The new DVD/Blu-ray release Abbott & Costello Rarities more than lives up to its title. Portions of this material have appeared on previous DVD releases of The Abbott and Costello Show, but not in their entirety or in high-definition transfers. Kodachrome home movies of Bud and Lou’s cross-country War Bond trip are interesting to see, as they make whistle-stop tours by train, greeted by gigantic crowds. Remember, this was at the peak of their popularity in 1942.
There are also outtakes which have only existed in inferior copies online, trailers, miscellany (like a Christmas seals promo with Charles Laughton) and a selection of audio rarities from their long radio career. But the piece de resistance is a long-unseen episode of the Colgate Comedy Hour from 1953 in which Bud comes onstage for the first time in 18 years without his partner. The show incorporates two skits the team had filmed earlier, with amazing quality, as kinescopes. Then Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis appear in their own segment as a tribute to Lou Costello and tear the house down.
When I was a kid and fell in love with Jerry he had just broken up with Dean; some called it the most newsworthy divorce in show business history. It took years for me to track down their movies. I liked them, but I never fully appreciated what made the duo so extraordinarily popular until I saw kinescopes of their Colgate programs. They are explosively funny and maintain a spontaneity that is irresistible.
So whether you’re a fan of Bud and Lou or Dean and Jerry, you have to see this dual-format disc set from Thunderbean, which normally traffics in rare animation. (More on their other new releases soon.) For more information, check out their website www.thunderbeananimation.com