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Second reel of Laurel and Hardy’s The Battle of the Century recovered


Richard Kimble
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http://silentlondon.co.uk/2015/06/15/second-reel-laurel-hardy-battle-of-the-century-pie-fight/

    

Second reel of Laurel and Hardy’s The Battle of the Century recovered: that’s better than a pie in the face

 

June 15, 2015

 

A cream-filled pie landing – splash – in the face of an adversary is a popular trope of silent slapstick comedy, along with bumbling Keystone Kops and strategically placed banana peel. And now we hear that one of the classic piefights of all time has been rediscovered – the all-out epic splatterfest that crowns Laurel and Hardy’s silent film The Battle of the Century (1927). 

 

That street brawl, involving a van full of pies and a cast of dozens, is gleeful, gore-free carnage – a classic movie moment in its own right. But until now, the fight, and the film it belongs to, have been truncated. The Battle of the Century was formed of two reels, and much of it has been missing since the silent era. The fight itself, or at least most of it, had been preserved, but the rest was not to be found. The first reel was discovered in the late 1970s, but the second reel, which contains the piefight, has been unseen for decades longer. 

 

This weekend, according to reports, the discovery was announced to a group of silent film experts at the Mostly Lost film workshop in Culpeper, Virginia. It seems that the footage was disocvoered by composer and historian Jon Mirsalis among the Gordon Berkow collection – and that Serge Bromberg of Lobster Films will be taking custody of it for preservation work.

 

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There have been. This has been a pretty big year for recovered lost films. In this case, I believe it's actually  the first reel of THE BATTLE OF THE CENTURY that had been missing and now has been found. Leading up to the Epic Pie Fight. Although I understand that there is additional footage to reel 2 as well that we didn't have before either.

 

Mentioning other films that were discovered just in the past few months. SEVEN SINNERS (1925) was the first American feature film directed by Lewis Milestone. It stars Clive Brook and Marie Prevost. This was discovered in a private collection only about a month and a half ago. Warner's is restoring it, so the film figures to premiere on TCM early next year. There have been several other discoveries like this of late including the first American feature Directed by Alexander Korda. THE STOLEN BRIDE (1927), which Starrs Billie Dove, Lloyd Hughes, and Lillian Tashman. Uncovered in Prague. I sure hope something will be done with this as well because TCM has still yet to air any of Billie Dove's Silent films that I recall. Both of these movies would definitely have to be considered significant discoveries.

 

I'm holding out hope that TCM will Premiere Edwin Carewe's RAMONA (1928) with Dolores Del Rio, and Warner Baxter later this year. The long lost film has been touring the country for over a year and playing to big crowds. Arguably, Del Rio's signiture role, so it's hard to believe it was lost since the early 30's.

 

I don't know what is holding up the TCM Premiere of Colleen Moore's W HY BE GOOD? since it was released on DVD by Warner Archive last October? With any luck they are waiting for SYNTHETIC SIN or maybe HER WILD OAT or LILAC TIME to be ready? Hopefully we will get an evening dedicated to Colleen Moore At least a couple TCM debutes in a row in Prime-Time before the end of the year.

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