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Laurel and Hardy shorts on dvd?


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#1 of 72 paul_austin

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Posted January 01 2009 - 11:11 AM

I've been watching the new 3 stooges and little rascals boxes and seeing these has made me want to watch some Laurel and Hardy shorts. Now back when I had a laserdisc player I remember they started coming out with really great looking remastered versions. However looking around at dvds I see a hodgepodge and I'm sot sure which ones to look to for the best restored image. Any advice?
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#2 of 72 Sumnernor

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Posted January 04 2009 - 08:24 AM

There appears to be very little Laurel & Hardy released in the US!!!????? One item mentioned in the GAC forum that appears to be very good is the MGM "March of the Wooden Soldiers" which is really the B&W version of Babes in Toyland. If you can handle PAL and perhaps Reg 2, your answer comes from Europe. In Germany I have bought most/all of the L&H from Kinowelt. Those seem to be generally out of print. There is a set in england using the Kinowelt versions that alot of people have recommend. The Amazon UK price is too expensive. Search this forum and perhaps the GAC forums for more details. Recently released in Germany was "Hollywood Party" which had 2 Laurel & Hardys (including the "egg" scene) and a disney cartoon. The movie itself is not so good.

#3 of 72 Patrick McCart

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Posted January 04 2009 - 08:46 AM

I picked up the UK L&H set, which has all of their Hal Roach films and silents except for the Warner-owned ones and March of the Wooden Soldiers. Not perfect, but they're almost all progressive (some of the silents are interlaced) and image quality is at least much better than the two dismal Artisan volumes. it was only $100 US when I bought it.

#4 of 72 Steve...O

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Posted January 04 2009 - 09:00 AM

The absence of the L&H Roach library in R1 continues to be disgrace. I also had to import the UK set to get my fix. It's not perfect (I hate the padding caused by the inclusion of colorized shorts in addition to the B&W and PAL speed up may annoy some consumers) but the sound shorts are generally in good shape and there are English subtitles which is a nice touch. The real prize are the various foreign language shorts that the boys made. Be aware though that the silents are not as good A/V wise as what the R1 "Lost Films" DVDs were.

The sad thing is....if the 3 Stooges model were followed, the sound shorts could be issued in two volumes (there's only 40 of them). Good source materials do exist for most of these shorts and I believe UCLA has been doing some restoration work on these.

If only WHV controlled these....
Please help UCLA restore the Laurel & Hardy films: https://www.cinema.u...aurel-and-hardy

#5 of 72 Patrick McCart

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Posted January 04 2009 - 03:01 PM

The L&H "shorts" range from around 16 minutes to 40, with most of the "features" running only 50-70 minutes.

I've only been able to compare a handful of the silents, but Big Business, Two Tars, From Soup to Nuts, and The Second Hundred Years all have superior quality transfers than the R1 editions.

If you were to knock out all the colorizations on the Universal R2 discs, you'd have only about 90 minutes of original B&W content per disc.

#6 of 72 paul_austin

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Posted January 04 2009 - 04:23 PM

thank you for all the info.....very sad indeed...the boys deserve so much more
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#7 of 72 Ronald Epstein

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Posted January 04 2009 - 09:38 PM

Add me to the list of people very disappointed over the lack of
consideration given to Laurel and Hardy here in the U.S.

I agree the best bet right now, if you have a region free player capable
of PAL playback, is to buy the UK boxed set. At $100 (or perhaps less)
it's a treasure trove of L&H shorts.

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#8 of 72 Mark Zimmer

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Posted January 05 2009 - 04:07 AM

The UK box is indeed excellent. The Amazon price varies widely for reasons I don't understand but frequently drops down near $100, and if you're PAL-capable you should definitely snag it when it does so. The R1 rights owners are clearly idiots.

#9 of 72 Richard--W

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Posted January 05 2009 - 04:57 AM

I've thought about buying the region 2 collection before, but I worry about the 4% PAL speed-up undermining the meticulous timing that is so vital to Laurel and Hardy's comedy. This speed-up seems more noticable in some films than in others; why, I can't say. Has anyone noticed its effect on Laurel and Hardy?

#10 of 72 Paul Penna

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Posted January 05 2009 - 05:16 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard--W
I've thought about buying the region 2 collection before, but I worry about the 4% PAL speed-up undermining the meticulous timing that is so vital to Laurel and Hardy's comedy. This speed-up seems more noticable in some films than in others; why, I can't say. Has anyone noticed its effect on Laurel and Hardy?

It's proved to be enough of a problem for me that it makes me reluctant to watch any of the Universal UK set now that I've gotten it. I think it's because the sound of their voices and the music has become so ingrained in my mind through countless viewings over a period of 50+ years that everything just seems oddly off. For some reason, unlike other relatively minor sensory differences, like variations in color temperature in video displays or of frequency response speaker systems, this isn't something that I find myself acclimatizing to; it constantly calls attention to itself. That's my experience, anyway.

#11 of 72 Patrick McCart

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Posted January 05 2009 - 05:51 AM

It might just be my player (all-region 1080p HDMI upscale Philips), but I can't detect any PAL speedup on the original B&Ws. From what I can tell, they are PAL, so maybe the player corrects the speed. I couldn't notice any PAL speedup on the Carlton R2 of The African Queen, either.

The colorized versions do have speedup and they're even more unwatchable.

#12 of 72 WadeM

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Posted January 05 2009 - 11:46 AM

The treatment of Laurel & Hardy in R1 is insane.
BTW, are the later Laurel & Hardy put out by Fox as bad as their reputation?

#13 of 72 Rob W

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Posted January 05 2009 - 12:10 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by WadeM
The treatment of Laurel & Hardy in R1 is insane.
BTW, are the later Laurel & Hardy put out by Fox as bad as their reputation?


There are a number of fans out there on discussion groups who have been suggesting that the 40's Fox and MGM films have been unfairly maligned over the years and are actually much better than John McCabe, William K. Everson and Leonard Maltin have judged them. ( These men were at the forefront of L & H appreciation during the days when books were the major source of information and support for films. ) Stan Laurel himself was reportedly not very proud of these films. My own opinion is that they are certainly not overlooked gems but a couple of them have more than a fair share of good scenes.

The transfers on these titles are generally superb and most of us are happy to spend any time with the boys, even when they're not at their best.

#14 of 72 Steve...O

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Posted January 05 2009 - 01:39 PM

Richard W - the 4% speedup doesn't bother me; perhaps I am not as sensitive to it as others. Much of their comedy is visual and doesn't require dialogue so perhaps that is why I don't notice it as much.

Wade - just my personal opinion, but I rather like the Fox films. The Big Noise in particular is a very funny film. The sense I get is that Stan started the hatefest of these films because he was upset at not having the creative control that he did at Roach. McCabe et al just followed Stan's lead. Randy Skretvedt, a L&H scholar who did commentaries on these sets, even makes a public apology of sorts during them stating that these films were unfairly criticized by him and others. All films save one look superb. Fox goofed on one film and used a 16mm print instead of the 35mm version; it still looks pretty good though.

I suppose a L&H set in R1 may depend on how the Our Gang set did since they're supposedly owned by the same people. I hope that the unnecessary flaws in the Our Gang set are not present though.

There's one other thing about the UK set that drives me up the wall: during the iconic "Trail of the Lonesome Pine" sequence the print has a very nasty splice that just ruins the scene. Oddly the colorized version doesn't have it. Also, the B&W version of one of the early features has a few minutes missing whereas the colorized version is complete. All other films are complete though and the pluses outweigh the minuses for me on this set.
Please help UCLA restore the Laurel & Hardy films: https://www.cinema.u...aurel-and-hardy

#15 of 72 WadeM

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Posted January 06 2009 - 11:10 AM

Thanks for the input Rob & Steve.
I think I'll pick up the volume that has the Big Noise in another week or so. If I don't like the movies in that set, then I'll sell it. Otherwise, of course, I'll pick up the other volume.

#16 of 72 Sumnernor

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Posted January 07 2009 - 04:04 AM

The following is the ?most Recent? thread on HTF:

http://www.hometheat....dy-boxset.html

There is another thread that lists the L&H:

'Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy stuck together through thick and thin --
one pocketbook between them -- always empty.' (Laugng Gravy, 1931)


That link is somewhat old. On Amazon-uk I looked at the info about the L&H set. It says that Babes in Toyland and The Flying Deuces are missing. They are both on the Kinowelt set and I suspect they ARE on the british set. Could that be confirmed by someone with the British set. I will also mention that generally the colored version of Babes in Toyland is called "The March of the Wooden Soldiers".

The MGM "The March of the Wooden Soldiers" is really the B&W version of "Babes in Toyland". I have heard in other forums that this is very good. 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

The german versions is sort of out of print, I am trying to list exactly what that series has. The source of the english box comes from Kinowelt - not the colorized versions,

#17 of 72 John Hodson

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Posted January 07 2009 - 10:24 AM

The MGM version of 'Babes in Toyland' is superb and quite the best version to buy. Kino's 'Flying Deuces' is not pristine, but comes via Lobster Films in France who can usually be relied on to do great work (though surely Warners hold the best possible elements?)
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#18 of 72 Mark Y

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Posted January 07 2009 - 02:25 PM

Here are a few random observations that may help...

"The Chimp" has the original 1932 theatrical titles (with the names smashing through a circus hoop) on the German Kinowelt DVD, but the UK DVD has the Film Classics reissue titles (with the intro text titles reversed, so they make no sense).

"Way Out West" on the German set has the same splice during "The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine" as mentioned on the UK set. However, on the German-dubbed version, it's fine (and the songs are left in English).

Certain films on the German DVDs have some sections where the German subtitles cannot be turned off...apparently, this is because the German-language versions of those films had a few scenes missing, so they revert to the English versions with German subtitles. Good if you speak German, not so good if you're in the US and speak English. Titles affected include "Our Relations," "Pack Up Your Troubles," "Blotto" and "Chickens Come Home" (off the top of my head).

"We Faw Down" has the complete original Vitaphone score on the German DVD release (probably the UK too, but I don't have any of the UK DVDs), but the US release as part of the "Lost Films" series has a composite Vitaphone score for the first reel.

The Kino version of "The Flying Deuces" is the best version available yet, but still leaves something to be desired. The title sequence is subbed from a 16mm Astor Pictures reissue print, so the complete original titles are not there. At the end of the film, the end music plays over a blank black screen, where the cast credits should be. (I wonder if this wasn't sourced from a foreign release print.) On the plus side, this is the first time I have ever heard the closing "Flying Deuces" music NOT riddled by dozens of splices. (BTW, since this originates from a French DVD project, there is a PAL speedup factor involved, but it's not too bad.)

The recent M-G-M "Babes In Toyland" (called "March Of The Wooden Soldiers" according to the box) is indeed the definitive release of the film. However, there are no extras at all, not even a trailer. The trailer can be found on the Goodtimes and Legend DVDs.

A box set called "The Laurel & Hardy Collection" from Passport Video has a bunch of trailers on it. A couple of the Fox trailers ("The Dancing Masters" and "The Bullfighters") have on-screen text missing from the versions on the Fox box set versions. I just recently learned that the "Flying Deuces" trailer on this set is the original 1939 RKO trailer (though it's kind of splicy) and apparently was pretty rare prior to its appearance on this collection. There's supposed to be a reissue trailer (using stills from the film) out there that's more common -- but I've never seen it.

The second 20th Century-Fox box set is the only place to get the complete "Tree In A Test Tube." Granted, the unique footage does not feature Laurel & Hardy, but nonetheless, it's the complete film from an original Technicolor print (supplied to Fox by Scott MacGillivray, as I understand it).

However...the Oliver Hardy "Ship's Reporter" interview is on the Goodtimes "Wooden Soldiers" DVD, in far superior quality compared to the Fox version. (The Goodtimes DVD also includes some color silent Stan Laurel home movies.)

Speaking of the Fox films -- they seem to have undergone somewhat of a "reappraisal" in recent years, but have you ever noticed how a lot of people will say "(name of film) is the best of the lot," but they always name a different film? For me, it's "The Bullfighters."

#19 of 72 BillyFeldman

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Posted January 07 2009 - 04:12 PM

I love the UK set, notice no speedup (it may be there, but it's not noticeable at all - maybe it's my player. The transfers are mostly very good and the packaging is great.

#20 of 72 Mark Y

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Posted January 08 2009 - 11:27 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Hodson
The MGM version of 'Babes in Toyland' is superb and quite the best version to buy. Kino's 'Flying Deuces' is not pristine, but comes via Lobster Films in France who can usually be relied on to do great work (though surely Warners hold the best possible elements?)

I'd love to get to the bottom of that one.

The Flying Deuces was released through RKO, but was an independent production by Boris Morros Productions (much like the Hal Roach L&H films were released through M-G-M, or in the case of the last two, United Artists). At some point TFD ended up being sold or licensed to Astor Pictures (which also re-released The Devil's Brother under the reissue title Bogus Bandits, Bonnie Scotland as Heroes Of The Regiment and Pick A Star as Movie Struck through some arrangement with M-G-M).

So while the RKO library would have ended up in Ted Turner's hands and would now be with Warner Bros., I don't think that's necessarily so for The Flying Deuces. One could argue that if Turner/WB had it, it would have made the TCM Archives DVD set or at least the Classic Comedy Teams set. Also, TCM would have a better version to show on their channel, rather than the Hallmark-licensed 1986 "Hal Roach Studios" master.





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