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Comedy Classics, Vols. 3 & 4 [2 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Special Features

  • Digitally mastered
  • Interactive menus
  • Chapter selections
  • Digitally enhanced audio 5.1

Synopsis

The Bashful Bachelor
The Bashful Bachelor was the second of six 1940s B films inspired by the popular radio series Lum 'N' Abner. The two principal characters are the proprietors of the Jot 'Em Down Store in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Lum (Chester Lauck) endeavors to impress a marriageable middle-aged lady (ZaSu Pitts) by becoming a hero. Lum's partner Abner (Norris Goff) reluctantly agrees to pretend to be the victim of several staged accidents, so that Lum can come to the rescue and prove his courage. Somehow this ends with a slapstick horse race. Director Mal St. Clair reaps better results from Lum 'N' Abner than he would in his subsequent Laurel & Hardy comedies at 20th Century-Fox. The Bashful Bachelor was put together by independent Voco Productions, and released by RKO Radio. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Little Tough Guy
The first of the "splinter" groups to emerge from the Dead End Kids was the Little Tough Guys, consisting of veteran Dead-Enders Billy Halop, Huntz Hall, Gabriel Dell, Bernard Punsly and David Gorcey (Hally Chester and Billy Benedict would also appear in this new grouping from time to time). Though most of the "Little Tough Guy" vehicles were played for laugh, the initial entry was not. When labor activist Jim Boylan (Edward Pawley) is executed for a murder he didn't commit, his son Johnny (Billy Halop) decides to become a crook. He and his pals Pig (Huntz Hall), String (Gabe Dell), Sniper (David Gorcey) and Dopey (Hally Chester), embark upon a crime spree, aided and abetted by thrill-seeking rich kid Cyril (Jackie Searl), who happens to be the son of the district attorney. While committing a robbery orchestrated by Cyril, Johnny and Pig are trapped by the police. Pig makes a break for it, only to be killed in a hail of bullets. This startling turn of events convinces Johnny to mend his ways, but not before an obligatory stretch in reform school with his fellow Little Tough Guys-including Cyril! Beyond the spectacle of Huntz Hall dying in agony, Little Tough Guy offers very little that is new and innovational: still, the film made money, prompting a whole series of "Little Tough Guy" quickies from the Universal assembly line. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Spooks Run Wild
In their first of two Monogram spook comedies, the East Side Kids and Bela Lugosi square off in yet another haunted house. On their way to summer camp, the malapropism dependant East Siders are warned of a "monster killer" loose in the area, and, sure enough, almost immediately encounter Nardo (Lugosi) and his weird little helper Luigi (Angelo Rossitto). Nardo does very little to repudiate the Kids' impression of him as a vampire (the Kids say "vulture" lest Monogram should get in trouble with Universal, who held the rights to Dracula), but is he really the monster killer? Perhaps Doctor Von Grosch (Dennis Moore) knows, the famed mystery writer and "monster hunter" having arrived like clockwork at the creepy Billings mansion with camp nurse Linda Mason (Dorothy Short) in tow. Although Peewee (David Gorcey) is at one point feared to have become the victim of the "vulture," the smart aleck turns up safe and sound, and Muggs (Leo Gorcey) and the Kids decide to trap the killer. And so they do, ably assisted by young attorney Jeff Dixon (Dave O'Brien), who, for reasons not immediately clear, has a vested interest in the well being of the East Side Kids. O'Brien and leading lady Dorothy Short were married in real life. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Clancy Street Boys
Even non-fans of the East Side Kids will get a goodly share of laughs out of the 1943 series entry Clancy Street Boys. The story commences when Muggs McGinnis (Leo Gorcey) learns that his wealthy Uncle Pete (Noah Beery Sr.) is coming to town for a visit. The problem: Muggs' mom (Martha Wentworth) has claimed that she has seven children so that big-hearted Pete will continue sending much-needed money to her fatherless family. To avoid disillusioning Pete, Muggs' pals are enlisted to pose as his siblings, with Glimpy (Huntz Hall) posing as sister Annabelle (it is explained that Scruno, the black member of Muggs' gang, was "adopted"). Uncle Pete and his pretty daughter Judy (Amelita Ward) are taken in by the ruse until local crook George Mooney (Rick Vallin) spills the beans. But all is forgiven when Muggs, Glimpy and company rescue Pete from kidnappers. Best bit: About to go into a huddle, the East Side Kids turn "en masse" towards the camera, politely tip their hats and say "Excuse us!" ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

East Side Kids
Police detective Pat O'Day (Leon Ames) involves himself with a gang of slum kids led by Dutch Kuhn (Hally Chester) and Danny Dolan (Harris Berger). He tries to keep them from getting into trouble and to help out Danny, whose brother, Knuckles Dolan (Dave "Tex" O'Brien), is about to be executed for a murder allegedly committed as part of his involvement in a counterfeiting ring. O'Day knows Knuckles, having tried to keep him on the right side of the law, and knows that he couldn't have done the shooting, regardless of the circumstantial evidence, because Knuckles resolutely refused to carry a gun -- the real killer is the gang leader, Mileaway (Dennis Moore), a smooth-talker who earned his nickname through his knack for always being "a mile away" whenever a crime is committed by his gang. O'Day not only wants to catch Mileaway, but tries to keep the teenagers from falling in with the hood. When the detective starts to get too close, Mileaway sets him up for a brutality charge using crooked shop owner Schmidt, and gets O'Day busted back to uniformed patrolman. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

Two Weeks to Live
The title of this "Lum 'N' Abner" comedy isn't explained until the film is half over. Chester Lauck and Norris Goff repeat their radio characterizations of Lum and Abner, proprietors of the Jot-Em-Down Store in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. This time, the boys journey to Chicago, where Abner hopes to collect his share of an inheritance, only to find out that they're responsible for their "benefactor's" debts. Required to take a medical exam, Abner is incorrectly informed that he has only two weeks to live (from the motion picture of the same name). In their efforts to raise enough money to square their debts, Our Heroes get mixed up with a Nazi spy ring. When this plot point is abruptly dropped (indeed, it looks as though the script was being made up as it went along), Abner agrees to take an experimental rocket trip to Mars for a huge cash sum. The climactic special effects are as ridiculous as the rest of the film; even so, Two Weeks to Live did well at the box-office thanks to the popularity of the Lum 'N' Abner radio show. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Dreaming Out Loud
Dreaming Out Loud represented the film debut of radio favorites Lum 'N' Abner, aka Chester Lauck and Norris Goff. Proprietors of the Jot-Em-Down Store in Pine Ridge, AR, our heroes are currently preoccupied by their efforts to construct a mobile hospital unit in their community. In time-honored movie-comedy tradition, Lum 'N' Abner also set aside a moment or two to help out young lovers Dr. Kenneth Barnes (Robert Wilcox) and Alice (Frances Langford). More serious in nature than subsequent Lum 'N' Abner movie vehicles, the storyline is partially devoted to the search for the hit-and-run driver who struck down and killed lovable little Emmy Lou (Bobs Watson). Bandleader Phil Harris is allotted a surprisingly tiny amount of screen time, and isn't even afforded the chance to sing. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

So This Is Washington
So This is Washington is one of the better entries in the "Lum 'N' Abner" film series. Chester Lauck and Norris Goff recreate their popular radio characters of Lum and Abner, folksy general-store proprietors in the village of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. This time, the boys become convinced that they've developed a synthetic-rubber formula, so they head to the nation's capital to offer their invention to the government. Thanks to the wartime housing shortage, Lum & Abner are obliged to set up residence at a park bench. Before long they've transformed into a pair of backwoods Bernard Baruchs, dispensing sage wisdom to pedestrians and pundits alike. Very much a product of its times, So This is Washington seems more quaint than funny when seen today. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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