Reviews & Columns
International DVDs
In Theaters
Reviews by Studio
Video Games

Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Anime Talk
DVD Savant
Horror DVDs
The M.O.D. Squad
Art House
HD Talk
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum

DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info


Classic Comedy Teams Collection

Warner Bros. // Unrated // November 21, 2006
List Price: $28.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by David Cornelius | posted December 5, 2006 | E-mail the Author
Warner Brothers collects six lesser known MGM releases from three popular comedy teams - Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, and the Three Stooges - for a three-disc box set titled the "Classic Comedy Teams Collection." Each disc is a team-centric double feature with both films appearing on a single-sided disc. The discs come in keepcases which are then housed in a cardboard slipcover. Each disc is also available separately, for those only wanting their favorite team.

Included in this set are:

Air Raid Wardens

When Stan and Ollie are deemed unfit for military service, their spirits are lifted when they land the job of air raid wardens. And then they end up foiling the sabotage plans of a Nazi spy who's disguised himself as a kindly old shopkeeper. In between, slapstick ensues.

"Air Raid Wardens" was Laurel and Hardy's first film at MGM after leaving Fox in search of more creative freedom. It's a far cry from their Hal Roach days, and serves as the beginning of the end for the duo's movie career. The film is charming and breezy, but the comedy is a bit too sluggish and forced to keep things going for the full 67 minutes. It's also a bit too ill-conceived - Stan and Ollie versus Nazis? - and the plot can't quite get off the ground.

Nothing But Trouble

Laurel and Hardy land jobs as domestics for an exiled boy king, foiling an assassination attempt along the way. In between, slapstick ensues.

The film is more of Stan and Ollie in decline - they would only make two more movies before retiring - and while "Nothing But Trouble" is widely considered as a low point in the duo's career, it's not all that bad. The comedy, here under the direction of Sam Taylor (a former Harold Lloyd regular), works well in spurts, with nonsensical episodes (including a bit involving a lion) generating a few laughs. The team is obviously rusty, and the supporting players often overshadow them, but they manage to squeak out some giggles. Of course, it's far removed from their glory days, and the film is instantly forgettable, but as light afternoon fare, it does the job well enough.

Abbott and Costello in Hollywood

The title says it all. Bud's a barber, Lou's a barber-in-training, and the two work in Hollywood, where they wind up causing plenty of havoc on a studio lot. Lou becomes an accidental stuntman, and slapstick ensues.

"Hollywood" was the last of three films the duo produced at MGM while on loan from Universal. The movie was a flop, causing Metro to drop the loan contract, even though they were the most successful comedy team of the 1940s, churning out hit after hit elsewhere. The film's not a complete waste, thanks to several trademark Bud and Lou verbal comedy bits (Bud the shyster teaches Lou the buffoon how to practice shaving using a balloon), a handful of cleverly presented slapstick set pieces, and plenty of self-mocking Hollywood gags, including a series of fun cameos from the likes of Lucille Ball and boxer-turned-character-actor Rags Ragland. It's a slight but often enjoyable send-up of the Hollywood of the era.

Lost in a Harem

Bud and Lou are a vaudeville act stuck in the Middle East, where they keep getting thrown into prison while attempting to help a friendly sheik regain his throne. And yes, slapstick ensues.

Once you can get past the rather disturbing racism that pervades this picture (everyone wears a fez, and one actor in brownface is given a cartoonishly oversized nose), you'll find some high quality Abbott and Costello goodness. An magic act gone wrong captures the pair's manic wordplay and masterful teamwork in terms of comic timing, and Murray Leonard's take on the classic "Slowly I Turned" comedy routine (with Bud getting the brunt of the abuse, naturally) manages to work despite being clumsily thrown in without concern for logic. Plus, the very lovely Marilyn Maxwell sings a few songs, and Jimmy Dorsey jazzes up the soundtrack. Plots for most Bud and Lou adventures are flimsy; it's particularly uninspired here. The comedy makes up for it, however - assuming you can ignore the abundance of embarrassing 1940s-era bigotry.

Gold Raiders

The Three Stooges team up with George O'Brien to save the mining town of Red Mesa from bandits. It's a Three Stooges movie. Of course slapstick ensues.

Problem number one: It's a Shemp movie. I'm aware that Shemp has his fans, but I am not one of them. (His appearance also means we're watching the Stooges in decline.) Problem number two: It's far more plot-heavy than a Stooges flick should be. The trio often step aside to make room for O'Brien's cowboy heroics, but the plot just can't hold our attention. The Stooges struggle to wring laughs out of this quickie, playing fast-talking traveling hucksters, their set pieces fizzling at every turn. It's a major snooze all around.

Meet the Baron

The Baron in question is Baron Munchausen, with Jack Pearl bringing his famous radio character to the screen for the first time. Jimmy Durante is his cohort, Joe McGoo. They've been invited to the all-girls Cuddle College, where the phony Baron is to give a speech. Larry, Curly, and Moe are maintenance men who like to ensure that slapstick does in fact ensue.

At last, a movie in this set that's actually worth its curiosity status - this is one of the Stooges' first movies, back when they were still "Ted Healy and His Stooges" (Healy appears here as their boss). Their act isn't quite polished, but they make for solid secondary players, supporting the chaos surrounding Pearl and Durante, whose decidedly oddball performances are the real reason to check out this one.



The transfers for all six movies are decent, if not sparkling. Most prints used are free of dirt and scratches, although "Meet the Baron," the oldest movie in this collection, is rather grainy. All six films are presented in their original 1.33:1 full frame format, with the opening titles of several of the movies windowboxed. (I'm not too fond of windowboxing only sections of any movie - if you're going to do it, do it for the whole thing - but I'm used to it on Warner/MGM releases.)


It's mono tracks all around, serviceable and absent any distracting hiss. French mono dubs are offered on "Air Raid Wardens," "Abbott and Costello in Hollywood," and "Lost in a Harem." Optional English, French, and Spanish subtitles are available on all six titles.


All we get are three rough-looking trailers, one per disc: "Nothing But Trouble," "Abbott and Costello in Hollywood," and "Meet the Baron."

Final Thoughts

These titles offer some light entertainment, but it's quite clear why they haven't become as essential as the teams' more popular works. Rent It for a couple of laughs, then watch as they evaporate from your memory.
Buy from






Rent It

E - M A I L
this review to a friend
Popular Reviews

Sponsored Links
Sponsored Links