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Recovered and restored: fascinating early-sound shorts from a bygone entertainment era.
Venerable vaudevillians. Musical marvels. Crazy comics. Formidable character actors. These and other great performers and ensembles from the Warner Bros. vault comprise a dazzling 9+-Hour, 4-Disc Collection of 60 Theatrical Shorts (1926-1930) that reach across the footlights - and decades - to delight new generations. Vitaphone Varieties is an endlessly entertaining blast from the past.
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Recovered and restored: fascinating early-sound shorts from a bygone entertainment era. Venerable vaudevillians. Musical marvels. Crazy comics. Formidable character actors. These and other great performers and ensembles from the Warner Bros. vault comprise a dazzling 9+-Hour, 4-Disc Collection of 60 Theatrical Shorts (1926-1930) that reach across the footlights - and decades - to delight new generations. Vitaphone Varieties is an endlessly entertaining blast from the past.
Vitaphone Varieties (1926-1930)
Disc One 17 shorts
THE MORRISEY AND MILLER NIGHT CLUB REVIEW
COLIN & GLASS IN "SHARPS AND FLATS"
EARL BURTNETT AND HIS BILTMORE HOTEL ORCHESTRA
VAL AND ERNIE STANTON IN "CUT YOURSELF A PIECE OF CAKE"
BROWN AND WHITAKER IN "A LAUGH OR TWO"
JIMMY CLEMONS IN "DREAM CAFE"
BERT SWOR IN "A COLORFUL SERMON"
GLADYS BROCKWELL IN "HOLLYWOOD BOUND"
JAY C. FLIPPEN IN "THE HAM WHAT AM"
HARRY J. CONLEY IN "THE BOOK WORM"
DORA MAUGHAN WITH WALTER FEHL IN "SONG IMPRESSIONS"
HENRY B. WALTHALL IN "RETRIBUTION"
DICK RICH AND HIS SYNCO-SYMPHONISTS
MONTAGUE LOVE IN "CHARACTER STUDIES"
KJERULF'S MAYFAIR QUINTETTE IN "A MUSICAL MELANGE"
VAL HARRIS WITH ANN HOWE IN "THE WILD WESTERNER"
Disc Two 17 Shorts
EDDIE WHITE IN "I THANK YOU"
MARLOWE AND JORDAN IN "SONGS AND IMPRESSIONS"
VAL AND ERNIE STANTON IN "ENGLISH AS SHE IS NOT SPOKEN"
JACK WALDRON IN "A BREATH OF BROADWAY
FLORENCE BRADY IN "A CYCLE OF SONGS"
EARL BURTNETT AND HIS BILTMORE HOTEL ORCHESTRA
MITCHELL LEWIS IN "THE DEATH SHIP"
AL LYONS AND HIS FOUR HORSEMEN IN "MY MUSICAL MELANGE"
ROBERT EMMET KEANE IN "GOSSIP"
BORN AND LAWRENCE in "THE COUNTRY GENTLEMEN"
THE RANGERS IN "AFTER THE ROUND-UP"
ARTHUR PAT WEST IN "SHIP AHOY!"
BORN AND LAWRENCE IN "PIGSKIN TROUBLES"
FRANK WHITMAN "THAT SURPRISING FIDDLER"
ANN CODEE AND FRANK ORTH IN "A BIRD IN THE HAND"
BUD HARRIS AND FRANK RADCLIFFE IN "AT THE PARTY"
HARRY FOX AND HIS SIX AMERICAN BEAUTIES
Disc Three 15 shorts
FRED ARDATH IN "THESE DRY DAYS"
JACK WHITE with the MONTREALERS
DOOLEY AND SALES IN "DOOLEY'S THE NAME"
OKLAHOMA BOB ALBRIGHT AND HIS RODEO DO FLAPPERS
CHARLES C. PETERSON, BILLIARD CHAMPION OF FANCY SHOTS
HOBART CAVANAUGH,REGINA WALLACE in "SYMPATHY"
MEL KLEE IN "THE PRINCE OF WAILS"
HARRY FOX AND BEE CURTIS IN "THE BEE AND THE FOX"
COLETTA RYAN AND DUKE YELLMAN IN "SONGOLOGY"
THE GOTHAM RHYTHM BOYS
"POOR AUBREY" BY GEORGE KELLY WITH FRANKLIN PANGBORN,HELEN FERGUSON,CLARA BLANDICK ANDRUTH LYONS
BILLY "SWEDE" HALL & COMPANY IN "HILDA"
"REVIVAL DAY" WITH SLIM TIMBLIN
"NIAGARA FALLS" WITH BRYANT WASHINGTON AND HELEN JERONE EDDY
JOHN T. MURRAY AND VIVIEN OAKLAND IN "SATIRES"
Disc Four 11 shorts
JANS AND WHALEN IN "TWO GOOD BOYS GONE WRONG"
CARLENA DIAMOND: HARPIST SUPREME
ANDERSON AND GRAVES IN "FISHING AROUND"
"SURPRISE" WITH TOM DUGAN AND BARBARA LEONARD
"WHAT A LIFE"
"PACK UP YOUR TROUBLES" WITH DOUGLAS STANBURY AND THE LYRIC QUARTET
"SHE WHO GETS SLAPPED" WITH TOM DUGAN
BETTY AND JERRY BROWNE IN "LET'S ELOPE!"
JOE FRISCO IN "THE SONGPLUGGER"
1) What initially surprised me as I watched these shorts was how non-photogenic so many of these people are. Here we have teeth crying out for orthodontics, noses demanding plastic surgery, waistlines screaming for weight watchers, hairdos and mustaches pleading for stylists and barbers, etc. But, interestingly, people in this era seemed to lack all the obsessive self-awareness that men and women have today. After all, If no one got their nose fixed, who cares if you have a beak? If every woman you know has chunky thighs and fat calves, why spend ten hours at the gym every week trying to keep up? And as for the guys, a haircut (even a very bad one) and a tuxedo (even a dusty, wrinkled one) will do. No bronzer, facials, manicures, eye lifts, moisturizers, pectoral implants, personal coaches, thank you. A shave and a shower is all you needed. And you could pass on the shower for a few days as most of the men you knew did so. It was a different world - and perhaps a much more relaxing and comfortable one. Here you will see men and woman before decades of celebrity and beauty magazines made us all so vain, artificial, and plastic and homogenized looking.
2) Male behavior: some of the men in these shorts have behaviors that veer off into effeminacy. It is difficult to tell if they are gay of if these men simply were less self and gay aware. I suspect the latter. Perhaps men just acted in whatever ways felt comfortable at the moment; perhaps even "straight" men camped up without any alarm over their social image or how they were perceived. Male behavior may not have been so hardened into what was acceptable or masculine yet. I suspect that many gay men back then had little or no self-awareness. You have to wonder if that ignorance was blissful or a source of discomfort. From the relaxed way they present themselves in these films, I suspect it was blissful. They seem to be having a great time entertaining us. The again, these may simply be heterosexual men who feel comfortable (because it was socially acceptable and it didn't have any subtext) throwing in some effeminate mannerisms now and then for fun, humor, or because they've had a few drinks beforehand.
3) Forget political correctness. There is crude ethnic humor here and no apologies. You may be offended; I wasn't. I'm more offended by speech police trying to censor and straitjacket the English language and free speech. Now if only some of this was funny.
4) There is some talent here that holds up even after all these years, but it is more the American Idol "runner-up" type of talent. The ukulele and harmonica fast blues number performed by the awful comedy act, "the Stantons" on disc one blew me away. It could have been done by the sixties group, "Canned Heat."
If anything I have written intrigues you, this set is for you. Yes, there are tedious moments and stretches. Yes, you will sometimes think, "What am I watching and why?" But there are other times when you will think, "Wow. This is something." Watch this in small bits. You can't watch all 9 hours of this in one sitting.
This is a DVD-R set but it played perfectly in my $30 dvd player I got from Wal-Mart.
Production values are everything one might expect - nearly perfect - but it doesn't help. If you want to see this stuff for educational reasons, find a way to RENT it. Sorry -- so sorry...
Amazon's service was impeccable, as always...