other problems caused by the nowadays inefficient codec, compared to today's standard with MPEG4/AVC and HEVC.

  6. I very much have the same sentiments that have been already expressed. Will blind buy for same.
    Thank you RAH!

    Regards,

    Ps. Perhaps RAH should be trademarked aka THX or DTS etc…:)

  7. I am a bit late in posting my thoughts on the disc due to the time it took to watch all the material and listen to all commentaries as well as real life getting in the way.

    Bottom line: this is a must buy for anyone wanting to be entertained. If you're a fan of classic comedy you will appreciate it on an even deeper level, but even if you're not, I'd encourage you to give it a shot because it's still entertaining on its own merits.

    I'll confess that I'd never heard of Will or Nick before, but we all know that great talent exists outside of celebrities and these two gentlemen are very, very gifted. Will is a terrific Western singer and straight man and Nick has so many skills (delivery, mannerisms, impressions, etc) that trying to list them all is pointless. Both are on Facebook if you want to learn more.

    I've known of Mike S for a few years due to his active involvement with Sony as a consultant to their classic home video releases, but was unaware of his triple threat as a writer, director and producer. Make no mistake, these shorts are first class productions all the way done by people in front and back of the camera that have a genuine love and respect for the genre. The supporting players have familiar faces including H.M. Wynant who still has a commanding voice and presence in his late 80s. I especially love how the supporting actors are playing real 30's actors who are playing characters (if that makes sense).

    The bonus material is first rate and not not throwaway material added to fill the disc. The outtakes are quite funny and really showcase the guys' improvisation skills. The fact that they're in color is a bonus because one can see the period appropriate color schemes of the outfits, props and sets.

    Kudos to Kino for including SDH on the shorts. That's a classy gesture I wasn't expecting. For those concerned this is "only" a DVD: don't be. It looks great.

    The only thing I didn't care for was the one outtake where an actor **cough Dan Roebuck cough** said a really doity word that seemed really out of place. I'll just fast forward each time I watch that particular outtake; problem solved. Otherwise this disc and its contents are suitable for any member of the family.

    Need I say more? Buy, enjoy, and rewatch Biffle & Shooster for a guaranteed good time. Who knows, if enough people support this project, Mike might be commissioned to scour the Earth's film archives to rescue and restore more of their legacy .

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