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The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection (The Cocoanuts / Animal Crackers / Monkey Business / Horse Feathers / Duck Soup) [Blu-ray]
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The Marx Brothers – Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo – are the reigning kings of comedy and remain one of the most iconic comic teams of all time. From their early days on Vaudeville and Broadway through their wildly popular motion pictures, the Marx Brothers kept audiences of all ages laughing out loud with some of the most hilarious routines ever imagined. The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection Restored Edition captures the very best of the comedy team and includes the only five movies to feature all four brothers. Filled with unforgettable comedy sketches, musical numbers, witty dialogue and plenty of gags, this must-own collection includes The Cocoanuts, Animal Crackers, Monkey Business, Horse Feathers and their most popular film, Duck Soup.
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AS OF NOW, THERE DOESN'T APPEAR TO BE ANY PLANS TO RELEASE THE RESTORED FILMS IN THE DVD FORMAT. SO IF YOU BUY THAT PACKAGE, YOU ARE GOING TO GET THE SAME OLD VERSION WHICH HAS BEEN AVAILABLE FOR YEARS.
The set opens with a very clean looking and sounding copy of 'The Cocoanuts', no complaints, this has been well restored although some poor source sections are very obvious.
The second movie 'Animal Crackers' is complete! Sourced from an original (pre Hays Code) duplicate negative found in the British Film Institute's archives This movie has come from a good source and the print has been restored competently and is well presented, no complaints!
Unfortunately, 'Monkey Business' from the opening sequence shows scratches that could have been removed with a little care, worse they are pretty comparable with my UK DVD copy. What restoration?
It's a huge shame that a better source copy of 'Horse Feathers' wasn't found as the huge number of 'Hays Office' cuts ruin the potentially hilarious sequence in the 'college widows' apartment. Some basic scratch removal has been applied, but there's nothing here to make upgrading from DVD worthwhile.
Duck Soup is a mess, massively inferior to even my UK sourced DVD having very similar visual quality but massively distorted sound from the first song which isn't on the DVD!
This is a poor package. The copies of 'The Cocoanuts' and 'Animal Crackers' are well worth having. The rest are just a disappointment and little better than the 'unrestored' DVD. Duck Soup is worse.
I contacted Universal about the Duck Soup audio and was sent a replacement disc with the same fault. When I emailed them back to say the fault was still there their response was polite but clearly meant 'We don't care'!
Viewing and comparisons were made on a 104" screen in my full HD home theatre and also on a 50" Panasonic TV.
So two stars for The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers. The rest is a waste of time if you already own a copy of the movies and in the case of Duck Soup you're actually better off with the DVD!
The latest incarnation of Marx mayhem is Universal's Blu-ray set of their five Paramount releases: THE COCOANUTS (1929), ANIMAL CRACKERS (1930), MONKEY BUSINESS (1931), HORSE FEATHERS (1932) and DUCK SOUP (1933). Made during Hollywood's unbridled pre-Code era, this quintet of comedic masterworks is representative of the Marx Brothers at their most surreal and anarchistic. These essential ingredients made their brand of humor truly unique, and became 'properly' compromised under the stricter regulations of the Production Code in 1934. Even the Marx's first film for MGM, A NIGHT AT THE OPERA (1935), which many consider to be their best, isn't nearly as free and insane as the Paramounts. A need was felt at the time for the comedy to be grounded by strong storylines, romantic subplots and glossy, musical production numbers. The void caused by the exit of Zeppo as straight man was filled by various capable leading men, but it just wasn't the same as it was when there were the four brothers running amok and wreaking hilarious havoc.
This collection was sourced from the best available 35mm elements and remastered in 4K HD resolution for the highest quality presentation. That said, there are still some age related issues one must allow for, such as light scratches and audio hiss, all of which is minimal for the most part. The title that contains the brunt of such anomalies is the Marx's cinematic debut, THE COCOANUTS, which suffers from the early sound recording technology as well as having footage replaced in spots from lower grade elements. HORSE FEATHERS also still has some missing frames in the scene where the boys are running in and out of Thelma Todd's apartment. On the plus side is the restoration of a minute and a half of previously censored footage to ANIMAL CRACKERS. This was made possible by Universal acquiring an uncut, duplicate negative of an original release British print. Audiences are now able to enjoy the film as it was first shown 86 years ago. Happily, any digital cleanup was kept at a minimum, thus giving off a pleasing grain configuration that preserves the organic image quality of the source. It can safely be said that these classics have never looked better, and die-hard fans would do well to upgrade.
Extras include a new documentary, "The Marx Brothers: Hollywood's Kings of Chaos", five new audio commentaries by Harpo's son Bill Marx, film historians Anthony Slide, Jeffrey Vance and Robert S. Bader, film critics F.X. Feeney and Leonard Maltin, the Today Show interviews with Groucho, Harpo and Bill Marx, and an exclusive illustrated booklet on their career.
Treat yourself to this wonderful collection of some of the flat-out funniest movies ever made. Marx madness is a guaranteed tonic for the humdrum 'normalcy' of everyday life.
My highest recommendation.
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