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The Little Rascals: The Complete Collection
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The Little Rascals: The Complete Collection spans the years of 1929-1938. This collections contains all 80 of the original Little Rascals theatrical talkies in their entirety; fully Remastered, Restored and Uncut. This amazing 8-disc set contains a collectible booklet, loads of nostalgic bonus footage, photos and much more! This preeminent collection is a must-have for fans, both old and new.
Children, with their fusion of innocence and mischief, can be natural comedians, and The Little Rascals plunders youthful exuberance for all it's worth. This series of short films (a.k.a. Our Gang) is most famous for a handful of glorious imps: Spanky, the scheming ringleader; Alfalfa, the softhearted second-in-command; and Buckwheat, with his skeptical sideways looks and big smiles. But over the years there were dozens of Rascals, and The Little Rascals: The Complete Collection features just about all of them, spanning 80 talkie shorts (with three silent shorts included in the extra features). Historians and nostalgists speak fondly about how natural the kids were, but that's nonsense--the kids that stand out are the ones who act like little adults, such as when Jackie and Chubby compete for their pretty schoolteacher's affections, or when Spanky and Alfalfa conduct the He-Man Woman Haters Club like middle-aged Shriners, or when the kids all put on a show (the Our Gang Follies in 1936 and 1938 are pretty impressive theatrical spectacles). The earlier years were rougher in structure and more improvisational, but as the series went along it became more scripted and shaped. Contemporary audiences are likely to prefer these later productions.
The Little Rascals can also righteously claim to be a racial groundbreaker, with its depiction of African-American and white kids playing together, with black kids--particularly Matthew "Stymie" Beard--frequently taking the lead in the shenanigans. Nonetheless, viewers should be prepared for stereotypes, all common to the era and without any real malice, but hardly pleasant. This painful element gets addressed in several of the bonus features; in one of four interviews with surviving Rascals, Dickie Moore reflects acutely on the racism of the time and tells some powerful anecdotes. All of these interviews are fascinating and among the best reasons for any fan of The Little Rascals to own this set--though this incredible abundance of Little Rascals material seems pretty must-have for anyone with fond memories of watching these kids, either on TV or the big screen. --Bret Fetzer
3 Original Silent Shorts
Story of Hall Roach and Our Gang
The Rascals and Racial Issues
Catching up with the Rascals
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Top Customer Reviews
LETS SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT! A lot of people are posting false information about this set (The Little Rascals - The Complete Collection) and constantly raving about the 'Cabin Fever' Little Rascals release (that seems to be made up of fuzzy memories).
First - This set is pretty good. All of the shorts are presented in what appears to be the original production order. The picture is much better than the film prints that are used on a lot of the older VHS releases (cleaner, a lot less crud on the picture). They are never going to look perfect. They were made in the 30's and didn't get the care of the other 'Our Gang' (the original pre-TV title of the series) shorts that MGM retained the rights to. The sound is not really that bad for early sound films. I can understand everything clearly and my hearing isn't perfect and I don't have a $3000 TV. The picture DOES NOT have excessive cropping. I compared it to other releases. If your TV or DVD player tends to have a lot of overscanning, then it might appear that way to you. The contrast looks the same as the much talked about Cabin Fever set (unless your equipment is faulty) The prints (with the exception of the Blackhawk sourced prints - which I'll get to in a minute) ARE the SAME RHI ENTERTAINMENT prints that were used in the old "Cabin Fever" set. When played side by side, you get all of the same 'damage' on the film... It is identical.
The Problems with this set: For some reason, 13 Blackhawk Films prints were used instead of the prints with the original theatrical titles. (Blackhawk Films is/was a company that sold 8MM & 16MM film prints to libraries and for home viewing). At least one of these Blackhawk prints (Hide and Shriek) is massively out of sync (the sound and picture do not match up). (Vivendi has reissued all of the discs from this set, except for the bonus features disc. They have replaced all of the Blackhawk prints with RHI ENTERTAINMENT prints. These discs are super inexpensive and the same quality as the discs in this box set, but with the 13 substandard prints replaced.)
ALSO, people have complained about 2 of the shorts being edited. "Washee Ironee" is not actually edited, but it appears that there was an error during the digital mastering that caused about a 4 second skip in the video. The scene where the skip occurs makes no sense now. It is irritating. When Vivendi reissued the discs, they were unaware of the problem, so the error is on the new discs too. People (who are probably just repeating things that they have read) keep saying that "Bear Shooters" is edited, but no one seems to know what is missing. I have compared various prints and cannot find anything missing! (If you know what it is and have actually seen this footage, please let me know.) The Cabin Fever version is identical to the version in this box set. The Blackhawk print has different repairs to the film from the RHI copy, so there may be 2 to 3 frames missing here and there (that's a fraction of a second... no missing dialog).
NOW, to briefly mention the Cabin Fever release of the Little Rascals shorts. It is talked about as if it is the definitive copy of the series. Well, it's not... There were 21 one volumes released on 21 VHS tapes -or- 4 Box sets of Laser Discs -or- 6 DVDs (the 6 DVDs only contain the first 12 volumes. The DVD release was never completed). The shorts are not in any kind of order. Each volume had a super brief intro from Leonard Maltin (a popular film critic and film historian) and (at least on the VHS tapes) an ad for the Little Rascals Book. I haven't checked out the Laserdisc set, but the VHS set is mediocre quality (VHS doesn't even support full standard definition resolution). The Cabin Fever DVD set is not as clean as this new box set. Maybe if you own an old style -or- small screen TV, it looks fine.
IF YOU WANT THE DEFINITIVE SET, well, there is never going to be a set that will satisfy everyone. WHAT YOU COULD DO is to buy this set, then buy Disc 1, 2, 4, 6, and 7 of the reissue discs released on the Vivendi label and swap them out with the matching discs in this box set (same exact discs except for replacement of some of the lower quality prints). Then find a disc with "Washee Ironee" on it that wasn't mastered from the RHI ENTERTAINMENT print. Then you'll be fine....
Of course, if you are going to do all of that, don't forget to get the rest of the Our Gang Sound shorts in the box set from MGM. ...and hope for a good box set of all of the silent films/episodes.
---> EXCITING UPDATE!!!!
I just bought another copy of this box set from W--LM-RT (for less than $10 dollars) with the idea to swap out the old 'Genius Entertainment' DVDs (that contained some Blackhawk prints) with the updated/corrected versions of the discs released by Vivendi. WHEN I OPENED the brand new package, I found that the new lower price set (in IDENTICAL packaging) already contained all of the updated discs. The bonus disc still says Genius Entertainment, but the other 7 discs say Vivendi Entertainment and have the 'Pete the Dog' Artwork!! :D
WHAT A DEAL THIS REALLY IS NOW!! As far as I can see, there is no way to tell if you have the updated box or the original box without opening it and looking at the disc art.
Keep in mind, these were recorded in a totally different time and there is some things that will shock you, possibly. In the earlier episodes, I'm not sure how safe or proper the animals were treated, but they seemed to be downright abused at times and I sometimes had to cringe on some of those scenes wondering if the animals were okay after doing the filming! Dogs, chickens, cats, etc. And it wasn't just the animals! Very young kids getting harsh spankings, kids using guns, overdosing on medicines and abusive parents whacking them when misbehaving. It makes you cringe sometimes, but ya know, that was the world.
You''ll never see kids doing some of things you'll see them do here, but again, different era. The show mellowed out over the years and I loved when little Spanky was introduced. Considering how young he was at the time, he was an amazing actor right from the start and I fell in love with him instantly! You'll love every single minute he's on screen and thankfully he stayed with the Gang till the end.
This was during a time when Blacks were considered inferior but you'll never notice with the rascals. NO, they were all friends onscreen and off screen from what I heard and read .I don't think they knew or even cared about race nor did they notice, to see Buckwheat and Spanky mesh perfectly they were on-screen, I just loved how race was no an issue, nor did the producers think so either! I believe the series was years ahead of its time in race relations and when you saw Farina and Stymie in action, you knew it was going to continue to be great. As you watch the Rascals, never was race an issue to these kids; they seemed pretty much color-blind to the color while the adults might have treated them how the real world might have at that time. However, looking back on these films with today's "color-conscious" eyes, some scenes seem racially stereotypical. At the time, racial and ethnic jokes were not uncommon. The writers thought nothing of including watermelon jokes and the like. None of these scenes are malicious, and are actually quite innocent. Before these DVD's came out, I did notice some scenes that were cut and you'll see them that might have been considered completele racist when these were re-ereleased in the 70's and early 80's. But these are UNCUT. I remember seeing them, some entire episodes have been pulled from television broadcast and have not been seen in a generation and you'll be pleased to see ones you may not have seen back in the 70's due to the racial tensions. I loved seeing Stymie and Farina play their roles brilliantly, I wish they would have stayed with the gang even after they got older. But Buckwheat certainly filled the void when they left the show. God bless all the Gang. May they R.I.P.
It has been so many years since I've seen these fantastic shorts--and in some cases, there are many I've NEVER seen cause they were never released to commercial video & removed from television circulation due to questionable content. So, as far as the shorts on this collection, the humor holds up extremely well! The storylines are fun and showcase the Little Rascals' talent. Unlike many modern child stars, the kids are cute, charming & funny--and not precocious & annoying.
The AUDIO & VIDEO are serviceable on the earliest shorts. Some of the sound is a bit muddy due to the source material, but nothing that takes away from the enjoyment of the films. The AUDIO & VIDEO greatly (and quickly) improve as the shorts move forward. Especially in the Spanky & Alfalfa years.
If there is some odd belief that your old VHS tapes are far superior to this set, that is simply NOT the case. This is a GREAT set for the casual fan or obsessive fanatic of The Little Rascals. Hope this helps!
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