SOME CORRECTIONS REGARDING THIS DVD
Stephen H. Wood | 01/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Just to correct some information regarding Laurel and Hardy Volume Two: The Production Company is Hal Roach Studios, not Image Entertainment. (That's why they had access to the original 35mm camera negatives and sound discs.) The DVD is NOT REGIONALLY ENCODED and will play on any DVD machine (as it states on the package)."
More Laurel & Hardy silent shorts from the late 1920's
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 05/11/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Volume 2 of this series includes four silent two-reelers for Hal Roach-MGM in the late 1920s. "Double Whoopee" was directed by Lewis Foster in 1929, with a story by Leo McCarey and a notable "appearance" by screen siren Jean Harlow (she loses the back half of her dress in a cab door). Laurel & Hardy arrive at a swank New York hotel and are mistaken for visiting royalty until they are revealed to be just doormen. Once they set to work they offend all of the guests, the local cop and a visiting prince. Hardy gets most of the good gags although the best is when Laurel is stripped to his underwear and starts ripping off everybody else's clothes. "Early to Bed," directed by Emmett Flynn in 1928, is an atypical Laurel & Hardy outing because this time the boys go after each other. Hardy inherits a fortune, gets himself a nice new mansion and hires Laurel as his butler. For once, Stan is conscientious about his job, but Ollie decides the best way to enjoy his new wealth and power is to torment his friend, especially when Stan is asleep. Finally fed up, Stan proceeds to destroy everything in the house while Ollie tries to protect his huge vases and other breakables. This is not a great Laurel & Hardy film, but the final routine certainly ranks as one of their best: Hardy takes refuge in an elaborately decorated garden fountain, pretending to be one of the little cherub heads spewing forth water. The other two shorts are notable simply for the fact George Stevens was the cameraman, on his way to be a celebrated Hollywood director. "Angora Love." aptly enough, involves a stray goat that has attached itself to the boys who take it back to their room despite the "No Pets" rule. This 1929 comedy directed by Lewis Foster from a story by Leo McCarey has the distinction of being the last complete silent film by Laurel & Hardy. The best sequence is when Ollie gives the goat a bath. "Sugar Daddies" is the oldest of the two-reelers, directed in 1927 by Fred Guiol. James Finlayson is a newly-rich oil tycoon who wakes up one morning and is casually told by his butler (Hardy) that he was married last night. Finlayson calls his lawyer (Laurel) and then things get a tad confusing (somehow a blackmailing ring gets involved in this mess). There are two chase sequences, involving a dance hall and an amusement park. Finlayson is really the star of this comedy and the most interesting parts take place in the amusement park, where the routines involve various types of rides that have long ago disappeared. This volume also includes a pair of Stan Laurel solo shorts from 1923, "Roughest Africa" and "Oranges & Lemons" that are interesting curiosities. "The Lost Films of Laurel & Hardy" series is apparently committed to bringing us all of the boys' silent work for Hal Roach-MGM, so we can expect the great, the good and the better luck next time with each disc."
More rare and mostly wonderful Laurel and Hardy silents
Stephen H. Wood | South San Francisco, CA | 03/25/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
THE LOST FILMS OF LAUREL & HARDY: VOLUME TWO is part of a ten volume DVD series that presents the silent slapstick comedy work of Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, and friends like Charley Chase and Jimmy Finlayson in magnificent 35mm original nitrate negatives and with playful Jazz Age scores.
The crown jewel of Volume Two is a restored nitrate camera negative of DOUBLE WHOOPEE (1929). It is hilarious, with Stan and Ollie as hotel bellboys, Erich von Stroheim's stunt double constantly falling into a greasy elevator shaft, and a teenage Jean Harlow losing her dress as she gets out of a taxi and non-chalantly walking across the lobby. It is a single set comedy and very funny.
My least favorite of this set is EARLY TO BED (1928). Hardy may or may not have inherited a fortune and pretends he is a millionaire, with poor Laurel as his put-upon butler. The action takes place all night all over an empty mansion and is definitely a product of the late Jazz Age. As such, it is worth seeing as a curio. It is shocking how poorly Babe treats Stan throughout.
ANGORA LOVE (1929) has an amiable goat befriending Stan and Babe. With the goat following them back to their rooming house room, the boys constantly need to hide him from landlord Jimmy Finlayson.
SUGAR DADDIES (1927) is another gem with Jimmy Finlayson top-billed and learning one morning that he got drunk and married the night before. The bride and her brother are both comic grotesques. Stan is Finlayson's lawyer and Ollie is his butler, and the nostalgic climax takes place all over the wonderful, long-gone Long Beach Amusement Park. This one is a real treat, especially the climax.
ROUGHEST AFRICA and ORANGES AND LEMONS (both 1923) are both uproarious shorts with just Laurel before he teamed with Hardy. AFRICA is a devastating and witty parody of Frank Buck true-life wild animal adventures. ORANGES has Stan working at an orange picking and packing company, and getting into all kinds of hilarious mischief.
These films run about 20 minutes each, were photographed by legendary later director George Stevens, are in gorgeous studio vault print editions with some restored footage, and have unusually fun new Jazz Age music and sound effects. Total running time is about 125 minutes a volume. I recommend this whole series highly to lovers of silent slapstick comedy and also to younger viewers who are not sure if they like Jazz Age comedy.
Anyechka | Rensselaer, NY United States | 08/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This disc contains a little of everything, the typical makeup of these discs. Here in particular we have three L&H shorts proper, two of Stan's solo shorts, and one short where they're together but not yet a team. Two of the shorts they made as a team, 'Angora Love' and 'Double Whoopee,' are very funny, showing how quickly they became a real team after finally being officially paired, although it still feels as though something is missing, not being able to hear their voices, since that's a large part of what makes them so funny, how their voices match their onscreen personas and everything that's going on onscreen to a tee. The other team short, 'Early to Bed,' is unusual in that they're a team but have a somewhat different relationship than they usually have, where they're largely at odds with one another, one of the few times Stan actually stands up for, asserts, and defends himself, pretty much coming across as the smarter superior one. The short in which they're together but not yet a team, 'Sugar Daddies,' is very funny, one of their best pre-teaming efforts, since they're acting more and more like a team instead of just happening to be in the same film, sometimes not even in any scenes together. It's also very nice to see Jimmy Finlayson as their friend and equal instead of their foil, and though the repeated gag in this film, of Stan sitting on top of the hunched-over Jimmy as they're disguised as Ollie's wife, is also used in 'Love 'Em and Leave 'Em' and 'Chickens Come Home,' it's so funny and brilliant it doesn't seem old or tired. It's also nice to see the now-largely-forgotten Noah Young as the heavy (i.e., villain) in this film. We just don't make character actors like that anymore.
The two Stan solo shorts included, 'Oranges and Lemons' and 'Roughest Africa' (which also co-stars Jimmy), are two of my favorite of his solo shorts, though they're also both included on 'The Stan Laurel Slapstick Symposium,' and a lot of people might not like the idea of having to purchase two copies of two of the same films. It's an interesting change of pace to see what Stan did in his solo days, and how positively young he looks, how different his hair was before it was shaved for the 1927 L&H short 'The Second Hundred Years,' after which it grew back in a very comic way. Still, it's clear he hadn't yet fully developed a comic persona, had more of an edge (even a meanness, sometimes) to him than his sweet innocent overgrown man-child character we know and love did. He's funny in his solo work, just not very distinct from any number of aspiring comic hopefuls of the era."