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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Fantasy > Satire > Spoof > Telefilms > Shorts > Literature > Abbott & Costello in Jack & The Beanstalk (Legend DVD)/Alice In Wonderland (1986) + Alice Through The Looking Glass (1973/BBC DVDs)/The Best Of Laurel & Hardy (Legend DVD)/Laurel & Hardy: March Of The

Abbott & Costello in Jack & The Beanstalk (Legend DVD)/Alice In Wonderland (1986) + Alice Through The Looking Glass (1973/BBC DVDs)/The Best Of Laurel & Hardy (Legend DVD)/Laurel & Hardy: March Of The Wooden Soldiers Blu-ray 3D (aka Babes In Toyland/1934)/The Little Rascals Blu-ray 3D (colorized shorts)/The Three Stooges Blu-ray 3D (colorized shorts/all Legend)

 

3D Picture: C     2D Picture: C/C/C/C/D/D/D     Sound: C/C+/C/C/C+/C/C     Extras: C/D/D/C/D/D/D     Main Programs: C+/C+/C+/B/B/B-/B-

 

 

With The Hobbit, new Disney Oz prequel and Jack The Giant Slayer making the rounds, some home video releases meant to capitalize on those theatrical releases are hitting home video.

 

 

Along with their Captain Kidd film at Warner Bros. (reviewed elsewhere on this site as an online exclusive from Warner Archive), Abbott & Costello in Jack & The Beanstalk was the famous comedy duo’s attempt to continue their run of hits in theaters and though it was not a big hit, it was a worthy entry in their big screen hijinks.  Starting out in sepia tone, the film becomes full color and was in the rarely used SuperCineColor process Warner and the duo thought might give them an edge and was also used on the their Captain Kidd film.

 

Though this is dubbed a restoration, it has issues, but until Warner issues a better copy, this is as good as we are going to have.  The film is fun, if not great, but at least it is ambitious and viewer-friendly so it is worth seeing.  Extras include The Flying Cadets, a military-aimed short film they made, four trailers for other films from the team, lame colorized trailer and a classic, vintage This Is Your Life episode saluting Lou Costello.

 

 

The BBC continues to dig into their archive (the parts they did not trash) for more Lewis Carroll adaptations.  This time we get Barry Letts’ Alice In Wonderland telefilm from 1986 that is not a bad version and James Mactaggart’s Alice Through The Looking Glass telefilm from 1973 that is at least as good.  The former is a decent Terrence Dicks-produced version that is worthy of the book if not the best version BCB ever made (see more elsewhere on our site) and the latter has the talents of Freddie Jones, Judy Parfitt and Brenda Bruce as Alice.  Kate Doring is equally good as Alice in the 1986 TV movie.

 

Neither version has any extras, but they are both respectable, ambitious adaptations that take the material and audience seriously and that is not the norm in the fantasy genre these days, so those interested can get either and be comfortable with the fact that they’ll see quality adaptations.  Though Glass only lasts 66 minutes (Wonderland is 120 minutes) and both have dated visual effects that somehow adds to the surreal oddity of both productions.

 

 

Back to comedy teams, The Best Of Laurel & Hardy is a decent compilation of their classic shorts here in black and white and awful colorized versions.  The monochromatic shorts are the team at their later sound-era best and play fine, though the print quality is limited like so many other DVD of the same and made me want a Blu-ray edition, though we get plenty in quantity here.  This DVD single is serviceable until then.  Extras include trailers to other L&H films and a classic, vintage This Is Your Life episode saluting the team at the same time.

 

 

Legend has decided to issue a second Blu-ray of Laurel & Hardy: March Of The Wooden Soldiers Blu-ray 3D we reviewed as a 2D Blu-ray at this link:

 

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/10488/March+Of+The+Wooden+Soldiers+(a

 

This time, we only get the colorized version and an odd 3D conversion at that.  The result is a two weak presentations and a disappointing 3D presentation that should have at least included a black and white 3D option.  There are no extras either and that is also the case with The Little Rascals Blu-ray 3D and The Three Stooges Blu-ray 3D which also only have 3D colorized presentations, which might be a first for the format.  The choice of shorts in each case is fine, though ironically for the Stooges, they made two black and white 3D shorts Sony actually issued on DVD in the old red/blue 3D glasses format (reviewed in a Stooges DVD box elsewhere on this site) and they play better than any of the Blu-ray here!

 

 

The 1.33 X 1, 1080p full HD MVC-encoded 3-D – Full Resolution digital High Definition image on all three Blu-ray releases are poor, disappointing and some of the poorest Blu-ray 3D material we have seen to date (especially by being colorized), though there are many junk 3D discs we missed and did not review, so they are no alone.  Since Legend has done 2D-to-3D conversion work on major motion pictures, I wonder if they could have pulled off some nice monochrome 3D if they tried.

The 1.33 X 1 on all the DVDs are softer than usual from the old film prints Legend used for their DVDs (Beanstalk shows hints of good color, but detail is poor and color fringing is too common for its own good) to the PAL analog videotape the BBC have for their Alice releases, so expect fidelity limits in all cases.  The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on the Alice DVD are simple and I suspect Glass was originally monophonic and the company tried to upgrade it here, but to little avail.  Soldiers is the other release with good audio, as the rest of the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono shows its age and some wear throughout all the rest of the releases on the list.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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