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Cut to the Chase - The Charley Chase Comedy Collection

4.0 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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(Nov 06, 2012)
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Editorial Reviews

Charles Joseph Parrott of Baltimore, Maryland started out in vaudeville during the rough and tumble days in the first decade of the 20th century. Exactly 100 years ago this year, this young man fresh off the stage, started working at the Christie Film Company. During the next decade he worked as a juvenile lead, a gag writer and a comedy director. When he changed his name to Charley Chase and found himself featured in the Hal Roach s short comedies, he became one of the great geniuses and stars of Hollywood s golden era of silent comedy. As renowned as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd at the time, Chase easily matched them laugh for laugh. The always-dapper Chase specialized in portraying the pleasant common man with very common skills placed in the most uncommon of circumstances. Chase's best performances at the Roach studio were directed by the legendary Leo McCarey (Make Way for Tomorrow, Duck Soup) and featured great character actors of the day including Bull Montana, Max Davidson and the lovely Katherine Grant. Years in the making, this amazing Charley Chase collection features more than five hours of comic masterpieces from the height of Chase s career. The Uneasy Three (from a 35mm print at the Museum of Modern Art) and Charley My Boy (from a 16mm print from the John Hampton Collection, courtesy of the Stanford Theater Foundation) are exclusive to this release. Disc One: April Fool, The Fraidy Cat, Bad Boy, The Caretaker s Daughter, Be Your Age, Bromo and Juliet, Dog Shy and Charley My Boy Disc Two: The Uneasy Three, Innocent Husbands, Isn't Life Terrible?, What Price Goofy?, Long Fliv the King, Mama Behave, Mighty Like A Moose, Mum's the Word

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Charley Chase, Bull Montana, Max Davidson, Katherine Grant
  • Directors: Leo McCarey
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Milestone
  • DVD Release Date: November 6, 2012
  • Run Time: 303 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B008PVQQ3G
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,284 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Verified Purchase
First, a few great things about this release: (1) it is one of the only sets of "windowboxed" films I have ever seen, and boy do vintage films need it! My TV screen, flatscreen though it is, cuts of 7% of the top and bottom image, and the way these old films were tightly-framed to begin with, and then cropped in printing, and then cropped again in restoration to eliminate jitter, makes it IMPERATIVE to have old movies windowboxed. Perhaps they over did it a little, but it's better than LOSING image! (2) Milestone relinquishes all advertisements and FBI warnings and even company logos that you cannot forward through. You get the menu up and running immediately, and from there you can go STRAIGHT to any film you want. No waiting for moving images to load, and no idiot music. THANK YOU, MILESTONE!!!

If you are a Charley Chase fan, this set is worth the cost just to see more Chase films you haven't seen before, and to see a few in better image quality than you've seen before. BAD BOY is in absolutely excellent condition, visually, and it is complete (the only other decent version on another DVD set is missing a key shot at the end). However, the music by David Knudtson does not bring the film to life. I have to give him a lot of credit: he is obviously watching the film and trying to comment on the action, which so many silent-film accompanists fail to do (I'll never know why); but the music in general is pretty lackluster. Probably if he had played the organ it would have been a bit more colorful. I do suggest finding a copy of the DVD collection "Becoming Charley Chase", which has a murky version of this film but with the very funny, kooky music-track by the Snark Ensemble. (If you are a Chase fan you should get that set anyway.
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First let me say: IF YOU ARE A CHARLEY CHASE FAN, OR SILENT COMEDY FAN: BUY THIS DVD! The pluses of getting new Chase comedies out-way the minuses, and the price is right for a 2-disc set.
This DVD set started out in 2005 when Kino just started releasing their Charley Chase DVDs. It is too bad that Milestone did not synchronize with Kino at the time, they could have saved some money & time as Kino had just released half of these in superior copies.
One other brief complaint about this set: WINDOWBOXING! These transfers were made in 2005 when most people still had CRT tube TVs that over-scanned. Milestone decided to windowbox the image, The windowbox framing is slight and tolerable in some shorts while others are heavily windowboxed. I measured one on a 32" widescreen TV and the image got reduced to a 21" (diagonal measure) square picture. One solution I have to the windowboxing problem is to play this on a Blu-ray player, upconverting the resolution to 1080p, and then zooming in the image. With the resolution upconversion, the image seems to hold its sharpness when zooming it in.
Today if producers are concerned about cropping for older TVs that over-scan, they should make an "Anamorphic" recording with black bars on the sides (like all Blu-ray releases of older movies). This would reduce the picture to a windowboxed image for older CRT TVs but keep the image in full square frame for modern widescreen TVs with no black bars on the top & bottom.

That said, here is a brief rundown of what you get, and which copy is better. (*= indicates a superior copy on this set)

Disc #1
APRIL FOOL - Jimmy Jump series (1924) - This copy is soft, the better copy is on the KINO Charley Chase Collection Volume 1.
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Verified Purchase
This release is welcome, if only for the content included. I was delighted to get to see these shorts for the first time ("Isn't Life Terrible" is a pure delight, with Oliver "Babe" Hardy on board). As I haven't seen the Kino or the VCI release, I cannot make a comparison between this DVD set, and those that came before it. I can only base my views on its merits alone.

While not the fiasco which is Milestone's simultaneous Mary Pickford release, this DVD set is not without its problems.

Most of these films look pretty good, with the usual scratches and missing frames expected of silent films of this era. That said, "April Fool" (the first film in the package) looks pretty rough. "Charley My Boy", which the DVD case advises was taken from a 16mm print, looks even rougher. None of them are unwatchable, however, so they are still superior to what you might be used to of a public domain print for a silent film.

Music throughout is scene-specific, with the majority being piano only. Some of the piano music becomes monotonous at times, but it still does the trick. Personally, I also found the music on "Innocent Husbands" by Donald Sosin to be a little to startling, but another reviewer here thinks otherwise, so I guess it is "to each their own". Anything is better than the modern music that plagues some silent movie DVD's.

Concerning the DVD production, immediately, one is struck with the poor menu design, which places two of the eight selections on each DVD on a second page. Additionally, the menu always returns to the first film in the list upon the conclusion of each short, even if you are playing a short on the second page. Very inconvenient. Otherwise, the menus just have an amateurish look to them.
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