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DVD Review: Legends of Laughter: Abbott & Costello (Colgate Comedy Hour and Radio Shows)

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The Legends of Laughter: Abbott & Costello (Colgate Comedy Hour and Radio Shows) is a must have for any fan of the comic duo. This six-disc collection features all 14 episodes of the Colgate Comedy Hour hosted by Abbott and Costello, over 20 movie trailers spanning their entire film careers, Abbott and Costello on the radio, a World War II PSA, rare bloopers from their films and TV specials, and two feature length films. The films included in this set are Africa Screams and Jack and the Beanstalk.

Africa Screams was released in 1949 and has the pair looking for diamonds in the jungles of Africa, after Stanley Livington (Lou Costello) boasts that he can draw a lost map from memory. Buzz Johnson (Bud Abbott) convinces a group of treasure seekers that the pair are very experienced big game hunters. They are soon hired on to lead a secret expedition through the jungle. While not as good as some of their early classics, Africa Screams still has a lot of laughs. A particular highlight is Costello's meeting with big game hunter Frank Buck. There are also a lot of funny scenes of the pair interacting with jungle animals. The movie also stars two of the Three Stooges, Shemp Howard and Joe Besser. Overall, it's a film well worth adding to any Abbot and Costello Collection.

Jack and the Beanstalk, released in 1952, is an Abbott and Costello take on the classic story. Abbott plays Mr. Dinklepuss, the farmer who gives Jack five magic beans in trade for his cow. Costello plays Jack. This musical is entertaining, particularly for kids. Like Africa Screams, Jack and the Beanstalk is not as good as their classics, but the rapport between Abbott and Costello is still good.

The Colgate Comedy Hour has a lot of famous Abbott and Costello routines (done for the umpteenth time for sure), but is probably most notable for its lineup of guest appearances. There are appearances from Marlene Dietrich, Frank Sinatra, Eddie Fisher, and even President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

This set is a nice collection of Abbott and Costello material. Its main drawback is the quality. The picture and sound is not restored, leaving an often grainy dull picture, and tinny sound. While this makes it a little less pleasurable to watch (and listen to), it is still worthwhile to have if you are an Abbott and Costello fan.

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About Sherry Lipp

Sherry Lipp is an entertainment and food writer who specializes in film and television reviews. She has published the gluten and grain-free cookbook Don't Skip Dessert.