Customer Reviews: Weiss-O-Rama
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on November 2, 2007
Silent comedy barely survives, and those few films that do still exist are an important part of our cinematic heritage. These old comedies were indeed made for a production company that paled next to Sennett or Roach. But the films collected here, in beautiful remastered prints from the original 35mm negatives, feature an abundance of clever ideas and hilarious moments from unfairly forgotten comedians such as Ben Turpin and Snub Pollard. Some viewers may indeed be taken aback by the occasional ethnic stereotyping, but its inclusion does allow a historical perspective as to what was considered harmlessly funny during the first half of the 20th century. In an era when political correctness has caused the old Tom and Jerry cartoons on DVD to be heavily edited, it is actually refreshing to find that this collection is warts-and-all, not santized, presented as they were originally released, and therefore maintaining their historical significance. Ben Turpin, a top star with Sennett who invested wisely early in his career and only performed when he wanted to by this time, did some of his best work while "slumming" at Weiss productions. The Weiss-O-Rama collection features three of his funniest and least known films from this period. Old time circus clown Poodles Hanniford has some of his classic routines captured on film here, while Snub Pollard teams with Marvin Lobeck as a small time verison of Laurel and Hardy. No fancy camera angles, no messages, but a lot of truly inspired comedy moments from some wonderfully talented people. Silent comedy is not defined only by the legendary masters like Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, Langdon, and Arbuckle. There are several interesting and hilarious bypaths that offer a great deal of fun if one chooses to venture down any of them. These Weiss-produced comedies are a good example, and I hope the fact that this set is labeled "volume one" means there are more to come.
As a PS, I should add that the musical accompaniment is terrific. So often when silent films are put on DVD, the distributor slaps on some twenties jazz that serves as little more than a distraction. This time, the music is played specifically for each film by two top musicians and the results are wonderful.
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on September 21, 2007
I love to discover something I know nothing about even if it doesn't always work out. I have never heard of the Weiss Brothers or their production company Artclass Pictures before now. Disc 1 of this 2 DVD set features well known silent comedians Ben Turpin and Snub Pollard at the end of their careers along with Poodles Hanneford of circus fame. I was totally unfamiliar with any of the people on Disc 2 (Hairbreadth Harry, Jimmy Aubrey, and Izzie and Lizzie).

The comics are fine but the material is second rate with ethnic stereotyping and bad taste in I&L that is absolutely jaw dropping. The one exception in this package are the Hairbreadth Harry shorts which poke fun at dated silent movie techniques. By the late 1920s when these were done silent comedy had become quite formulaic with crude slapstick mixed in with situation comedy. One can easily see the effect of Mack Sennett and Hal Roach on these shorts and they point the way to The 3 Stooges who are less than a decade away.

Many of the gags are recycled from previous films which was standard practice back then as no one ever thought that anyone would be watching these shorts over and over again thanks to modern technology. They would probably be amazed ala Buster Keaton that anybody else would care about them at all. It's a shame that all silent material can't look this good as these films come from relatively pristine 35mm sources which means that they were well preserved and probably not viewed very often. The overall look of the shorts is the strongest asset of this set along with the fine piano accompaniment of Phillip C. Carli and David B. Drazin.

WEISS-O-RAMA is definitely worth having if you're a fan of Pollard or Turpin or enjoy silent comedy in general but it's certainly not the ideal place to start. Thanks to VCI and Kit Parker Films for making this set available to give us some idea of what silent comedy could look like and how much it had changed by the time sound was ready to come in.
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HALL OF FAMEon September 11, 2007
VCI Entertainment presents "WEISS-O-RAMA" (2007) (360 mins) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) --- now in Glorious Black and White --- VCI has released from the original 35mm negatives a 6 hour comedy collection --- featuring Ben Turpin, Snub Pollard, Poodles Hanneford, Hairbreadth Harry, Jimmy Aubrey and Izzi & Lizzie from the Kit Parker Collection.

Let's talk about Classic Silent Film Comedy Mack Sennett's Keystone, Hal Roach's "Lot of Fun", The Weiss Brothers and The Weiss Brothers?

Yes, The Weiss Brothers made silent comedies too -- and some good ones --- starring some of the best comics from the Golden
age of Comedy --- Ben Turpin, Snub Pollard, Jimmy Aubrey and Poodles Hanneford.

As the Silent Era drew to a close, the Brothers Weiss, low budget independent producers of westerns and serials entered the silent comedy business with a vengeance --- These two reel shorts are forgotten title gems of laughter --- featuring several genuine comedy greats plying their trades for the last time before talkies came in --- See Ben Turpin the cross eyed Sennett star without his teeth --- See legendary circus clown Poodles Hanneford in a tutu --- See Snub Pollard play a two headed cow --- See the delightful "Hairbreadth Harry" comedies, silly spoofs and old time melodramas.

In new, sparkling transfers from the original 35mm camera negatives, these comedies look as fresh and funny as when originally released --- with music by top silent film accompanists Philip C. Carli and David B. Drazin --- and commentaries by film Historian Richard M. Roberts --- Compilation of the best silent era comedies produced by the Weiss Bros., selected by Richard M. Roberts --- "Alibi Alley" --- "Better Behave" --- "Big Shot" --- "Bum's Rush" --- "Circus Daze" --- "Cockeyed Family" --- "Fare Enough" --- "Fearless Harry" --- "Fire!" --- "Ham and Herring" --- "Heave a Heart" --- "Keep Smiling" --- "Movie Mania" --- "Once Over" --- "Rudolph's Revenge" --- "She Said No" --- "Sign Them Papers" and "Why Babies Leave Home" --- Also, three Weiss Bros. non comedy shorts "Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "Who is Safe?"

1. Ben Turpin
Date of Birth: 19 September 1869 - New Orleans, Louisiana
Date of Death: 1 July 1940 - Santa Monica, California

2. Poodles Hanneford (aka: Edwin Hanneford)
Date of Birth: 14 June 1891 - Barnsby, Yorkshire, England, UK
Date of Death: 9 December 1967 - Kattskill Bay, New York

3. Hairbreadth Hary (aka: Earl McCarthy)
Date of Birth: 1906 - Fort Wayne, Indiana
Date of Death: 28 May 1933 - Los Angeles, California

4. Jimmy Aubrey
Date of Birth: 23 October 1887 - Liverpool, England, UK
Date of Death: 2 September 1983 - Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California

5. Izzy Goldberg (aka: Georgie Chapman)
Date of Birth: Not Available
Date of Death: Not Available

6. Lizzie O'Connor (aka: Margery Meadows)
Date of Birth: Not Available
Date of Death: Not Available

1. Scene Selection
2. Selected Commentaries by Richard M. Roberts
3. Piano Accompaniment by Philip C. Carli & David B. Drazin
4. Original account ledgers for selected comedies
5. Weiss Bros. Bonus Short Subjects:
6. "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (UK/1923)
7. "Who Is Safe?" (1925)
8. "After Six Days" [Sound Reissue Trailer] (1922)

Hats off to VCI Entertainment President Robert A. Blair, for the wonderful restored versions featuring some of the best comics from the Golden Age of Comedy --- the reason is VCI had access to the original 35mm film elements so they were able to supervise the films transfer and restoration --- perfection was the result, order your copy now from Amazon where there are plenty of copies available on DVD --- if you enjoyed this title, why not check out VCI Entertainment where they are experts in releasing long forgotten films and treasures to the collector.

Total Time: 360 mins on DVD ~ VCI Home Video. ~ (8/28/2007)
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on April 26, 2012
When you talk about silent comedy it's usually all about Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, and Arbuckle, they were, after all, the geniuses. But what about the working class comedian? The guy who just went in there and plugged away, being funny because that's just what he did for a living. That's what this collection is all about...SUPER, PRISTINE 35mm prints featuring working-man comics Ben Turpin, Snub Pollard, "Poodles" Hanneford, "Hairbreadth" Harry, Jimmy Aubrey and Izzie & Lizzie. Great treatment for the second tier comic, films that look better than the day they were released, giving us a rare, beautifully packaged example of silent film comedy from others than the "masters". After all you can only watch Chaplin's THE KID so many times without wondering just what else may be out there in the golden age of silent comedy. Well, this is it. Very funny stuff, a magic portal to the 1920's. And the outstanding condition of the prints is truly like stepping back into the past, it's even kind of spooky.
This is a great collection that you just have to see for yourself. Super highly recommended.
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on October 9, 2012
This release is the most welcome of all releases of recent years. Extras on DVDs usually hold very little interest for me. I am usually interested only in sseing the films. However, this set includes some of the best commentary ever presented on a DVD by one of the most knowledgeable people in the business. People have actually complained about the musical accompaniment on this set. The fact that these forgotten gems are even available is cause for celebration. Special thanks to Kit Parker Films, , Richard Roberts, Phil Carli and David Drazin for making this the top video release of the last 20 years. I eagerly await volume 2 of "Weiss O Rama" because I am sure it will be as good as this volume.
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on April 17, 2015
He liked it.
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