The Warner Archive announced some of their new titles last week, and one of the more interesting releases is a 3-DVD set of some of the classic Robert Benchley one-reelers that I’ve discussed previously here on the blog. Warner says there’s 267 minutes of material on the set, but they don’t list what shorts are included (I tried to dig up some info on this from Cliff “Laughing Gravy” Weimer, the man who swings the mighty flashlight In the Balcony, but no such luck). Warners’ has it available for $29.95—maybe when I get a little cash flowing here at Rancho Yesteryear I’ll pick up a copy.
Mr. Weimer has, however, provided us with some info on a Region 2 collection released by Kinowelt entitled Die Kleinen Strolche / 1927-1929—and for those of you whose German is a bit rusty, it’s a collection of the surviving silent Our Gang comedies from 1927-29. (Kinowelt has several other Our Gang collections available covering the sound years of our favorite moppets, but this one interests me more because I already have two sets of the Gang’s “talkies.”) Gravy says the set is a must have for Little Rascals fans and that the only small drawbacks “are German subtitles you can't turn off, but these are silent films - you'll be reading 'em anyway (the intertitles are in English).” The set includes 14 comedies: Barnum & Ringling, Inc. (1928), Cat, Dog & Co. (1929), Crazy House (1928), Dog Heaven (1927), Election Day (1929), Fast Freight (1929), Little Mother (1929), Noisy Noises (1929), Old Gray Hoss (1928), Rainy Days (1928), Saturday's Lesson (1929), Spook Spoofing (1928), The Spanking Age (1928) and Wiggle Your Ears (1929). Many thanks to LG for the info on this set—though I must also extend some credit to Chris Seguin at The Silent Comedy Mafia bulletin board, which is where I first learned of the release.
Other notable releases from the Warner Archive include Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939), The Fastest Gun Alive (1956, recently reviewed here), Gabriel Over the White House (1933, saw it last Thursday on TCM), The Master Race (1944), The Mortal Storm (1940), Rancho Notorious (1952, which I already have on a Region 2 disc—Toby over at 50 Westerns From the ‘50s has put up a couple of recent posts about this cult western), They Won't Forget (1937), and Tribute to a Bad Man (1956). There’s also a big honkin’ collectors’ set of Al Jolson features that contains Big Boy (1930), Go Into Your Dance (1935), Say It with Songs (1929), The Singing Fool (1928), The Singing Kid (1936) and the notorious Wonder Bar (1934). (All these films have been previously released, but the box set is currently on sale for a limited time at a price tag of $59.95.)
And in closing, I’d like to pass on this interesting Variety article (Vince Keenan slipped it to me, we sit next to each other in Facebook) that discusses the DVD manufacturing pact between Universal and TCM—very similar to the Warner Archive service that’s in place now and TCM’s earlier releases in the RKO Collection. Here’s the home of the Universal Vault Collection at TCM.com, for the curious.