After months of painstaking work cleaning, scanning and restoring nearly 120,000 feet of original 35mm camera negative and fine grain elements, ClassicFlix and the Three-D Archives have released the definitive 4K Blu-ray of the first season of the classic Abbott and Costello TV series.
Reviewers have uniformly hailed it as one of the best Blu-ray releases of 2021. TheDigitalBits.com calls it “a monumental release for fans of the boys themselves and for comedy in general.” Home Theater Forum calls it “essential.” BottomShelfMovies crowned it its top pick of the year. Reserve your copy today.
You have never seen the show look this sharp or sound so clear. In fact, only a few people ever did, and that was 70 years ago when each 35mm print was screened for an invited audience in a small theater. (Their laughter was recorded and added to the show’s soundtracks.)
After those sessions, third-generation 16mm prints were distributed to TV stations around the country, where audiences watched them on standard definition sets equipped with temperamental antennas.
In the 1980s, Bob Furmanek, then the archivist for the Abbott and Costello estates, located the series’ original elements and transferred fine grain prints to analogue one-inch tape—state-of-the-art back then. Until now, every previous DVD release sourced those tapes from the 1980s. (Furmanek recounts his dogged quest in an informative bonus featurette, “Saving the Negatives,” which Blu-ray.com calls, “one of the more unbelievable tales of luck.” GeekVibesNation.com wrote, “Even if you do not know technical details about film stock, Furmanek makes the process truly come to life in a fascinating way.”)
For Furmanek, restoring and preserving this series has been a lifelong labor of love, and it shows in virtually every frame of this blu-ray. Bob enlisted help from Jack Theakston and Thad Komorowski (picture) and Greg Kintz (audio), gifted artisans responsible for nearly every acclaimed Three-D Archive restoration. TheDigitalBits.com thinks, “Clarity has improved ten-fold.” BottomShelfMovies.com called the resulting image quality “startling.” GeekVibesNation.com judged it “nothing short of stunning for a television show of this vintage.”
The show’s audio, restored from the original 35mm push-pull track negatives, is also a revelation. This recording process, unusual for the era, produced very high quality sound. According to TheDigitalBits. com, “It’s clean with great fidelity, a surprising amount of low end, and plenty of push for the music and sound effects. Dialogue exchanges are also clear and perfectly discernible. It’s just as impressive as its video counterpart.” HomeTheaterForum reported that “there are no problems with hiss, crackle, pops, or flutter blotting out the rapid-fire dialogue, and the music and sound effects (hundreds of slaps to poor Lou’s face) have been combined into a most impressive soundfield for this early era in television.”
As an added treat, select episodes or segments may be viewed without the laugh track (see “Loafing” above). “Seeing some of the shows without the laugh track is a big bonus as you can hear all the dialogue and jokes that come fast and furious,” according to Blu-ray.com.
As if the pristine restoration isn’t enough, ten of the 26 episodes feature informative audio commentaries, often citing information from surviving production documents. Jim Mulholland (author of the seminal Abbott and Costello Book) and Ron Palumbo (founder of the Official Abbott and Costello Fan Club and Furmanek’s collaborator on Abbott and Costello in Hollywood) will be the most recognizable names to longtime A&C fans. Palumbo also supervised all of the commentaries. DigitalBits.com thinks the commentaries are “excellent,” and Blu-ray.com calls them “really appealing.” As HomeTheaterForum.com points out, “each of the participants [displays] a deep love for the two classic comedians and their series.”
There’s also an alternate Middle Curtain segment for the “Hillary’s Birthday” episode that runs about 46 seconds longer than the final version here. It was accidentally used by a distributor for many years.
Additionally, there’s a new, supplemental Credit Roll that, according to Blu-ray.com, “rather commendably lists the crew for the first season of the series, along with some of the staff behind this Blu-ray release.”
GeekVibesNation.com wrote, “ClassicFlix has delivered one of the Blu-Ray releases of the year with this first season set that features an astounding A/V presentation and a ton of great special features that makes the package even sweeter. If you are a comedy fan, you owe it to yourself to pick this one up.”
We cannot recommend this amazing release highly enough. Order yours now!