Wheeler & Woolsey - The RKO Comedy Classics Collection Vol. 2
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In this riotous and rollicking six-film collection, the comedy team supreme, Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey, serves up laughs galore, with extra sides of ribald, whimsy and romance. And occasional dance. Furthermore, this collection offers up the pair’s twin solo outings, 1931’s Too Many Cooks, in which Bert and regular gal pal Dorothy Lee play a couple whose town-and-country dreams are undone by an excess of in-law assistance and Everything’s Rosie, which sees Robert play a single-dad carny trying to gin up some happiness for his daughter (Anita Louise). Meanwhile, Dixiana and The Cuckoos shows the Wheeler & Woolsey team coming into its own in the pre-Code era, while Cockeyed Cavaliers and Silly Billies see the team take on medieval menaces and Wild West dangers.
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Top customer reviews
Although I've loved these films all my life, I was late in discovering Wheeler and Woolsey. Other reviews on this page share some of their background. Well-oiled Vaudeville veterans, movie producers teamed them in a collaboration that clearly was meant to be! If you are reading this review and debating whether to invest in their films, I might suggest you ask yourself if you enjoyed classic George Burns comedy? Well, the cigar-chomping Robert Woolsey evokes a bit of that Burns style, although Woolsey clearly had a greater range of comic, musical and even dancing talent than Burns. The curly haired Bert Wheeler might be thought of as Woolsey's Gracie Allen or perhaps Dean Martin's Jerry Lewis in their funniest movies. What's so great about Wheeler and Woolsey is that both men could crack jokes, warble a clever tune and occasionally carry off carry off dance numbers that usually focus on novelty effects.
I'm also so pleased that Warner Brothers archives produced this collected set with fine copies of the films. These are clear and fun to watch. If you've invested in early movies, you've probably hit a few grainy, poorly reproduced knock offs. This set is high quality.
Enjoy! And don't forget there is a Volume 2 to this series that you may want if you enjoy this first one.
It's tempting to compare W&W slightingly to the Marx Brothers because their comedy tends to be anarchic like the Marxs'; but you have to let go of that and accept them for what they are. They aren't second-rate Marx imitators (in fact, they were on the scene first); they have their own consistent personas and their own comic style. Wheeler is a fast talker, and Woolsey, surprisingly, is a romantic lead, albeit a rather childish one; and the pair generally have good-guy roles--helping destitute widows, and the like.
So far, I've really enjoyed "Hips, Hips, Hooray" and "Half Shot at Sunrise". In fact, "Half Shot" seems to have had quite a large budget, with lots of special effects, elaborate sets, and a large cast of extras. The others have been enjoyable, too, if on a slightly lesser level.
Oh, and Thelma Todd is very appealing in "Hips".
Edit: I should mention that I have had some problems with playback on these discs. A couple times the action froze, then started up again, and last night "Half Shot at Sunrise" stopped (twice) just before the finale (although a few days earlier, it had played perfectly well). I am returning the set to the vendor, and have ordered another copy. Hopefully second time's the charm!