Hello, SquirrelBait! Yeah, that blip of silence in Beer and Pretzels was smoothed over with a quick audio cross fade and a picture trim. Often with these old films, reel 2 would have a second or two of repetitive, silent footage to match up to the end of reel 1 that would, in the right operator's hands, make for a smooth transition. You can see this in The Big Idea when Jimmy Hollywood says, "Here they are!" (9:12 on the new dvd) That one second of footage of him retreating from the mic is not present in any copy I've had previously. Cool!
Hello Pop! What can I say?..
Ted Healy doing a song that doesn't quite work out.. It's comedy gold! Can't stop thinking Micro-Phonies there with the flute player going all sloppy. I really like the kissing bit where the repetition is part of the punch line "How long has this been going on?!"
Think of it: Miss Hayes + lengthy on screen kiss = healthy jab at Motion Picture Production Code.
We really don't get to see the Stooges very much in this, but I can imagine the reaction they would get from an enthusiastic audience in a packed theater-- particularly a modern audience that has anticipated "new" or found material such as this. Their lively presence is a welcome addition to the Technicolor chaos that fills the full 16 minute runtime.
That's not to say they're a set piece. The Stooges seem relegated to the background after making their entrance. We know they are present backstage or locked in a dressing room (classic example of comic tension. You don't know where or when they'll turn up next), they take part in some gags and get a moment or two to show off, and just as soon as they're on, they're off! But, that's the pacing. It's so fast that the whole 16 minutes takes on the feel of a trailer for a much longer film. And, I think it could have been expanded comfortably to at least 3 reels. Maybe there could have been more onstage antics with Healy and The Boys? A song together? But, yeah, send Bonny to the other theater!
The pacing of this short is much faster than the other offerings, even Plane Nuts, where the rapid-fire delivery of interruption gags is hindered only by the two very busy, yet, largely uninteresting (and a little clumsy in places, dare I say?) song and dance numbers. I mean, really! You kinda just know why these didn't make the final cut in the films that they were meant for. The two showcase bits in Hello Pop! seem truncated, but they don't come off as mere distractions.. "Sailing on a Sunbeam" will probably stay with you much longer than "Woman in the Shoe", as a comparative example.
Techni-color-ally, the colors of Hello Pop! seem muted compared to some of the film scans published last year. Much more subdued than the other two-strip Technicolor shorts presented on the disc. Take another look at the stairs shown in the "Woman in the Shoe" number in Nertsery Rhymes. They glow so much they look like a special effect taken from the movie Tron!
More on the technical side, Hello Pop! might be a tad over cropped on the dvd. I could stand to see a little vignetting if it means an overall larger viewable image. It looks like some light scratch repair was applied, not much and the audio around the splices is smoothed out so there are no loud pops. But the noise reduction..
Noise is neither created nor destroyed with modern software. It is one mild form of irritation traded for another. Personally, I find that a little hiss or static in a film soundtrack to be preferable to the muted, tinny, swirly-bubbly mess that software noise reduction produces. The soundtrack suffers from the digital "swishies". Very slight, but if you put on your head-phonies or turn up your sound system you'll get it. I guess while it is okay for this or that home video release, I'd hate to think that the sound of the original print would be degraded this way for the only release print (or safety neg?) retained for future reference.
And I think I might have expected this release to be dual-layer, to give these often neglected pictures more breathing room in their mpeg encoded-ness. They do, however, look just fine and I noticed lots of film grain, a much sharper image on the re-released shorts (especially Plane Nuts and Roast Beef and Movies) and no mpeg "mosquito" noise. They look pretty much as good as they can in standard definition.
Now how long before Hello Pop! starts to show up on those budget dvds that recycle all the public domain and MGM stuff?