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Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations [Blu-ray]
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Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations
STAN AND OLLIE LOOK AND SOUND BETTER THAN EVER! New 2K and 4K digital restorations from original 35mm nitrate, Laurel and Hardy's classic comedies are here in the best quality since their first release! Two features and 17 shorts, including the legendary pie-fight silent film "The Battle of the Century," making its video debut and nearly complete for the first time in over 90 years!
For more about Laurel & Hardy - The Definitive Restorations and the Laurel & Hardy - The Definitive Restorations Blu-ray release, see Laurel & Hardy - The Definitive Restorations Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on June 28, 2020 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
STAN AND OLLIE LOOK AND SOUND BETTER THAN EVER!
New 2K and 4K digital restorations from original 35mm nitrate, Laurel and Hardy's classic comedies are here in the best quality since their first release! Two features and 17 shorts, including the legendary pie-fight silent film The Battle of the Century, making its video debut and nearly complete for the first time in over 90 years!
Restorations by Jeff Joseph/SabuCat in conjunction with the UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Library of Congress. Using careful photochemical and digital techniques, these classic films are restored to pristine condition. In these stunning new transfers, they look and sound as beautiful as they did when they were first released.
CLASSIC SHORT FILMS:
- Product Dimensions : 0.7 x 7.5 x 5.4 inches; 13.12 Ounces
- Item model number : unknown
- Director : Various
- Media Format : NTSC
- Run time : 8 hours and 31 minutes
- Release date : June 30, 2020
- Actors : Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Charley Chase
- Studio : Kit Parker Films
- ASIN : B084P3S7NJ
- Number of discs : 4
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The crown jewel in this package -- and reason alone to buy this set -- is the long-lost silent THE BATTLE OF THE CENTURY, featuring an epic pie fight. Archivist Jon Mirsalis found the missing second half of this subject, and it looks and plays better and funnier than ever. This is the only way you can own this priceless footage and enjoy it again and again. On the other side of the spectrum, BERTH MARKS is one of the earliest Laurel & Hardy talkies, with the boys struggling with only a sketchy story idea and the new demands of dialogue (they just say whatever comes to mind). Not our heroes at their best, BUT... the restoration is a revelation. The music added for a 1936 reissue has been stripped away, so we can hear what talkie-struck audiences heard in 1929 -- the ambient sounds of a busy railway station, which is fascinating in its own way. BUSY BODIES, a carpentry-shop comedy, is vastly improved from what was reportedly a sixth-generation source. THE MUSIC BOX, the famous featurette with Stan and Ollie trying to move a piano up a long, long flight of steps, is surprisingly well preserved, unlike some surviving prints. HOG WILD, which has always been troubled with splices in the titles, unsteady picture, and slightly soft focus from being copied so much, is sharp and clear for the first time since 1930! The entire set is a very good cross-section of Laurel & Hardy comedy, including two crowd-pleasing feature films, SONS OF THE DESERT and WAY OUT WEST. My personal favorite of all the Laurel & Hardy shorts is BRATS, and the video producers assure me that it "looks and sounds spectacular," and is not taken from the inferior 35mm print that has played in theaters recently.
The extras include Laurel & Hardy trailers, photographs, and other memorabilia. THAT'S THAT! is a peculiar gag reel compiled in 1937 and shown at the Hal Roach studio on Stan Laurel's birthday. Silent and sound clips are interwoven in crazy-quilt fashion (no real bloopers, just quick cutting from one thing to another), culminating in Edgar Kennedy saying, "Why don't we just cut the damned thing?" Stan's daughter Lois had the only complete print; the recent restoration isn't quite complete but it's representative of this silly party reel. There are also better-than-usual prints of THE TREE IN A TEST TUBE (Laurel & Hardy in Kodachrome color) and SHIP'S REPORTER (Jack Mangan interviews Oliver Hardy for television).
Fans of vintage comedy will like this set; Laurel & Hardy fans will love this set. If you think you've seen everything in the Laurel & Hardy line, these "Definitive Restorations" will surprise and delight you. Highly recommended.
I received my BluRays 3 days ago, and after watching the majority of the movies, I must admit I’m having some mixed feelings towards it. I don’t regret buying it, because it has the most complete print of Battle of the Century, That’s That (for the first time on dvd and BluRay), lots of interesting commentaries by Randy Skretvedt on almost every title, and plenty of other fascinating bonus material, including original film scripts, lobby cards, and behind the scenes photographs.
About those commentaries: When you turn them on, you don’t hear the original soundtrack anymore, not even at a low volume. So you hear Randy Skretvedt saying things like “you’re now hearing the original 1930 soundtrack” or “you’re now listening to a LeRoy Shield composition called In My Canoe”, while in fact you’re not hearing it at all.
For this release the best surviving prints were used, meticulously restored by UCLA and the Library of Congress. You can tell from the BluRays those prints must have looked stunning. However, after analogue restoration was performed, the films underwent further digital restoration by several different companies. The credits mention digital restoration by Jeff Joseph/Sabucat, a digital clean-up by Point360, additional digital restoration by Thad Komorowski/Cineaste, and even a final Clean Up by The Finishing Touch.
In my opinion, and I’m sure lots of L&H fans will wholeheartedly and passionately disagree with me, one of these individuals went a little too far with the digital restoration on some of these titles (not on all of them, though). This results in a very clean picture, free of dirt and scratches, but also very soft looking and nearly devoid of film grain . Based on lots of other reviews of this set I’m inclined to believe that the majority of the viewers seems to really like this clean and ultra-smooth look, but I’m not one of them.
I’m not going to review every single title on this set, just the ones I’ve watched from beginning to end.
Sons of the Desert is a big step up from the Vivendi release, but is hardly spectacular. The first reel looks fine, but after that it takes a step back. The German Kinowelt version looks much better. Unfortunately that one has the dreaded PAL speedup and during the opening music the sounds gets distorted for 2 or 3 seconds. Still you should check out the Kinowelt dvd, because it also has a nice print of We Faw Down on it, with the original 1920’s sound-on-disc musical track, that can only be found on this German release. Both the British and the Dutch release have a Beau Hunks soundtrack.
The Battle of the Century: The most complete print available on the market. The first reel looks very good but for the 2nd reel a 16 mm print was used, and it shows. It still looks pretty good, but not as good as the first half.
Berth Marks: A fine looking print, clean, but not too clean, and just the right amount of film grain. Available in the original 1929 version, and the 1937 reissue version. Unfortunately, in the 1937 version the sound is sometimes out of sync. You can clearly see and hear this when Ollie asks Stan to get his foot away from his face and stop crowding. The 1929 version is advertised as having a Vitaphone soundtrack. This is not entirely correct. Vitaphone was the name of the sound-on-disc system used by Warner Brothers, whereas the Hal Roach Studios, as far as I know, were using a similar system produced by the Victor Talking Machine Company of Camden, NJ.
Brats: A decent copy, not really spectacular, but it looks better than all other versions I’m familiar with. You can choose between the version with the original 1930 (not Vitaphone) soundtrack, or the 1937 version with the LeRoy Shield score. Both versions have the 1930 title cards and opening title (about the wives being out for target practice). I’m not sure why the version with the 1937 sound track doesn’t also have the 1937 title cards. If you want so see and hear the 1937 version you still need the Vivendi DVD. Also I had the impression that the MGM lion that precedes the title cards was copy-pasted from another L&H short, I presume The Hoose-Gow, because the edit isn’t really smooth so you can still hear the first notes of “That’s My Weakness Now.”
How Wild: This title looks really good, in fact, as far as I’m concerned, is one of the best looking titles in this box set. It’s sharp, clear looking, has nice contrast, and still plenty of film grain. A big step up from the Vivendi release, not in the least because the image on the latter one was stretched out a little horizontally. No excessive DNR on this one.
Come Clean: The image is a lot of cleaner and brighter than the Universal and Vivendi versions, that are pretty dark and scratched up. Still, I’m not crazy about this new version either. It seems as if someone did everything possible to remove all scratches and dirt at any cost, and accidentally took part of the actual picture with it. It looks very clean, but also unsharp, especially when you look at the faces. Also, during the dark scenes at the harbour and at Charlie Hall’s ice cream shop something really goes wrong with the picture. I don’t know the cause, it could be a compression artefact. Look at Ollie’s jacket during the scenes with Charlie Hall. I don’t know what’s going on there, but the image is definitely distorted.
One Good Turn: Looks fine, much better than the Vivendi and Universal prints. It is extremely bright, though, Oliver’s black pants look light grey. I had to turn down the brightness of my TV to 25% to improve it a bit.
Me and My Pal: This title doesn’t look that great to me. A little too much DNR for my taste, there’s hardly any film grain left, and, whereas One Good Turn was too bright, this one is too dark, obscuring all kinds of details. The Vivendi print, although not as clean, looks better.
Helpmates: A decent looking print, better than the Vivendi version. But it would have looked even better if the DNR had been used a little more sparingly.
The Music Box: A very good looking (and sounding) print. Especially the 3rd reel is a big improvement compared to both the Vivendi and the European Universal DVD release. A little too much digital noise reduction (DNR) for my taste but not serious enough to spoil the joy of watching this Oscar winning title.
The Chimp: Looks decent, but once again I would have preferred a lighter touch as far as digital noise reduction is concerned. Especially the dark scenes don’t look that good. Look at Stan’s face when he’s trying to lock up Ethel at 17:29. Compared with the Vivendi release these scenes look a lot lighter, too light even. It seems as if someone turned up the brightness way too much, resulting in artefacting.
County Hospital: Same DNR issue. Compare it with the Vivendi release and you will see that practically all the film grain is gone. The resulting image is so clean that it starts looking unnatural. The boys are starting to look like the artwork on the UK Universal dvd’s. More like incredibly lifelike drawings than actual people.
Their First Mistake: I frankly believe that the Vivendi release looks better. Yes, it’s not nearly as clean as this one, but it has plenty of grain and at least it looks like you’re watching an actual 35 mm movie instead of a video.
Busy Bodies: Now this one looks pretty good. It could have done with a little less DNR as there’s not a lot of film grain left, but it looks pretty sharp and perfectly natural.
Way Out West: This title looks pretty good, but would have looked even better with a little less DNR. Still a big improvement over the Vivendi release (way too dark), the Dutch Universal one (PAL speedup, lots of scratches, some splices) and the German Kinowelt (wonderful picture quality but sound way out of sync, plus PAL speedup).
To summarize: Yes, I encourage everybody to buy this set, if only to show the producers that there’s still a massive interest in Laurel & Hardy. There’s plenty of interesting bonus material on these dvd’s. All titles look a lot cleaner than they do on other releases, but in my humble opinion, cleaner isn’t always better. Some movies look better than they ever did, some look marginally better, others look worse. Is this a great dvd collection to have? Absolutely! Is this the best set on the market and does it make all other releases obsolete? I don’t think so.
Top reviews from other countries
While there are the very odd small segments that appear "rough",it's because the vast majority of the films look like they were filmed yesterday,they are that clear:from the title cards,to the backgrounds,to the actors themselves.All have had the original opening sequences restored(no Film Classic plaques here).And the sound on all has also been given special treatment;I've heard little bits of dialogue I have never heard before.
The negative is first the packaging.While it is not the disaster the RHI "Essential Collection" was,the discs all sit on plastic feathered platforms.They all arrive tight,but once taken out I have found it takes a bit of extra work to get discs 1 & 2 and 5&6 safely back into their spots to stay.There is also an issue with the quality of the discs.I had to order another set because three out of the six had surface scratches and pock marks on the first one.The second one was better with only two out of the six discs with issues.I kept the first until the second arrived and switched them out to get a decent set.I wrote MVD productions about this, but have yet to hear back(I won't hold my breath).
Secondly it says on the front cover that there's eight hours of special features.Each disc has an "extras" section but with some interviews and trailers taking up most of the time,there can't be hardly an hours worth in total.
Looking at what's inside,one will find some gems included here.You finally get to see the Battle of the Century,almost in total.The only part unavailable still is the section where Eugenne Pallette sells the Boys some life insurance.Another is A Tree in a Test Tube,though I found the print on the Lobster Film release of Flying Deuces to be of better quality.The short made for Stan by Bert Jordan"That's that" is included.The two features are their most popular"Way out West" and "Sons of the Desert",though I was hoping for "Pack up your Troubles" or "Our Relations".I will just have to be patient,as we have a few more releases to come to get all the Roach talkies out there.
All in all highly recommended.This is the one I have been waiting for and all Laurel and Hardy fans should rejoice at its coming out.We owe UCLA for their meticulous work, along with Richard Bann who was so instrumental in obtaining and rescuing them from oblivion,a great debt.What better way for any L&H fan to show their support for this and ongoing restoration efforts, than to support this and future releases.