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Laurel & Hardy - The Definitive Restorations: 4 Disc Special Edition Collector’s Set (1927 - 1937) - Blu-ray Review

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Laurel & Hardy - The Definitive Restorations

The Dynamic Duo of silent AND sound comedy return!

This release has been a long time coming, but finally - thanks to Jeff Joseph in conjunction with the UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Library of Congress - Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy have arrived on blu-ray with stunning new 2K and 4K digital restorations from the original 35mm nitrates.  I can die a happy cinephile now.

"easily the must-own release of the 2020 year, especially if you are a fan of comedy"


 

Including the feature films Sons of the Desert and Way Out West, this AWESOME release contains the shorts (listed alphabetically) Berth Marks, The Battle of the Century, Brats, Busy Bodies, The Chimp, Come Clean, County Hospital, Helpmates, Hog Wild, Me and My Pal, Midnight Patrol, The Music Box, One Good Turn, Scram!, Their First Mistake, Towed in a Hole, and Twice Two!  All of the shorts and the films have been restored to their pristine conditions, looking as good as they did when they were originally released.

From silent shorts to short talkies, the comedy on display here is a sharp-witted mixture of slapstick as the childlike Stan Laurel and the pompous Oliver Hardy try to move a piano up (and down) the 131 steps at Vendome Street in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles with The Music Box, struggle with happiness and matrimony in Sons of the Desert, cause a lot of trouble with hard-boiled eggs and nuts (instead of a box of candy) in County Hospital, destroy pants and a Model T Ford in Busy Bodies, and start an epic pie fight in The Battle of the Century, which is now - thanks to archivist Jon Mirsalis - complete, with the discovery and the restoration of the missing second half of the film. {googleads}

Here’s the thing about the comedic duo: their on-screen warmth and immediate likability was a result of their ongoing friendship as the two were very close off screen and recognized (and respected) each other’s talents when it came to timing, physical prowess, and comedic ingenuity.  It’s all on display on the screen, too, thanks to the clarity that these remastered prints display.  

From the head nodding and the hat posturing from Hardy to the whimpering from Laurel, the comedic timing of these two is constantly rewarding and damn right impeccable.  They might have had a lot of peers in the business of making folks laugh, but no one - and I do mean that - no one could match the quality of their comedic output, producing 10 shorts in 1931 alone, made them international superstars for nearly two decades, finally fizzing out in the late 1940s when they lost creative control over their output, but what a ride it was.Laurel & Hardy - The Definitive Restorations

Kit Parker Films, for a number of years, have been champions of silent films and of Laurel & Hardy and this release - both in quality and in comedy - is sheer brilliance.  This is easily the must-own release of the 2020 year, especially if you are a fan of comedy.  Laurel  & Hardy might not have been good businessmen - never making a dime off of their images - but they sure knew how to make people laugh and I, for one, am proud to own this release, have the chance to review it, and share the hilarity with my own seven-year-old boy.

Long live Laurel & Hardy!  And here’s to a second set of classics from these two pioneers of comedy, but - for the time being - we have the first, fantastic volume of Laurel & Hardy - The Definitive Restorations.

5/5 stars

Laurel & Hardy - The Definitive Restorations

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Kit Parker Films
Available on Blu-ray
- June 30, 2020
Screen Formats: 1.33:1, 1.37:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: LPCM 2.0 Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; four-disc set
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

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.

Video:

With hardly a scratch on any of the 1080p transfers, this set - containing two feature films and seventeen shorts for over 500-minutes of Laurel & Hardy - looks amazing, considering the age of some of the reels.  The restoration here is a true blessing as the films, all in black-and-white and some silent, are presented with either a 1.33:1 or 1.37:1 aspect ratio.  Presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Kit Parker Films and MVD Visual, the comedy is as rich as the black levels, as edges are clean and grays are expressive.  The thorough restorations were done by 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.

Audio:

The LPCM 2.0 Mono tracks are adequate for viewership.  There is a new music track for the legendary pie-fight silent film "The Battle of the Century”, which features a new score from Donald Sosin.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Essentially, you have four discs full of commentaries from Randy Skretvedt.  You’ll learn a thing or two about these films and the great artists behind them.

Special Features:

The extras include Laurel & Hardy trailers, photographs, and other memorabilia. There is also a gag reel originally compiled in 1937 and shown at the Hal Roach studio on Stan Laurel's birthday.  There are also restored prints of The Tree in the Test Tube (which is Laurel & Hardy in Kodachrome color) and another in which Jack Mangan interviews Oliver Hardy for television.

  • L&H off-camera pix from Hardy's collection
  • That's That (restored/first time on video)
  • Tree in a Test Tube (restored from 16mm Kodachrome)
  • Ships Reporter Oliver Hardy Interview (restored)
  • Alternate Soundtracks
  • Huge collection of rare photos, stills, posters, scripts and studio files
  • Commentaries by Randy Skretvedt and Richard W. Bann
  • Never before seen video interviews as well as audio interviews with L&H co-workers
  • Restored Trailers and more!

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 5/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

4.5/5 stars

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