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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Documentary > Cinema > Silent Film > Shorts > Days Of Thrills & Laughter (1961/Comedy/Silent Films/VCI DVD)

Days Of Thrills & Laughter (1961/Comedy/Silent Films/VCI DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Compilation Film: B-



Comedy is inevitably physical and suspense is part of what can make it work to best effect.  This is likely why the distance between silent and sound comedy films is not as wide as most genres.  Into the 1970s, silent comedy was continuously celebrated and had a nice following.  It is not where it should be today, but restoration and reissues of the classics help and it does not hurt when a solid compilation film like Robert Youngson’s Days Of Thrills & Laughter (1961) is issued on DVD.


Originally distributed by Fox, VCI Entertainment has picked up this pretty good look at the silent comedies of the past and as it approaches its 50th Anniversary, it turns out this fun celebration has more value to it than even its makers might have considered.


For one thing, just doing any history on the subject is a good thing, let alone a fun one like this.  Also, since the film-to-film transfers were done then, some great footage has been preserved by default, often looking remarkably clean, clear and even sharp.  Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Douglas Fairbanks, Harry Langdon, Charlie Chase, The Keystone Kops and even Harry Houdini are among those featured and it makes for a journey worth retaking and proves just how enduring some of the films made really were.


It also covers Mack Sennett and Hal Roach making so many of the comedies as filmmakers (directing, producing, writing, etc.) and gives us a remembrance of how the industry started that is easy to forget in this age of digital animated oversaturation.  That is yet another reason to be pleasantly surprised at this DVD, as it is one of the most unexpectedly good basic catalog reissues of the year.



As noted, the 1.33 X 1 black and white image is very good for a film of this age and in this format, with most of the old footage looking good long before restoration and preservation of our film heritage was the norm.  Serious film fans and filmmakers will want to see it just for that.  VCI should consider issuing this on Blu-ray.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono shows its age too, but is just fine considering the films used to be silent and the Jay Jackson narration is fun and well-recorded enough.  There are no extras.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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