Best Laurel and Hardy DVD's?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by John Madia, Dec 27, 2006.

  1. John Madia

    John Madia Second Unit

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    I am interested in buying some Laurel and Hardy DVD's and was wondering what are the best ones out there.
     
  2. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    For the silents, there is going to be a mega box released by Image in May 2007. Please see the other L&H thread for details.

    For the sound shorts, you'll have to import a set from England, Germany, or the Netherlands. The England set, while not perfect, does have the advantage of being very well packaged, containing multiple foreign language shorts (where L&H made films specifically for foreign markets) and having English written booklets, subtitles etc. The main drawback is that the disc count is unnecessarily inflated by including alternate colorized versions of various shorts. The B&W versions are always included and look great for the most part. One of the films (Blockheads?) is missing a few minutes in the B&W version although the colorized version is complete. Amazon UK will occasionally run this fairly cheap. PAL speedup will be an issue if that bothers you.

    Fox in the US has put out two very well done box sets of the 6 films they did for Fox at the end of their careers. In my opinion, these sets have rehabilitated these films' reputation and shown them to be much better than what some reference books claim.

    Warners has released a L&H set under the TCM Archives banner that contains Bonnie Scotland and Fra Diavolo plus an excellent documentary short on the history of the short subject at the movies. They also released a double feature disc of Nothing But Trouble and Air Raid Wardens.

    Finally Legend Films has released what appears to be a finely restored and legitimately B&W version of "March of the Wooden Soldiers". See other thread for details.

    LionsGate which owns the US rights to the sound shorts/Roach features, has shown virtually no interest in exploiting their catalog. If only Warners had the video rights......

    Steve
     
  3. Mark Y

    Mark Y Supporting Actor

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    I can pretty much agree with what Steve says above.

    If you want the primary canon of sound-era L&H, you are best off to get some of the sets released in Germany, the UK and the Netherlands. (If you're in the US, you'll need to get a multi-region DVD player.) I have the second German box set and it comes highly recommended. There are some differences in the way each country compiled their releases.

    The German DVDs include several bonus shorts, mostly Charley Chase silents in which Oliver Hardy appears. They also include German-dubbed versions of many films, if you're interested in that sort of thing...a few of the features have intros by a German TV host, not sure of their vintage. The second German set (Vol. 2) has a couple of the phonetic foreign-language L&H films (not dubbed, these are actual alternate versions shot at the same time), but the UK set has more of these. The German set includes the few extant clips of the phonetic German "Pardon Us" (as well as two different cuts of the US "Pardon Us," one is the original length and the other is the longer version, sort of a "director's cut," which was released on an early laserdisc and shown on American Movie Classics). The German set also has two different cuts of "Laughing Gravy" (similar case as above). The German Volume 1 set also includes the original 1930 version of "Brats" with the original music score...several of the early talkie shorts were re-released in the mid to late 30s with some edits and the music score redubbed from a couple of their then-recent feature films. (In most cases, the reissue versions are the only versions extant on these particular films.)

    The original version of "The Chimp" (with the original titles) is on a German DVD. I'm told the UK one has Film Classics titles (I don't have it to compare).

    The most bang for your buck is probably the UK set, which has pretty much the whole Hal Roach L&H canon in chronological order...silents, talkie shorts and features, apart from some holdout films which are under different ownership (all of which have been released on their own anyway). The UK set also includes colorized versions of a lot of the sound films, if you're into that sort of thing.

    The German DVDs have been released in three separate box sets. All these discs are available individually, as are the UK ones, but the UK set has one bonus disc not available separately. It has the original 1930 "Brats," plus a few shorts in which Laurel and/or Hardy make cameo appearances in someone else's film.

    One other thing though...a few of the films in the German DVD sets have spots where the German subtitles cannot be turned off. This was done because those portions of the German dubbed soundtracks were missing. (These were primarily released for the German market.) Of the top of my head I believe "Our Relations," "Pack Up Your Troubles," and "Blotto" are affected...possibly one or two others. The UK versions should be clean.

    I, too, am looking forward to the remastered silent L&H collection...however, be aware that these projects are slower than mollasses and we really don't know when this is coming out. Right now, you still have a chance to grab the "Lost Films Of Laurel & Hardy" discs that are out there...they are "on moratorium," pending the release of the new set, but again, there isn't really a firm date for its release. I'd say the silents have a better presentation overall on the "Lost Flms" series compared to the ones I have on German DVDs, with a couple of exceptions...the German set has the complete original Vitaphone soundtrack on "We Faw Down," only half of which is included on the US version. For the silent shorts that didn't have Vitaphone tracks, the US DVDs have composite soundtracks edited from a couple of other Vitaphone tracks, and they are quite repetitive and monotonous. A lot of the ones on the German DVDs have "Beau Hunks" scores and sound effects added, and done really well. But the few shorts with actual ORIGINAL Vitaphone tracks are fascinating..."Liberty" in particular is very effectively done.

    Hallmark in the US so far has released two DVDs of their L&H holdings. The quality and presentation are not comparable to the German DVDs I have seen, but they are handily available.

    Vol. 1: Sons Of The Desert; The Music Box; Busy Bodies; Another Fine Mess; County Hospital

    Vol. 2: Way Out West; Block-Heads; Chickens Come Home

    (Great films, but I am somewhat hesitant to recommend these two discs, simply because the foreign releases BLOW THEM OUT OF THE WATER and overall, the quality is so much better, it isn't even funny!)

    There also is a pretty nice version of "The Flying Deuces" which was released by Kino. This film is all over the place (it's public domain) but the Kino version is by far the best quality available (it's a re-release of a French DVD done by Lobster Films). The only catch is that the opening titles and closing "The End" title are from an Astor Pictures reissue, so two title cards are different, but still vintage 1940s or 1950s...and there are no visuals on the end credits. This disc also includes a bunch of extras, most of which are available in other places, but still handy: The Stolen Jools short, The Tree In A Test Tube (not complete; a better version is on the Fox Vol. 2 set); two silent films of the 1932 UK tours; and L&H's appearance on "This Is Your Life."

    Goodtimes released a colorized DVD of "March Of The Wooden Soldiers" in the 1990s (unfortunately, ONLY the colorized version with no B&W version), but it does include the original theatrical trailer, a couple of Stan Laurel home movies (in color) and the Oliver Hardy 1950 "Ship's Reporter" interview where he talks about filming "Atoll K" (aka "Utopia"). (This interview is also on one of the new Fox sets, but the quality is far better on this disc.) The visuals on the titles, showing the name of the film, have been changed, but everything else is original, even down to the MPPDA seal at the beginning, which is replaced with a Legend Films logo on the new Legend Films DVD version. (However, the Legend version otherwise has the correct original "Babes In Toyland" titles.) The Legend DVD also has a boatload of extras, including the original trailer, an edited "Tree In A Test Tube," and a clip of Our Gang singing "Auld Lang Syne" (evidently from some longer film, but I haven't been able to identify it). The Legend DVD has a colorized and a B&W version, but there is some debate over whether it is really a "true B&W" version or not; it seems to have been cobbled together from more than one source.

    For the "non-canonical" (not part of the main Hal Roach properties) L&H films, pretty much everything is out, and really nice versions have come out just recently. All the Fox films are out in two sets, with three films each, all with audio commentary..."The Dancing Masters" is sourced from a 16mm film print for some reason, but everything else is pristine. Between the two sets, you also get all six Fox trailers (most of which repeat numerous times over the six discs for some reason) as well as the complete "Tree In A Test Tube," a couple of Fox Movietone News clips with L&H, the 1932 UK tour silent films, "Ship's Reporter" (again, the Goodtimes disc has this in much better quality) and a really good documentary called "Laurel & Hardy: The Fox Years," with clips from all the Fox films and some very enjoyable reminiscenses about Stan Laurel by Rich Correll (son of Charles Correll of "Amos & Andy" fame).

    "TCM Archives: The Laurel & Hardy Collection" includes restored versions of "The Devil's Brother" and "Bonnie Scotland" (including theatrical trailers for both), plus a TCM documentary, "Added Attractions: The Hollywood Shorts Story" (which is not specifically about L&H, but they are featured). (The documentary has some edits compared to the version aired on TCM). There are clips of other L&H film appearances, including the magic act with Jack Benny from "The Hollywood Revue Of 1929;" two segments from "Hollywood Party" and two from "Pick A Star;" and the sole extant L&H segment from "The Rogue Song," in color.

    "Air Raid Wardens" and "Nothing But Trouble" have just been released together on a disc, with trailers for both films. This is also available as part of the "Classic Comedy Teams" 3-DVD set along with two from Abbott & Costello ("Abbott & Costello In Hollywood" and "Lost In A Harem") and two rare Three Stooges film appearances (the Western parody "Gold Raiders" and the 1933 Jack Pearl/Jimmy Durante vehicle "Meet The Baron," in which the Stooges appear with Ted Healy). "Meet The Baron" and "A&C In Hollywood" also include their trailers. Probably not the best films of any of the three teams, but a good opportunity to get a set of some of their less familiar work.
     
  4. Jimmy M

    Jimmy M Second Unit

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    Hi there...

    I was looking into getting a lot of Laurel & Hardy DVDs, and I was wondering if the list in the previous post is still accurate, or if batter US versions of anything has since been released.

    Thanks!

    Jimmy!
     
  5. ImreM

    ImreM Auditioning

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    This question reminded me to ask about a couple L&H shorts I remember watching many years ago, and finding absolutely drop-dead hilarious, but I don't remember the titles.

    I believe they were both "talkies", but I'm not positive.

    One involved the guys basically having a food-fight in a grocery store against the shopkeeper (eggs/pies/lard in the face, etc), and the second had the boys fighting each other on a construction site, throwing things, paint accidents, etc.

    Can anyone tell me the names of these titles, and whether either is available on any of the imported collections mentioned earlier in this thread?

    Many thanks!

    --I.M.
     
  6. James Phillips

    James Phillips Stunt Coordinator

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    The first one's Tit For Tat. The second one's probably Busy Bodies.

    They're on Volumes 2 and 14 of the UK set. [​IMG]
     
  7. ImreM

    ImreM Auditioning

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    Yes! Thank-you SO much!

    I ordered from Amazon first thing today. I wish I could afford the whole box-set all at once, but these will hold me for a while....

    --I.M.
     
  8. Radioman970

    Radioman970 Lead Actor

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    Ah....Laurel & Hardy. I'd meant to upgrade my very small collection since I only have the Plantinum release listed on amazon.com for about $10. It just made me hungry for more but I forgot.

    Yeah, it'd be nice if a power L&H fan would update this list of must haves. Buster Keaton as well. Hell, Little Rascals & Three Stooges as well. Anything new on these fronts?
     
  9. RoyM

    RoyM Stunt Coordinator

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    I don't know about the current status of the Little Rascals or Three Stooges, but as an L&H fan, I do try to keep abreast of their current catalog, and Mark Y.'s status update from last December is still essentially correct as of today.
     
  10. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    I have the UK set and it's quite good (though not quite as pristine as some might have you believe). Definitely watchable, and for a while amazon.co.uk was selling it for about $100; it's worth looking for deals if you're multi-region-capable.
     
  11. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    I picked up the Universal R2 box set in London (Virgin Megastore) for only 49 pounds (about $100). Great transfers, even if not totally pristine. At least they're not 1980s masters like the Lionsgate volumes. The colorized versions look awful, though.
     
  12. Mark Oates

    Mark Oates Supporting Actor

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    Wouldn't the construction site one be "The Finishing Touch"? Although it's silent, it fits the description with paint gags and throwing things.
     
  13. Sumnernor

    Sumnernor Supporting Actor

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    I have all the german L&H's. I would like to make a list of whats on them but haven't the TIME! The films from the English release come from Kinowelt. The L&H disks were restored by the Kirch-Group. The british have obtained the restored films from Germany. I don't think any of the DVDs are still available - check Amazon.de. There are some available via "sellers" My main quibbles with the german disk are poor menus and repeated sometimes on a disk a one minute blurb about the remastering done by the Kirch Group the L&R which you can only fast forward to get past (not skipping to next chapter). In one case, language is not determined in the menu for language but rather clicking on the english or German name.
    "The Devil's Brother" and "Bonnie Scotland" were released as 2 DVDs by Warner in Germany. I got it because of the 2 excerps from Hollywood Party with the famous egg scene.The NTSC conversion to PAL was done correctly for the main features but for the extras , including the Hollywood Party were converted poorly directly from the NTSC and not the film. If you single step, you will see the double images. The german disks for Kinowelt L&H are region 2 - NOT code-free.
     
  14. Bruce White

    Bruce White Stunt Coordinator

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    I'd like to pick up the L&H DVD set from England. I see it is still available from the UK Amazon site.

    I have a Panasonic RP-91 DVD player. I have been searching about how to upgrade my firmware and make the player region free and have found the info I need.

    However, I see on the UK site that this DVD set is PAL. Does that mean I am out of luck playing it at home? My TV is a Mitsubishi 55819 RPTV.

    Any input is appreciated. Thank you!

    Bruce
     
  15. juda

    juda Agent

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    Ahaha snap!! Loved these two..
     
  16. Jay E

    Jay E Cinematographer

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    I'm not an expert, and anyone please correct me if I am wrong, but you need to check if your DVD player will play PAL. It may be multi-region, but that doesn't mean it is also PAL capable. Your TV should not be a problem in watching PAL DVDs as long as your DVD can play them.

    FYI: There is a Fox sale at Amazon & I just picked up the 2 Laurel and Hardy boxsets at $13.99 each if anyone is interested. Not their best stuff but worth it at that price.
     
  17. Sumnernor

    Sumnernor Supporting Actor

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    Since I have posted about a year ago, the following L&H have been released in Germany:

    20th C FoX:
    Jitterbugs
    A-Hunting We Will Go
    The Dancing Masters
    The Big Noise
    The Bullfighters


    Warner Brothers:
    Hollywood Party- I recommend this even though the movie is so-so. The highlights are the L&H egg scene and the Disney cartoon.

    Air Raid Wardens
    Nothing But Trouble


    These are all Region 2 PAL. I think some post in this thread asked about viewing PAL. You can view PAL movies in a PC. IF you have 2 drives, let one drive be the region 2 drive.

    Also released in the USA is a very good B&W film of March of the Wooden Soldiers (1934). From I have read, this is the BEST version of this film. The Amazon link is:

    Amazon.com: March of the Wooden Soldiers: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, William Burress, Alice Dahl, Jean Darling, Johnny Downs, John George, Sumner Getchell, Frank Austin, Charlotte Henry, Virginia Karns, Henry Kleinbach, Felix Knight, Gus Leonard, Ali

    I am still very slowly compiling my L&H german DVDs. Someone mentioned about not being able to turn off the subtitles. I am not aware of that problem. Someone posted that perhaps "Our Relations," "Pack Up Your Troubles," and "Blotto" - I haven't had time to check this out. Will post my findings.

    EDIT1: I found 2 of the 3 ("Pack Up Your Troubles," and "Blotto" ) DVDs and I played then on my player and had no trouble turning off the subtitles. I will try to find the other missing DVD in the next day or 2 but I suspect also that there is no trouble turning off the subtitles. Today I was able to check "Our Relations" and had no problem turning off the german subtitles.

    I found various links which includes a previous HTF thread:

    http://forums.goldenagecartoons.com/...ad.php?t=11717
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htf/...dy-boxset.html
     
  18. Sumnernor

    Sumnernor Supporting Actor

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  19. Tim Tucker

    Tim Tucker Screenwriter

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    Yes! I was waiting for this set to drop in price. At the current exchange rate, that works out to about $2.50 a disc.

    Now I just hope the set arrived undamaged.
     
  20. Sumnernor

    Sumnernor Supporting Actor

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    Today I just got the L&H UK set and it does not contain the booklets as mentioned on the Amazon-UK site.[​IMG]

    IF some kind soul could make photo-copies of the booklets and I will pay for the effort and postage. Please send me a PM.


    FYI, the Amazon-UK, someone states that the Flying Deuces and Babes in Toyland did not appear on the Kinowelt boxsets, which is not true - both are on the german site.

    From the wikipedia site, I am seeing what is missing from the Kinowelt set and will do the same later with the UK set. Will post the results in a few days.
     

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