‘The Little Rascals’: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 2 Blu-Ray Review – More Lovingly Restored Comedic Gems

As we recently caught up with the first volume of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, we explored the notable history of the gang and how they evolved over the years with over forty kids transitioning in and out over the 220 shorts. The initial collection consisted of the first eleven shorts from the sound era of the long-running franchise. ClassicFlix continues their amazing efforts to preserve film history with the next eleven shorts ranging from 1930-1931. Once again, some of these shorts may prove to be slightly off putting to those with a sensitivity to racial stereotypes. While some shorts have more exaggerated depictions than others, the conversation around race was not exactly nuanced in the early twentieth century. Nevertheless, you still have to give these shorts some credit for the way it features kids from different backgrounds as good friends. Normalizing hot button issues through depictions on screen has always been the quickest way to accomplish good in the modern world. 

As previously noted, much of the humor from these shorts arises from kids being their normal-kid selves. There are moments where the children mush-mouth their way through difficult lines or physically flail around in a way that seems downright strange, but The Little Rascals celebrated these unique little traits. This second collection of shorts is still squarely in the golden-age which featured Jackie Cooper, Allen “Farina” Hoskins, Mary Ann Jackson, Bobby “Wheezer” Hutchins, Norman “Chubby” Chaney, Dorothy De Borba, and Matthew “Stymie” Beard. A personal favorite development from this set is the introduction of June Marlowe as the lovable Miss Crabtree. From her very first performance in Teacher’s Pet, you have to love the dynamic she has with the children. There are some hilarious moments where Jackie Cooper voices his concerns about their new teacher to the lady he does not yet know is that same teacher. Miss Crabtree is the focal point of many of these shorts, and each one is a delight. This collection sees the series bidding farewell to Cooper, Chubby, Jackson, Farina and others, but the series always found more unique kids to bring life to these shorts. Every one of these shorts will still give you many belly laughs, and it will be a real treat for fans new and old. 

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SHORTS

1930

  • Pups Is Pups
  • Teacher’s Pet
  • School’s Out

 

1931:

  • Helping Grandma
  • Love Business
  • Little Daddy
  • Bargain Day
  • Fly My Kite
  • Big Ears
  • Shiver My Timbers
  • Dogs Is Dogs

Video Quality

The Little Rascals continues its output on Blu-Ray in its original 1.38:1 thanks to ClassicFlix with a brand new 1080p master from newly scanned and restored 35mm film elements. You can once again see the state that these shorts were in through the special features, and the restoration yields remarkable results. Some restoration efforts were more challenging than others so there is varying quality throughout these eleven films. There is a great amount of detail present with nice textures on the clothing and within the background. The new transfer shows off a great amount of depth and enhanced detail within each film’s composition. The contrast is well defined with only brief moments where you can imagine the source material was especially damaged. The black-and-white photography shines in high definition with natural grain mostly intact outside some moments that appear to be a bit too clean. Black levels are fairly deep with no overwhelming occurrence of black crush or compression artifacts. Great pains have been taken to clean this material up as much as possible, and for the most part the efforts are spectacular with only a very small amount of nicks and scratches still present. ClassicFlix has done some amazing work here to give these shorts new life. 

Audio Quality

The Blu-Ray comes with a pretty great DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio track that serves these movies as well as can be when factoring in the place in early sound recording. Fidelity is the most inconsistent part of this soundtrack, but this can be forgiven given the source elements. Dialogue and background noises are mostly represented in pleasing harmony, but there are a few instances where sound effects overtakes the dialogue. This track presents with a decent amount of age related wear and tear including some hissing and crackles that likely date back to the source elements. What little music is featured can occasionally present as a bit hollow sounding, as well. There are optional English SDH subtitles included for those who desire them. ClassicFlix has done their best to provide the most stable track possible for this one. 

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Special Features

  • Restoration Comparisons: A five-minute video which gives some background information on the restoration efforts undertaken by ClassicFlix and a demonstration of the material before and after being cleaned up. Once again the difference is astounding. 

 

Final Thoughts

The Little Rascals continues its very entertaining output over these eleven shorts from 1930-1931. Viewers who are able to get past some of the uncomfortable stereotypes should find quite a bit to laugh at strictly from the performances of these talented kids and the various outrageous situations they find themselves in. ClassicFlix continues its amazing output with this second volume on Blu-Ray which sports a great A/V presentation. If you were a fan of the first volume, I cannot see how this one would let you down. Recommended 

The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 2 is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray. 

Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.

Disclaimer: ClassicFlix has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.

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