At some point in your life, you've likely read a "Ripley's Believe It or Not!" strip. If you do a fair amount of tourist-type traveling, you may have even visited one of the dozens of Ripley's museums around the world. But unless you're pushing 90 years old, you've probably never taken in one of the two dozen theatrical shorts based on the comic.
Thanks to Warner Archive "? the relatively new burn-on-demand arm of Warner Home Video "? "Ripley's Believe It or Not! The Complete Vitaphone Shorts Collection" is now available for your perusal.
Creator Robert Ripley himself "? he of the apparently lacquered haircut and genial personality "? acts as host of the black-and-white, eight-minute shorts. Each is structured loosely in an anthology format, with Ripley discussing this or that person, place or thing of a skeptical nature. He then proves the existence of each, sometimes even appearing to "testify" in court-of-law surroundings as to their veracity.
Picking up all the billiard balls with one hand? Just you watch! Playing piano while wearing gloves? Take a gander at this! You get the picture: It's like a variety show, with some of the more interesting segments showing Ripley sketch out a subject, only for it to come to life via animation that's primitive by today's standards, but completely effective.
I can't recommend sitting through more than a few of these in one sitting, lest ye overdose on Golden Age fanciful facts. They're more of curiosity pieces for Ripley's fans than historic cinema. But, hey, at least they're 100-percent Dean Cain-free!"?Rod Lott