Thursday, August 28, 2008

Abbott and Costello Meet the Weasels at MCA-Universal

I guess they’ve finally worked out the legal complexities regarding It Ain’t Hay (1943), a Bud Abbott/Lou Costello romp based on Damon Runyon’s Princess O’Hara, because DVD Times announces that it will be available on Abbott & Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection come this October 28th. For those of you thinking: “Gosh all fishhooks—this will be a simply grand opportunity to complete my A&C collection because certainly they’ll make Hay available in a single disc release” I’m going to have to cut you off with a John McLaughlin-like WRONG! In order to obtain Hay, you have to buy every friggin’ Bud & Lou movie all over again.

You know, I’m sort of used to this “Hey, there’s Joe Consumer—let’s screw him till he can’t walk upright” attitude, particularly in the area of TV shows on DVD and with CBS DVD-Paramount as Public Enemy Numero Uno. But when studios that release classic films to disc (assuming that they do so to begin with) engage in these sorts of practices, it’s downright frustrating. Particularly when this time spent “upgrading” and “ultimate editioning” could be better rationed to—oh, let’s say…releasing the !@#$%ing films you haven’t gotten around to yet on DVD, for example. The Shelf had a post recently announcing another Casablanca (1942) upgrade and as much as I adore the film (it is my favorite, as you well know) do I really need to purchase another copy? (What’s on this one that’s not on the others—the director’s cut, where Ilsa doesn’t get on the plane?)

A few A&C fans have spoke up in favor of the new box set, mentioning that the twenty-nine discs aren’t double-sided as they were in the previous collections (there were reports of freezing on the two-sided discs, a problem that I never personally encountered); Rodney Bowcock tells me that he finds Hay one of Bud and Lou’s weaker vehicles (despite it being produced during their peak Universal years) and that he’ll make do with his copy (which is the one that I currently own; Rodney’s pal Martin sent it to me as a freebie). As for myself, I genuinely enjoy Hay (though I tend to fast-forward through the musical numbers) but I’m definitely not going to pony up what MCA-Universal is asking for the “revised” box set. For those who held off on buying the complete oeuvre of Abbott & Costello, however…October 28 will be your lucky day.

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