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Laurel & Hardy: The Essential Collection

4.7 out of 5 stars 515 customer reviews

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(Oct 25, 2011)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Laurel & Hardy were one of the most critically acclaimed comedy teams of early American cinema. Their films produced by Hal Roach during the 20s and 30s defined their legacy, and are now available for the first time in a one comprehensive 10-DISC COLLECTION! This set contains films from Hal Roach library such as The Music Box (Academy Award® Best Short Subject), Brats, Hog Wild, Chickens Come Home, Sons of the Desert and Way out West to name a few. A special bonus disc features entertaining never before seen interviews from Dick Van Dyke, Jerry Lewis and Tim Conway, insightful commentaries, additional films and original trailers.

"Eternal pals and eternal antagonists, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are the great partnership of movie slapstick. They finally get their DVD due with Laurel & Hardy: The Essential Collection, a 10-disc orgy of pratfalls, slow burns, and slap fights--in short, a collection that truly qualifies as a must-have for connoisseurs of comedy. The collection contains the sound films that Laurel and Hardy made for producer Hal Roach, the man who teamed the simpering English vaudeville player and the rotund American actor in the first place (although their laughs are evenly divided, Laurel was the creative force and chief gag-inventor of the duo). Their track record is proof that it isn't merely the jokes that make for comic success; it's the personalities of the comedians. Thus, Stan's dimwitted innocence and Ollie's perpetually exasperated reactions (raised to an exquisite art by Hardy's comprehensive glances at the camera, assuring the audience's complicity in his misery) are the essence of their success. Some films are great, some merely passable, but all stick blissfully to character. This is on glorious display through these Roach pictures, whether it's the boys sharing one small train berth in Berth Marks, executing their famous synchronized dance in Way Out West, or laboring to get that piano up a very steep flight of stairs in the Oscar-winning The Music Box.

The films look as good as movies from 1929 to 1940 can reasonably be expected to look. Included in the boxed set are seven foreign-language films (six in Spanish, one in French), shot in order to keep the duo popular in overseas markets, before dubbing made that goal easier. Fascinatingly, these films often extend the English-language films they are ostensibly adapted from, with different gags and plot turns--and it's fun to hear Stan and Ollie speaking in another language. Special features include a ho-hum 40-minute tribute with testimonials from fellow comedians (especially talkative are Dick Van Dyke and Jerry Lewis); an ""Interactive Map"" with Los Angeles location sites from their movies; three Roach shorts in which L&H pop up in cameos; and a 1942 short produced for the Department of Agriculture (another L&H cameo). A few (not many) films have commentaries that include the informed Laurel and Hardy buff Richard W. Bann; Sons of the Desert has a track with Tim Conway and Chuck McCann, who don't seem to know how a commentary track works but have a nice time watching the movie. --Robert Horton"

Special Features

Select foreign language versions as Laurel & Hardy phonetically recite dialogue
Additional films of Laurel & Hardy guest appearances
Collectible, book, style packaging incorporating film guide
L&H Trailers: Pack up your troubles, A chump at Oxford, Saps at Sea

Product Details

  • Actors: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Dick Van Dyke, Jerry Lewis, Tim Conway
  • Directors: -
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Black & White, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 10
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: RHI Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: October 25, 2011
  • Run Time: 1941 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (515 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,312 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Scott MacGillivray VINE VOICE on July 20, 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
For two decades, most of the famous films of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy have been off the video market, thanks to apathetic handling by the company then holding the rights. Now, finally, the rights have reverted to knowledgeable hands, and that means the boys are back.

This 10-disc set includes most of Laurel & Hardy's talkie shorts and features produced by Hal Roach between 1929 and 1940. These are among the funniest comedies ever made, as many vintage-film buffs will agree. Laurel & Hardy were often capable of carrying the action almost entirely by themselves: BRATS has Stan and Ollie as themselves and their own sons (with giant sets and trick photography); THE MUSIC BOX is the Oscar-winning featurette with the boys as the world's worst piano movers; HELPMATES has Stan helping Ollie to clean house after a wild party; THEIR FIRST MISTAKE has our heroes adopting a baby; TOWED IN A HOLE has them rehabbing a boat; BUSY BODIES turns them loose in a carpentry shop. You'll see dozens of examples of how inventive they were with pantomime and dialogue. Their short subjects were so successful that they branched out into full-length features, including their famous hits WAY OUT WEST and SONS OF THE DESERT, the prison comedy PARDON US, the "gypsy" comedy THE BOHEMIAN GIRL, the hour-of-sight-gags BLOCK-HEADS and SAPS AT SEA, and several others, including both versions of A CHUMP AT OXFORD (the standard 63-minute print of 1940, and the 42-minute, differently edited "streamliner" released in 1943). The supporting casts read like a who's-who of familiar faces: Edgar Kennedy, Billy Gilbert, Charlie Hall, James Finlayson, Mae Busch, Anita Garvin, Walter Long, Harry Bernard, Eddie Dunn, Daphne Pollard, and a host of others. You'll be laughing through 58 L & H comedies.
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Format: DVD
Laurel and Hardy were the funniest comedy duo of all time. Their films are just as hilarious today as they were when they were made.

This set has many of their greatest films, and is accurately called "The Essential Collection" but not "The Complete Collection".

A complete collection at this point in time is impossible, as a small handful of earlier L&H films are missing or partially missing.

The rights to L&H films are owned by various companies, and two of their full-length features "The Flying Deuces" and "Utopia" are in the public domain and owned by everyone.

To obtain as complete a collection of L&H films as is currently possible, I highly recommend buying, in addition to this set:

> The Lost Films of Laurel and Hardy, Volumes 1 - 9 (Out of print but available used; consists of all existing silent L&H films, plus numerous solo films)

> TCM Archives: The Laurel and Hardy Collection (The Devil's Brother / Bonnie Scotland)

> March of the Wooden Soldiers (Colorized / Black & White)

> The Flying Deuces (Restored Edition)

> Laurel and Hardy Collection, Vol. 1 (Great Guns / Jitterbugs / The Big Noise)

...Read more ›
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I just received this set today, and I am very happy with it. I have the 20 disc set from Europe, and I can tell you that these 10 disc remasters are far and away the best prints of these films that I have ever seen. There are no reissue titles. All have their original titles opening with Leo the MGM lion. Extras are fun and informative, especially the second commentary track on "Hog Wild." Picture quality is excellent and the sound is as good as mono can be. There was concern in one review that the image was cropped for widescreen. That is not the case. All of the films are in their original aspect ratios of 1.33:1. There is some concern about the packaging, which overall I find attractive. However, the discs do reside in sleeves that you need to slide out, and could cause minor scratches. I also had two discs that had tiny glue spots on them, that I was able to remove fairly easily, and the discs played fine.
Aside from that little caveat, I highly recommend this set. As a lifelong Laurel and Hardy fan, I couldn't be happier with the quality of these prints. Incidentally, I have purchased all of the available Laurel and Hardy films over the years, on every format from VHS to Laser Disc to DVD, and I can assure you, Laurel and Hardy have never looked better on home video.
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I've been viewing the new Laurel & Hardy discs at length, and comparing them to the laserdiscs and the UK set with an analytical eye. My verdict is a resounding "thumbs up" in all departments. The only real drawback is the already-mentioned absence of the silent classics. (These may well be on their way, in a future companion set.) I'm not exactly impartial in these matters. I guess I've derived more pleasure from Laurel & Hardy than from any other movie personalities in history. Their charm never seems to fade - for me, anyway.

The films themselves - all from the Hal Roach Library and long cherished by at least three generations of fans - surely need no further validation. Owning them in uncut, restored editions has been a lifelong dream for devotees all over the world. Some of the early shorts, particularly NIGHT OWLS, BRATS and ONE GOOD TURN, are only marginally improved. (Apparently the original elements are in pretty bad shape. As with the Chaplin Keystones and Essanays, the producers did the best restoration possible with the prints available.) But most are pristine, comparatively; it's like watching them for the first time.

In addition to ALL the talkie shorts and most of the features (more about that later), you also get some rare foreign language versions. These fascinating oddities often feature gags and business not seen in the more familiar domestic releases, and I STRONGLY encourage fans not to skip them. Who knew, for instance, that POLITIQUERIAS (CHICKENS COME HOME) included priceless footage of Hardy ballroom dancing, and singing in Spanish - as well as an extended magic act with a Spanish-speaking James Finlayson? Even better, statuesque Anita Garvin is even more smoking hot when she's speaking French (in LES CAROTTIERS)!
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