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Abbott & Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection

by Derek Deskins
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Nov 19, 2019
Abbott & Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection

We live in the age of the streaming wars. While many of us have managed to emphatically "cut the cord," the mega corporations have responded by giving us more streaming services than we ever asked for. However, while we now have plenty of streaming options to choose from, when it comes to older films, we are often left wanting (The Criterion Channel and a chunk of Disney+'s formally vaulted content notwithstanding). Luckily, some companies are still willing to celebrate the film's of yesterday on physical media. The newly released "Abbott & Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection" is an example of how to preserve the history of film.

Spread across 15 Blu-ray discs, Shout Factory has assembled an exquisite collection of all 28 of Abbott & Costello's Universal Pictures movies. The packaging is very similar to the previously released DVD version of this collection, maintaining the same general aesthetic. In a box that resembles an old trunk, where the DVD version opted to use paper folders to house the many discs (often a culprit in the dreaded DVD scratch), this release upgrades to plastic cases. The collection's booklet however is downgraded to glossy paper, rather than the modest hardcover that was included with the DVDs.

Much of the content is carried over from the DVD release. However there are some additions. Notable are additional new audio commentaries for: "Keep 'Em Flying," "Ride 'Em Cowboy" (it gets two), "It Ain't Hay," "Hit the Ice," "The Naughty Nineties," "Little Giant," "Mexican Hayride," "Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff," and "Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy." Outside of film specific content, the collection's fifteenth disc is entirely made up of special features. These include four new substantial features that give more background and history to Abbott and Costello themselves and their larger impact on entertainment. This is a set seemingly catered directly to the fan of film history.

The most striking aspect of this collection is just how great all of these films look. The picture quality is fantastic while maintaining the proper aspect ratios and black-and-white coloring. It is a wonderful and respectful upgrade. The picture upgrade is accompanied by a similarly high quality audio upgrade. This is the best these movies have ever looked. And for those wanting to balk at the idea of watching a movie from 1940, the skill and entertainment value of the pairing of Abbott and Costello is still rapturously entertaining. The vaudeville and burlesque inspired comedy hits all of the same beats with the original gusto of yesterday. These are classics for a reason and it's a delight to revisit these gems looking and sounding as good as they do in this release.

"Abbott & Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection"
80th Anniversary Blu-ray Edition

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