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Frank Childress | Calimesa,California | 03/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"WOW! Can I say anything more! Hal Roach has put out a masterpiece. The DVD volume five contains six of their funniest silence to date. Like in volume Four we were blest with "Bacon Grabbers" which no one has ever seen unless you were in the theaters 70 years ago. In volume five we have "Leave'em Laughing" which I have only seen bits and pieces of and is restored to its original color tents when it was first release. The second reel of this film has Laurel and Hardy on laughing gas in their Model "T" Ford on Main Street in downtown Culver City. There are no other actors who can laugh in character like Stan and Ollie. The second reel of "Fluttering Hearts" has to be Hardy's best solo performance. Charley Chase baits a very drunken Hardy with a department store dummy (this is an only couples speakeasy). Hardy falls head over heels for this dummy in what is said to be the best of all the Charley Chase Comedies thanks to the excellent support of Oliver Hardy. The film "Short Kilts" a solo by Stan Laurel with Jimmy Finlayson was so good, I watch it five times Thursday after receiving the DVD in the mail. The McPherson's and the McGregors are feuding clans liken to the Hatfields and Mccoys. Things really get out of hand during a game of musical chairs. As the head of each clan trade insults at various member of each family, Stan has enough, and elopes with his betrothed. Would be brother-in-law Jimmy Finlayson does the same after Stan says no. Finally, all is at peace, everyone is married to their intended, and even young Mickey Daniels (of the Our Gang fame) along with the first leading lady (of Our Gang) Mary Kornman tries to tie the knot. But, peace is short lived, and another game of musical chairs leads to the fade out brawl. The other three are "Wrong Again", "Habeas Corpus" and "Duck Soup.""
This DVD is a Must for Laurel & Hardy Fans
Robert M. Fells | Washington, D.C. | 04/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I started collecting Laurel & Hardy films in 8 mm. back in the 1960s. Today, the video and sound qualities are better than ever and Volume 5 of the so-called Lost Films of L & H series in DVD is an absolute must for true fans. Among the many treats is the first "team" film, DUCK SOUP, that turns out to be the predecessor of their 1930 talkie, Another Fine Mess. In both cases, the plot - by Stan's father no less - gets in the way. But here, in DUCK SOUP, the Stan and Ollie characters are only partially developed and they just don't seem much like the Laurel & Hardy we know and love - sort of the way they became later in those awful 1940s films for Fox and MGM when they just didn't act like themselves.Another highlight is the Charley Chase film, FLUTTERING HEARTS, that had me wondering why Hal Roach never gave him a chance in feature films during the sound era. This film is a surprise bonus if you expected to find only Laurel & Hardy.The picture quality varies from very good to stunning. For whatever reason, WRONG AGAIN seems derived from two different sources. Various shots in the same scene will be sharp as a tack while others will appear soft. If there is one shortcoming, it's in the liner notes that should tell us more about the film sources. In both HABEAS CORPUS and SHORT KILTS, a small white box in the lower right of the screen is apparently hiding some logo; I suspect it's a cable station. But I'm just carping. It's a great DVD release and I had a ball."
For L&H fans only, with one exception
Robert Morris | San Francisco | 09/05/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"For those who associate silent film comedy with pies and police chases, "Wrong Again" might be a revelation. Made in 1929, the year that film studios converted to making talking movies, this film is a fine example of the extent to which silent comedies had been refined and perfected since the days of Mack Sennett. It is the best of this volume of comedies starring Laurel and Hardy and other stars of the Hal Roach studio (including Laurel and Hardy in solo or supporting performances).
The world seems to be divided neatly into two groups: highly devoted L&H fans, and those who don't appreciate their humor. Much of their humor boils down to a set of recurring themes: premeditated pain directed at each other or someone else, destruction of property, "scare" humor, and humor resulting from uncontrollable laughter. Usually mixed with these elements are the duo running away from the law or from other trouble. This collection contains examples of each of these components. In general, L&H fans will savor this collection, while others might find a lot that is tedious and predictable.
"Wrong Again" however is different; it contains little or none of the typical L&H elements, but focuses more on the pure chemistry of their partnership, as well as their individual characters: the naive, child-like Stan and the arrogent, but equally clueless Oliver. The story is simple: the famous painting "Blue Boy" has been stolen; the boys are stable hands taking care of a horse named "Blue Boy"; they assume the horse has been stolen, so they try to return it. From this basic misunderstanding there emerges a number of clever situations, with the climax being attempts by the duo to place "Blue Boy" on a grand piano, as requested by the home owner, who is of course upstairs out of view of the proceedings the whole time. The film is a showcase for the depth of the duo's comedic talent: the naive clown Laurel paired with a great comic actor. In general, I find "Wrong Again" to be a silent film classic that reaches an artistic level close to that achieved by Keaton and Chaplin. Its level of sophistication looks more forward into the era of the "screwball" comedies than backward into the Chaplin era, not surprising given that the director of the film was Leo McCarey, the "inventor" of the screwball genre.
Among the other films, "Duck Soup" is interesting as the first film in which L&H star as a team. It's facinating as a film insofar as the basic chemistry of the duo appears almost complete in this film -- aside from the lack of the standard bolder hats, and other changes in their appearence, it's clear that the team's character emerged basically fully formed from the start."
Not my favorite disc, but strong material as always
Anyechka | Rensselaer, NY United States | 08/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though most of the shorts on this disc aren't among my favorites of their silent career, they're quite strong regardless. Most of the other discs in this series only have two or three L&H shorts proper, but this one boasts a total of four--'Wrong Again!,' 'Duck Soup,' 'Habeas Corpus,' and 'Leave 'Em Laughing.' Probably my favorites of this batch are 'Duck Soup' and 'Leave 'Em Laughing.' The former is one of the titles most often cited as the first "true" L&H pairing, even though they're not wearing the exact outfits we're used to seeing them in and their relationship and mannerisms still haven't completely congealed. And it was also strong and funny enough to be remade in the sound era as 'Another Fine Mess.' 'Leave 'Em Laughing' utilises a gag they used in several other films as well, such as the sound short 'Blotto,' that of starting to laugh and then getting more and more out of control, practically collapsing and rolling on the floor because they're so carried away with laughter, them and all of the people around them. 'Wrong Again!' features their famous gag of putting the horse on the piano, thinking that Blue Boy refers to the name of the rich man's stolen horse and not the title of the famous painting that is on its way to being returned to him as they're wreaking havoc in his fine mansion. 'Habeas Corpus' isn't my fave of their silents, but it's got some really good moments in it, even if a lot of it does seem a little hokey and predictable. It's also mentioned in the liner notes that this was one of the true lost films in this collection, rescued when it was literally on the brink of decomposition, so much so that the original nitrate totally disintegrated shortly after it had been pressed onto safety stock. That was a really close call fans had to losing this film for good!
The remaining two are 'Fluttering Hearts' and 'Short Kilts.' The former is a very funny Charley Chase film, co-starring Ollie; one wishes Charley's name and face were better-remembered today, since he was easily one of the funniest silent clowns, more deserving of a re-evaluation and renaissance than someone like Harry Langdon. 'Short Kilts' is one of Stan's solo films, and is pretty good, but it's also available on 'The Stan Laurel Slapstick Symposium.' I'm not really a fan of getting duplicate material; the people who put this fine series together might have chosen to release more of Stan's solo films that weren't already commercially available, like 'Mud and Sand' or 'Monsieur Don't Care.'"
Leaving Us Laughing
Alex Udvary | chicago, il United States | 02/16/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Laurel and Hardy, to me, are the greatest comedy team in history. Their characters were two of the most likeable people in comedy history. To their fans they will always be these characters. We can never think of them in any other way. Of course in reality they were nothing like them. But despite how often I may watch them (and I do watch them often) I never grow tired of them. Their comedy, at least in the their best movies, is timeless. So here we have a collection of silent Laurel and Hardy comedies. All of which I will review individually.
'WRONG AGAIN' (1929, 20 Mins.) - 'Wrong Again' is simply known to some people as "the one with the horse on the piano". Now while undoubtedly that is the most famous set piece of the short, it is not the only funny bit. 'Wrong Again' is one of the top three greatest shorts Laurel and Hardy ever made. It's structure is almost perfect. There are only a few things I think should have been done differently. For instance, I think Stan should have been the one to first hear about bringing the horse inside the house, not Oliver. Stan seems a little too smart in this one. And it's a little out of character. Usually Stan simply had all the fate in the world in Oliver, here he actually questions him a bit. Still though still is highly recommended. **** (out of *****)
'HABEAS CORPUS' (1929, 21 Mins.) - Here "the boys" are sent by a mad scientist to steal a dead body so the scientist can perform an experiment on it. Though are no real great laughs in the piece but there are enough little ones to keep on watching it. A lot of these silent Laurel and Hardy films had strange plots that were really just excuses to put these characters in the most odd situations simply to see how they would react. Some work and some don't. This one works. *** 1\2 (out of *****)
'DUCK SOUP' (1927, 20 Mins.) - When reading about this one I thought I would love it. This was later remade as their talky "Another Fine Mess" (one of my favorites) because of this I thought I would enjoy this one too. Not so. I don't know if it's merely that dialogue was needed or if the comedy didn't seem to jell as well as it did in the remake or if it was a combination of both. But something is wrong here. I just can't quite put me finger on what it is. All I know is a lot of the jokes fell flat for me. ** 1\2 (out of *****)
'FLUTTERING HEARTS' (1927, 22 Mins.) - Besides seeing all these wonderful early silent efforts from Laurel and Hardy on these DVD's we also get a look at some Charley Chase shorts, a comedian the public seems to have forgotten all about. "Fluttering Hearts", while not a comedy masterpiece, does show Chase in very good form. There are a lot of wonderful bits in the short especially one involving Charley dancing with a life-size doll, (just watch!). *** (out of *****)
'Leave 'EM LAUGHING' (1928, 19 Mins.) - Stan has a terrible toothache and it's keeping Oliver awake. So the two try to yank the tooth out themselves but because it's Laurel and Hardy, this is much easier than it sounds. So Oliver decides to take Stan to the dentist and things just get worst from there. If you've ever seen their feature film "Pardon Us" you'll notice a similarity. The bit plays funnier in the movie but makes for a decent short. *** (out of *****)
'SHORT KILTS' (1924, 19 Mins.) For some odd reason the back of the DVD says this was made in 1936 and has sound, it doesn't! This is an early Stan Laurel piece without Oliver Hardy. It deals with a family feud between two Scotish families. At first I absolutely hated this short. I didn't find it funny and I thought the story was boring, that is never a good sign for a comedy. But eventually the piece won the over. As the short went on the situation seemed to become funnier to me and I started to enjoy the spirit of the piece. *** (out of *****)
Bottom-line: Pretty good collection of early Laurel and Hardy shorts. The best piece on here is 'Wrong Again', perhaps one of their greatest silent efforts of all time!"