Mastered from the original 35mm material, this first volume of lost films from the great comedy team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy includes all silent shorts: "Big Business" (1929, 21 min.), "Do Detectives Think?" (1927,... more » 24 min.), "Call of the Cuckoo" (1927, 18 min.) and "The Finishing Touch" (1928, 21 min.), plus the Stan Laurel solo shorts "On the Front Page" (1926, 23 min.) and "Hustling for Health" (1918, 15 min.).« less
A marvellous treat and a surprise for those who are under 40
George Grellas | Cupertino, CA USA | 06/19/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Laurel and Hardy were giants of the cinema in their day not only because of their immense talent but also because of the more leisurely paced times of the late 1920s and the 1930s. People in small towns could scarcely wait for the next L&H film short, much as a child can't wait for his favorite uncle to pay him a day visit and then utterly delight in the magic of the time spent with that uncle. These L&H films capture that sense of delight perfectly, because they have brought back the best available prints in DVD format of the whole range of 15-20 minute shorts that so captured the nation's fancy on a mass scale 70 years ago. Do not be misled by the unfortunate title of "lost films" -- this is not a knock-off series (it is planned as an omnium gatherum of their films); nor is it "small town" in the sense of being simpleton comedy; nor is it mere nostalgia (though it is a great throw-back to the past); nor is it a poor-quality series such as the many L&H offerings that have plagued the VHS market. This is from the source (Hal Roach Studios), and it truly does bring back great films that, by their nature as short silents, could not easily have been separately marketed and have not therefore been otherwise accessible now for decades. While these films are silent, you will discover by them just how visual artistry alone has the power to delight. Masterpieces are included (such as "Big Business"), but the whole grouping is also a delight: it is wholesome, it is clean, and it is funny, often hilariously so. I can watch these movies any time and never tire of the subtly recurring themes, the "slow burns," the tit-for-tat exchanges, and, above all, the larger-than-life characters projected by L&H that do not simply please for the moment, in a given place or culture, but rather transcend all bounds to tell all of us -- young, old, or in between, of any era and in any culture -- something about what we are as people. For the over-stimulated times in which we live, these films are most welcomed."
The beginning of a wonderful series of DVDs
Mark Bowen | 03/28/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Volume 1 in what is planned to be a 10 volume series of the early Laurel & Hardy films, most of which have been either unavailable on commercial video for years or have never been available before - that alone is reason to rejoice and praise the DVD format. What you get on this initial volume are four L&H originals (one featuring Max Davidson - "The Call of the Cuckoo" - where L&H are in more of a supportive role) as well as two super rare pre-L&H Stan Laurel shorts. Having these "bonus" films from before the advent of Stan and Ollie is almost more than a fan could ask for! I'm shocked to see actual reviews of this series here on Amazon actually COMPLAIN (! ) about them being silent or missing frames or not up to the film quality of "The Matrix" - these folks are simply missing the point and denying themselves the rare beauty and enjoyment of these truly maverick film-makers. Hal Roach Studios in tandem with Image Entertainment (and Richard Feiner and the Nostalgia Company) have done a splendid job on this series - restoring these titles from the original 35mm material and in the case of "Big Business", from the original nitrate camera negative. In addition to the lovingly remastered films, you get some excellent DVD packaging as well. The case features a fold-out section with the original movie posters for the three team films ("Call of the Cuckoo"'s poster is missing and replaced with a couple of stills) as well as detailed source information and full descriptive notes on all six films. I would NEVER say that if you consider yourself a casual Laurel & Hardy fan, that these DVDs are for collectors only - because just about every second of film with the boys should be essential viewing. Fans who are "more than casual" obviously need no review to tell them they need these discs. However, for those who are merely interested in Laurel & Hardy, there really can't be a more wonderful introduction as these films are presented in as close to original form as possible, and it's the magic of Laurel and Hardy's screen presence that will infect your life with sincere joy and laughter."
Wish I could give it more stars
W. Barrett | Saginaw, MI United States | 01/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you aren't familiar with the silent films of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, this is the best place to start. The first film on the DVD is worth the price alone, "Big Business" from 1929 (shot December 1928, released April 20, 1929) is probably THE FUNNIEST FILM EVER MADE...the boys are door-to-door Christmas tree salesmen (not in July) who should never have rang James Finlayson's doorbell. Other highlights include "Do Detectives Think?" (1927) in which the boys wear their trademark outfits for the first time...the real treat is Fin's reactions to killer Noah Young. "Call Of The Cuckoo" (1927) is a fairly odd piece with Max Davidson trying to sell his house to get away from his neighbors (Laurel, Hardy, Finlayson, and Charley Chase)...Spec O'Donnell is the real stand-out in this film as Davidson's dim-witted son. "The Finishing Touch" (1928) is classic Laurel & Hardy, the boys as carpenters has never been better...also starring the great Edgar Kennedy. Also included on this DVD are two Stan Laurel solo shorts, "On The Front Page" (1926) very amusing. and "Hustling For Health" (1918) one of Stan Laurel's earliest films.
The restoration for these films is amazing, all-in-all, this is a wonderful collection...don't just stop at volume one, all ten volumes are worth picking up."
Silent Laurel & Hardy in flawless prints
Stephen H. Wood | South San Francisco, CA | 03/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As a film scholar fan of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy sound shorts and features, I am frustrated that there seems to be no outlet in the United States for high quality DVDs. One should not have to go to Britain or Germany to buy decent prints of SONS OF THE DESERT, WAY OUT WEST, THE MUSIC BOX, and the rest of the Laurel & Hardy sound gems.
So it is with great pleasure that I announce a superlative site for at least the long-unseen silent shorts of Laurel & Hardy--and a few friends like Charley Chase and Jimmy Finlayson. THE LOST FILMS OF LAUREL & HARDY is a ten volume DVD and VHS series from Image Entertainment and Hal Roach Studios. The stunning print sources are gorgeous 35mm nitrate camera negatives that sound as if they were recorded yesterday. This is your definitive source for silent Laurel & Hardy treasures and curios.
VOLUME ONE starts off with its crowning gem, BIG BUSINESS (1929), with the boys trying to sell Christmas trees in mid-Summer in Los Angeles. When Jimmy Finlayson won't buy a tree, the boys proceed to demolish his house bit by bit, while Finlayson goes to work destroying their car piece by piece. This uproarious 21 minute masterpiece is my favorite Laurel & Hardy silent short and close to their funniest ever.
DO DETECTIVES THINK? (1927) has the boys as inept bodyguards to a judge who has sent a convict named Noah to prison. Noah escapes and heads for the judge's house with plans to kill him. This early teaming of Laurel & Hardy is a fun masquerade romp with dueling butlers.
CALL OF THE CUCKOO (1927) has an incredible collection of comics for an 18 minute short--Laurel & Hardy, Max Davidson, Charley Chase, and Jimmy Finlayson. Max was always referred to as "The Jewish Comedian" by Hal Roach, not really uncruelly. It is his movie as his dopey family moves into a house where nothing works. Doors collapse, sinks turn on stove gas jets and vice versa, lights turn on the wrong lights, and you don't want to know about Max taking a bath while guests are seated directly below him in the dining room. This one is hysterically funny and the only Max Davidson comedy I have seen. I'd like to see more, if they are this good.
THE FINISHING TOUCH (1928) has Laurel & Hardy offered $500 if they can build a rich man's house next to a Quiet Zone hospital in one week. Edgar Kennedy guests in this one. It is predictable--nothing goes as planned, and the boys make tons of noise. But I still laughed my head off.
ON THE FRONT PAGE (1926) has a solo Stan Laurel right before he teamed up with "Babe" Hardy. In the Jazz Age, a flapper countess tries to turn the tables on tabloid publications and a publisher's son will lose his job if he does not come in with a story more sensational than his rival newspaper.
Finally, HUSTLING FOR HEALTH (an early 1918) has an unrecognizabld Stan going solo for Hal Roach during a Summer away from vaudeville. He is a frantic mess of a person, nothing at all like his immortal later persona. Familiar face Bud Jamison is the neatness freak who lives next door. Bud and Stan drive each other nuts for 15 minutes.
All six of these delightful shorts are from 35mm studio prints or nitrate camera negatives, and it shows in the stunning image clarity. And they all have lovely new music scores or original Vitaphone music with sound effects. Total running time is about 125 minutes, but you might want to ration them out over a few days to play after a lousy work day. Slapstick comedy does not get any better, both as movies and the print sources. THE LOST FILMS OF LAUREL & HARDY in ten volumes from Hal Roach Studios and Image Entertainment. A random glance at plots at Amazon.com indicates that all ten are worth owning, if you like silent slapstick comedy. Some of the later volumes have Stan or "Babe" alone, Charley Chase, or Jimmy Finlayson mixed in with traditional Laurel & Hardy..
Robert C. Graham | OGMORE BY SEA, VALE OF GLAMORGAN United Kingdom | 03/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I will not go into a synopsis of the material as that is readily available but will comment on the series itself having viewed them all.
This is a stunning collection of the early work of the `boys` and is presented from restored 35mm material much of which is taken from the original surviving negatives. Several of the titles in the series, have until fairly recently, been considered lost forever.
Each disc has detailed information on the titles and every film is presented with either the original vitaphone sound on disc (again recently discovered) synchronised with the picture or with a composite vitaphone soundtrack.
Even for those who don`t normally view `silent` movies these are astounding prints of what is now the historic formation of one the most inventive and forever lasting comedy teams ever to grace the silver screen.
Each disc deserves five stars for content, quality and value.