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Laurel And Hardy: The Definitive Restorations Blu-ray Review

Laurel

“Laurel And Hardy: The Definitive Restorations” is essentially a best of set.

When it comes to titles not yet on Blu-ray, Laurel and Hardy films and shorts have been at the top of my wish list. Thanks to MVD Visual, a chunk of L&H classics are at long last available to own in a 4 disc set.

So, what all is on this new Blu-ray set? Quite a bit. For starters, their 2 most renowned feature films are included. There’s “Sons Of The Desert” (which finds the two lying to their wives in order to attend a convention) and “Way Out West” (a western comedy involving a gold mine deed). In terms of shorts, there’s a whopping 19 of them which include “Battle Of The Century,” “Berth Marks” (with original VitaPhone track and a reissue 1936 soundtrack), “Brats” (with 1930 VitaPhone track and a reissue 1937 track), “Hog Wild,” “Come Clean,” “One Good Turn,” “Me And My Pal,” “Helpmates,” the Oscar winning “The Music Box,” “The Chimp,” “County Hospital,” “Scram!,” “Their First Mistake,” “The Midnight Patrol,” “Busy Bodies,” “Towed In A Hole,” “Twice Two,” “That’s That,” and “The Tree In A Test Tube.”

In the history of comedy duos, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy have always been my personal favorite. Not only do the two play off each other so well, but their individual comedic styles and mannerisms are timeless. Whether Hardy is mugging the camera or Laurel is breaking down emotionally, their comedy never gets old. For those that have to see or experience the comedy of L&H, this set is basically the perfect primer for newcomers as it contains their 2 most well known features (with ‘Sons’ being the best) and a good chunk of their most acclaimed shorts. While all of the shorts are comedic gems, there are a few that really stand out to me. “The Music Box” is often cited as their greatest work and it’s hard to argue that. It has a very simple premise involving moving a piano, but, of course, everything goes wrong in the process. It’s a perfect plot for matters to worsen/escalate. 1933’s “Busy Bodies” (which involves a work day going wrong) has always been my favorite of the shorts simply because it is a very visual piece that perfectly encapsulates their comedy. “Towed In A Hole” (hijinks involving a newly purchased fishing boat), “Me And My Pal” (a puzzle becoming the focus on Hardy’s wedding day), and “Brats” (a fun short involving fathers and sons) are also nothing short of uproarious. 

The only real downside to this set is that it’s but a mere sampling of L&H. Now, perhaps more sets are in the works as there are many L&H feature films and shorts still unreleased in hi-def, but that could be just wishful thinking. For now though, L&H fans can at long last enjoy much of their best work here in 1080p over and over again.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.37:1 1080p. How do the films and shorts look? The L&H titles have been given 2K and 4K digital restorations and the shorts and ‘West’ have never looked better as the image quality is super sharp. The only disappointment comes with “Sons of the Desert” which has some flickering issues and blindingly bright shots in which you can barely see the faces of the characters at times.

Audio Track: LPCM 2.0 Mono. How does everything sound? The sound quality varies as there is some audible static and pops and crackles, but, for the most part, the sound has been cleaned up tremendously.

Extras:
* “Sons Of The Desert” publicity portrait, scene stills, deleted and candids, posters and publicity, early script, dialogue continuity, and contacts and documents still galleries
* Still gallery fans will be heaven with still galleries for Battle of the Century, Berth Marks, Portraits in costume, early career Stan and Babe, Brats, Hog Wild, Come Clean, One Good Turn, Me and My Pal, Hardy Vim Scrapbook, Hollywood Friends, Catalina July 1934, Helpmates, The Music Box, The Chimp, County Hospital, Scram!, Their First Mistake, The Midnight Patrol, Busy Bodies, A Short History Of The Hal Roach Studios, Supporting Players, Crew Members, Studio Hijinks, Snapshots From The UK Vacation, Towed In A Hole, Twice Two, That’s That, The Tree In A Test Tube, Portraits out of costume, Laurel and Hardy and Golf, Special Occasions, Odd publicity shots and Stan in retirement.
* Separate interviews with Anita Garvin, Joe Rock, Roy Seawright, Oliver Hardy
* “Sons of the Desert,” “Way Out West,” “Beau Hunks,” “Pick Up Your Troubles,” “Babes In Toyland,” “The Flying Deuces,” “A Chump At Oxford,” and “Saps At Sea” trailers
* Special thanks
* Ads for L & H Books by Randy Skretvedt
* Involving commentaries by author Randy Skretvedt on “Sons of the Desert,” “Berth Marks,” “Way Out West,” “Brats,” “Hog Wild,” “Come Clean,” “One Good Turn,” “Me And My Pal,” “Helpmates,” “The Chimp,” “County Hospital,” “Scram!,” “Their First Mistake,” “The Midnight Patrol,” “Busy Bodies,” “Towed In A Hol,” “Twice Two,” “That’s That” and “The Tree In A Test Tube.”
* Informative commentaries by Richard Bann on “The Battle of the Century,” “The Music Box,”
* Separate audio interviews with Billy Bletcher (with an intro by Randy Skretvedt), Joe Rock, Hal Roach, Anita Garvin Stanley, George Marshall, Roy Seawright, Venice Lloyd, Richard Currier, Bert Jordan, Walter Woolf King, Lucille Hardy Price, Marvin Hatley and Honolulu Baby and Lovey-Dovey.
* Way Out West portrait stills, scene stills, candid stills, pressbook articles and artwork, poster and lobby card artwork, original 1913 sheet music, script and synopsis, dialogue continuity, cues, letters.
* Marvin Hatley music tracks

July 2, 2020 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Thank you very much for this review, Nick. Many people worked very hard for a long time to make this new release a real tribute to Stan and Babe and the folks who helped make the films; I’m glad you think we succeeded.
    With best wishes —
    Randy Skretvedt

    Comment by skretvedt1958 | July 16, 2020 | Reply

    • I appreciate the kind words. Hope there will be more sets in the future!

      Comment by nicklyons1 | July 16, 2020 | Reply


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