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Robert Harris

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For those who have never heard of Laurel & Hardy, they were a silent, and later sound comedy duo, who were among the most beloved of any comedy team on film. Over a hundred years after appearing in theaters, their work is still entertaining fans around the globe.

Since their early films were produced by independents and the Sennett studio, original negatives were used to strike prints and few have survived. Some productions have no 35mm lavenders, or later masters, and many have no 35 dupe negatives. When 16mm survives, we can consider ourselves lucky.

The story here is the passion, work and funding that has gone into creating Year One, which not long ago would have been considered an impossible task.

For those who love the works of Laurel & Hardy, we owe a great debt of gratitude to finally have these equally films on Blu-ray, with Serge Bromberg and the late David Shepard at the top of the list. Normally, I would consider these restorations, but as has been noted in other threads, that term no longer applies.

I'll just say that these films have been stuck together from a multitude of different elements in various gauges, and thanks must go to Archives, Collectors and other sources - whether the contributed element is a full film or a scrap.

A monograph (Souvenir booklet) at 36 pages is a nice addition, as are the myriad of quality extras.

I'll allow readers to wonder through this release at their own speed. It's not a sit down - one and done situation.

What I personally found most interesting viewing these early shorts was that we can literally see the two actors at the beginning of their careers as the separate players in a single film, who are in no way connected, begin to grow into one of the finest comedy teams in the history of the cinema.

To my way of thinking, this should be an award-winning creation, that deserves a place in every serious cinema library, and especially in those who have yet to experience the works of the very English Arthur Stanley Jefferson and Oliver Norvell Hardy of the great State of Georgia.

This is a big deal.

It's even a bigger deal that whatever was done to make the films prettier was done nicely, and the films still look like film.

I've sampled enough of the shorts - going back to the 1921 Lucky Dog, which although from disparate elements, looks fine. Others, based upon 35mm appear gorgeous. So zero concerns for quality.


This is a gift for the ages from Flicker Alley! Anyone balking at the $40 MSRP should be advised that this worth that and more - in spades!

Image – n/a - but generally lovely

Audio – n/a

Pass / Fail – Pass

Plays nicely with projectors - Yes

Worth your attention - 10

Slipcover rating - n/a

Very Highly Recommended

RAH


Thank you for supporting HTF when you preorder using the link below. As an Amazon Associate, HTF earns from qualifying purchases. If you are using an adblocker you will not see link.

 
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JimMiller

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I can't wait to get my copy! I've been collecting L&H since they were offered by Blackhawk Films, since I was a kid. I knew nothing about source material, restoration, etc. Now, I'll be watching these with a more educated and appreciative eye. My sincere and profound thanks to all who worked on this project, and looking forward to the next set.
 

brynmill

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mark bale
and there's a good chance that when they get around to volume 3 1929, that set will include the silent versions of their early talkies
 
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Skretvedt

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Thanks for your kind words about this project, Mr. Harris. Having looked at poor-quality copies of these films for more than 50 years, it is a revelation to see these stunning new transfers. The films are now much funnier, because the nuances in the performances have been restored. And as I noted in a commentary, Laurel and Hardy are the only movie comedy team where you get to see the partnership solidifying on film. All of the other teams came to movies fully-formed from vaudeville, Broadway, burlesque or radio. It will be odd to many people to see L&H as enemies (as they are in "Slipping Wives") but it's fascinating to see "Stan and Ollie" in rudimentary form in "Duck Soup," "Do Detectives Think?" and "The Second 100 Years." And one gentle correction -- L&H never worked for Sennett (Babe Hardy did appear in one Sennett short, "Crazy to Act," in 1926). Their films from "45 Minutes to Hollywood" to the feature "Saps at Sea," shot in late 1939, were produced by Hal Roach.
 
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Robert Harris

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Thanks for your kind words about this project, Mr. Harris. Having looked at poor-quality copies of these films for more than 50 years, it is a revelation to see these stunning new transfers. The films are now much funnier, because the nuances in the performances have been restored. And as I noted in a commentary, Laurel and Hardy are the only movie comedy team where you get to see the partnership solidifying on film. All of the other teams came to movies fully-formed from vaudeville, Broadway, burlesque or radio. It will be odd to many people to see L&H as enemies (as they are in "Slipping Wives") but it's fascinating to see "Stan and Ollie" in rudimentary form in "Duck Soup," "Do Detectives Think?" and "The Second 100 Years." And one gentle correction -- L&H never worked for Sennett (Babe Hardy did appear in one Sennett short, "Crazy to Act," in 1926). Their films from "45 Minutes to Hollywood" to the feature "Saps at Sea," shot in late 1939, were produced by Hal Roach.
Any way you could be persuaded to release your books on Kindle? I’m aware it’s not the easiest thing when images are involved.
 

Paul Penna

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I am excited to watch “Battle of the Century.” Is it uncut, or are there still missing scenes?
A single brief one at the end of reel one is all that's still missing. An exterior with Eugene Pallette selling the two an accident insurance policy. It's reconstructed with two stills and newly-produced titles.
 
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Traveling Matt

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This arrived today. Kudos to Flicker Alley for the super fast shipping - I don't think I've ever received a title directly from a label in two days flat before. Haven't watched anything yet but the booklet is a terrific compliment to this volume, providing both element history and restoration information for each film along with a synopsis.
 

bujaki

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Jose Ortiz-Marrero
Flicker Alley is awesome! Keep up the good work.
That's why I have every single one of their releases, from spine #001 forward. And it's always best to buy directly from them.
Join their mailing list if you still haven't done so.
 
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Rob_Ray

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Any way you could be persuaded to release your books on Kindle? I’m aware it’s not the easiest thing when images are involved.
I relayed your request to Randy Skretvedt who replies "Hello -- "The Laurel & Hardy Movie Scripts, Volume 2" is available on Kindle, here (I confess that I haven't seen this format of it, since I am an old-fashioned book kind of guy): https://bonaventurepress.com/laurel-hardy-movie-scripts-volume-2/

I know that Bonaventure Press is planning a Kindle version of "Magic Behind the Movies," although why anyone would want to read a 630-page book with 1,000 photographs on a tiny Kindle screen is beyond me. But then there are people who will watch "Ben-Hur" on their phones, so....."
 
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Robert Harris

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I relayed your request to Randy Skretvedt who replies "Hello -- "The Laurel & Hardy Movie Scripts, Volume 2" is available on Kindle, here (I confess that I haven't seen this format of it, since I am an old-fashioned book kind of guy): https://bonaventurepress.com/laurel-hardy-movie-scripts-volume-2/

I know that Bonaventure Press is planning a Kindle version of "Magic Behind the Movies," although why anyone would want to read a 630-page book with 1,000 photographs on a tiny Kindle screen is beyond me. But then there are people who will watch "Ben-Hur" on their phones, so....."
I use the Scribe, and love it!
 

Patrick McCart

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The Laurel and Hardy silents have been in my "top wish list" titles for the longest time. Back in 2008, I was lucky enough to spend a day in London and ventured over to the Virgin Megastore in Soho. Partly because it was my chance to pick up some UK DVDs. My first selection was The African Queen, but it didn't take long until I spotted a gigantic box set containing the almost complete silent and sound Laurel and Hardy produced by Hal Roach. Only missing the two features retained by MGM, now owned by Warner (Bonnie Scotland and The Devil's Brother) and the one that eventually ended up at the current MGM (Babes in Toyland/March of the Wooden Soldiers). I had to borrow a second suitcase to bring it back, along with the other souvenirs I found. The irony of having to go across the Atlantic to get DVDs of one of the United States' most iconic comedy duos wasn't lost on me. Some years later, when having to liquidate much of my collection for space and money issues, out it went (at least it helped pay most of a month of rent when I sold it).

With the excellent sound films DVD set and the problematic, but still worthwhile Blu-ray set containing their sound work, I'm looking forward to owning anything Lobster and Flicker Alley puts out of the Boys. While I think 1927 is light on my favorites (most will come next year and the year after), I think the new restorations will be a chance for me to rediscover the comedies. While most of the sound films looked and sounded pretty nice on the UK DVDs, American DVDs, and the selection on the more recent Blu-ray set, the silents fared far worse outside the US. Thankfully, some of the most iconic ones like Big Business and the formerly less complete Battle of the Century still looked nice, I felt the silents often were from much worse film materials than the briefly available US DVDs released under the "The Lost Films of Laurel and Hardy" despite being newer transfers/masters. And those I only got to sample when renting from Netflix about 20 years ago.

I just received my copy today and had a chance to peek at a few shorts. Beautiful! No attempt to scrub away grain or filmic aspects of the image, while handling difficult condition sections well. I know some people were concerned about watermarks (as seen on Melies Fairy Tales) and there's simply a copyright notice added to title cards. Pretty reasonable so Lobster's fine work isn't passed off as someone else's. This makes me even more excited for the next few volumes. Perhaps it won't be too much to ask that Lobster continue working on L&H through the sound era. I have no issue re-buying the sound films if it means a more careful touch.
 

Rob W

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I know that Bonaventure Press is planning a Kindle version of "Magic Behind the Movies," although why anyone would want to read a 630-page book with 1,000 photographs on a tiny Kindle screen is beyond me. But then there are people who will watch "Ben-Hur" on their phones, so....."
Anyone who travels a lot will vouch for the convenience of being able to read on a Kindle/iPad as comfortable travel involves keeping your travel load as light and uncluttered as possible.
 

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