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Another winner in this treasurable harvest of comic shorts lovingly restored. 4 Stars

Once again, ClassicFlix has gone above and beyond the call of duty to restore these comic gems to a visual brilliance that brings out all of their most winning qualities.

The Kid from Borneo (1933)
Released: 15 Apr 1933
Rated: N/A
Runtime: 18 min
Director: Robert F. McGowan
Genre: Family, Short, Comedy
Cast: Matthew 'Stymie' Beard, Tommy Bond, Dorothy DeBorba, Bobby 'Wheezer' Hutchins
Writer(s): N/A
Plot: The gang goes to a circus sideshow to visit Dickie and Spanky's uncle, mistakenly believing he is "The Wild Man from Borneo."
IMDB rating: 8.0
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: MGM
Distributed By: ClassicFlix
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 3 Hr. 38 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Case Type: clear keep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 01/18/2022
MSRP: $39.99

The Production: 4/5

Superstar comic tyke Spanky McFarlane is growing into quite an accomplished performer in Volume 4 of ClassicFlix’s marvelous The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, one among many reasons why fans of the series will find this latest volume a must-have for their collections. Among the twelve shorts included in this set which date from 1933 to 1935 are several bona fide classics, a growing sophistication in presentation by producer Hal Roach, and the introduction of several new gang members who made notable marks for themselves in the series.

When I was a child, The Kid from Borneo, which begins the program in this set, was the most requested series short of our local television host for the series, Fred Kirby. No matter where he made personal appearances or showed up with an Our Gang marathon at the local theater in many area towns, this short was always in demand: where a side show attraction is mistaken by siblings Spanky McFarlane, Dickie Moore, and Dorothy DeBorba as their “black sheep of the family” uncle, running roughshod over the kids’ home in a slapstick melee that never gets old. `

There are some notable adult contributions to the Gang’s frolics in this set. Foremost among them is Franklin Pangborn as a smarmy photographer in Wild Poses, scaring poor Spanky to death as his use of photography terms like “retouching,” and “shooting” gives all the wrong impressions causing Spanky to take safety measures to protect himself. In this short and Bedtime Worries is the comic team of Emerson Treacy and Gay Seabrook, a kind of younger variation on Burns and Allen, playing Spanky’s solicitous parents. Hal Roach regular James Finlayson has a memorable telephone encounter with Spanky which is fall-down funny (Spanky’s smart retorts and Finlayson’s superbly timed comic reactions) in Mush and Milk. Also present in this short is the hauntingly scary presence of Louise Emmons, a screeching, menacing harridan who’d give the Wicked West of the West shudders. Her husband Cap is memorably played by Gus Leonard (a character we’ll see again in a future short).

But the best use of adults comes in the set’s final two shorts, by far the most outstanding in the package and both marvelous fantasy outings: Mama’s Little Pirate and Shrimps for a Day. In the former, the gang goes hunting for pirate treasure supposedly hidden in the old caves along the Pacific Ocean and run into a giant played by Jack Earle (voice dubbed by Billy Bletcher). In addition to the brilliant production design for the treasure lair, the chest, and its contents, this short also displays Spanky’s growing gifts as an actor as he plays a scene with his conscience after he’s sent to his room for disrespect. And even more impressive is Shrimps for a Day which features not only Clarence Wilson as everyone’s favorite villain Mr. Crutch but also Joe Young as Dick and Doris McMahan as Mary, two adults sponsoring a party for an orphanage, and their magically turned younger selves embodied by little people George and Olive Brasno. It ends the set on a grand note (Olive even gets to sing the catchy ditty “The Ice Cream Song”) with winning special effects and a story that’s hugely funny and hugely involving.

As is to be expected with such a long-running series, there are memorable comings and goings among the gang here. Dickie Moore and Bobby “Wheezer” Hutchins leave the group in Mush and Milk (and it’s an ignominious end for “Wheezer” who only a few years before was the adorable star of the series and now has almost nothing to do here but tag along with the others). Wally Albright joins the group as the gang leader (along with “Stymie”) in Hi! Neighbor, but that short’s most notable inclusion was the introduction of Scotty Beckett who’d be teamed with Spanky for a bunch of the shorts as a kind of mini Laurel and Hardy duo who, being younger, are sometimes on the outside looking in with the gang’s activities until they prove themselves worthy of their inclusion. For Pete’s Sake introduces Leonard “Woim” Kibrick as sometimes bully, sometimes gang member in the group but more importantly Billie Thomas pops up silently here for the first time, soon to take on the nickname “Buckwheat” for an eleven-year sojourn with the series.

Here are the shorts included in this fourth volume of the ClassicFlix restorations:

1 – The Kid from Borneo

2 – Mush and Milk

3 – Bedtime Worries

4 – Wild Poses

5 – Hi! Neighbor

6 – For Pete’s Sake

7 – The First Round-Up

8 – Honkey-Donkey

9 – Mike Fright

10 – Washee Ironee

11 – Mama’s Little Pirate

12 – Shrimps for a Day

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

The shorts are displayed at the 1.37:1 aspect ratio and are presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. These shorts look astonishingly good with crisp, clean images and a startlingly good grayscale which features deep blacks and clean white levels. There is lots of detail to be seen, and it is almost impossible to believe that these shorts are approaching ninety years of age. Never have they looked so clear and wonderfully dialed in as they do here.

Audio: 3.5/5

The ancient sound elements for these shorts are presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono sound, but there is hiss, mostly softer than in earlier shorts in this series, in almost every one of these shorts and a little distortion in the first two. One can’t expect hefty fidelity in films this old, and you’d be right not to expect much bass in the mixes. Still, the audio quality is more than acceptable.

Special Features: 2/5

Restoration Comparison (5:24, HD): comparison featurette shows the often atrocious shape of what ClassicFlix had to work with in bringing this kind of astonishing quality to the images of these short comedies. Split-screen compares side-by-side images from the same film in before and after shots or sometimes we get split screen with before on the left and after on the right. Samples are included from Bedtime Worries, The Kid from Borneo, Washee Ironee, Mama’s Little Pirate, and For Pete’s Sake.

ClassicFlix Trailers (HD): The Little Rascals Volumes 1, 2, 3.

Overall: 4/5

Is there any doubt that fans of Our Gang need to add The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 4 to their collections? Once again, ClassicFlix has gone above and beyond the call of duty to restore these comic gems to a visual brilliance that brings out all of their most winning qualities. Highly recommended!

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Published by

Matt Hough

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mskaye

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Michael Kochman
Apologies if this was covered in earlier posts, but is there any public acknowledgment of the sources and provenance of these restorations ?
 

Dave Moritz

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I have vol 1 & 2 and still need vol 3 so this new vol will be next.

20210906_145433.jpg
 

David Weicker

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David
Unfortunately, my copy ran afoul of the USPS.

Shipped on the 10th. Arrived in LA on the 13th. Due In Illinois on the 21st.

So much for CF shipping it out ‘early’
 

JoelA

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Joel Arndt
Unfortunately, my copy ran afoul of the USPS.

Shipped on the 10th. Arrived in LA on the 13th. Due In Illinois on the 21st.

So much for CF shipping it out ‘early’
My copy took a rather circuitous route as well. After leaving origin it arrived in LA on the 13th, then in Pittsburgh on the 15th and in Cleveland on the 19th, but it's out for delivery today which is two days earlier than the estimate of the 21st. I know what I'll be doing tonight...if it is indeed delivered today.
 

David Weicker

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Joined
Feb 26, 2005
Messages
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David
My copy took a rather circuitous route as well. After leaving origin it arrived in LA on the 13th, then in Pittsburgh on the 15th and in Cleveland on the 19th, but it's out for delivery today which is two days earlier than the estimate of the 21st. I know what I'll be doing tonight...if it is indeed delivered today.
Mine arrived today.

I love that the insert photo is Scotty and Spanky