For one-stop convenience, you can't beat this handy compilation of Laurel & Hardy classics. Although it's modestly priced and packaged, this DVD packs plenty of extras along with Stan & Ollie's finest feature and several o... more »f the comedy duo's best-loved "talkie" shorts. Sons of the Desert (1933) is the crown jewel in any L&H collection, and with Charley Chase as their stellar comedy costar, the boys reached the pinnacle of their unique partnership, playing a pair of Fez-wearing "Sons of the Desert" sneaking off to a convention in Chicago, but their wives discover the ruse with hilarious results. For L&H fans, it simply doesn't get any better than this, although 1932's "The Music Box" shares equal status--and a 1932 Oscar® for Best Comedy Short--in the L&H pantheon. The remaining shorts on the disc ("Another Fine Mess," "Busy Bodies," and "County Hospital") were produced during the prime of Stan & Ollie's sound-era success (1930-33), each boasting their own timeless bits and flawless routines. Abundant laughs are virtually guaranteed. Most of the bonus material pays tribute to legendary comedy producer Hal Roach, who first partnered Stan & Ollie in 1926. A film-clip tribute includes interviews with comedy greats like Mel Brooks and Steve Allen, and on-screen articles explore Roach's career in greater detail. A "then and now" photo tour provides an historic tour of Roach Studio locations in Culver City, California, and text biographies are provided for Roach, Laurel, and Hardy. In addition to the films themselves (which never looked or sounded better), these extras make this Laurel & Hardy DVD a perfect choice for old and new fans alike. --Jeff Shannon« less
This is NOT the great restoration DVD sold in Europe!
Paul J. Mular | San Carlos, CA USA | 08/25/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First let me say that these films are the BEST that Laurel & Hardy ever did, they are ***** films! I was excited to get this DVD, finally we were going to see the great restoration work that was done in Europe and sold on DVD there. I have seen their DVDs, and this is NOT the restored version!Problem 1) Over compression causes digital artifacting that makes SONS OF THE DESERT look like VHS at times. The transfer is the old grainy U.S. TV tape.Problem 2) THE MUSIC BOX is compressed from a damaged video tape, there are wrinkles that appear as the boys are unloading the piano.Problem 3) COUNTY HOSPITAL is a grainy copy from the Film Classics re-issue negative. The European DVD is authored from the original MGM issue negative. Leo the lion roars a greating to you to let you know that Europeans are about to see a fine transfer. In the U.S., our DVD only has the soundtrack of the roars over the grainy re-issue titles.Problem 4) BUSY BODIES, while it does have the nice original MGM titles, is grainier than the European restored release.On a slightly positive note, ANOTHER FINE MESS did not undergo restoration in Europe, so their version looks as grainy as ours. It does have the original title section with the two girls reciting the credits.There is a fair documetary that used grainy clips from other shorts not on this collection (giving us a preview of how bad the future DVDs might be) and some nice stills showing you some locations as they look today.Hopefully Artisan & Hallmark will re-master this DVD so that those without access to the European DVDs can enjoy these five classic movies the way they were meant to be seen: sharp without artifacting, on two discs."
When you care to send the very best.....
Laughing Gravy | Sacramento, CA United States | 09/19/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This 2-disc set should've been a slam dunk. Some of the best-loved comedies of all time, the greatest comedy duo in the history of movies, and new digital technology to make it all seem like new. In Germany, two dozen DVDs of Laurel & Hardy sound and silent masterpieces have been restored, remastered, and released to great success. Hallmark (current owners of the Hal Roach films) had no interest in releasing them stateside, but apparently the entreaties of classic comedy lovers made them cough up this release. So what did we get? Barely adequate transfers from 20-year-old video (not digital) masters. Inserted "fade outs" where the extra commercials went for TV showings. Re-release credits instead of the often brilliant original opening credits. In short, Hallmark/Artisan used the least amount of effort, time and expense possible to release these films to the home market. This release should rival the much-talked-about Charlie Chaplin reissue of a couple of months ago, instead it was tossed onto the market with no care or thought. Shame on them.So, L&H fans are faced with a dilemma: purchase the disc and hope Hallmark does better next time, or ignore it and get an all-region player to buy the German discs. My advice? Shop at amazon.de."
START YOUR LAUREL AND HARDY COLLECTION OFF RIGHT!
Scott MacGillivray | 06/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This long awaited DVD contains one of 'they boys' best loved features Sons of the Desert and a nice selection of their two reel comedies; Busy Bodies, Another Fine Mess (which is actually a three reeler), County Hospital, and the Academy Award winning Music Box.What makes this release so important is that it is the first (of hopefully many) of their sound comedies. The Laurel and Hardy catalog has been criminally ignored over time and the package of films has switched hands too often with no care going into the released product. Fans have had to tolerate colorized (UGH!) prints or non restored films that have been copied so much they are barely recognizable.Artisans (Hallmark) DVD states these films are 'digitally remastered' which indicates we are finally seeing these films fully restored much like the Little Rascals product that was released on VHS through Cabin Fever and Artisan a few years ago.If you are a Laurel and Hardy fan like me who has been waiting to see these films the way they were meant to be seen, get out there and support this release and order it now. If enough of us get behind it, it should ensure more releases from this classic team."
Mixed. Purists will hate the feature but the shorts are fine
Scott MacGillivray | Massachusetts, USA | 08/25/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Artisan presents its first Laurel & Hardy DVD, containing vintage material produced in the 1930s by Hal Roach. Laurel & Hardy fans have been waiting for this release, and this writer's reaction is mixed.
"Sons of the Desert" is a genuine comedy classic, with Stan and Ollie sneaking off to a lodge convention without telling their wives. But beware the DVD's claim of "digitally remastered" -- this version was broadcast on TV's "Laurel & Hardy Show" in pre-digital 1986. The film is incomplete, with edited scenes (the "wax fruit" and "convention" are shortened), overdubbed background music, and frequent fade-outs for commercial breaks. The editing is good, so casual fans and general audiences will enjoy the feature, but dyed-in-the-wool Laurel & Hardy admirers will resent all the tampering.
The DVD's featurettes and short subjects have better picture quality, and appear to be taken from excellent 35mm and 16mm prints. "Another Fine Mess" (vagrants Stan and Ollie pose as butler and householder to escape the police) is the 1990s restoration that aired on the AMC cable network; it has the original Hal Roach titles and is superior to older video and TV editions. "The Music Box" (the team's Oscar-winner where the boys move a piano up a long flight of steps) and "Busy Bodies" (Stan and Ollie in a carpentry shop) are also fine presentations. "County Hospital" (visitor Stan ruins patient Ollie's hospital stay) is taken from a 1940s "Film Classics" reissue print but the quality is equally good.
This writer noticed a very occasional light scratch or stray debris in the image, but the flaws are minor and should not detract from your enjoyment unless you are a perfectionist. The menus and bonus features use some clever optical effects.
Too bad Artisan hadn't consulted a better print of "Sons of the Desert," or paid more attention to the transfer, but it's great to have this choice material on DVD at all. Here's hoping Artisan will continue its Laurel & Hardy series."
Buster Cretin | brookdale, ca United States | 09/03/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"These movies have obviously been dubbed from 16mm reduction prints! Notice in "The Music Box" a bar of distortion appears horizontally across the screen then moves upwards. This sort of distortion only appears on video tape! What you have here is a third generation dub! From 16mm reduction to video (for television distribution) to DVD. The feature "Sons of the Desert" fades out and back in a regular intervals for the nonexistant commercial breaks! It's not only irritating but disappointing as well since Edie Adams never materializes to pitch Muriel Cigars and no glimpse of Barbara Feldon to lustily entice me to shave closer with Gillette!Any apologist who says, "well, they look good considering they're 70 years old!" ought to see some of the older silent comedies Kino International has on DVD duped from original 35mm negatives! The contrast is sharp, no scratches and no video distortion. What Hallmark has done is absolutely criminal in my view. It's like painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa!"