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Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie Collection (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

November 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Whether or not you are a Bob Hope fan or a person who wants to own the earlier films of one of Hollywood’s true Kings of Comedy, will no doubt want to check out “Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie Collection. Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie Collection

YEAR OF FILM: The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938), College Swing (1938), Give Me a Sailor (1938), Thanks for the Memory (1938), Never Say Die (1939), The Cat and the Canary (1939), Road to Singapore (1940), The Ghost Breakers (1940), Road to Zanzibar (1941), Caught in the Draft (1941), Nothing But the Truth (1941), Louisiana Purchase (1941), Star Spangled Rhythm (1942), My Favorite Blonde (1942), Road to Morocco (1942), Road to Utopia (1946), Monsieur Beaucaire (1946), Variety Girl (1947), Where There’s Life (1947), The Paleface (1948), Sorrowful Jones (1949) + America Masters: This is Bob Hope (2017)

DURATION: The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1 hr. 31 min.), College Swing (1 hr., 26 min.), Give Me a Sailor (1 hr., 20 min.), Thanks for the Memory (1 hr., 15 min.), Never Say Die (1 hr., 22 min.), The Cat and the Canary (1 hr., 12 min.), Road to Singapore (1 hr., 25 min), The Ghost Breakers (1 hr., 25 min.), Road to Zanzibar (1 hr., 31 min.), Caught in the Draft (1 hr., 22 min.), Nothing But the Truth (1 hr, 30 min.), Louisiana Purchase (1 hr, 38 min.), Star Spangled Rhythm (1 hr., 39 min.), My Favorite Blonde (1 hr., 18 min.), Road to Morocco (1 hr., 22 min.), Road to Utopia (1 hr., 30 min.), Monsieur Beaucaire (1 hr., 33 min.), Variety Girl (1 hr., 33 min.), Where There’s Life (1 hr., 15 min.), The Paleface (1 hr., 31 min.), Sorrowful Jones (1 hr., 28 min.) + America Masters: This is Bob Hope (2 hours)

RATED: Not Rated

COMPANY: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

AVAILABLE ON: November 14, 2017


Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie Collection features 21 of the funniest movies from the legendary comedian. As a recognized genius of American comedy, Bob Hope has no equal. From his early days in vaudeville to his years as a top Hollywood box-office draw and star of radio, TV and live performances, Bob Hope’s innocent charm and lightning-quick wit have delighted millions of fans throughout the world. Co-starring some of Hollywood’s greatest stars including Lucille Ball, W.C. Fields, Dorothy Lamour, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Martha Raye, Betty Grable, Paulette Goddard, Jane Russell and, of course, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie Collection will entertain longtime fans and introduce a whole new generation to the unforgettable style of one of the most famous comedians of all time!


Bob Hope is an American comedian and actor who has had one of the most successful careers in Hollywood.

A career that spanned 80 years and starring in more than 70 short and feature films, a longtime host of the Academy Awards, appeared in many stage productions and television roles and also authored 14 books.

Bob Hope has no doubt left a legacy of films and television specials and music that will entertain many generations of people interested in classic Hollywood but also wanting to experience the comedy of one of the true Kings of Comedy.

To celebrate Bob Hope’s career, Universal Studios Home Entertainment will be releasing “Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie Collection” which contains “Bob Hope: The Comedy Essentials Collection” (15 Classic Movies + 1 Documentary) and Bob Hope and Bing Crosby: The Comedy Essentials Collection (6 classic movies).

Included are:

  • The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938) – A musical starring W.C. Fields and Bob Hope and features Bob Hope’s signature song, “Thanks for the Memory”.  Featuring a race between a new $40 million dollar “Radio powered” ocean liner S.S. Gigantic vs. the smaller S.S. Colossal.  Who will win?
  • College Swing (1938) –  A comedy starring George Burns, Gracie Allen, Martha Raye and Bob Hope.  A college founder of the powerful Alden Family leaves his will to the first female who will graduate from college, unfortunately no one has since 1738.  200 years later, Gracie Alden is the last girl of the line and is having problems with her studies, so she hires Bud Brady (Hope) to help her.
  • Give Me a Sailor (1938) – Starring Betty Grable, Jack Whiting, Martha Raye and Bob hope.  Two brothers, Jim (Hope) and Walter (Whiting) who are sailors of the US Navy love the same woman, Nancy (Grable).  Jim tries to get Nancy’s sister to help break Walter and Nancy’s relationship.
  • Thanks for the Memory (1938) – Starring Bob Hope and Shirley Ross.  A story about an out-of-work writer who stays home and plays a husband at home while his wife goes to work for her former fiance.
  • Never Say Die (1939) – A remake of the silent film, multi-millionaire hypochondriac John Kidley (Hope) is told he only has a month to live.  So, he breaks up with his fiance and heads to the Swiss spa of Bad Gaswasser where he meets a young Texas heiress, Mickey Hawkins (Raye).
  • The Cat and the Canary (1939) – A horror comedy, Cyrus Norman is a millionaire who lived in the Louisiana bayou with his mistress Miss Lu.  His will is to be read and a group meets at the mansion for the reading from the will but someone has removed the will from the safe and tampered with it.
  • Road to Singapore (1940) – Starring Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, Josh Mallon (Crosby) and Ace Lannigan (Hope) are best friends working on the same ship.  After seeing their fellow sailors being mistreated by their wives and girlfriends, the two vowed to never get involved with women again.  The two head to Singapore but can they stay true to their vow?
  • The Ghost Breakers (1940) – Starring Bob Hope, Paulette Godard and Richard Carlson, what happens when a radio broadcaster, a manservant and an heiress investigate a mystery in a haunted castle in Cuba.
  • Road to Zanzibar (1941) – The second “Road to…” film starring Bing Crosby and Bob Hope.  Chuck (Crosby) and Fearless (Hope) go on a jungle adventure but what happens when these con-men find themselves attracted to two con-women.
  • Caught in the Draft (1941) – Vain Hollywood actor has a big fear of being drafted into the US army, afraid of loud noises, accidentally joins the army.
  • Nothing But the Truth (1941) – Starring Bob Hope and Paulette Godard.  When stockbroker T.T. Ralston promises his niece Gwen (Godard) to double the amount if she can raise $20,000.  So, she asks Steve Bennett (Hope) to raise the money.
  • Louisiana Purchase (1941) – A senator investigating graft in Louisiana is the target of a scheme involving a beautiful woman named Marina (portrayed by Vera Zorina).
  • Star Spangled Rhythm (1942) – An all-star musical.  What happens when former silent movie star Pop Webster (portrayed by Victor Moore), who works as a security guard at Paramount Pictures, tells his son Johnny (portrayed by Eddie Brack), from the Navy that he is the studio’s Executive VP in Charge of Production.  But what happens when Johnny surprises his father with a visit to Hollywood.  When Johnny offers to put on a variety show, can he get Bob Hope and Bing Crosby to perform?
  • My Favorite Blonde (1942) – Starring Bob Hope and Madeleine Carroll. What happens when a vaudeville performer gets mixed up with British and German secret agents?
  • Road to Morocco (1942) – Starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour.  What happens when two castaway on a desert shore are sold into slavery by a beautiful princess?
  • Road to Utopia (1946) – Starring Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, what happens when two vaudeville performers go to Alaska to make a fortune?  Received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
  • Monsieur Beaucaire (1946) – Starring Bob Hope and Joan Caulfield.  What happens when a barber of King Louis XV masquerades as a nobleman engaged to the princess of Spain?
  • Variety Girl (1947) – What happens when two hopeful actresses (portrayed by Mary Hatcher and Olga San Juan) come to Hollywood and exchange identities.
  • Where There’s Life (1947) – Starring Bob Hope and Signe Hasso. Michael Joseph Valentine is an American radio announcer who finds out that he is the new king of “Barovia”, but a secret society known as Mordia (who assassinated the previous ruler) targets him.
  • The Paleface (1948) – Starring Bob Hope and Jane Russell.  Calamity Jane (Russell) finds out who is smuggling her rifles to the Indians.  After marrying a dentist named Peter “Painless” Potter (Hope), can he keep her identity a secret.
  • Sorrowful Jones (1949) – Starring Lucille Ball and Bob Hope.  A remake of Shirley Temple’s film, “Little Miss Marker”.  A young girl is left with the very cheap Sorrowful Jones (Hope). When her father doesn’t show up, he has to take care of the child, which interferes with his lifestyle.
  • America Masters: This is Bob Hope (2017) – The unabridged director’s cut of the film.  Voiced by Billy Crystal and featuring interviews with Woody Allen, Dick Cavett, Margaret Cho, daughter Linda Hope, Kermit the Frog, film critic/historian Leonard Maltin, Conan O’Brien, Tom Selleck, Brooke Shields, Connie Stevens and biographer Richard Zoglin (author of “Hope: Entertainer of the Century”).

 

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie Collection” comes with the following special features:

  • Bob Hope and the Road to Success – (14:12) Author Randall G. Mielke discusses Bob Hope and Bing Crosby “Road to…” films.
  • Entertaining the Troops – (6:17) Bob Hope biographer Richard Grudens reflects on Bob Hope entertaining the troops.
  • “Sweet Potato Pie” Sing-A-Long
  • “The Road to Morocco” Sing-A-Long
  • “The Buttons and Bows” Sing-Along
  • Command Performance 1944 – (6:46) From “Command Performance USA” from 1944.
  • Command Performance 1945 – (5:02) Excerpt from Army-Navy Screen Magazine of Bob Hope’s appearance on “Command Performance USA” in 1945.
  • Hollywood Victory Caravan – (19:44) A 1945 short about a girl trying to get to Washington D.C. to be with her lonseom brother, a wounded G.I. and she persuades Bing Crosby to let her join his caravan.

With the release of “Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie Collection, fans are no doubt getting one of the best sets featuring a collection of Bob Hope films.

Bob Hope emerged as an actor as early as 1934 in numerous shorts, but it wasn’t until 1938 when he starred in “The Big Broadcast of 1938” when Bob Hope would appear in a feature film and the song “Thanks for the Memory” would become his trademark.  And from that first film and on, he would grow into a comedic actor and would become one of America’s most beloved onscreen actors and entertainers for many decades.

And with the collection of films in “Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie Collection”, included are nearly all the films that Bob Hope starred in from 1938-1949. This includes his first feature film,  four of his successful “Road to…” films with Bing Crosby and many films that help define Bob Hope as one of the best American comedians of all time.

Of the 28 films Bob Hope made from 1938-1950, 21 films are included in this set.  Two of his film in the early ’40s were created for MGM (and can be found in the DVD set “Bob Hope MGM Movie Legends Collection”) while others have not been released on DVD.

The majority of the early Bob Hope films were distributed by Paramount Pictures and in 1955, MCA (Music Corporation of America) purchased the pre-1950 sound films from Paramount.  In 1958, MCA purchased Universal (and currently, all of MCA, Universal, NBC are owned by Comcast).  So, that is how many of the pre-1948 Paramount films made it to this set.

Many may wonder how could this be considered an “Ultimate Movie Collection” when four of the seven Bing Crosby/Bob Hope “Road to…” films are included in the “Bob Hope: The Ultimate Collection” and that three films were left out.   Paramount actually let the copyright expire for “Road to Rio” and “Road to Bali” and so they are available via Public Domain (so, many companies have released inferior versions on DVD), while the seventh film “The Road to Hong Kong” is owned by MGM.  Fortuantely, Paramount licensed the rights to Kino Lorber for a few pre-1950 (and later) Bob Hope films such as the 1947 film “My Favorite Brunette”, “Road to Rio” and “Road to Bali” for Blu-ray release.   So, now people can watch much better versions of these films in terms of picture quality.

So, for the most part, this set is not 100% complete but you do get a huge majority of these earlier Bob Hope films in this DVD box set. In my opinion, it’s the classic black and white Bob Hope films that I tend to favor the most.  But if you are a serious Bob Hope fan, he has created many hilarious and entertaining films throughout his career.

And for an actor with so many films created, it’s great to see Universal Studios Home Entertainment releasing a DVD set with nearly two dozen films.

Prior to the release of “Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie Collection”, it was a little costly to purchase Bob Hope sets.  For example, the Universal release of “Bob Hope: Thanks for the Memories Collection” only featured six films and you were paying a little less than $25. The four film “The Bob Hope and Big Crosby Road to Comedy Collection” was over $15.  And now you can get this 21 movie set plus the “American Masters: This is Bob Hope” documentary plus a few Bob Hope shorts for under $42.  So, it’s an amazing deal!

For those who owned prior Bob Hope DVD releases, it’s important to note that there are no new special features and there is no new remastering or restoration that were done with each film.  There are 10 DVD’s are provided with two to three films per DVD.

I wished that Universal would have considered releasing this set on Blu-ray, because it would have given more fans, especially those who owned the previous DVD’s, to upgrade to better quality versions of the film.  But until then, this DVD set with 21 films featuring Bob Hope is magnificent!

Overall, whether or not you are a Bob Hope fan or a person who wants to own the earlier films of one of Hollywood’s true Kings of Comedy, will no doubt want to check out “Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie Collection.  Recommended!


classic hollywood: Down Argentine Way (1940) – Betty Grable and Carmen Miranda

September 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

A photo I have in my 8×11 photo collection is of Betty Grable and Carmen Miranda from the Irving Cummings film “Down Argentine Way” (1940).  Originally, the film was supposed to star Alice Faye but she was sick and Betty Grable ended up taking up her role.  The film ended up receiving three Academy Award nominations.  The photo is absolutely beautiful.

The Gay Divorcee (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

December 31, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Wonderful, humorous and enchanting.  “The Gay Divorcee” is features Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in their first film together as the main talent!  Fantastic dance numbers and just an incredibly delightful film. Highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Gay Divorcee

DURATION: 105 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Standard 4×3, Black and White, Dolby Digital Monaural

RATED: Not Rated

COMPANY: Turner RKO/Warner Brothers

RELEASE DATE: October 24, 2006

Directed by Mark Sandrich

Based on the musical play by Dwight Taylor, Kenneth S. Webb and Samuel Hoffstein and the unproduced play by J. Hartley Manners

Screenplay by George Marion Jr., Dorothy Yost and Edward Kaufman

Produced by Pandro S. Berman

Music by Max Steiner

Cinematography by David Abel

Edited by William Hamilton

Art Direction by Carroll Clark, Van Nest Polglase

Costume Design by Walter Plunkett

Starring:

Fred Astaire as Guy Holden

Ginger Rogers as Mimi Glossop

Alice Brady as Aunt Hortense

Edward Everett Horton as Egbert “Pinky” Fitzgerald

Erik Rhodes as Rodolfo Tonetti

Betty Grable as Dance Specialty

In one of their best loved, most charming song-and-dance comedies, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers demonstrate just how they became best known as America’s greatest dance team. Includes the Academy Award(R) winning hit “The Continental.” Year: 1934 Director: Mark Sandrich Starring: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Alice Brady

The RKO Radio Pictures years, known for its musicals starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the mid-to-late 1930’s and later featuring other well known talent such as Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Robert Mitchum and several others.

But it was Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers that help put RKO Pictures on the map with their ten films they did together from 1933-1939, 1949.  Although the two were featured in the 1933 film “Flying Down to Rio”, the two received fifth billing but it was due to that film, the two would receive top billing in “The Gay Divorcee”.  Beginning with this film, Astaire who was granted the rare opportunity for complete autonomy over how dancing was featured on his films would lead him to become the innovator of having the stationary camera to film a dance routine in a single shot and that the song and dance routines were integrated into the plot of the film.  Very different from what Busby Berkeley was doing at the time.

“The Gay Divorcee” was directed by Mark Sandrich (“Top Hat”, “Shall We Dance”, “Everything’s Ducky”) that is based on an un-produced play by J. Hartley Manners and a screenplay by George Marion Jr., Dorothy Yost and Edward Kaufman. The film would be nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Picture”, “Best Music, Score”, “Best Sound, Recording” and “Best Art Direction”.  The film would win “Best Music, Original Song” for “The Continental”.

The screwball musical comedy is about Guy Holden (played by Fred Astaire) who is leaving to Europe with his friend/lawyer Egbert “Pinky” Fitzgerald (played by Edward Evertt Horton).  While arriving in England, a woman named Mimi Glossop (played by Ginger Rogers) goes to greet her Aunt Hortense (played by Alice Brady).   Unfortunately, her aunt is being detained due to customs but while Hortense repacks her luggage, she doesn’t know that she has closed and lock part of Mimi’s dress inside it.  With her aunt gone, Mimi’s dress is stuck and she tries to get help from porter.

Guy sees Mimi and it’s like love at first sight for him.  He tries to help her by trying to pull the dress out of the luggage but instead rips her dress.  He covers her up with his trench coat and hopes that she will return it with her name and number.  Unfortunately, Mimi is not at all attracted to him at first and sees Guy as a nuisance.

Days have gone by and Guy receives his jacket back but now he wants to see Mimi once again.  So, he goes all over London to find her to no avail.  That is until he accidentally runs into Mimi’s car.  She tries to outrace him but Guy manages to catch up to her and give his phone number to her and getting her name.  He waits for days but yet no call from Mimi.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Guy, Mimi and her Aunt Hortense go to meet with his friend Egbert and to his shock, he is reunited with his former fiance Hortense.  Hortense introduces Egbert to Mimi and then we learn that Mimi is actually married and trying to divorce her husband, a geologist that she has not seen for several years.  Due to divorce laws in London, the only way she can divorce is if she is caught in an affair.  So, Egbert comes up with an idea to set up a fake one night tryst at a hotel with a man/co-respondent who will use the phrase “Chance is the fool’s name for fate!”.  A phrase that Egbert heard from Guy when he was thinking about Mimi.

All she has to do is have this fake adulterous situation seen by an investigator and that would be enough for her to end her marriage.  So, Egbert hires Italian Roldolfo Tenneti (played by Erik Rhodes) to be the co-respondent and tells him the phrase but forgets to tell him the room number of where to meet Mimi.  Egbert also forgets to hire the investigators and Roldolfo can never get the phrase right and ends up trying to say the phrase to every woman around.

So, on the day she is to meet with the co-respondent, Guy sees her and as a man in love, tries to please her and then he says his usual phrase: “Chance is the fool’s name for fate!”.  Immediately, Mimi thinks that he is the co-respondent and is disappointed that this man who was following her around is a guy who does this type of job for a living.

Guy tries his best to win her heart but in her mind, she thinks he is just being sweet to her because it’s his job.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Gay Divorcee” is featured in standard 4×3 (1:33:1 aspect ratio) and featured in black and white.  Warner Brothers did a great job in  featuring this classic film digitally remastered.  The film looks very good for a 75-year-old film and there is occasional dust that can be seen and there is a fine layer of grain.  But blacks are nice and deep and grays and whites come out quite nicely.  There is some flickering due to the original source negative but for the most part, it is not too distracting.  Overall, picture quality for this film is quite good and you can tell how this film fares compared to the 1934 short films included on this DVD.  “The Gay Divorcee” looks very good!

As for the audio, audio is presented in monaural Dolby Digital.  So, it’s pretty much a Dolby Digital 1.0 center channel driven film.  Dialogue is clear but personally, if you have a modern receiver and a pretty good audio setup, some may prefer to watch the film with audio directed to all audio channels.

Subtitles for the film are presented in English, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Gay Divorcee” comes with the following special features:

  • Show Kids – (19:58) A colorful short film from 1935 in which the Palace Theater owned by Mr. Jenkins is trying to stay afloat during the Depression and may close.  But his 12-year-old son tries to bring in audiences with his own show.
  • Star Night at the Coconut Grove – (19:33) A festive color short from 1934 featuring MGM performers such as Bing Crosby, The Debutantes and special guest Mary Pickford and Eduardo Durant and many more.
  • Classic Cartoon “Shake Your Powder Puff”– (5:59) A black and white animated cartoon from 1934 directed by Friz Freleng.  Featuring animals, the composer tries to conduct his vaudeville show
  • Audio-Only Bonus: “Hollywood on the Air” Radio Promo – (13:46) An audio radio promo for “The Gay Divorcee”.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (1:18) The original theatrical trailer in its original glory with all scratches and dust galore.

I am making an effort to watch all Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers films and the film I decided to start out with is their first major film together “The Gay Divorcee” from 1934 and what a fantastic film this one turned out to be.   For one, the choreography of the dancing is remarkable.  From the first initial dance number from Fred Astaire, you know you’re in for a visual treat and this film does not disappoint.

The comedy and storyline are coherent and immediately, you can’t help but be amazed by the amazing chemistry between both Astaire and Rogers.  Despite the two not wanting to create this “musical team”, I can see why audiences wanted to see these two together.  They both click and as Astaire is fantastic with his dance moves, Rogers compliments him.  Also, there is such class and grace between these two performers that it shows onscreen and makes you appreciate their dancing.  It’s really enjoyable to watch.

Of course, for many people “The Gay Divorcee” is famous for its dance numbers.

From Astaire’s solo performance of “Needle in a Haystack” in which he dances and sings to “Let’s K-nock K-nees” featuring Betty Grable (pre-World War II pinup girl) and Edward Everett Horton was enjoyable.  Although, Horton is not much of a dancer, Grable’s addition for this short segment was quite refreshing to see.  But this is the first choreographed number with a number of people on the beach boardwalk and is fun to watch.

But it’s when you see the two together, that is when you see the magic of these two individuals.  Their performance of Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” was delightful and perfectly choreographed and you can’t help but admire their dance performance.  Classy and sexy, a wonderful scene.

But of course, the scene that will just make the viewer watch in awe and literally be mesmerized is the 20-minute performance of “The Continental”.  Wonderful choreography and also cinematography for this scene alone.  Absolutely fantastic!

And we go back to the actual acting.  Astaire’s dancing definitely adds flair to the film but he does a good job with playing the dapper Guy Holden and a man in love.  Ginger Rogers compliments Astaire’s dancing but it’s her acting that truly shines and just the look on Mimi’s face after the first dance with Guy is quite romantic.  And of course, the supporting roles by the talent such as Alice Brady as the perky but naive Aunt Hortense, Edward Everett Horton playing the forgetful lawyer and Erik Rhodes playing the hilarious Italian Roldolfo Tonetti.  A charming cast and a memorable film.  Overall, “The Gay Divorcee” is a fantastic film and a film definitely worth watching.

It’s important to note that all ten Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers films can be found in the “Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers Ultimate Collector’s Edition” which is highly recommended!  Otherwise, you can find “The Gay Divorcee” DVD (and other popular Astaire and Rogers films) from various online or Big Lots stores for $3-$6 each.

“The Gay Divorcee” is highly recommended!

Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable promotional photo for “How to Marry a Millionaire”

November 9, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

A photo from the popular 1953 hit film “How to Marry a Millionaire” starring Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable.

The film is about three women who rent a luxurious penthouse (and pretend to be rich) in order to find rich men to marry unknowingly that there are men who are in the area who are also pretending to be rich as well.  For film buffs, “How to Marry a Millionaire” was the first film photographed in CinemaScope Widescreen process (but the second to be released).

The promotional 11×8.5 photo from what I found online is quite common among collectors.

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