Laurel and Hardy restoration at UCLA

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Brian McP, Mar 9, 2011.

  1. Brian McP

    Brian McP Second Unit

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    This article is from Leonard Maltin's Movie Crazy blog, the details are at the end of the article:
    http://blogs.indiewire.com/leonardmaltin/archives/the_fruits_of_film_preservation/
    As a life long Laurel and Hardy fan, this news is like finding the Dead Sea Scrolls -- unfortunately after 70-80 years, the original materials probably would be in the same state as the Dead Sea Scrolls and I can only wish those film restorers who do go in and come face to face with these original materials, all the luck in the world. I'm a member of the Sons of the Desert and when all this is formally announced, I hope we can be of help.
    In the world of film restoring, one can see this as a 'rescue mission' in the strictest sense. Robert, I know your specialty has been large format films, but perhaps not work this old and pillaged-- if you had any suggestions to those who go on this 'mission', what would it be and how would you approach this collection?
    Also what standard would you ensure the restorers do before 'signing off' on each title and returning these new restored versions back into the Archive?
    Keep in mind, the majority of these titles are two reelers and 3-4 reel features. Thanks!
     
  2. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    I had a chance to see a theatrical screening of the restored "Way Out West" last year and it was absolutely wonderful. UCLA's team did a marvelous job with this title, and it looked much better than most of the current versions out there in home video land. I applaud the initiative to finally treat this catalog with the care and respect it needs. Hopefully it isn't too late. The stories of Michael Agee storing 35mm negatives in his California garage are mind boggling.

    After these restorations are complete, let's hope the rights issues that have kept these off the market in North America are sufficiently resolved to allow a high quality DVD release of Roach era L&H.
     
  3. Brian McP

    Brian McP Second Unit

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    Our Sons of the Desert tent has already contributed to the fund and having read much more on the upcoming restoration, the original materials at UCLA could not be in better hands.
     
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  4. kitt1987

    kitt1987 Agent

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    Have contributed to this restoration myself and am looking forward to the day when we can all witness their full catalog in all its restored glory. It's too bad we can't get the surviving silent shorts they made as well.
     
  5. Konstantinos

    Konstantinos Screenwriter

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    Didn't want to start a new thread asking why don't we have Laurel and Hardy collection on Bluray yet, so i found this thread.
    I see there are some movies released in Scandinavian countries.

    Does anyone know anything more? Will we see a collection soon?
     
  6. AnthonyClarke

    AnthonyClarke Screenwriter

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    As a starter, how about a Blu ray of the restored Way Out West?
    Laurel and Hardy are far and away my favourite comedians from that Golden Age, and Way Out West is my favourite of their feature-lengh movies .. if only for that glorious dance sequence in front of the saloon!
    That has to be one of the most wonderful comic sequences ever filmed, up there with the Marx Bros. mirror sequence in 'Duck Soup', but with a beautiful lyric sweetness all its own.
     
  7. Brian McP

    Brian McP Second Unit

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    Anthony, this restored version of "Way Out West" would make a perfect Criterion special edition, not only for the movie itself but also the movie's afterlife, notably how both the song from that dance sequence you mentioned "At the Ball, That's All" with the main vocal by Chill Wills (23 years before "The Alamo") and the Avalon Boys as well as Stan and Oliver's performance of "Trail of the Lonesome Pine" (with some contributions from Rosina Lawrence and Chill Wills) both hit the British Top 40 -- "Trail" going as far as #2 for two weeks, kept out of #1 by "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen, in December 1975. (It is the only time also when both Laurel and Hardy and ABBA were on the music charts at the same time....who says you don't learn something everyday?)

    Both songs are all over YouTube and the internet, but are pretty beat up ("loved to death" as RAH would say) -- this UCLA restoration is supposedly a wonderous thing, I wonder would it be 4k disc worthy? If ever a vintage title was to take that leap into the 4k disc realm, size and sound would have to be A1 but it would have to be a masterpiece for it to both sell in the marketplace and grab an audience -- this movie has it all on both counts. Less than 70 minutes long, but it is cinematic gold (if there was such a thing)

    Who owns the rights? They're all over the place, all over the world -- 'bought to death' in my opinion -- whoever has them, I hope all these great movies can make it to bluray one day.
     
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  8. kitt1987

    kitt1987 Agent

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    I think there is a desire to someday bring out the restored releases out for a home release but at this point I don't think there are any plans until UCLA is finished with all of the restorations which as we know will take years. I agree though, it would be nice to get semi-regular releases of the finished products to view. The box set released a couple years back still holds up to a point but oh to watch the Boys restored in HD would be nothing less than outstanding!
    The rights holders I don't think have anything to do with the UCLA restoration however. I'm comfortable knowing that the films are at least finally being handled appropriately enough but what's most disturbing to me at this point is the fact that their silent catalog has been left to rot. I have the original Image set that came out in the late '90s which look great for that era and it's just sad that from my understanding the negatives were not handled/stored correctly since leaving little to no room for proper restorations any longer.
    In fact I believe the rights holder for the silent films is different than for the talkies if Mr. Harris or anyone else can confirm?
     
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  9. Brian McP

    Brian McP Second Unit

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    Kitt, even I've lost track of the L&H rights these days, in the US, outside the US, who owns the rights to the silents, who owns the rights to the sound shorts and features.

    Then there's those who own all the L&H publicity photos, stills and promotional materials, those who own individual titles like "March of the Wooden Soldiers", "The Flying Deuces", "Atoll K" / "Utopia", those who own the rights to the L&H likenesses, the music rights -- it goes on and on, as L&H become distant memories to everyone and unknown to those under 40 having been kept off television for close to 30 years.

    I don't think even Variety, the Hollywood Reporter or TMZ could track down and isolate every rights holder today -- to me, L&H are 'corporate hostages', held back by rights holders waiting for someone one day to buy their L&H properties -- but only for the right price.

    I know in the US the recent dvd set is still in circulation and in the UK and Europe the Kirch Group has kept the guys going over many years over there (these people deserve a ton of credit for their work on restoring their L&H films and materials, head office based in Munich)

    I would suggest people read Scott McGillivray's "Laurel and Hardy - From the Forties Forward" to get a sense of what happened when and how as well as Randy Skredvedt's upcoming third edition of his Laurel and Hardy magnum opus, now 40 years in the writing and twice the size of the last edition, due out (last I heard) before Christmas....?
     
  10. JoHud

    JoHud Producer

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    Current update on the silent & sound shorts ownership is as follows (in North America):

    Sound Shorts & majority of Hal Roach films: Sonar Entertainment. Also holds the vast bulk of the non-L&H Hal Roach sound library
    Silent Shorts: Corinth Films
    Bonnie Scotland & The Devil's Brother: Warner Bros.
    Fox Films: 20th Century Fox
    Babes in Toyland: Public Domain (w/ MGM possessing the negative)
    The Flying Deuces & Atoll K: Public Domain.

    In Europe, there is no split in the rights between the sound and silent shorts. It's otherwise the same, just with both the Sonar Entertainment holdings and the Corinth Film holdings merged through the Kirch Group

    Both Sonar Entertainment and Corinth Films are very inactive on the home video scene in regards to their deep catalog properties. Very unlikely we'll see anything new from these two companies Hal Roach-wise unless another distributor manages to strike a deal with them (Flicker Alley? I can dream...).

    As far as the WB & Fox films. Ehhh, also very unlikely. As far as the Fox films go, I think most/all of them got released in Europe at one time. Big fans of those films would be wise to import them.

    On a related note, does Corinth Films also own the 1926-1929 silent Hal Roach shorts that appear to be under copyright (Our Gangs, Charley Chase, Max Davidson, etc)? Seems that whole block of later Hal Roach silents is still under copyright by somebody. I know the Kirch Group owns them in Europe.

    Speaking of the Kirich Group, they've been pretty inactive on the Hal Roach stuff this decade, haven't they?
     
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  11. Eastmancolor

    Eastmancolor Stunt Coordinator

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    The home video and television rights for the Laurel and Hardy silent shorts years ago fell into the hands of Richard Feiner, the owner of Pacific Title in Hollywood. He has since passed but his son Phil would now, theoretically, hold the rights.
     
  12. JoHud

    JoHud Producer

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    There was some heresay earlier this year that David Shepard confirmed that Corinth Films just recently got them (which is why they're now on Hulu).

    I admit, I've heard nothing official about it, only forum postings, so Feiner could still have it.
     
  13. kitt1987

    kitt1987 Agent

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    Interesting, I had no idea that the silents (some of them at least) are available on Hulu. Copyright laws are indeed a tangled mess to deal (dealing with the pending WKRP tv release on dvd has been frustrating) with and it's true that properties like Laurel & Hardy do become "corporate hostages" as Brian mentioned.
    Hopefully someday copyright laws can be revised and less difficult to deal with when it comes to older properties like these. First and foremost should be the proper restoration and saving of as much of our motion history as possible and then have hopes that we can enjoy them once again.
     
  14. JoHud

    JoHud Producer

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  15. Squire

    Squire Stunt Coordinator

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  16. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    Miracles do happen! Hope that Hats Off will follow. Mega thanks to JoHud for sharing the news.
     
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  17. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    A lot of rights holders at this point are focused on the future of streaming. They're making HD transfers, but not for blu-ray release. I think we'll see the L&H shorts turn up on streaming before blu.
     
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  18. kitt1987

    kitt1987 Agent

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    I saw this news yesterday and was very excited by this find. Findings like this give me more hope that eventually Hats Off will be found, even if it's a 16 or even 8 mm dupe. Something is better than nothing. Gad this reel is in good hands with Lobster as I'm anxious to watch the missing scenes from my old Image set. :)
     
  19. battlebeast

    battlebeast Screenwriter

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    I can only pray that THE PATRIOT is one day found.
     
  20. Tony Bensley

    Tony Bensley Producer

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    Regarding the recent buzz surrounding the Amazing find of the complete second Reel of Laurel & Hardy's THE BATTLE OF THE CENTURY, there has been some discrepancy about whether the Insurance segment with Eugene Pallette (Which is from the heretofore non extant portion of the Reel One) has also been found. In addition, the initial Fade In/Fadeout of Stan & Babe bumping into and tripping over things closes out Reel One, according to this shooting script from the 1990's Reconstructed version of TBOTC.


    THE BATTLE OF THE CENTURY Shooting Script (From THE LOST FILMS OF LAUREL & HARDY, VOLUME 9 By Image Entertainment):

    TBOTC - End Of Part 1 - Start Of Part 2.jpg


    Hopefully, we'll find out more regarding the last few minutes of Reel One in due course!


    CHEERS! :)


    *******************************************UPDATE**********************************************


    It has been reliably reported by Essanay Paul (Paul Mular) that the found footage consists of Reel Two, from beginning to end. Once the restoration is finished, THE BATTLE OF THE CENTURY will be about 90% complete!
     

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