Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Jul 19, 2020
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
  • Bookmark and Share
Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations (Blu-ray Review)

Director

Various

Release Date(s)

Various (June 30, 2020)

Studio(s)

Hal Roach Studios/MGM (MVD Visual/Kit Parker Films/The Sprocket Vault)
  • Film/Program Grade: See Below
  • Video Grade: See Below
  • Audio Grade: See Below
  • Extras Grade: A
  • Overall Grade: A

Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations (Blu-ray Disc)

amazonbuttonsm

Review

Laurel and Hardy continue to endure as one of the all-time great comedy teams. Their work spans from the latter days of the silent film era all the way up through to the early 1950s. Beloved comic icons for generations, most of their work has been and continues to be preserved for all to see. Fresh to the Blu-ray format, Laurel and Hardy: The Definitive Restorations gathers together 21 shorts and 2 features in the best possible quality with a bevy of bonus features.

The following films and shorts are included:

DISC ONE

  • Sons of the Desert (Feature – 1:05:14)
  • Battle of the Century (Short – 27:08)
  • Berth Marks (with Original 1929 Vitaphone Soundtrack) (Short – 20:21)
  • Berth Marks (with Re-issue 1983 Soundtrack) (Short – 20:05)

DISC TWO

  • Brats (with Original 1930 Vitaphone Soundtrack) (Short – 21:29)
  • Brats (with Re-Issue 1937 Soundtrack) (Short – 21:29)
  • Hog Wild (Short – 20:24)
  • Come Clean (Short – 21:02)
  • One Good Turn (Short – 20:52)
  • Me and My Pal (Short – 20:30)

DISC THREE

  • Helpmates (Short – 21:22)
  • The Music Box (Short – 39:27)
  • The Chimp (Short – 25:36)
  • County Hospital (Short – 19:00)
  • Scram! (Short – 20:56)
  • Their First Mistake (Short – 21:04)
  • The Midnight Patrol (Short – 19:44)
  • Busy Bodies (Short – 19:36)

DISC FOUR

  • Way Out West (Feature – 1:04:42)
  • Towed in a Hole (Short – 21:09)
  • Twice Two (Short – 20:38)
  • That's That (Short – 8:06)
  • The Tree in a Test Tube (Short – 10:37)

In Sons of the Desert, they attempt to sneak off to a convention without their wives’ knowledge or permission. In Battle of the Century, a pie fight starts in the streets after Stanley hops in and out of the boxing ring. In Berth Marks, a train ride turns into hilarity when they try to bed down for the night, causing a ruckus with other passengers. In Brats, wherein they play adult and child versions of themselves, the fathers want to have a quiet evening, but their children are wreaking havoc all over the house.

In Hog Wild, fixing a radio aerial on the roof turns out to be a real chore. In Come Clean, they save a suicidal woman but try to keep her hidden from their wives when she follows them home. In One Good Turn, they search for food during the depression and endeavor to help an old lady, or so they think. In Me and My Pal, they find themselves torn between getting to an important appointment and being sidelined by a jigsaw puzzle.

In Helpmates, Stanley stops by to help Oliver clean up the house before the wife gets home, but Oliver soon regrets it. In The Music Box, the duo attempts to deliver a player piano with side-splitting results. In The Chimp, they wind up with a monkey after their circus closes down and they can’t find a place to stay for the night, always on the run from an escaped lion. When Stanley pays Oliver a visit in the County Hospital, it’s anything but a routine check-up. In Scram!, they’re invited to stay for the night at the home of a wealthy drunk, which turns out to be more trouble than its worth. In Their First Mistake, they adopt a crying baby after Oliver’s wife leaves him. In The Midnight Patrol, the two play bumbling police officers on the late night beat. In Busy Bodies, they have mishap after mishap as construction workers.

In Way Out West, they make their way to a small town to inform a young woman of an inheritance, but run into greedy locals who want to cash in. In Towed in a Hole, the pair decide to go into the fishing business, but can’t get along when fixing up a boat together. In Twice Two, we find Stanley and Oliver married... to themselves... as women. That’s That is an oddball (and even off color) set of outtakes from several of their films, which was prepared as a gift for Stanley’s birthday party in 1938. The Tree in a Test Tube is a color short film featuring Laurel and Hardy as two narrators, including Pete Smith, talk about various items made from the byproducts of trees.

These films come from a variety of sources, including 2K and 4K masters. Sons of the Desert looks excellent. All that’s noteworthy about it is mild flicker, occasional speckling, and at least one dropped frame. Battle of the Century features high quality sepia-tone footage for the first reel and switches to a 16 mm print for its second reel. Portions of the first reel are currently lost and have been recreated using photographs. Berth Marks appears healthy and natural without any major issues.

Brats is soft and out of register with a bit of flicker. Whites are blown out and it looks to have been cleaned up excessively as it was likely quite damaged. Hog Wild has very apparent flicker, so much so that the screen tends brighten every few seconds. Otherwise, it’s in great condition. Come Clean looks to have had a little too much digital clean-up as it appears smooth. Blacks are crushed as well. One Good Turn is similar, but a tad bit more natural with more apparent leftover damage. Me and My Pal looks terrific with natural grain, minimal damage, excellent grayscale, and a clean picture without any heavy-handed digital adjustments.

Helpmates appears to be from an older transfer as it’s soft and lacks obvious grain. Occasional leftover damage is present, but otherwise, grayscale and clarity are fine. The Music Box features crushed blacks, a bit of flicker, and mild speckling, but is otherwise clean and clear. The Chimp offers excellent grayscale, nice detail, and a clean and stable picture. County Hospital also has crushed blacks and flicker, but is otherwise spotless. Scram! is clean, if a bit unstable, but is a tad too bright. Their First Mistake looks great despite the flicker, and has great contrast. The Midnight Patrol features constant flicker, but is a mostly clean and stable presentation otherwise. Busy Bodies looks particularly wonderful with excellent grayscale and high levels of fine detail.

Way Out West appears natural with lovely grayscale and only minimal leftover damage. Towed in a Hole features a clean presentation, but contrast is a tad too high, crushing the blacks. Twice Two fares better with more ideal contrast, but it’s also clean and stable. That’s That is pretty rough. Being that it’s from a various lower quality sources, there’s lots of damage and flicker leftover, yet it retains an organic appearance. The Tree in a Test Tube, the lone color film in this collection, is taken from a print loaded with grain and crushed blacks. However, the color palette is lush and varied, and the overall appearance—aside from leftover scratches, lines, and speckling—is natural.

The audio for all of these presentations is English 2.0 LPCM (mostly mono-sourced). They all have their fair share of hiss, some more than others, but there are no instances of crackle or dropouts. Dialogue exchanges are mostly clear. The score is prevalent, particularly for Battle of the Century where it has no competition aurally. All of the films feature optional subtitles in English, aside from Battle of the Century, of course.

THE FILMS (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO)

  • Sons of the Desert (B/B+/B)
  • Battle of the Century (B/B/B+)
  • Berth Marks – Original (B/B+/B)
  • Berth Marks – Re-Issue (B/B+/B)
  • Brats – Original (B/C+/B)
  • Brats – Re-Issue (B/C+/B)
  • Hog Wild (B/B-/B)
  • Come Clean (B-/B-/B)
  • One Good Turn (B-/B-/B)
  • Me and My Pal (B+/B+/B)
  • Helpmates (B+/B/B)
  • The Music Box (B+/B/B)
  • The Chimp (B/B+/B+)
  • County Hospital (B-/B-/B)
  • Scram! (B/B-/B-)
  • Their First Mistake (B+/B+/B+)
  • The Midnight Patrol (B-/B/B)
  • Busy Bodies (B/B+/B)
  • Way Out West (B/B+/B)
  • Towed in a Hole (B/B/B)
  • Twice Two (C+/B/B)
  • That's That (C/B-/B-)
  • The Tree in a Test Tube (C/B-/B)

The following extras are also included, all in HD:

DISC ONE

  • Sons of the Desert – Audio Commentary with Randy Skretvedt
  • Battle of the Century – Audio Commentary with Richard Bann
  • Berth Marks – Audio Commentary with Randy Skretvedt
  • Sons of the Desert Publicity Portraits Gallery (36 in all – 3:31)
  • Sons of the Desert Scene Stills Gallery (57 in all – 4:23)
  • Sons of the Desert Deleted and Candids Gallery (29 in all – 3:36)
  • Sons of the Desert Posters and Publicity Gallery (81 in all – 7:22)
  • Sons of the Desert Early Script Gallery (40 in all – 3:57)
  • Sons of the Desert Dialogue Continuity Gallery (41 in all – 3:54)
  • Sons of the Desert Contracts and Documents Gallery (27 in all – 2:57)
  • Battle of the Century Gallery (74 in all – 7:38)
  • Berth Marks Gallery (54 in all – 5:02)
  • Portraits in Costume Gallery (88 in all – 9:52)
  • Early Career: Stan Gallery (40 in all – 4:26)
  • Early Career: Babe Gallery (50 in all – 5:55)
  • Interview with Anita Garvin (9:18)
  • Interview with Joe Rock (9:35)
  • Interview with Roy Seawright (14:56)
  • Interview with Oliver Hardy (3:30)
  • Sons of the Desert Spanish Trailer (2:35)
  • Laurel & Hardy Books by Randy Skretvedt (1:53)
  • Special Thanks (1:22)

DISC TWO

  • Brats – Audio Commentary with Randy Skretvedt
  • Hog Wild – Audio Commentary with Randy Skretvedt
  • Come Clean – Audio Commentary with Randy Skretvedt
  • One Good Turn – Audio Commentary with Randy Skretvedt
  • Me and My Pal – Audio Commentary with Randy Skretvedt
  • Intro and Billy Bletcher Audio Interview (4:27)
  • Joe Rock Audio Interview (4:32)
  • Hal Roach Audio Interview (9:12)
  • Anita Garvin Stanley Audio Interview (4:35)
  • George Marshall Audio Interview (2:54)
  • Roy Seawright Audio Interview (6:15)
  • Venice Lloyd Audio Interview (4:45)
  • Richard Currier Audio Interview (8:06)
  • Bert Jordan Audio Interview (7:53)
  • Walter Woolf King Audio Interview (3:34)
  • Lucille Hardy Price Audio Interview (8:50)
  • Marvin Hatley Audio Interview (3:24)
  • Honolulu Baby & Lovey-Dovey Audio Interview (6:00)
  • Brats Gallery (98 in all – 0:26)
  • Hog Wild Gallery (75 in all – 7:20)
  • Come Clean Gallery (90 in all – 8:34)
  • One Good Turn Gallery (99 in all – 9:38)
  • Me and My Pal Gallery (45 in all – 4:43)
  • Hardy Vim Scrapbook (50 in all – 5:54)
  • Hollywood Friends (11 in all – 2:37)
  • Catalina July 1934 (17 in all – 2:30)
  • Laurel & Hardy Books by Randy Skretvedt (1:53)
  • Special Thanks (1:22)

DISC THREE

  • Helpmates – Audio Commentary with Randy Skretvedt
  • The Music Box – Audio Commentary with Richard Bann
  • The Chimp – Audio Commentary with Randy Skretvedt
  • County Hospital – Audio Commentary with Randy Skretvedt
  • Scram! – Audio Commentary with Randy Skretvedt
  • Their First Mistake – Audio Commentary with Randy Skretvedt
  • The Midnight Patrol – Audio Commentary with Randy Skretvedt
  • Busy Bodies – Audio Commentary with Randy Skretvedt
  • Helpmates Gallery (82 in all – 7:51)
  • The Music Box Gallery (118 in all – 11:11)
  • The Chimp Gallery (81 in all – 7:31)
  • County Hospital Gallery (118 in all – 10:46)
  • Scram! Gallery (92 in all – 8:46)
  • Their First Mistake Gallery (54 in all – 5:22)
  • The Midnight Patrol Gallery (64 in all – 6:12)
  • Busy Bodies Gallery (90 in all – 7:58)
  • A Short History of the Hal Roach Studios Gallery (58 in all – 6:32)
  • Supporting Players Gallery (18 in all – 3:09)
  • Crew Members Gallery (25 in all – 3:47)
  • Studio Hijinks Gallery (22 in all – 2:42)
  • Snapshots from the UK Vacation Gallery (41 in all – 5:20)
  • Laurel & Hardy Books by Randy Skretvedt (1:53)
  • Special Thanks (1:22)

DISC FOUR

  • Way Out West – Audio Commentary with Randy Skretvedt
  • Towed in a Hole – Audio Commentary with Randy Skretvedt
  • Twice Two – Audio Commentary with Randy Skretvedt
  • That's That – Audio Commentary with Randy Skretvedt
  • The Tree in a Test Tube – Audio Commentary with Randy Skretvedt
  • Way Out West Portrait Stills Gallery (61 in all – 5:58)
  • Way Out West Scene Stills Gallery (66 in all – 6:12)
  • Way Out West Candid Stills Gallery (45 in all – 5:31)
  • Way Out West Pressbook Articles and Artwork Gallery (86 in all – 7:43)
  • Way Out West Poster and Lobby Card Artwork Gallery (54 in all – 5:01)
  • Way Out West Original 1913 Sheet Music Gallery (11 in all – 2:47)
  • Way Out West Script and Synopsis Gallery (79 in all – 7:42)
  • Way Out West Dialogue Continuity, Cues, Letters Gallery (35 in all – 4:02)
  • Towed in a Hole Gallery (64 in all – 6:27)
  • Twice Two Gallery (45 in all – 4:48)
  • That’s That Gallery (16 in all – 2:02)
  • The Tree in a Test Tube Gallery (14 in all – 2:10)
  • Portraits Out of Costume Gallery (35 in all – 4:02)
  • Laurel & Hardy and Golf Gallery (25 in all – 3:50)
  • Special Occasions Gallery (28 in all – 3:59)
  • Odd Publicity Shots Gallery (15 in all – 2:35)
  • Stan in Retirement Gallery (37 in all – 4:22)
  • Way Out West Trailer (1:21)
  • Marvin Hatley Music Tracks (12 in all – 25:52)
  • Beau Hunks 1931 Trailer (0:54)
  • Pack Up Your Troubles 1932 Trailer (1:54)
  • Babes in Toyland 1934 Trailer (3:26)
  • The Flying Deuces 1939 Trailer (2:17)
  • A Chump at Oxford 1940 Trailer (1:23)
  • Saps at Sea 1940 Trailer (1:55)
  • Laurel & Hardy Books by Randy Skretvedt (1:53)
  • Special Thanks (1:22)

As you can see, the bonus materials are extensive. All of the audio commentaries are fun and informative from the men involved, while the multitude of interviews and still galleries offer plenty of background on the comedy duo and their work, but also showcase film history. The galleries consist of on-set stills, behind-the-scenes photos, promotional stills, posters, lobby cards, production reports, music cue sheets, continuity sheets, script pages, newspaper clippings, promotional materials, memorabilia stills, and candid photos. The only issue is the menu’s navigation, which always reverts back to the main menu, regardless of how deep into a sub-menu you are. It’s definitely an annoyance, but it can be overlooked to a degree.

Of course, this only scratches the surface when it comes to Laurel and Hardy’s output, but it’s a fine primer, containing some of their best work. Particular favorites include The Music Box, Me and My Pal, and Their First Mistake, among others. For younger viewers, this is an excellent introduction in the finest quality available with a boatload of extras. Highly recommended!

– Tim Salmons

(You can follow Tim on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook. And be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel here.)

Tags

1927, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1937, 1942, A Sintzenich, Al Hallett, Anita Garvin, Art Lloyd, Arthur Housman, Arthur V Jones, Baldwin Cooke, Battle of the Century, Belle Hare, Bert Jordan, Bert Roach, Berth Marks, Billy Bletcher, Billy Gilbert, Blanche Payson, Blu-ray, Blu-ray Disc, Bob Kortman, Bob O'Connor, Bobby Burns, Bobby Dunn, Boris Vermont, Brats, Busy Bodies, Byron Morgan, Carol Tevis, Carroll Borland, Charita, Charita Alden, Charles Gemora, Charles McDonald, Charles McMurphy, Charles Rogers, Charley Chase, Charley Rogers, Charley Young, Charlie Hall, Clyde Bruckman, Come Clean, comedy, comedy shorts, County Hospital, DIC Entertainment, Dick Gilbert, Dick Sutherland, Dorothea Wolbert, Dorothy Christy, Dorothy Coburn, Dorothy Granger, Dorothy Layton, Ed Brandenburg, Eddie Baker, Eddie Dunn, Edgar Dearing, Edward Craig, Eleanor Fredericks, Ellinor Vanderveer, Estelle Etterre, Eugene Pallette, Fay Holderness, Felix Adler, Flora Finch, Frank Brownlee, Frank Craven, Frank Holliday, Frank Terry, Fred Toones, Gene Morgan, George B French, George Marshall, George Miller, George Stevens, Gertrude Astor, Gordon Douglas, Hal Roach, Hal Roach Studios, Ham Kinsey, Harry Bernard, Helpmates, HM Walker, Hog Wild, Jack Hill, Jack Jevne, Jack O'Brien, James C Morton, James Finlayson, James Greene, James Parrott, James W Horne, Jimmy Finlayson, Kenneth Peach, Kit Parker Films, Laurel and Hardy, Lee Vickers, Len Powers, Leo McCarey, Leroy Shield, Lewis R Foster, Lilyan Irene, Linda Loredo, Lloyd French, Lois Laurel, Lou Costello, Louise Beavers, Lucien Littlefield, Lyle Tayo, Mae Busch, Marion Bardell, Marvin Hatley, Mary Carr, Mary Gordon, Mary Kornman, May Wallace, Me and My Pal, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, MGM, MVD Visual, Noah Young, Oliver Hardy, One Good Turn, Pat Harmon, Paulette Goddard, Pete Smith, pre-code, Randy Skretvedt, Raymond McCarey, review, Richard Bann, Richard C Currier, Richard Cramer, Robert Callahan, Rosina Lawrence, Sam Lufkin, Sammy Brooks, Scram!, SD Wilcox, Sharon Lynn, Sharon Lynne, shorts, Sidney Rauh, silent, silent film, Snub Pollard, Sons of the Desert, Stan and Ollie, Stan Laurel, Stanley Fields, Steve Murphy, That's That, The Avalon Boys, The Chimp, The Definitive Restorations, The Digital Bits, The Midnight Patrol, The Music Box, The Sprocket Vault, The Tree in a Test Tube, Their First Mistake, Tim Salmons, Tiny Sandford, Towed in a Hole, Twice Two, Ty Parvis, United States Department of Agriculture, US Department of Agriculture, US Forest Service, Vivien Oakland, Walter Lundin, Walter Plinge, Way Out West, William A Seiter, William Austin, William Axt, Wilson Benge

Bits Latest Tweets

RT @BillHuntBits: Fingers crossed for DUNE (1984) in 4K... twitter.com/ArrowFilmsVide…
The Digital Bits
Today on The Bits – @Lionsgate bows @SchittsCreek: The Complete Collection on #DVD, plus @WBHomeEnt pushes back its Bugs Bunny and Flintstones #Bluray street dates thedigitalbits.com/columns/my-two…
The Digital Bits
Bits #BD Review – Dennis checks out another Bob Hope #horror #comedy classic THE CAT AND THE CANARY from 1939—new to #Bluray from @KLStudioClassic @BillHuntBits #horrorcomedy mystery #comedy #BobHope thedigitalbits.com/item/cat-and-t…