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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2011 12:49 pm 
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Hadn't seen this mentioned yet:
Celebrating the genius of the most beloved comedy team of all time, Laurel and Hardy - The Essential Collection debuts in a stunning 10-disc set on October 25, 2011 from RHI Entertainment and Vivendi Entertainment. With a comedic style that defined an era and created a legacy that is still celebrated today, 58 of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy’s talking shorts and feature films, produced under legendary movie mogul Hal Roach from 1929 through 1940, are now available for the first time in the U.S. all together in one magnificent collection.

Transferred in high definition for the first time and digitally enhanced for home viewing in the finest quality available to date, the set contains favorites that have been enjoyed for generations including Helpmates, Hog Wild, Another Fine Mess, Sons of the Desert, Way Out West, and the Academy Award winning film The Music Box.

Laurel and Hardy - The Essential Collection comes housed in collectible, book-style packaging with an extensive, detailed film guide. The set also boasts over two hours of special features including exclusive, never-before-seen interviews with comedy legends Dick Van Dyke, Jerry Lewis, Tim Conway and more, who discuss the enduring impact and influence of Laurel and Hardy.

Additional features include commentaries by Laurel and Hardy aficionados, along with a virtual location map that allows viewers to take an interactive tour of the iconic places in and around Los Angeles where Laurel and Hardy filmed.

Not sure how this compares in terms of content to the massive U.K. set, but the new HD transfers and extensive supplements are certainly something to cheer about.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2011 5:03 pm 

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In terms of content, their silent films are not included, nor are the colorized versions of the films.

The UCLA Film and Television Archive are currently in the process of restoring the Laurel & Hardy films, but I would imagine this is the best they will look for awhile.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2011 5:04 pm 
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Are those effing cardboard slots? What the hell did hubs ever do to studios?


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2011 5:05 pm 
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Are the silents in the UK box? I've always thought they were broadly the stronger ones.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2011 7:02 pm 
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The UK box is everything that survives up until the late 30s, with only a handful of contractual holdouts (most of which appear on the US TCM set). Every extant silent short is on there somewhere.

Still, if this set is sensibly programmed it could be worth a double-dip.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2011 7:40 pm 
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For R1, a set of the silents as a companion to the above would be most welcome, as Image's Lost Films of Laurel and Hardy discs are long out of print.

By the way, the UCLA Film and Television Archive is reaching out for public support for this project, in case anyone here would care to donate. It would be amazing to see all this stuff restored.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 5:17 am 

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zedz wrote:
The UK box.... Every extant silent short is on there somewhere.

I'm being fairly pedantic, but the UK set doesn't include the pre-Roach short The Lucky Dog, available on other DVDs but not, as far as I know, with the opening shots present in Robert Youngson's compilation 30 Years of Fun. The UK set also omits the surviving second reel of Now I'll Tell One, a Charley Chase silent in which L&H only appear separately. It isn't available on DVD anywhere, though it has been posted on YouTube.

The silents on the UK set are very variable in print quality; some are great, but others - on which much better materials survive - look like bad 16mm dupes.

As many will know, The Lost Films R1 set was supposed to be officially reissued last year by Michael Agee in an improved and massively extended Special Edition, but only a few DVD-R copies trickled out after Mail Fraud charges had been instigated by customers who'd paid in advance for a set that was subject to endless delays and now appears to be cancelled.

For real devotees, the new set of talkies could certainly improve enough on the UK one - restoring missing shots and dialogue in some films - even without the full UCLA restorations, great though it would be to have those one day (I've read they've completed only two films so far). It surprised me that the last BBC broadcasts of the Roach features - about ten years ago - looked much cleaner than the prints in the UK DVD set.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 1:36 pm 
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domino harvey wrote:
Are those effing cardboard slots? What the hell did hubs ever do to studios?

Indeed they are. And there are many complaints on Amazon with regard to inevitable scratching.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2011 12:49 pm 
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Thinking about buying this but I have yet to find a really good review of it anywhere. Most reviews seem to be of the general sort. Anyone know of any good reviews available saying what's on what discs and what commentaries are available?


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2011 10:47 pm 

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I looked at most of the dvd review sites DVDTALK, DVDTOWN, DVD BEAVER..etc and nothing yet and that suprises me since this is a major Laurel & Hardy dvd box set release. Only Amazon.com has reviews from people who bought the set and most have great reviews of it....very strange. I just received it and can't wait to go threw it since i am a big fan of the boys.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2011 11:16 pm 
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It was reviewed on the AVClub, but not with a lot of specificity.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 6:26 pm 

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atcolomb wrote:
I looked at most of the dvd review sites DVDTALK, DVDTOWN, DVD BEAVER..etc and nothing yet and that suprises me since this is a major Laurel & Hardy dvd box set release. Only Amazon.com has reviews from people who bought the set and most have great reviews of it....very strange. I just received it and can't wait to go threw it since i am a big fan of the boys.


Just found out about this set today! Atcolomb, or anyone else who has this to hand - any comments on the set?


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 6:36 pm 
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I noticed a couple weeks ago that it already seems to be out of print, unless they're just waiting on a second printing. Barnes & Noble keeps saying it ships in 1-2 weeks, but who knows. Hardly the "essentials" without the silents, but valuable anyway if what's there looks better than the big UK set.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 8:05 pm 
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I have it. Believe it or not, aside from seeing Way Out West on TCM recently, I'd never seen any of these films prior to buying the set. So I can't really compare the transfers to anything else - but they strike me as solid. I've definitely been enjoying it. Only complaints so far are the packaging - glue in the sleeves stuck to a couple of my discs - but I haven't noticed any playback issues yet. And then the theme music repeats mercilessly over the menus, which is a little hard to take. But those are just quibbles. I have no regrets about picking this up.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 8:15 pm 
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How are the commentaries?


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 9:08 pm 
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I must confess that I have not listened to any yet. But if it would be helpful, I'd be happy to give a couple a spin and report back.

I'm impressed by the inclusion of the Spanish and French versions (although again, I have yet to watch any of them). The notes in the book, while brief, strike me as pretty informative (but that's coming from someone who knows ZERO about Laurel and Hardy) (I feel somewhat ashamed to admit I had never seen any of this stuff - I think they just never showed these things on the Detroit-area television stations when I was growing up in the 70s).


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 9:14 pm 
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I would love to hear if the commentaries are any good, if you're up for giving them a listen.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 9:34 pm 
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First, a caveat. I tend not to listen to many commentaries. I personally prefer more condensed special features like the video essays or short documentaries. So you might want to take my comments with a boulder of salt.

General observation: while it is entirely possible that I am a complete moron, it seems to me that there is no way of knowing from either the packaging or the menus whether a particular short has a commentary. You have to select the short and then in some instances there is a menu that allows you to choose a commentary. Assuming I am not missing something, this is pretty annoying.

So then I flipped through all the shorts on disc 5 and found no commentaries.

On disc 2, I sampled commentaries on "Another Fine Mess" and "Hog Wild." Each one has two commentaries.

One commentary on "Another Fine Mess" appears to solely concern the composer of the music. It seemed to have a lot of facts, but I wasn't really all that interested. The second alternated between facts about the short (where and when it was shot, who was in it, things like that) and what I thought were relatively uninformative observations about the action. It had its moments - notes about the shooting script, some remarks about the pre-code conversation on the couch - but overall it didn't do that much for me.

One commentary on "Hog Wild" was basically facts about the production - comments about the multiple language versions, facts about the construction of the fake house they used for the set. Not bad, but I didn't find it super-engaging. The other commentary ran more with the action, but it seemed to me to mostly consist of commenting on how the gags were funny. I liked the first commentary better.

In all honesty, I didn't listen to any of these commentaries from beginning to end - more like 5 minutes or so of each, skipping around to sample commentary during different parts of the short. I wasn't wowed by any of them, but, again, I might not be the best judge. To sum up, I'm still happy with this set - but I didn't buy it for the commentaries. Unless I happened to pick some particularly weak ones, I think that if the commentaries are important to you, it is possible you'd be disappointed.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 10:01 pm 

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DVDTALK review of the dvd box set... excellent review of it and good things to say about the set.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 10:58 pm 
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If you want to pick this up, it's in stock on Amazon right now- but I'd hurry, it says there's only 20 copies and it's been going for three times as much lately.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 10:28 am 
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FWIW, I ordered the set from B&N with a nonmember coupon (A8N7K7X) bringing the total to $50.99. The product page says it ships within 1-2 weeks, but right after ordering it was scheduled to ship within a few days.

Max, thanks for the write-up on the commentaries. The track on Another Fine Mess, about the great composer/bandleader Leroy Shield holds potentially great interest for me, but I'm bracing myself for these to mostly be pretty dull. I'm also not a big fan of the format in general.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 2:30 pm 
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Max von Mayerling wrote:
...I feel somewhat ashamed to admit I had never seen any of this stuff - I think they just never showed these things on the Detroit-area television stations when I was growing up in the 70s...


Actually, these shorts/features were all over local Detroit-area TV in the 70s (every weekday around 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. on Channel 20 or 50 if I remember correctly) which is where I first saw them. I love LeRoy Shield's scores for the Hal Roach shorts so I'd probably enjoy a commentary devoted entirely to his work. The set does sound like it's the best that will be released; I've stayed away from ordering only because I'm so familiar with the material from seeing it repeatedly on TV in the 70s :)


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:31 pm 
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Odd that I remember watching the Three Stooges ... and the Little Rascals. But I don't remember ever seeing these. Not doubting you. I must have had other priorities...


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:47 pm 
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Max von Mayerling wrote:
Odd that I remember watching the Three Stooges ... and the Little Rascals. But I don't remember ever seeing these. Not doubting you. I must have had other priorities...

Ironically, I just noticed that the DVDTalk review linked above has the reviewer reminiscing about seeing Laurel and Hardy on Channel 50 in Detroit in the 70s!


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 5:58 pm 
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Just wanted to say that I also picked these up, and I'm actually really enjoying the commentaries- they're informed, they're from real scholars (in various fields), and they avoid just narrating what is going on. Plus, nobody has a terribly annoying voice. I haven't heard anything spectacular on here, but I'd say these are consistently better than like the commentaries on the Twilight Zone, if that's a useful comparison.

There is a lot of 'that actor is _____ who is best known from _____' followed by ten minutes of digression but honestly that's endemic to commentaries on these things.


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