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Good News for Laurel and Hardy Fans


TomJH
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No, I wish I could say that all of their shorts will be coming on TCM. However, virtually every short they made as a comedy team, both silent and talkie, is available on You Tube. This even includes a reconstruction of their lost short, Hats Off.

 

Stan and Ollie were incredibly prolific when working for Hal Roach (considered by almost all fans to be their greatest period). Between 1928 and 1929, for example, they made a remarkable 22 shorts for Roach! Twenty two! That's almost one a month, each one running up to 20 minutes. And the quality of their work at that time was often quite brilliant.

 

This is one of their most celebrated shorts, Big Business. This is the legendary one in which, as Christmas tree salesmen trying to sell their products in July (naturally!), they have a feud with Jimmy Finlayson which develops into an all out t i t for tat war on his house. Classic, hilarious stuff.

 

[media]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TRneBC98Gk[media]

 

2282089664_325d39c32f1_zps4d49712e.jpg

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......Ummmmmmmm...............I'D actually be HAPPIER if you informed us L&H fans that all of their shorts were available on DVD in some "all-in-one" package!  regretably, I'm NOT one to watch TV on my computer monitor, nor my "mobile device", and don't have the gadgetry to "zap" stuff from my PC to my TV set.  Too bad though, 'cause my wife would NEVER get me out of the house then!

 

L&H worked with some of the best, some who NEVER got the accolades they deserved, EXCEPT by lovers of these shots, and  the "shorts" of other comics those persons may have also appeared in.  People like

MAE BUSH

 

BILLY GILBERT

 

and, of course, the venerable JIMMY FINLAYSON!

 

 

Sepiatone

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......Ummmmmmmm...............I'D actually be HAPPIER if you informed us L&H fans that all of their shorts were available on DVD in some "all-in-one" package!  

It is, in Laurel and Hardy: the Essential Collection, including their Hal Roach films and some foreign versions of some of their shorts. But it ain't cheap. 

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/Laurel-Hardy-Essential-Collection-Stan/dp/B005BYBZKY/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1422022750&sr=1-1&keywords=laurel+and+hardy+essential+collection

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I believe it was Hal Roach who told the story of "Big Business" that one of Roach's employees was going on a trip and he said they could use his house for the picture as long as they repaired any damage. So the crew shows up on a Sunday morning to the house but they can't find the key , so they break a window, and start shooting the scenes. Then a car pulls up and the people in the car start screaming when they see whats being done to their home. It turned out the crew went to the wrong house, that's why they couldn't find the key. So they had to lay out a nice piece of change to repair the place. Don't know if that's a true story, but it is a funny one if it's true... :lol:

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I believe it was Hal Roach who told the story of "Big Business" that one of Roach's employees was going on a trip and he said they could use his house for the picture as long as they repaired any damage. So the crew shows up on a Sunday morning to the house but they can't find the key , so they break a window, and start shooting the scenes. Then a car pulls up and the people in the car start screaming when they see whats being done to their home. It turned out the crew went to the wrong house, that's why they couldn't find the key. So they had to lay out a nice piece of change to repair the place. Don't know if that's a true story, but it is a funny one if it's true... :lol:

The house where Big Business was filmed still existed in 2007 (and, presumably, still does today) at 10281 Dunleer Drive, LA. If I was in that city I would make a point of dropping by this address (and tossing a Christmas tree on the lawn, in tribute to Stan, Ollie and the great Jimmy Finlayson).

 

(I know, I know, old movie fans like me the current occupant of that home can live without. At least I won't break a window).  ;)

 

Here's a Then and Now of the house:

 

[media]

[media]
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It is, in Laurel and Hardy: the Essential Collection, including their Hal Roach films and some foreign versions of some of their shorts. But it ain't cheap. 

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/Laurel-Hardy-Essential-Collection-Stan/dp/B005BYBZKY/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1422022750&sr=1-1&keywords=laurel+and+hardy+essential+collection

A little more information on the Laurel and Hardy Essentials Collection avaialble on DVD. It is a ten disc collection, each disc approximately three hours running time, which has all of the boys' talkie works done for Hal Roach, both films, such as Sons of the Desert and Way Out West, among others, as well as their 40 shorts. In addition, there are also foreign versions of a few of the shorts included, as well. (Stan and Ollie would speak Spanish or French phonetically).

 

Of note, though, NONE of the boys' silents shorts (including some of their best work) is included in this collection..

 

By all accounts, the quality of the images of this collection is apparently the best that has yet been released on DVD, superior, apparently, to the British collection that was released a few years ago (though that collection included their silents).

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Yes, the ESSENTIAL COLLECTION has the best prints to date.  The Laurel and Hardy films are slowly (and I mean slowly) undergoing restoration at UCLA.  However, the restorations are unauthorized so gosh only knows if the restored prints will ever see public distribution other than on-site screenings.

 

So I would definitely recommend the E.C., especially for the wonderful foreign language versions.  The Spanish version of CHICKENS COME HOME - POLITIQUERIAS - is almost worth the price of the collection by itself.

 

As for the silents - the prints on the UK set are hit and miss.  I'm afraid the LOST FILMS OF LAUREL AND HARDY volumes contain the best prints but those sets are out of print and very expensive to track down.  The owner of the library (the L&H Silents) passed away in 2013 so we're waiting to see what his son does with the materials.

 

BTW - 2015 is the 50th Anniversary of the first meeting of the Sons of the Desert.  Many tents (mine included) will be celebrating all year long!  http://www.themtharhills.org

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Yes, the ESSENTIAL COLLECTION has the best prints to date.  The Laurel and Hardy films are slowly (and I mean slowly) undergoing restoration at UCLA.  However, the restorations are unauthorized so gosh only knows if the restored prints will ever see public distribution other than on-site screenings.

 

So I would definitely recommend the E.C., especially for the wonderful foreign language versions.  The Spanish version of CHICKENS COME HOME - POLITIQUERIAS - is almost worth the price of the collection by itself.

 

As for the silents - the prints on the UK set are hit and miss.  I'm afraid the LOST FILMS OF LAUREL AND HARDY volumes contain the best prints but those sets are out of print and very expensive to track down.  The owner of the library (the L&H Silents) passed away in 2013 so we're waiting to see what his son does with the materials.

 

BTW - 2015 is the 50th Anniversary of the first meeting of the Sons of the Desert.  Many tents (mine included) will be celebrating all year long!  http://www.themtharhills.org

Thanks for the review of the EC, Ray. I've been debating about going for it.

 

Years ago I purchased the Lost Films of L & H discs to get those silents. Considering the fact that improvements of them have yet to become available, now I'm very glad that I did. Even though it seems inconceivable to be able to fully appreciate Stan and Ollie without the sounds of their very distinctive voices, I feel that much of their best work was done during the silent era (Big Business, Two Tars, Liberty, Their Purple Moment, The Finishing Touch, etc.).

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I'm going to make a lot of people GASP here by stating that I could LIVE without the silents! 

 

Yeah, they'd be nice to have, but I wouldn't obsess about them that I would reject any box set of L&H DVDs because the SILENTS aren't among them!

 

 

Sepiatone

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I'm going to make a lot of people GASP here by stating that I could LIVE without the silents! 

 

Yeah, they'd be nice to have, but I wouldn't obsess about them that I would reject any box set of L&H DVDs because the SILENTS aren't among them!

 

 

Sepiatone

Did you watch that YT copy of their silent Big Business posted earlier in this thread, Sepiatone?

 

THAT is essential L & H. Few, if any, of the talkies are quite as hilarious as that gem, in my opinion.

 

Still, the Essentials Collection ten disc set sounds like a real winner.

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Did you watch that YT copy of their silent Big Business posted earlier in this thread, Sepiatone?

 

THAT is essential L & H. Few, if any, of the talkies are quite as hilarious as that gem, in my opinion.

 

Still, the Essentials Collection ten disc set sounds like a real winner.

I didn't watch it from the post, Tom, but I've seen it before, and it is a hoot.

 

But as funny as the silents were, they still can't offer up the ill fated oral bombast of Oliver Hardy, or give us the naivete of a Stan Laurel Faux pas.  And, we'd miss out on, without the advent of sound, the fondly loved and hailed "Pod-UH!"  in "Sons Of The Desert" 

 

 

Sepiatone

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I didn't watch it from the post, Tom, but I've seen it before, and it is a hoot.

 

But as funny as the silents were, they still can't offer up the ill fated oral bombast of Oliver Hardy, or give us the naivete of a Stan Laurel Faux pas.  And, we'd miss out on, without the advent of sound, the fondly loved and hailed "Pod-UH!"  in "Sons Of The Desert" 

 

 

Sepiatone

I agree, Sepia, to fully appreciate the brilliance of Stan and Ollie as comedians that you have to hear their voices.

 

But the fact that they were as great as they were in their silents, sans those distinctive voices, only shows all the more what a great comedy team they were. I still think that many of their silents rank among their very best works.

 

One thing I have to add, though, is that the great Jimmy Finlayson is very much their equal when it concerns the hilarity of Big Business. That short has the benefit of THREE great comedians.

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You'll get NO argument from ME about Finlayson!  That guy cracked me UP!  He WAS to LAUREL and HARDY what MARGARET DUMONT was to The MARX BROTHERS!

 

I have( or had, I haven't seen him in YEARS) a friend who could do that "one-eyed Finlayson SQUINT"  to perfection!  I had been an L&H fan for years, but until I met HIM, a long time member of the BLACKHAWK society, I hadn't seen a LOT of the pairs short films.  He'd come over, set up his German made projector( I already HAD a screen, as I took a lot of Kodachrome slides) we'd "fire one up" and have a great time!  To fondly compare, we too, were like-----"Two peas in a pod-UH!"  :lol:

 

 

Sepiatone

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You'll get NO argument from ME about Finlayson!  That guy cracked me UP!  He WAS to LAUREL and HARDY what MARGARET DUMONT was to The MARX BROTHERS!

 

I have( or had, I haven't seen him in YEARS) a friend who could do that "one-eyed Finlayson SQUINT"  to perfection!  I had been an L&H fan for years, but until I met HIM, a long time member of the BLACKHAWK society, I hadn't seen a LOT of the pairs short films.  He'd come over, set up his German made projector( I already HAD a screen, as I took a lot of Kodachrome slides) we'd "fire one up" and have a great time!  To fondly compare, we too, were like-----"Two peas in a pod-UH!"  :lol:

 

 

Sepiatone

Sepia, I hope that somewhere you have a photo of your friend doing the Finlayson one eyed squint. And I agree that you could compare the great Jimmy to Margaret Dumont as a compliment to a great comedy team (except, of course, that Jimmy was a true comedian while Margaret was one of the great straight ladies of the movies, off whom Groucho would bounce his one liners).

 

The problem for me with the early talkie L & H shorts is that they are highy hit and miss (possibly even more miss) as Stan and Ollie, and the studio technicians and directors surrounding them, tried to master the microphone.

 

For example, take a look at the year 1929, which has both silents and talkies made by the boys. I think it's safe to say that the best of their silents that year (Big Business, Double Whoopee, which features a pre-stardom Jean Harlow, Angora Love, with Stan and Ollie trying to hide a goat in their apartment from landlord Edgar Kennedy, and Liberty, a thrill comedy,a la Harold Lloyd, with Stan and Ollie on a skyscraper under constuction) are vastly superior to most of their talkies that same year (Unaccustomed As We Are, Berth Marks, Hoose Gow). Of their 1929 talkies only A Perfect Day really seems to hit the comedy mark, as far as I'm concerned, as a pair of silent comedians were grappling with dialogue for the first time.

 

By the time that 1932 arrived, and Laurel and Hardy were producing such gems as The Music Box (lugging that music box up that tall flight of stairs) and County Hospital, with Stan causing mayhem as he visits Ollie in the hospital, they had mastered that mike and were truly in their prime as sound comedians.

 

But they had always been great silent comedians, and a lot of great work was done during the silent era, as a result. That's why, percentage wise, I'm not certain that they didn't make more great shorts during the silent era than afterward. (Though, once again, at their best in the talkies, Stan and Ollie were at their zenith as performers, in my opinion).

 

I think it's safe to say that the majority of L & H buffs prefer their shorts to their full length feature films, in which there was a lot of padding. Sons of the Desert (with an obnoxious Charley Chase) and Way Out West (benefiting from the brilliance of Jimmy Finlayson, this time with his Scottish accent on full display) were the two films they made that I find quite satisfactory. Their other films have their moments, but it's clearly not Stan and Ollie at their short subject Music Box best, in my opinion.

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Stan Laurel himself has said that he preferred the shorts to the full-length movies.  He felt the longer movies had too much padding.  I'm really grateful to TCM.  A couple of years ago, they featured the comedy team as part of the Summer Under the Stars feature.  Just think--24 hours of nothing but Laurel and Hardy features.  I was sure to record every single one of them, which I treasure.

 

Terrence.

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