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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Classic Movie Bloopers: Uncensored DVD Review

Classic Movie Bloopers: Uncensored presents over an hour of great footage of famous stars from the black and white era messing up on set. It features actors like Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Edward G. Robinson, Leslie Howard, Marlene Dietrich and Bette Davis. I have to admit, there’s something delightful in seeing these stars swearing. It comes as much more of a surprise than seeing our current starts do so (though sometimes the expletive of choice is “Nuts!”).  How often do you get to hear James Stewart say “Son of a bitch”?

It’s great that this footage was saved and preserved. The clips are presented one after the other, with no nonsense between them. And while I truly appreciate that there is no annoying host joking about each clip, I do wish each clip was identified, with perhaps just the title and year at the bottom of the screen. While some of these movies are easily recognizable, others are not. There is a brief introduction to the whole thing, of course. And there is an audio introduction to a scene from 1933 with W.C. Fields when an earthquake hit.

While not all of these films are instantly identifiable, most of the actors in them are. There’s quite a bit with Humphrey Bogart, including him falling over in a chair. These clips show not just flubbed lines, but also joking around on the set, and you can hear (and sometimes see) crew members, which is great.

There’s a shot where some crew member is walking behind a backdrop. And the backdrop is of the sky, behind a pilot. You can hear someone ask, “Who the hell is walking across that sky?” Some of the footage shows trouble with horses, and one shows a dog jumping into the bathtub with an actor. At times, we get multiple takes of the same scene.

There do seem to be some sound effects added to a few of these shots, but it’s impossible to know if they were added for this release or earlier. Either way, I’d prefer the footage to be presented as shot, and for those sound effects to be deleted. And there are a few sound issues, but that’s not surprising with old footage.

Bonus Features

The DVD has a few bonus features, the first being “Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein Bloopers,” which is five minutes of outtakes from that film.

The second bonus feature, and – as far as I’m concerned – the real reason to own this DVD, is Hollywood Without Makeup. This 49-minute special is hosted by Ken Murray, introduced as “the man who makes movies of people who make movies.” He’s known for his home movies of Hollywood, and of famous Hollywood stars, and has published a book of his photos of folks at San Simeon.

Ken Murray narrates the film, describing the shots he got. There is footage of Jackie Cooper, Harpo Marx, Mae West (in a gorgeous fur), Carole Lombard (also in a beautiful fur), Mary Pickford, Clark Gable, Dick Powell, Arthur Lake, Norma Shearer, Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Errol Flynn, Lucille Ball, and many others. The footage itself is silent.

There are also some wonderful shots of Hollywood Blvd. in the early 1930s, and shots of Walt Disney on the lot during the making of Son Of Flubber.

And yes, there is footage of San Simeon. This seems to be the same footage that yielded the photos in his book, The Golden Days Of San Simeon, and he actually talks about the tour he took of Hearst’s castle later (which he also talks about in his book). There is old footage of Marion Davies, Charlie Chaplin, Carole Lombard, and – of course – William Randolph Hearst. Interestingly, some lines from this film are printed nearly verbatim in his book.

This special ends with footage of Marilyn Monroe.

This DVD also includes a one-minute trailer for the Classic TV Bloopers: Uncensored DVD, which was released at the same time as Classic Movie Bloopers: Uncensored. Both were released through Legend Films on January 29, 2013.

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