Must-have for fans 4 Stars

Laurel & Hardy – The Definitive Restorations arrives on Blu-ray from Kit Parker Films and MVD Visual with “restored” versions of two features and several of their two-reel shorts.

The Music Box (1932)
Released: 16 Apr 1932
Rated: Approved
Runtime: 29 min
Director: James Parrott
Genre: Comedy, Short
Cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy
Writer(s): H.M. Walker (dialogue)
Plot: Like the legendary Sisyphus, deliverymen Laurel and Hardy struggle to push a large crated piano up a seemingly insurmountable flight of stairs.
IMDB rating: 8.0
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: Other
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English PCM 1.0 (Mono), English PCM 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 8 Hr. 31 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Case Type: 4-disc Blu-ray keepcase
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: ABC
Release Date: 06/30/2020
MSRP: $79.95

The Production: 4.5/5

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are one of the most famous and well-known comedy teams to come out of Hal Roach Studios, starting in the silent era and segued to even more success as they easily made the transition to sound. Laurel & Hardy – The Definitive Restorations is a collection of two of their feature-length adventures, a long-thought lost silent short, sixteen of their two-reel talkies, two of their special interest shorts, plus galleries, trailers, and interviews.

My father introduced me to this comedy duo when I was growing up, focused mostly on their collection of shorts. As I got older, I began to seek out their feature-length movies, but found that, at least to me, the team worked best in the two-reel shorts (of which they made nearly 100 of), with The Music Box being their masterpiece, a simple story of two men hired to deliver a piano up a long flight of stairs in which nothing goes as planned.

Although the set contains the long-lost silent short The Battle of the Century in its near-complete form, this is the only silent short included here, and that is a bit of a disappointment. What is included, at least the wealth of it, almost makes up for that fact.

Disc One:
Sons of the Desert – feature
The Battle of the Century – silent short
Berth Marks – sound short (with 1929 and 1936 soundtracks)

Disc Two:
Brats – sound short (with 1930 and 1937 soundtracks)
Hog Wild – sound short
Come Clean – sound short
One Good Turn – sound short
Me and My Pal – sound short

Disc Three:
Helpmates – sound short
The Music Box – sound short
The Chimp – sound short
County Hospital – sound short
Scram! – sound short
Their First Mistake – sound short
The Midnight Patrol – sound short
Busy Bodies – sound short

Disc Four:
Way Out West – feature
Towed in a Hole – sound short
Twice Two – sound short
That’s That – sound short comprised of outtakes, created as a birthday gift for Stan Laurel
The Tree in a Test Tube – silent short (in color) for the Department of Agriculture

Video: 4/5

3D Rating: NA

Laurel & Hardy – The Definitive Restorations is quite possibly the most difficult release on Blu-ray that I’ve had to review in my twelve years as a reviewer for Home Theater Forum. There has been quite a debate on this forum and other sites regarding the video quality of this release, with some claiming that this is the best these films have ever looked, others claiming that some look nothing like film. Nearly all of the films in this collection have not been treated well by their rights keepers over the 80-90 years since these films were made, with the original nitrate negatives lost forever on a majority of these. Also, the restoration efforts on these films are not consistent, with some having been restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive, Library of Congress, or Jeff Joseph at SabuCat. Some have been scanned at 2K, others at 4K, often from various sources (35mm, 16mm, different generations from the negative). Some of the films appear washed out with limited contrast, others have excellent contrast. Are these improved upon over previous releases? I’m going to say yes, however some of the digital cleanup tools that were used in these restorations appear to have, in the process, removed much of the native film grain, giving the movies a sterile, almost waxy look. Unfortunately, The Music Box is the worst victim of this unfortunate side effect.

Audio: 3/5

The entire collection is presented in PCM 2.0 mono (except for The Battle of the Century, which features a stereo orchestral score by Donald Sosen). Like the video, many of these audio tracks have been cleaned up to varying degrees, yet still suffer from the low fidelity recording technology of their time. The audio, overall, is definitely cleaner than I recall these sounding in the past, although some still have the occasional pop or hiss. Ironically, the best sounding “talkie” in the set is The Music Box, which sounds nearly pristine.

Special Features: 5/5

There is a lot of bonus material in this set, more than enough to make any Laurel & Hardy fan drool.

Disc One:
Sons of the Desert Audio Commentary by Randy Skredtvedt

The Battle of the Century
Audio Commentary by Richard Bann

Berth Marks
Audio Commentary by Randy Skretdvedt

Galleries:
Sons of the Desert Galleries (1080p): Publicity Portraits (3:31), Scene Stills (4:23), Deleted and Candids (3:36), Posters and Publicity (7:22), Early Script (3:57), Dialogue Continuity (3:54) and Contracts and Documents (2:57)

Battle of the Century (1080p; 7:38)

Berth Marks (1080p; 5:02)

Portraits in Costume Gallery (1080p; 9:52)

Early Career: Stan (1080p; 4:26)

Early Career: Babe (1080p; 5:55)

Interviews:
Anita Garvin Interview (1080p; 9:18): Filmed in Super 8mm by Randy Skretdvedt in 1981.

Joe Rock Interview (1080p; 9:35): Filmed in Super 8mm by Randy Skretdvedt in 1981.

Roy Seawright Interview (1080p; 14:56): Filmed in Super 8mm by Randy Skretdvedt in 1981.

Oliver Hardy Interview (1080p; 3:30): Interviewed by Jack Mangan in 1950.

Extras:
Sons of the Desert Trailer (1080p; 2:35): The only known trailer to have survived, in Spanish.

L & H Books by Randy Skretdvedt (1080p; 1:53): Graphics and text of books on Laurel & Hardy written by Randy Skretdvedt.

Special Thanks (1080p; 1:22): Roll call of many who helped make this release possible.

Disc Two:
Brats Audio Commentary by Randy Skretdvedt

Hog Wild Audio Commentary by Randy Skretdvedt

Come Clean Audio Commentary by Randy Skretdvedt

One Good Turn Audio Commentary by Randy Skretdvedt

Me and My Pal Audio Commentary by Randy Skretdvedt

Audio Interviews:
Intro and Billy Bletcher (4:27)

Joe Rock (4:32)

Hal Roach (9:12)

Anita Garvin Stanley (4:35)

George Marshall (2:54)

Roy Seawright (6:15)

Venice Lloyd (4:45)

Richard Currier (8:06)

Bert Jordan (7:53)

Walter Woolf King (3:34)

Lucille Hardy Price (8:50)

Marvin Hatley (3:24)

Honolulu Baby and Lovey-Dovey (6:00)

Galleries:
Brats (1080p; 9:26)

Hog Wild (1080p; 7:20)

Come Clean (1080p; 8:34)

One Good Turn (1080p; 9:38)

Me and My Pal (1080p; 4:43)

Hardy Vim Scrapbook (1080p; 5:54)

Hollywood Friends (1080p; 2:37)

Catalina July 1934 (1080p; 2:30)

Disc Three:
Helpmates Audio Commentary by Randy Skretdvedt

The Music Box Audio Commentary by Richard Bann

The Chimp Audio Commentary by Randy Skretdvedt

County Hospital Audio Commentary by Randy Skretdvedt

Scram! Audio Commentary by Randy Skretdvedt

Their First Mistake Audio Commentary by Randy Skretdvedt

The Midnight Patrol Audio Commentary by Randy Skretdvedt

Busy Bodies Audio Commentary by Randy Skretdvedt

Galleries:
Helpmates (1080p; 7:51)

The Music Box (1080p; 11:11)

The Chimp (1080p; 7:31)

County Hospital (1080p; 10:46)

Scram! (1080p; 8:46)

Their First Mistake (1080p; 5:22)

The Midnight Patrol (1080p; 6:12)

Busy Bodies (1080p; 7:58)

A Short History of the Hal Roach Studios (1080p; 6:32)

Supporting Player (1080p; 3:09)

Crew Members (1080p; 3:47)

Studio Hijinks (1080p; 2:42)

Snapshots from the UK Vacation (1080p; 5:20)

Disc Four:
Way Out West Audio Commentary by Randy Skretdvedt

Towed in a Hole Audio Commentary by Randy Skretdvedt

Twice Two Audio Commentary by Randy Skretdvedt

That’s That Audio Commentary by Randy Skretdvedt

The Tree in a Test Tube Audio Commentary by Randy Skretdvedt

Galleries:
Way Out West Galleries (1080p): Portrait Stills ( 5:58), Scene Stills (6:12), Candid Stills (5:31), Pressbook Articles and Artwork (7:43), Poster and Lobby Card Artwork (5:01), Original 1913 Sheet Music (2:47), Script and Synopsis (7:42), and Dialogue Continuity, Cues and Letters (4:02)

Towed in a Hole (1080p; 6:27)

Twice Two (1080p; 4:48)

That’s That (1080p; 2:10)

The Tree in a Test Tube (1080p; 2:10)

Portraits Out of Costume (1080p; 4:02)

Laurel & Hardy Golf (1080p; 3:50)

Special Occasions (1080p; 3:59)

Odd Publicity Shots (1080p; 2:35)

Stan in Retirement (1080p; 4:22)

Extras:
Way Out West Trailer (1080p; 1:21)

Marvin Hatley Music Tracks (1080p; 25:22)

Beau Hunks 1931 Trailer (1080p; 0:54)

Pack Up Your Troubles 1932 Trailer (1080p; 1:54)

Babes in Toyland 1934 Trailer (1080p; 3:26)

The Flying Deuces 1939 Trailer (1080p; 2:17)

A Chump at Oxford 1940 Trailer (1080p; 1:23)

Saps at Sea 1940 Trailer (1080p; 1:55)

Overall: 4/5

With all the extras and the “restored” movies in this set, this is certainly a “must have” for Laurel and Hardy fans. I only wish more from their silent era had been included.

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Todd Erwin

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Tino

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Thank you for the more "fair and balanced" review,
Again, a subtle dig at RAH. As tho his review was “unfair and unbalanced.”

I hope this thread doesn’t degenerate into ugliness like the other one did.

Just got notice that my set shipped from DD. Looking forward to watching it.
 

Robert Harris

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Again, a subtle dig at RAH. As tho his review was “unfair and unbalanced.”

I hope this thread doesn’t degenerate into ugliness like the other one did.

Just got notice that my set shipped from DD. Looking forward to watching it.
Actually, I was doing my best to be nice. The marketing was horrific. You don’t specifically promise one thing, and deliver something of far lesser quality.

There’s no embarrassment in using the finest surviving materials, which this set has.
 
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JoeDoakes

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I'm not going to allow this review thread to be sidetracked by what happened in that other thread. Any further posts will be deleted that continues down that path. I hate to thread ban people from a review thread.
What was the problem in the other thread? Everything i saw looked on topic
 
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TheSteig

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I ordered my L&H Blu ray from DDD also, but they cancelled my order and suddenly it became out of stock. They said they werent sure when they would get more in after I messaged them, so I wound up ordering it from Amazon. Mine will arrive today hopefully. Id rather spend more and have my product in my hands than go through loops with DDD. I trust Amazon more than DDD.
 

Tony Bensley

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I ordered my L&H Blu ray from DDD also, but they cancelled my order and suddenly it became out of stock. They said they werent sure when they would get more in after I messaged them, so I wound up ordering it from Amazon. Mine will arrive today hopefully. Id rather spend more and have my product in my hands than go through loops with DDD. I trust Amazon more than DDD.
I noticed the Blu-ray set is currently listed as being on Backorder at Deep Discount and wowHD! Canada based residents who want the Blu-ray probably now have to go through Amazon.com, which is super expensive with our crummy rate of exchange, especially since Amazon's price point markup!

CHEERS! :)

EDIT: Upon further checking, while I saw that Movies Unlimited also lists the Blu-ray set as being on Backorder, Bullmoose.com does currently list the Blu-ray set as "In Stock!"

 
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BobO'Link

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I ordered my L&H Blu ray from DDD also, but they cancelled my order and suddenly it became out of stock. They said they werent sure when they would get more in after I messaged them, so I wound up ordering it from Amazon. Mine will arrive today hopefully. Id rather spend more and have my product in my hands than go through loops with DDD. I trust Amazon more than DDD.
I had the same thing happen but I reordered from DD as their price is currently ~$15 less than Amazon and they had a 15% coupon code at the time making the final total ~$42 after tax. I'll risk it with them and hope it's not cancelled again. If so... I can always pick it up somewhere else.

The cancellation was also my fault as I'd used a VCC for the purchase and failed to notice the temp charge had fallen off of my CC. That meant they'd hit the card again for the full amount rather than converting the temp charge. Because I'd not loaded the card with enough funds to cover that purchase should that happen the order was cancelled. My biggest issue with them is they give you *zero* chance to fix such issues since they hit the card at order time which, to them, fully validates the card.
 

Joseph Bolus

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Just for the record, I have now received my Blu-ray set from Amazon, and am so far very pleased with it. I’ve only gone through the first disc, but it blew me away!! The entire presentation — including the restorations, commentary tracks, and gallery presentations are just awesome to behold. (Remember — We’re talking about stuff dating back as far as 1927 here!!)

I just truly feel like I got my money’s worth on this first disc alone. It’s all gravy from here!
 

Ronald Epstein

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I don't know what went on in the other threads and if I am not allowed to offer an opinion on my own forum then go ahead and delete this.

I just watched THE MUSIC BOX and WAY OUT WEST

My big complaint is that while these films look better than they have before (and I owned them on 8mm), they have been overly scrubbed of grain. They look as if they were shot on digital. Mind you, they don't look horrific. They just don't look like film anymore.
 

Robert Crawford

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I don't know what went on in the other threads and if I am not allowed to offer an opinion on my own forum then go ahead and delete this.

I just watched THE MUSIC BOX and WAY OUT WEST

My big complaint is that while these films look better than they have before (and I owned them on 8mm), they have been overly scrubbed of grain. They look as if they were shot on digital. Mind you, they don't look horrific. They just don't look like film anymore.
Posting opinions about a Blu-ray that's been reviewed isn't the problem and is what such threads are intended for, the problem in the other thread was making this a personal beef in which members are trading barbs at each other because they didn't like one's stated opinion.
 

JoeDoakes

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Honestly, I'm fairly happy with my prior dvd set. If this set were dramatically better, I would probably get it. This doesn't seem to be worth it. Maybe someday Criterion will do a Sons of the Desert that is more than slightly better than the DVD.