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Vivendi and RHI Press Release: Laurel & Hardy: The Essential Collection

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Jul 18, 2011.

  1. Professor Echo

    Professor Echo Well-Known Member

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    I got such a good deal on the ESSENTIALS set last Black Friday that I went for it, but dearly miss the silent films. Does the UK set have every one of them on it? Are the "Lost Films" releases the ones from IMAGE? Maybe I could find those at a local library and at least get to see them.
     
  2. Tony Bensley

    Tony Bensley Well-Known Member

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    The UK Universal set has all of the silents in which BOTH Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy appear in, with three notable exceptions: THE LUCKY DOG, which isn't a Hal Roach Film and is thus not included; their long lost HATS OFF; and the Charley Chase silent NOW I'LL TELL ONE, in which they also both appear, and which only reel two is "officially" acknowledged to exist!

    Regarding the "Lost Films" set, they are indeed the ones from Image Entertainment.

    If you're wanting to obtain the boys team silents and own a Multi or All Region Player, my recommendation would be to look into the recently released Australian issue of the Universal set, as it is currently priced much lower than the original UK set (And MUCH, MUCH lower than the "Lost Films" set!), though you'll have to go outside Amazon to order it. Here is a direct link for the set at Aussie based JB Hi-Fi: http://www.jbhifionl...llection/686527

    CHEERS!

    Tony
     
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  3. Sumnernor

    Sumnernor Well-Known Member

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    I agree with Tony. I bought this on June 18, 2009 and it cost me to buy circa 29.55 pounds plus 1.88 pounds postage. Today it costs circa 200 Pounds!!!!! At the time, US people were stating the net cost including postage was circa $50-

    According to my list all the silent films are on the UK and german sets. Note some people consider that the "Lucky Dog" was the first L&H film but not really. They were both in the film but not a pair. Hardy was in fact a "bad" guy.

    In regards to the Australian set , I received several thuings and the region code was 1,2,3,4,5,6.
     
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  4. rmw650

    rmw650 Well-Known Member

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    I'm just happy I got a good deal on the British set that has a lot more material than the standard US edition version and now hearing that the price has escalated on this set makes me even more happy I got this set from Amazon UK to start.
     
  5. Tony Bensley

    Tony Bensley Well-Known Member

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    Today marks 2 years since the release of LAUREL & HARDY: THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION. Since shortly after its release, this marvelous 10 DVD Set has brought me much pleasure and enjoyment. In the process, I've also made some connections and friendships on this and other Forums!

    We can only hope that sometime in the not too distant future, there might be a new Region 1 release of the boys' team silents. I can't really comment further for the moment, but I have some reason to think this may be a least a faint possibility!

    CHEERS!

    Tony
     
  6. Tony Bensley

    Tony Bensley Well-Known Member

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    I'm now able to comment the cause for my hope regarding to possible North American reissue of the Laurel & Hardy Silents. Richard Feiner, who had held the rights to the boys' team Silents in the Americas (And would not re-release them under anything but the most unrealistic terms!), recently passed away at the age of 85. The reason I couldn't say anything initially was that his family needed to be given the time to grieve privately. It is my understanding that his son currently holds the licensing for the L&H Silent Films.

    In my opinion, which I know a number of people share with me, the best way to present these silents would be to issue them as a compact version of the 2011 Essential Collection release. Ideally, this 3 or 4 DVD Collection would include only the Silents which include BOTH Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy (Not also including their respective solo Films and other fillers that won't likely interest MOST consumers, as Michael Agee and I believe, Richard Feiner had previously stipulated!), from 45 MINUTES FROM HOLLYWOOD to ANGORA LOVE. As a bonus, THE LUCKY DOG and the surviving second reel of Charley Chase's NOW I'LL TELL ONE could be included as extras, provided the rights to those titles can be sorted out! In my opinion, LAUREL & HARDY: THE ESSENTIAL SILENTS COLLECTION has a nice ring to it!

    I would be amiss to not mention at least one possible obstacle to the realization of the above scenario. The film stocks for many of the Laurel & Hardy Silents that were used as the source for the 1990's VHS issues of THE LOST FILMS OF LAUREL AND HARDY, having languished in Michael Agee's Non Air Conditioned Garage have sadly, deteriorated beyond use! Richard W. Bann himself has stated this as one reason his acquiring the rights from the late Richard Feiner's son wouldn't be worth the trouble, as the Silent Film Stocks are simply beyond rescuing. Perhaps one alternative might be if the European Film Stocks for the Laurel & Hardy Silents could be accessed. Obviously, we can't expect the quality to be up to the LAUREL & HARDY: THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION'S standard. However, at this point, I for one, would be happy with capable hands (IE. Richard W. Bann and his team!) doing their best, utilizing the best possible Film Stocks available to put together a cohesive collection for current and future Laurel & Hardy Enthusiasts to enjoy!

    CHEERS!

    Tony
     
  7. ahollis

    ahollis Well-Known Member

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    From your mouth to God's ears. That sounds fantastic.
     
  8. Brian McP

    Brian McP Well-Known Member

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    The 2013 Australian release (Universal/Sony) of the 2004 UK set is the one to get -- period, if you have a multi region player. Try JB Hi Fi Australia or eBay for the best deals -- this new set, with all 21 discs, is only slightly larger in size than the 2011 Essential Collection.

    For the record, here's a little list I put together on Amazon of all the rest of the Laurel and Hardy essentials --

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Essential-Laurel-and-Hardy/lm/R1B11NGACOWSP8/ref=cm_lm_byauthor_title_full
     
  9. JoeDoakes

    JoeDoakes Premium
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    I had some questions:

    1. Are the transfers used for the VHS collection the same ones used for Image's DVDs?

    2. Do the transfers still exist?

    3. Especially by the 1990s, why would anyone store fairly unique film stock in a garage?
     
  10. williampl7@aol.com

    williampl7@aol.com Well-Known Member

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    According to Mr. Agee, In the Lost DVD’s, missing was a bathroom scene in “Duck Soup”, the transitional car sequence in “Love 'Em And Weep”, and repairs were also needed on “Liberty”, all were to be restored in the new, never happened, deluxe box set. My question being, does any of this footage exist in the European versions?
     
  11. Tony Bensley

    Tony Bensley Well-Known Member

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    Hello williampl7@aol.com!

    Regarding the Bathroom scene in DUCK SOUP, the following relevant information is on Lord Heath's excellent Another Nice Mess website on its DUCK SOUP page: The bathroom scene was intact on the short-lived/unofficial 2010 Michael Agee reissue of the silents - the only DVD release of any of this extra material to date.

    Below is a link to the Another Nice websites DUCK SOUP Page:
    http://www.lordheath.com/index.php?p=1_47_Duck-Soup

    CHEERS!
     
  12. williampl7@aol.com

    williampl7@aol.com Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for the link info.
     
  13. Brian McP

    Brian McP Well-Known Member

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    I can't believe that nobody would want to touch the original materials, no matter what state their in, even after surviving years in Michael Agee's garage/gulag.

    I'm afraid I'd only go by what the folks at UCLA, in charge of the L&H Restoration project, would have to say after they go through what's left (if they ever get a chance, that is)

    The possibility of 1990s era videotapes becoming the now-new masters for these masterpieces is truly a dispiriting thought.

    Also I'm sorry to hear about Richard Feiner -- no mention of his passing anywhere but here, on the entire internet, which is unbelievable.

    Like Larry Harmon, he held on to his L&H rights with a vice-like grip -- both did do some good things with the property (in Feiner's case, the 1969 Canadian tv series "The Original Laurel & Hardy" comes to mind, an excellent effort to repackage the silents into regular tv episodes, with the help of an excellent visual design and a world class job from former silent pianist and later Canadian bandleader, Horace Lapp) -- but sadly, many people were totally frozen out of any profits from the Boys' work (most notably Lucille Hardy and Stan's family), and entire generations in the US will probably never know the genius of Laurel and Hardy.

    You'd think from this lack of exposure the prints and original materials would be safe -- little did one know that all the negatives were fermenting in some guy's garage....
     
  14. Rob W

    Rob W Well-Known Member

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    My understanding is that the nitrate negatives were beyond salvage. They had basically decomposed into little more than gooey , highly flammable bricks. I don't know if everything he had was worthless or if select titles were lucky enough to survive. This doesn't mean that the films are lost forever, fortunately. Even if the original negative materials are gone, there are likely hundreds of 16 mm prints of the silents around the world that were sold during the several decades that Blackhawks Films sold the L&H films for home and non-theatrical use. Is this comparable to transfers from prime 35 mm material? Obviously not but these prints were made from quality materials and would still look better than the vast majority of silents out there that are mostly taken from scratched and well worn prints. Blackhawk usually replaced the main titles of all of their subjects with generic Blackhawk Films titles, unfortunately. David Shepard took control of the Blackhawk library once the company folded and was still making prints of select titles until about 5 years ago, but I don't know if the L&H titles were still part of the Blackhawk package or not. There may even be some 35mm prints out there among private collectors but collectors are often very wary about revealing their collections publicly.
     
  15. Mark Y

    Mark Y Well-Known Member

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    I have read the Agee stories and that's really a shame -- though all I've read is hearsay on various internet forums, the story is pretty consistent by all accounts. But I'd like to see some documentation some day of what was recovered, to what extent in what shape, etc.

    It's still pretty hard to fathom.

    The thing with the silents is that there isn't really a "definitive" version of the whole set. Agee's versions evolved over time. I got some of the first VHS releases of certain titles. Some had needle-drop music scores and sound effects which I've been told were used by Blackhawk Films on their sound Super 8 and 16mm home movie versions. By the time they made it to DVD they had nearly all been replaced with those Frankensteined re-edited scores from the handful which had vintage Victor (not Vitaphone) soundtracks on original release. Duck Soup also seemed to have some kind of legit original Victor score (not a cut-and-paste score) evidently from some international release. On VHS, Flying Elephants had vintage Kodascope titles. (Not original, but still pretty cool, almost from the era.) In many cases, either the Agee version or the European DVD version of this or that silent short will have better picture quality but a bit of missing footage, which the other one has in lesser quality. It's a completist's nightmare.

    For the silents which didn't have a vintage original score, I will say I prefer the Beau Hunks scores and sound effects on the UK (and German) sets. I'm not crazy about the recreated main titles, intertitles and end titles but I have to say in many of the cases where the originals were badly deteriorated, the recreations on the UK set might as well be the real thing, they are that good. (I say MOST of them.) I know in the case of certain shorts, all they had to work with was a French version with all the text in French, etc.

    It would be nice if Hats Off showed up, but now I'm maybe kind of glad it hasn't up to now...what if it had been found 10 years ago and kept in the garage.
     
  16. Essanay Paul

    Essanay Paul Well-Known Member

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    Rest assure that UCLA does have safety film copies of the surviving silent Laurel & Hardy films. Not the nitrate originals that Agee has, but safety copies made directly from the Nitrate camera originals. These are the materials originally used by Blackhawk to make their negatives.

    1990 video tape would never be the master for any future DVD or Blu-ray release. There are just too many film copies surviving for glitchy videotape to be considered.


    Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum
     
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  17. Essanay Paul

    Essanay Paul Well-Known Member

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    I personally inspected the safety film positive of WRONG AGAIN that was made directly off of the Nitrate camera negatives before shipping it to UCLA for storage. I have also seen their superior copy of BIG BUSINESS that Blackhawk used to make a new re-master negative in the last years they were in business. The details in the wooden door of Jimmy Finlayson's house is amazing. In earlier prints, including Kodak stock Film Classics prints, the door looks mostly black.

    Whatever deterioration of the nitrate masters in Agee's garage happened, it has not wiped good copies of their silent films off of the Earth.

    Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum
     
  18. JoeDoakes

    JoeDoakes Premium
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    Thanks for clearing that up. It's good to know.
     
  19. Rob W

    Rob W Well-Known Member

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    Wonderful news. Thanks for clearing this up, Joe.
     
  20. williampl7@aol.com

    williampl7@aol.com Well-Known Member

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    "WHEW!"
     
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