The combination of choleric, combustible Oliver Hardy and mild, perpetually helpful Stan Laurel sustained dozens upon dozens of comedies, including the popular Way Out West. What makes this hour-long feature stand out is n... more »ot just the physical hijinks (of which there are plenty), but the moments of surprising elegance, like a supple soft-shoe duet accompanied by what can only be called cowboy doo-wop. The plot concerns keeping the deed to a gold mine out of the hands of a greedy saloonkeeper (frequent comic foil James Finlayson), but it's just a pretext for gleeful slapstick orchestrations. Laurel & Hardy II also includes the underrated Block-Heads, another hour-long feature which starts out in the trenches of World War I and ends in a 13th floor apartment in New York; domestic strife and even lost limbs become fodder for jokes, yet the movie never feels cruel or ghoulish. It's the lightheartedness of their brutal mishaps that marks their success. Both features are from the late 1930s. An additional short from 1931, Chickens Come Home, features Hardy running for mayor and trying to squelch his past indiscretions, with Laurel as his right-hand man. No matter the circumstances, they wear bowler hats; wherever they go, madcap devastation follows. --Bret Fetzer« less
The Boys- 5 stars; great work. Studio- one star; bad job
Donna H. Winchell | Clemson, SC USA | 07/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a pretty bad copy of Laurel and Hardy's work. This is what I think the studio should do: 1. Release all 32 silent shorts that have both Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. BOTH OF THEM. No Charlie Chase shorts with only Hardy; no shorts with just Laurel; BOTH!!! They should put them in chronological order (starting with LUCKY DOG) with four shorts on a DVD. That makes eight DVDs. 2. Release all 40 sound shorts (chronologically) that have Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. They should release ten DVDs with 4 shorts on each disc. 3. Release all the full-length movies with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. They include PARDON US; PACK UP YOUR TROUBLES; THE DEVIL'S BROTHER; SONS OF THE DESERT; BABES IN TOYLAND; BONNIE SCOTLAND; THE BOHEMIAN GIRL; OUR RELATIONS; WAY OUT WEST; SWISS MISS; BLOCK-HEADS; THE FLYING DEUCES; A CHUMP AT OXFORD; SAPS AT SEA; GREAT GUNS; A-HAUNTING WE WILL GO; AIR RAID WARDENS; JITTERBUGS; THE DANCING MASTERS; THE BIG NOISE; THE BULLFIGHTERS; NOTHING BUT TROUBLE; and ATOLL K. Release them separately. One movie a disc. 4. Release a two disc DVD set of movies that have Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in only small parts. Such shorts as THE STOOLEN JOOLS; ON THE LOOSE; WILD POSES; ON THE WRONG TREK; and THE TREE IN A TEST TUBE and the full-length movies THE HOLLYWOOD REVUE OF 1929; HOLLYWOOD PARTY; and PICK A STAR. 5. Each DVD should have trailers of that short or movie (if available), photos, production notes, subtitles in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Mexican, and whatever other languages they think the DVDs should have. These DVDs should be painstakingly remastered with state-of-the-art technology so that each film has the best sound and picture quality. Also, no sets. We comedy lovers like to chose what movies to watch and not have to buy a whole set (aka: It's a Gift). Also no colorization of any kind. So that makes 8 DVDs of their silent shorts, 10 DVDs of their sound shorts, 23 DVDs with their full-length movies, and a two disc DVD set with their short movie appearances. Please say this review was helpful and if you know someone that works at Lions Gate Home Entertainment, please print this review up, give this to that person you know, and ask that person to give this to the person in charge of the Laurel and Hardy DVDs. Thank you. "
"Oh Gabriel, blow your horn!"
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 03/28/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Hallmark finally follows up their initial Laurel and Hardy DVD release with this second volume, and there appears to be an issue with some over the quality versus similarly released European versions. I have not seen these other releases, so I can't comment on them in comparison to this one, but if you have a DVD player that will accommodate DVD releases from other countries, you might want to choose buying the alternative rather than this release (I figure if you own such a DVD player, you'd be willing to search out various releases for the best quality, but I don't so this is what I have).
The first feature is Chickens Come Home (1931), 30 minutes, and features Ollie as a prominent businessman (seller of high grade fertilizer), running for mayor under the campaign of `cleaning the city of vice'. Only problem is an indiscretion from his past show up, with the pictures to prove it, and is looking for her own payday in order to keep quiet. On the night Ollie is supposed to meet with her, his wife is holding a dinner party with some very influential people, so he sends Stan to run interference until he can get away and deal with the determined woman.
The second feature, Way Out West (1937), 65 minutes, takes place in the old west, as one might deduce from the title, and has Stan and Ollie delivering a deed to a valuable gold mine to the daughter of the recently deceased owner, but they're tricked into handing over the deed to an unscrupulous saloon owner (James Finlayson, master of the exaggerated double-take) and his attractive wife, who also happens to provide entertainment at the saloon in the form of a singer. The boys soon learn of the swindle, and try to make things right by attempting to retrieve the deed and deliver it to its rightful owner, a poor dishwashing woman who also works in the saloon.
The third and final feature is Block-Heads (1938), 57 minutes, and begins during WWI as Stan and Ollie are soldiers and Stan is ordered to hold a trench while the rest of the men, including Ollie, go over the hill to engage the enemy. For whatever reason the men don't return, and Stan is left guarding the trench for the next 20 years as no one returns to tell him the war finally ended. He's finally made aware of the fact, returns to the states where Ollie finds him and bring him home, only to have Stan inadvertently destroy not only his home but also Ollie's marriage.
I don't think I'd encounter too much argument in my saying I think this is one of the greatest comedic duos of all time, and in watching these features one can see how much they've influenced those who have followed. Take Way Out West...how many times have you seen the `piano' gag (characters hiding inside a grand piano, only to have the antagonist begin striking the piano keys, and those inside being tormented by the pianos innards) in various cartoons and such? I think part of what made the duo so enduring, even to this day, is the underlying friendship and commitment (on and off the screen) to each other, despite the onscreen disputes and debacles. They may often be at odds with each other, but that quickly fades as an outside force comes into play, such as in Way Out West with James Finlayson's (who appeared in a great number of Laurel and Hardy features) character of the greedy saloon owner, and then the boys become united against a common foe. Speaking of Finlayson, he was a wonderful supporting comedic actor in his own right, often overshadowed by the larger than life antics of others. Did he deserve more than what he got? I'm unsure, but I do know without his performances these features would have lacked something that few could have replaced.
As far as the picture quality of the features on the DVD...I thought it was decent (as was the audio), but other reviews say it could have been better, and offer options that may be worth looking into, so my advice is to read the other reviews and consider their recommendations before purchasing. I did notice a few moments where there were flaws in the picture, which I had attributed them to the age of the features, rather than the source material used, but that may not be the case.
This is not what The Boys deserve!!
Robert Badgley | London,Ontario,Canada | 04/05/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This second release of films of the great Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy by Hallmark proves beyond a shadow of a doubt how LITTLE(if at all!) this company cares about the material it owns.
They have truly made incompetence and indifference into an art form.
As with their first release Hallmark has chosen again to use whatever inferior original film elements they have on hand,use the absolute basic of digital enhancement and release these as if they were indicative of the best that were available.
I have seen both of these features in their European versions and can tell you without a second thought that these Hallmark releases are close to the worst that could have been released here in North America.
Some specific comments:
Again none of the original MGM lion openings are in these versions and the short "Chickens Come Home" is another "Film Classics" 50s release c/w opening "plaque".
During the dance sequence in 'Way Out West' The Boys are shot firstly with their backs to the town.About half way through the camera turns and the saloon is now behind them.At this juncture you suddenly see the picture "jump" and The Boys are now dancing out of sequence to the music accompanying them(!!),then just as they start up the stairs another "jump" occurs and they go back in sync.Absolutely astounding.
Both of these Hallmark releases beg the question:Do they have quality control personnel?? That is,does anyone ever just simply sit down and watch the finished product?? The only person that might have "passed" them would have been Ben Turpin.....maybe.
As I have stated in my review of Hallmarks' previous L&H release all of these films are available in their original versions(and in FAR better shape than these mediocre prints/sources would indicate).So there is NO excuse for such inferior release product such as this.
When one sees Laurel and Hardys' silent films preserved and released in far superior condition than these it has to make you wonder.
When a foreign company such as Lobster Films of France can release an astoundingly clear,fresh and wonderfully transferred print of the 'Flying Deuces'(that puts the Hallmarks to shame!),which is in the public domain and been through more hands than in the US Marine Corps,this also has to make you wonder.
And lastly when one sees what REAL and proper film restoration is all about with the release last year of Metropolis(see my review on that) this has to convince even the most undecided that there is definitely something wrong here.
And there is.....VERY wrong.
Hallmark it would seem is the WRONG company to have control of the Laurel and Hardy product.They are no more interested in their subject matter than they are in obtaining the best possible prints and doing the proper restoration and digital work needed to produce a fine product that everyone can be proud of.
For shame Hallmark."
Music Fan | United States | 06/10/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I just saw part of this DVD. I have no reason to buy it, since I have the Universal box set. A pal of mine has one of those little players with a small screen. You would think that seeing this disc on such a tiny screen would hide any defects. Wrong!
Hallmark has yet again shown nothing but contempt for what is quite possibly it's greatest artistic asset: the Laurel & Hardy sound films from Hal Roach. Proper restorations of these films have been made and are widely available. Hallmark chose to use some of the poorest condition source material around.
I've looked at some of the reviews on this page. They cover all of the problems, so I won't rehash them. Suffice to say, there is no reason to buy this inferior product.
Virtually everything in the Laurel & Hardy catalog is out there in fine shape. The only issue is format, but that's not much of an issue, either. You can get multi-region players for as little as $50. Stan & Ollie are reason enough, but there is plenty of other stuff out there that you can only watch if you make this small investment.
This release is not a DVD for watching. It is a DVD for lying down and avoiding."
If you care about "The BOYS" get the UK set
E. R. Fernandez | Lancaster, PA United States | 07/25/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"It is a shame that American film classics ( like L and H) get more attention and love outside of the US than in it. I just bought the Universal Laurel and Hardy 21 Volume Box set which is only available in Europe from Amazon UK (region 2). This set is EVERYTHING people are saying it is. It is a complete film history of the boys which starts with the boys early silent films ( some solo efferts) and goes though the Hal Roach Features. All the prints are restored and of pristine quality. A truly beautiful set and a worthy tribute to the boys. There are some missing films ( I assume for copyright reasons) such as Babes in Toyland, The Devils Brother, Bonnie Scotland and Flying Deuces.
To acomadate these DVDs I bought a region free DVD player off Amazon,which is the only way to go if you really want to collect. The DVD player was very cheap. plays beautfully and is well worth the investment. As a side note if you have a region free player all the DVDs in the Universal Box set are also availble as single dics, in case you don't want to spend all the money at once or just want a few of the films. If you love Laurel and Hardy this is the only way to go! Anything to screw Hallmark and the corperate monster!! Why did they buy these great films just to sit on them and distribute half-A prints!!! "