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


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#41 of 625 OFFLINE   Scott MacGillivray

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Posted July 19 2011 - 05:14 PM

UCLA is undertaking the restoration of most of the Hal Roach library. A few features have already been completed, but it will be years before all the titles have been restored. (There are dozens and dozens of picture and sound reels that must be examined for the Laurel & Hardy subjects alone.) So this will be time-consuming and labor-intensive, and we won't see the fruits of these labors for awhile yet. The DVD set should be the best-quality Laurel & Hardy prints we've seen thus far. I gather that these are the same editions that RHI prepared for the American Movie Classics network, which are uncut and have the original title footage intact, now even better in remastered high definition.

#42 of 625 OFFLINE   Evan Case

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Posted July 19 2011 - 05:39 PM

Oh, now this is something I've been waiting for for over a decade! I bought each of the silent film discs as they were released back in the late 90s, but my talkie fix had to rely on thrice-dubbed SLP-recordings from AMC and an ever-weakening and forlorn hope that my favorite comedies of all-time had surely not been forsaken. But now I can break out my soft shoes and dance once more! :) :) :) P.S. I've bought both versions of your book, Scott, and I just wanted to let you know I thought it was wonderful. They may not be Sons of the Desert or Way Out West, but I'd like to thank you for helping to redeem the reputations of The Big Noise and The Bullfighters, et al. I always felt they were better films than the "BOMBs" and half-derbies assigned them in the usual literature. (Still don't care for Nothing But Trouble, though :) )
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#43 of 625 OFFLINE   Steve...O

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Posted July 19 2011 - 06:48 PM

Thanks for chiming in this thread, Scott!  For those who are unaware, Mr. MacGillivray, besides being a terrific gentleman, wrote one of the best L&H books around, "From the 40s Forward".  I highly recommend it.   Another L&H author is Randy Skretvedt who wrote "Magic Behind the Movies".  He has posted much info on his facebook page about this set and it will answer a lot of questions.  He says that he has asked Dick Bann (who has been the driving force behind this set) for info on the HD transfers (whether they went back to 35mm negatives, etc.).  He does say that this is not a straight port of the UK set which I've seen posted around the 'net..   RHI posted this on their wall:  
Quote:
Yes, there will be the foreign language versions, alternate versions (for example A CHUMP AT OXFORD will have the Streamliner and the Extended versions), plus some of their "cameo" films. Also, the special features, including a tribute documentary, are completely new. 
  I think this was posted earlier, but Amazon has already put up the pre-order page.  It's currently $69.99 with the usual price guarantees.
Please help UCLA restore the Laurel & Hardy films: https://www.cinema.u...aurel-and-hardy

#44 of 625 OFFLINE   rdf8585

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Posted July 19 2011 - 08:19 PM

After seeing their 40's FOX/MGM films for the first time last month, I bought Scott's book. I have not been disappointed by it and would recommend buying it to anyone here. As an aside, I was impressed by their 40's FOX/MGM films. I thought they were ALL good. Some better than others, but I'd recommend any of them. Randy Skretvedt's book is also smart purchase.

#45 of 625 OFFLINE   Sumnernor

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Posted July 20 2011 - 03:59 AM

Speaking of books about laurel & Hardy, I have "The Laurel & Haqrdy Encyclopedia"   by  Glenn Mitch which is printed in England and I believ the US

#46 of 625 OFFLINE   Steve...O

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Posted July 20 2011 - 04:16 AM

The following was posted earlier today by Dick Bann and addresses many of the questions.   This release is clearly a first class effort (and a labor of love by those who truly care about preserving the L&H legacy):


==================================================================


 


 


LAUREL & HARDY VIVENDI PRESS RELEASE ADDENDA

Having been besieged with inquiries, e-mails, and phone calls yesterday and today, there is only time for a fast summary response in hopes of clarifying some few details beyond what was conveyed in the much more official Vivendi press release.

First, no colorization. Second, no silents. Third, we do have all the sound shorts and features still part of the HRS library, including all extant foreign versions, except for the Spanish PARDON US.

Fourth, or number four, or quatro, as the case may be, if you are serious about understanding what’s happening here, please read the four part essay on film preservation at www.laurel-and-hardy.com.

Once you comprehend everything there, I can add (or repeat) that we spent millions of dollars (bought with Euros) painstakingly restoring and preserving the Hal Roach library between 1985 and 2002. The work was done for the copyright proprietor in the Eastern Hemisphere, CCA, which licensed the Universal boxed set in England. We did this work in Los Angeles at Film Tech, relying primarily on the nitrate that came out of the HRS Culver City vaults and its labs and its storage depots on the East Coast in the 1960s that were subsequently housed for years at the LOC before we pulled everything out of there and brought it all back to Los Angeles to do this project, before I finally steered these same elements to UCLA where they reside today. And as Hal Roach would ask if he were explaining this, “Is that clear?”

As we labored long at Film Tech, we sent both a 35mm fine grain and 35mm dupe neg overseas to Munich, and offered a twin of the fine grain to RHI in Los Angeles, at cost. They elected to take fine grains on all the sound Our Gangs and Laurel & Hardys, which were supposed to last from here to eternity (1953). Almost immediately, however, RHI (including when it was controlled by Hallmark, now happily out of the picture) proceeded to misplace or lose a bunch of them. Hence the several unpleasant circumstances surrounding the Our Gang DVD release by the ironically named Genius Products, LLC. Leonard Maltin and I tried to tell them…they wouldn’t listen. So now they’re out of business.

RHI’s new licensee, however, is Vivendi. We made sure that this time RHI physically turned over to Vivendi’s standards conversion house the 35mm fine grains I gave them originally, and for the ones they lost or misplaced we got access to the corresponding duplicate 35mm film elements in Munich.

That leads to the answer many want to get at: yes, these are newly performed conversions of 35mm fine grains. We did not rework old tape masters. We went back to Kodak Fine Grain Film. F-I-L-M. So we did not start with video; we started with film, the kind with sprockets. Plus, the new masters derived therefrom have indeed been digitally enhanced, so that these subjects can be presented in superb Hi-Def for the first time anywhere by anyone.

Are they perfect? No. Are you perfect? Probably not. Joe E. Brown said it for everyone, “Nobody’s perfect.” Is any little frame missing? Is anything missing? What are you missing? Do you look as good as you did 80 years ago? Do you notice any new lines and abrasions? Are you as sharp as you were 40 years ago? How about 10 years ago? How much is a digital enhancement going to improve any of us?

So, again, brand new film transfers in High Definition using the same 35mm fine grains we created between 1985 and 2002 from the best surviving nitrate preprint material we could locate anywhere in the world. Plus digital cleanup, digitally enhanced. In addition, we have also just restored – again, for the first time ever, anywhere – all of the original, authentic distributor opening title card sequences with their unique and imaginative design, so coveted by fans for so long. Including by me, as my old boss Kent D. Eastin of Blackhawk Films could testify if he were still here.

The Vivendi DVDs are not connected to the new, long term project now just beginning at UCLA, which will first have to raise the money for this task, then do the work. WAY OUT WEST and HELPMATES were done within the last few years, and I believe SCRAM! is next in line. So the worthwhile but lengthy and arduous UCLA effort is only beginning. In any case, remember the copyright rests with CCA and RHI in their respective halves of the world, not with UCLA.

I hope all that will answer some of the key concerns.

Finally, some comments on UCLA’s project, and the essay they asked me to write, the full version of which, as mentioned, appears on our website in Munich.

All of us want to believe we are doing something useful with our lives, something that matters, something that leaves lasting marks. Something that speaks to future generations, to show we were here, and made a difference. Time travel is an important component of my attraction to classic films. Did all that talent in these great Hal Roach comedies realize they were communicating with millions of people not yet born at that time? Those of us who receive that communication today and in the future...how can we respond? What should we do?

We want to let these artists and technicians know they didn't do all that work for nothing. That we enjoy and honor the entertainment value offered, and that we treasure the living history they have unwittingly given us. And one meaningful thing we can do and one way we can respond is to support film preservation efforts. It is important to do so. Yes my essay will make some fans cringe. The story is painful; in fact it is worse than you know. I softened and concealed some of the worst incidents. And yes it is easy for us to look back and criticize the careless custodians of these treasures. The studios, the distributors, the exhibitors, and all those people weren’t perfect. We are not perfect, either. In fact we have some responsibility here too, because we have an opportunity now to be part of the film preservation effort at UCLA. To make another run at saving these films, from a different point of view. The more preservation the better. Corporate preservation in Munich. Institutional preservation in Los Angeles. This second opportunity is something all of us can get involved in, at any level of participation.

If these films mean something to you, please do get involved. Or, as recruiting Sergeant Tom Kennedy said so eloquently in PACK UP YOUR TROUBLES, “How about it?”

Meanwhile, if laughter is what you are after, sit back; relax in depth, anticipating that very soon you will be able to enjoy the best of all shows – the immortal Hal Roach comedies of Laurel & Hardy. This cherished collection brings them all back, into exceedingly sharp focus. They look better than ever.



-- Richard W. Bann 

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

#47 of 625 OFFLINE   Sumnernor

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Posted July 20 2011 - 04:58 AM

Richard Bann stated "the full version of which, as mentioned, appears on our website in Munich." What website. I am interested since I live in Munich. In my post 46 I stated "As far as I know the films from the English release come from Kinowelt. The L&H disks were restored by the Kirch-Group (I believe in Leipsig.) " I assume there has been some communication between Mr. Bann (is he here in Munich??) and the Kirch Group.   I will probably publish my blurb about the german L & H - NOT because people might buy them (they are out of print but reissued) but it will give an idea what is available. The UK's come from germany. At some time (I haver lots to do) I will try to list where the "available" L&H are with a comparison of the UK and german sets. There are a few things NOT in the UK set but in the german sets.  

#48 of 625 OFFLINE   Skretvedt

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Posted July 20 2011 - 08:32 AM

Thank you, Steve...O and Ryan for your kind words about my book. The new DVD set will be wonderful. I don't know specifics about packaging, although I can tell you that the DVD market has deteriorated to such an extent that this project had one-fourth the budget of the Genius Little Rascals box set. The Vivendi/RHI team has done spectacular work, especially given the financial constraints. The Munich-based website to which Dick Bann refers is here: http://www.laurel-and-hardy.com/ Again, in the proverbial nutshell, this will have all the Laurel and Hardy sound-era material, shorts and features, which is still owned by the successors to the Hal Roach Studios. I don't know why the Spanish version of "Pardon Us" isn't being included, but it appears to be a rights issue. This film ("De Bote en Bote") does exist in excellent quality and is distributed, or at least was, on DVD by Universal in Spain. Here's one copy at least: http://en.todocolecc...nueva~x17203010 All other extant foreign versions will be included. These are all brand new high definition transfers, made from the finest surviving 35mm film elements in the world. As far as I know, these will look as close to original 1930s prints as they possibly can, with all original title elements restored. I believe--although I'm not 100 percent certain--that this set will include "Perfect Day" with the original 1929 track (no music) as well as the familiar 1936 reissue version, and "Brats" with both the 1930 and 1936 music tracks. No silents (which are owned in the US by other parties), no colorized versions. Also no "The Devil's Brother," "Babes in Toyland" or "Bonnie Scotland," but those have been widely available on DVD for years. I haven't seen or heard all of the extras, but I know that the commentary that Dick Bann and I did for "Way Out West" was just swell, worth the cost of the set all by its ownsome (modest coughing). --Randy Skretvedt

#49 of 625 OFFLINE   Rob W

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Posted July 20 2011 - 07:50 PM

Does anyone know if this is U.S. only ? TCM always blacks out the Roach library when they run them on TCM Canada , as I believe the library may have a different owner in Canada (or no owner at all ).

#50 of 625 OFFLINE   Steve...O

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Posted July 21 2011 - 04:05 AM

There is no separate ownership for Canada.  The L&H ownership rights are split into Eastern/Western hemispheres which means all of N America is together.  Canadians (and anyone else who wants to buy this set) will be able to enjoy it as long as they can play region 1 DVDs.  Conversely many Americans were able to import the sets issued by the Eastern Hemishpere owners.
Please help UCLA restore the Laurel & Hardy films: https://www.cinema.u...aurel-and-hardy

#51 of 625 OFFLINE   ahollis

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Posted July 21 2011 - 04:37 AM

 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve...O /forum/thread/313141/vivendi-and-rhi-press-release-laurel-hardy-the-essential-collection/30#post_3833962 Thanks for chiming in this thread, Scott!  For those who are unaware, Mr. MacGillivray, besides being a terrific gentleman, wrote one of the best L&H books around, "From the 40s Forward".  I highly recommend it.  
I second the recommendation on the book "From the 40's Forward."  It cleared up a lot of the L&H history of the later years for me and allowed for new appreciation of the Fox films. 
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#52 of 625 OFFLINE   BarryM

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Posted July 21 2011 - 10:05 AM

Don't know if it's been mentioned, but Amazon is taking preorders for only $69.99.

#53 of 625 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted July 21 2011 - 10:10 AM

Not only is it mentioned, but if you scroll up a bit and look on the right-hand side of the page there is a direct link to Amazon to preorder the title and you would be supporting this forum in the process at no extra charge to you.   Thanks so much guys!

 

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#54 of 625 OFFLINE   Sumnernor

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Posted July 21 2011 - 10:17 AM

There is also a movie called "Pick A Star" from 1937 - it has L & H as guests. Subject to time restraits, I will post more detail about the Germab DVDs done by  the Kirch-Group. As I have botgh the german & UK sets, will list what's missimg.

#55 of 625 OFFLINE   Anthony Neilson

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Posted July 21 2011 - 01:47 PM

I'm so glad to see the work of these comic geniuses finally getting a release in the US. I've never understood why Stan and Ollie were so much more valued here, in the UK, and in Europe. Every few years, the BBC show the sound shorts so that a new generation of children can enjoy them (can't remember the last time, mind you; hopefully that's not a thing of the past). But I've seen interviews with American teenagers who don't seem to have any idea who they are. That's a crying shame, as I've found that kids respond really well to them, and don't care that they're in black and white. Not only are they consummate physical (and verbal) comedians, there is real, warm insight into the human condition in all their work. All the "fine messes" they get into are born from an overwhelming desire to do good. They are essentially well-meaning children, stranded helplessly inside adult bodies, trying valiantly to deal with the pressures aduthood brings and failing spectacularly. There's a bit of Stan and Ollie in all of us. It is a pity that these won't be released on BD, however minimal the benefits.I guess we'll have to wait for the UCLA project to complete. But I'll happily double-dip on these if there's an upgrade in PQ from the UK/Dutch sets and some decent extras. Anyone have any idea on how many commentaries there'll be? I'd also love to see some features on the hugely talented supporting players, like James Finlayson and Billy Gilbert, to name only two.
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#56 of 625 OFFLINE   Mark Y

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Posted July 21 2011 - 04:47 PM

Thank you, Steve...O and Ryan for your kind words about my book. The new DVD set will be wonderful. I don't know specifics about packaging, although I can tell you that the DVD market has deteriorated to such an extent that this project had one-fourth the budget of the Genius Little Rascals box set. The Vivendi/RHI team has done spectacular work, especially given the financial constraints.

The Munich-based website to which Dick Bann refers is here: http://www.laurel-and-hardy.com/

Again, in the proverbial nutshell, this will have all the Laurel and Hardy sound-era material, shorts and features, which is still owned by the successors to the Hal Roach Studios. I don't know why the Spanish version of "Pardon Us" isn't being included, but it appears to be a rights issue. This film ("De Bote en Bote") does exist in excellent quality and is distributed, or at least was, on DVD by Universal in Spain. Here's one copy at least: http://en.todocolecc...nueva~x17203010 All other extant foreign versions will be included. These are all brand new high definition transfers, made from the finest surviving 35mm film elements in the world. As far as I know, these will look as close to original 1930s prints as they possibly can, with all original title elements restored.

I believe--although I'm not 100 percent certain--that this set will include "Perfect Day" with the original 1929 track (no music) as well as the familiar 1936 reissue version, and "Brats" with both the 1930 and 1936 music tracks.

No silents (which are owned in the US by other parties), no colorized versions. Also no "The Devil's Brother," "Babes in Toyland" or "Bonnie Scotland," but those have been widely available on DVD for years.

I haven't seen or heard all of the extras, but I know that the commentary that Dick Bann and I did for "Way Out West" was just swell, worth the cost of the set all by its ownsome (modest coughing).

--Randy Skretvedt

Everything I read about this release sounds better and better!

That's a bummer about the Spanish Pardon Us not being included. AMC ran it only once back in the 1990s -- it was on in the middle of the night, I set a VCR timer for it but it ended up running later than scheduled (or something) and I didn't get the whole film. A US distributor released it on VHS some years ago along with other L&H Spanish films and I was a little surprised to see Film Classics titles reading "Stan Laurel y Oliver Hardy." I don't for the life of me remember if the AMC showing had original titles or not.

Sounds great about the original and reissue audio track on Perfect Day -- prior to reading your post I had no idea the original version had been found.

Looking forward to your Way Out West commentary -- that's my favorite L&H film and the one I'd really recommend to introduce someone to Laurel & Hardy.

One question: Can anyone confirm if the shorts Unaccustomed As We Are and They Go Boom will be included or not? My understanding was they were in the hands of whichever entity holds the rights to the silents -- but TCM did show both along with the other 38 shorts during their most recent marathon. If they are not there, I guess it's no biggie, since they were released as part of the Lost Films series. That series also included the silent version of Unaccustomed -- I wonder how many of the early talkie shorts had alternate silent versions released, and how many exist today, and whether there are any unique differences. A friend tells me the silent version of Brats surfaced, of all places, in one of those cheapie cut-down standard 8 home-movie editions from Carnival Films, or Coast, or somebody -- it had the original intertitles.

Looking forward to this set -- I've already preordered it, which is something I almost never do.

#57 of 625 OFFLINE   Albert71292

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Posted July 21 2011 - 07:32 PM

Been waiting AGES for a release like this! Would have preferred a Blu-ray release, but DVD upconverted on my TV will still look better than those old "LP" speed VHS "Video Treasures" releases I bought in the 1980's, and those two shoddy Hallmark DVDs! Already pre-ordered from Amazon!

Anyone else have this book? It's a great history of Laurel & Hardy's films. Ordered it through a premium movie book club I was a member of back in the 80's for a while... can't for the life of me remember the club name today though!

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#58 of 625 OFFLINE   Bradskey

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Posted July 21 2011 - 09:15 PM

Looking forward to this release, but I also don't understand not offering this on blu-ray. I'm guessing it isn't going to be too far removed in quality from my UK boxset, which while suffering PAL speedup (which I can barely perceive), does include the silents. So at least offer me hi-def, instead of talking about wonderful HD transfers which I can't really enjoy when they are then reduced back to SD on DVD.

#59 of 625 OFFLINE   JoHud

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Posted July 21 2011 - 10:59 PM

Looking forward to this release, but I also don't understand not offering this on blu-ray. I'm guessing it isn't going to be too far removed in quality from my UK boxset, which while suffering PAL speedup (which I can barely perceive), does include the silents. So at least offer me hi-def, instead of talking about wonderful HD transfers which I can't really enjoy when they are then reduced back to SD on DVD.
I dunno, HQ transfers can make a big difference, even on DVD. Though if you're happy with the UK release, mixed feelings of a double dip on the same format is certainly something I can relate to.

#60 of 625 OFFLINE   WadeM

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Posted July 22 2011 - 04:16 AM

Glad Hallmark's out of the picture. Glad these are being released. A bit sad that Laurel & Hardy weren't given the respect deserved during DVD's golden age. Really though, this is exciting news!




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