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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Compilation > TV > Red Skelton Collection (Koch)

Red Skelton Collection (Passport)


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Content: B-



A great comic actor lost to the past that is starting to resurface is Red Skelton.  Passport’s Red Skelton Collection is one of a few sets recently released that is betting on his work to be rediscovered.  There are TV advertisements for his full-color series from the late 1960s, but this set offers his first monochrome series back in the 1950s.  The look and opening of the show changed as often as the sponsorship did, but these shows hold up better than expected, including the benefit of having regulars like Jackie Coogan and Vincent Price.  Skelton had his own series of characters he played.


The five DVDs include the following shows, whose titles are self-explanatory as to the content of each:


DVD 1:

1)     Lord Beaverhead

2)     Freddie & The Spies

DVD 2:

3)     Mr. Lasagna

4)     Deadeye & The Indians

5)     Vinnie The P

DVD 3:

6)     Freddie’s Masterpiece

7)     Halloween Story

DVD 4:

8)     Thanksgiving Episode

9)     Cop & The Anthem

10)  Freddie & The Yuletide Doll

DVD 5:

11)  The Look Awards (1954, including Walt Disney (producer), Edmond O’Brien (supporting actor), Alfred Hitchcock (director), Jack Lemmon (most promising actor), Judy Garland (best actress for A Star Is Born) and Bing Crosby (best actor in The Country Girl).



The last show is a legitimate installment of the New Red Skelton Show, which came by a larger budget (relatively speaking) and began a trend of kicking in more song and dance numbers.  The picture is poorest on the shows, many of which look like they came from kinescope copies a few generations down, but quality varies there.   Each show was made for a half-hour time slot and the final program in the set is the same length.  Hollywood Remembers Red Skelton covers how he was an official clown and quickly became a Hollywood supporting actor before larger fame arrived ahead.  After being in the original Dr. Kildare B- movies at MGM, Whistling In The Dark (1941) made him a lead actor, a hit spoof about a mystery radio show backstage inspired two sequels and he was on his way.  This is a very informative program loaded with facts and great trailers, though it ends too soon and abruptly, not following him through his TV career and the end of his radio run.  Still, this all adds up to make The Red Skelton Collection worthy of the competing volumes out on DVD now.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono fares better throughout, working best on the documentary, as is the case with the picture.  Maybe we’ll get some of these films too.  A Skelton return sounds good to me.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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