The early experiments of Laurel & Hardy with sound
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 05/13/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The four Laurel & Hardy comedy shorts collected together on this fourth volume of "Lost Films" represents some of the boys' earliest work with sound. "They Go Boom" finds Ollie in bed with a bad head cold and his friend Stan waiting on him. Unfortunately, this ends up pretty much destroying their small rented room to the consternation of their landlord Charlie Hall. As with several other of these early Laurel & Hardy talkies, "They Go Boom" relies on a single situation exploited for comic effect because that made it easier for the microphone to pick up the sound. This 1929 two-reeler was directed by James Parrott from a script by the great Leo McCarey. In "Their Purple Moment," Laurel & Hardy simply want to go out bowling, but their wives never leave them any pocket money. Stan has been sneaking a little cash each week and hiding it in a special hiding place, which, of course, their wives are watching when he explains this to Ollie. After the wives replace the cash with cigar coupons, the boys are sent out on the town. Before they can discover the switch, they hook up with a couple of young ladies who have been stood up by their dates and decide to invite the boys to take their place. Laurel & Hardy taken them to a fancy restaurant, leaving the cab with the meter running. Once the boys discover they have no money, thinks quickly deteriorate until the climatic soup fight involving the boys, their wives, the waiter, the cabbie and everyone else in sight. This 1928 two-reeler was also directed by James Parrott. "Bacon Grabbers" is pretty much a unique Laurel & Hardy film because when it was first released it had a musical score and special sound effects recorded on a disc. So it was not a "talkie" per se, but something in between. Without those sound effects, this 1929 silent two-reeler directed by Lewis Foster is obviously missing something. In the first reel the boys try to serve Edgar Kennedy with a summons for his radio, while the second finds them pursuing him in and around his house in high slapstick style. As is true of many Laurel & Hardy comedy shorts of this period, the story is be Leo McCarey and George Stevens is behind the camera. Kennedy's wife in this film is another one of Hal Roach's stable of players, Jean Harlow. "Unaccustomed as We Are" is the alternate silent version of the first full talkie by Laurel & Hardy. Hardy brings Laurel home for a home cooked meal by his wife (Mae Busch), who storms out of the apartment at this imposition. Thelma Todd plays the friendly blonde next door who takes pity on the boys and makes dinner for them. Unfortunately she accidentally burns her dress and as soon as she has taken it off both her husband, cop Edgar Kennedy, and Ollie's wife suddenly return. Thelma hides in the trunk and then the comedy takes an interesting twist. Kennedy figures out what is going on and decides to have some fun of his own, making Laurel & Hardy bring the trunk over to his apartment. In the end both wives go after their husbands with pretty much everything in the kitchen. This 1929 two-reeler was directed by Lewis Foster from a story by Leo McCarey, who was writing most of the boys' comedies at this point. Also included on this disc are the 1925 Oliver Hardy solo short "Should Sailors Marry?" and a cameo appearance by the boys in the Charley Chase 1936 short "On the Wrong Trek.""
Sound Problem Fixed
Lawrance M. Bernabo | 12/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The newly-digitized and restored soundtrack for THEY GO BOOM! had slipped out of synch during the compression process (this can happen with DVD--and you can't even tell that it has done so--and this happens more than one would think). But, the disc has been completely remastered and the soundtrack of THEY GO BOOM! is now perfectly in synch as it should be."
Anyechka | Rensselaer, NY United States | 02/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I wish the films in this series had been put out in chronological order on the discs instead of having shorts from different years rammed together, but even for being assembled in a less than ideal fashion, this is fine material. The package also contains information about and synopses of the films presented, including information about films which were on the verge of decomposition or, like some of the films on this volume, which hadn't been heard with the proper soundtracks in decades.
Apparently a number of people dislike 'They Go Boom!,' but I love this short. That might be because it's been years since I've had the opportunity to see any of their sound shorts which are new to me, since AMC no longer shows them and I've been making do of a tape with five of their sound shorts on it for too many years now (when are we American fans going to get real DVD treatment of all of their sound shorts like the Brits have?!); still, I find this short hilarious. They often recycled elements of past shorts and movies; in this movie I recognised one of the gags in the later 'Busy Bodies,' the nail in the wall going right into a waterpipe, with predictable results. Elements of 'Bacon Grabbers' (another great short presented here) also resurface in 'The Music Box.' The other strongest work on here comes from 'Their Purple Moment' and 'On the Wrong Trek'; I love the L&H cameo appearance in the latter Charley Chase short!
'Should Sailors Marry?' is enjoyable and funny, but overall doesn't seem quite as strong as the rest of the shorts, and really only seems to have been included because Oliver Hardy appears as a doctor, a bit more than halfway through the piece. 'Unaccustomed As We Are' is funny, but should have stayed a talkie. This picture does not work as a silent film. At all. There are some bits of it that are great silent comedy, but they're cancelled out by the most intertitles in any L&H short. The humour in this piece derived from a combination of speech and slapstick, but there are just WAY too many intertitles explaining what's going on and what's being said to get as much humour out of it as there is in the original talking version. It's in the same vein as how some late silent pictures were later rereleased with sound dubbed onto them--it took away from how the story was being conveyed, and clearly UAWA was specifically built to be a sound comedy, not a silent comedy."
NEW DISC A REVELATION
Anyechka | 01/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This latest Laurel and Hardy disc releases some of their rarest material for the first time. The audio for THEY GO BOOM has been re-recorded from the original sound discs and digitally cleaned, contains the original music and is a revelation. ON THE WRONG TREK is a singing-dancing Charley Chase short from 1936 and is SOUND not silent as indicated in the rundown. THE DISC IS NOT REGIONALLY ENCODED AND WILL PLAY ON ANY DVD MACHINE. The Production Company is Hal Roach Studios, not Image Entertainment."
Buy the OTHERS in this series, not this one
Anyechka | 03/04/2000
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Volumes 1, 2, and 3 are excellent. This one has a mojor problem. "They Go Boom" is WAY out of sync. Word has it that these discs have been recalled and a new corrected one is on the way. Wait for it!"