Wonderful silent slapstick comedy in mint-condition prints
Stephen H. Wood | South San Francisco, CA | 11/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"THE OLIVER HARDY COLLECTION is part of a priceless seven-disk SLAPSTICK SYMPOSIUM series from peerless Kino Video. It affords fans of silent film comedy in general, and Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in particular, a chance to see Hardy working with other screen partners. The eight silent comedy shorts here have "Babe" Hardy in a variety of mostly supporting roles to such starring and forgotten screen clowns as Larry Semon, Clyde Cook, Glenn Tryon, and Bobby Ray. Each short is about 25 minutes, and a few are making their debut here in complete form.
THE SHOW (1922) is a starring vehicle for pasty-faced Larry Semon (who also directed) as the prop manager for a vaudeville show. Hardy plays a villainous stage manager. And the very elaborate THE SAWMILL (1921) has slapstick antics in and around a sawmill that was built for the movie. Semon stars and co-directs (with Norman Taurog). Larry is a dumb-bell logger competing with foreman Hardy for affections of the boss's daughter.
STICK AROUND (1924) teams Oliver with Bobby Ray as hilariously inept wallpaper hangers at an insane asylum. And HOP TO IT (1925) has Ray and Ollie as bellboys who can't tell one room from another, mistaking them when the room numbers are switched.
ALONG CAME AUNTIE (1926) involves one woman, an ex (Hardy) and current husband, and an eccentric aunt who has $100,000 to give to the woman if she is really married to the ex-husband.
45 MINUTES TO HOLLYWOOD (1926) is the first comedy that has both Hardy and Stan Laurel in it, though not in the same scene. The movie stars Glenn Tryon as a country boy who tries to make it in Hollywood; Hardy as a confused hotel detective; and Stan as a cross-dressing thief. CRAZY TO ACT (1927) marked Hardy's final film for producer Mack Sennett. Ollie plays a rich suitor financing a movie for his future wife.
Finally, SHOULD SAILORS MARRY? (1925) stars Clyde Cook has a former sailor who cannot settle down with his new bride because she has a pesty brutal wrestler ex-husband living with them!
Several of these mint-condition 35mm shorts have exhilarating and hair-raising stunts, while many also feature fun glimpses into 1920's improvisational filmmaking with some long-forgotten screen comics. The print source is Lobster Films in Paris, and the lovely jazzy piano scores are by Eric Le Guen. As expected, Kino has done flawless transfer work. If you like THE OLIVER HARDY COLLECTION, Kino has even more wonderful silent comedy short compilations starring Stan Laurel solo, Harold Lloyd, and Charley Chase. The prints are magnificent, again from Lobster Films. The volumes sell individually, NOT as a boxed set, from Kino or Amazon.com for about $20 each on DVD.
Great 35mm prints of some rare & not so rare solo films.
Paul J. Mular | San Carlos, CA USA | 10/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Finally some of these titles are making their first appearance on DVD from 35mm film masters! And some are complete for the first time!
These are the early works of Oliver Hardy, before he met Stan. They vary in style & script quality, but they give a good example of Oliver's variety of work from character actor to comedian. You will also see him as part of another comedy team which, had it taken off, would have deprived us of his perfect pairing with Stan Laurel. I'm talking about the two Bobby Ray films here, they are very enjoyable and show a team that might have been. Another comedian presented here is LARRY SEMON, his films are purely his own with Ollie appearing in supporting roles as a villain/heavy.
1) THE SHOW (1922) Larry Semon - Ollie is a villainous stage manager & Larry is the prop manager. This has the classic Car chasing a train sequence. FIRST TIME FROM 35MM.
2) STICK AROUND (1925) Bobby Ray - Great! For the first time in DVD history we get to see the complete 25 minute film! All other DVDs present a soft, grainy 10 minute cut-down called 'Paperhangers Helper'. Now we get to see this classic Oliver Hardy-Bobby Ray teamed comedy with the horse-drawn delivery wagon battling a hill sequences intact (almost a decade before The Music Box). FIRST TIME FROM 35MM.
3) ALONG CAME AUNTIE (1926) - Ollie is a ridiculous musicial who must pretend to be married to his ex-wife so that she may inherit some diamonds.
4) CRAZY TO ACT (1927) Keystone - I believe this is the first time on DVD for this one. Ollie has little to do in this, he wants to marry an actress but the only way she will agree to it is if he produces a movie with her as the star. This is the weakest of the bunch on this DVD.
5) THE SAW MILL (1921) Larry Semon - Classic Semon comedy with Larry as a Logger and Ollie as the forman, both competing for the boss' daughter. FIRST TIME FROM 35MM.
6) SHOULD SAILORS MARRY? (19250 Clyde Cook - Clyde settles down with his new bride only to find the ex-husband still living at home.
7) HOP TO IT (1925) Bobby Ray - (aka Hop To It, Bellhop) - Another classic teaming of Ollie & Bobbie, this time as bell hops at a busy hotel. FIRST TIME FROM 35MM.
8) 45 MINUTES FROM HOLLYWOOD (1926) A hotel with Oliver Hardy as a detective and Stan Laurel as a cross-dressing thief. Their first apppearances in a Hal Roach Comedy, but individually.
Members of the "Son's of the Desert" and devoted fans of Stan & Babe must not pass this DVD up!"
An Early Showcase For Ollie.
Chip Kaufmann | Asheville, N.C. United States | 09/15/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Norville Hardy (he added the Oliver later in honor of his father) began his film career in 1914 in Jacksonville, Florida where he appeared in literally hundreds of films. He was known as Babe Hardy because of his babyish face (the famous toothbrush moustache would come later). By 1920 he had come to Hollywood as a member of Larry Semon's stock company. In the early 20's Semon was a big comedy star known for his outrageous gags that were carried out on a grand scale. Two of Semon's comedies on this disc THE SHOW and THE SAWMILL (with Hardy as the principal villian) bear this out.
In 1925 Ollie was teamed with diminutive comedian Bobby Ray in a clear precursor to the Laurel & Hardy films. In STICK AROUND they even wear derby hats. In 1927 on loan out from Hal Roach, Hardy made the amusing CRAZY TO ACT for Mack Sennett. But it was with Roach that Hardy would find steady employment and eventual screen immortality when he was teamed up with Stan Laurel. That was in late 1927. In 1926 he appeared with Laurel in 45 MINUTES FROM HOLLYWOOD. Both had supporting parts to star Glenn Tryon (who?). 45 is also noteworthy for the last film appearance of silent screen vamp Theda Bara who has a very brief cameo as herself. There are eight shorts total in this collection and it's great to have these examples of early Oliver Hardy as it gives us the chance to see him develop the Ollie character that we know so well.
This is part of Kino's second installment in the SLAPSTICK SYMPOSIUM series (Charley Chase and Harold Lloyd are featured once again in the other two offerings). The prints from Lobster Films are very high quality and the piano accompaniment by Eric Le Guen serves them well. Perfect for fans of silent comedy and/or fans of the duo. Others shouldn't have too bad a time of it either."
An interesting selection
Anyechka | Rensselaer, NY United States | 05/29/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"These eight shorts showcase a sampling of what Oliver Hardy was like as a solo performer, before he was teamed up with Stan Laurel. However, since he wasn't really a star when they were made, he's generally acting in support of a more popular comedian, such as Larry Semon or Glenn Tryon. He also generally played heavies in his solo days, so he's not going to be the lovable familiar sympathetic Ollie character fans know and love.
In 'The Show' (1922), he doesn't really have much of anything to do until the film is about halfway through, and even then he's not the principle character. Ollie plays the scummy stage manager in some sort of theatrical or vaudeville house, and Larry Semon, whom he often worked with, is a stage hand who becomes smitten with one of the performers, and also plays a man in the audience. The film is really a showcase for Larry, who was often voted second only to Chaplin when it came to comedians back in his heyday.
'Stick Around' (1925) teams him with Bobby Ray, and is perhaps his most sympathetic role on this disc. They're a couple of paperhangers who are called in to paper a sanitarium, but nothing goes right on their way to the job, and even after they arrive, things continue to go comedically wrong. One can easily see this as a L&H short, though Ollie doesn't have nearly that much chemistry with Bobby.
'Along Came Auntie' (1925) was previously released on Vol. 3 of 'The Lost Films of L&H.' Ollie plays a comical musician who has to pretend to still be married to Vivien Oakland so that her old-fashioned aunt will still give her $100,000. Meanwhile her current husband, Glenn Tryon, has to pretend to be just a roomer. The premise is somewhat similar to that used in the L&H short 'That's My WIfe!' It's baffling as to why Hal Roach thought Glenn Tryon had what it took to become another Harold Lloyd or Charley Chase, the star of his own comedy series; his character just wasn't that memorable or distinct.
'45 Minutes from Hollywood' (1926) was previously released on Vol. 6 of 'The Lost FIlms of L&H.' It again is a showcase for Glenn Tryon, who once again is less than impressive and hilarious. This film is most notable for being the first Hal Roach film to pair Ollie with Stan (their first time being in a film together since 1919!), even though they never share a scene together. Other than that it's extremely unmemorable and probably the weakest short on here.
'Crazy to Act' (1927) stars Ollie as a scheming con artist who wants to marry an aspiring actress for her money. She agrees to marry him on the condition that he make her a star first, and he happily agrees to make a movie with her. However, he gets more and more angry and uncomfortable when it becomes clear that she's doing more than just acting in her romantic scenes with her leading man. There are also a number of topical jokes in this that a modern viewer unfamiliar with the stars of the silent era isn't liable to understand, such as when Ollie promises the young lady that he'll make her as famous as "Pola Pickford."
'The Sawmill' (1922) once again has him playing opposite Larry Semon, who is the star of the film while Ollie plays the heavy. Larry raises havoc at the sawmill Ollie is the scheming foreman of, and also will go to any lengths to win the owner's daughter for himself. Supposedly this was the most expensive silent comedy short ever produced. While the film is entertaining enough, it doesn't showcase Larry at his prime. It's too bad that most people only get to see him in films like these, made after his peak, and that most of his known surviving films from the Teens, his most representative period, aren't commercially available. He'd probably have a stronger reputation today if people could judge him on his best and not his weaker work.
'Should Sailors Marry?' (1925) was previously released on Vol. 4 of 'The Lost Films of L&H.' Ollie plays a shady doctor called in to ascertain that Clyde Cook, the sailor, will be able to work at the dangerous job he's being pushed into by his scheming new wife and her boxer ex-husband Noah Young. Clyde Cook, the star of this short, was a big star back in his native Australia, but his career never really took off when he immigrated. Like Glenn Tryon, it's hard to see exactly why Hal Roach thought he had what it took to become one of his next big comedy stars. His character just wasn't that distinct or memorable.
'Hop to It!' (1925) once again pairs Ollie with Bobby Ray, and this comedy also seems very much like a L&H short, only Ollie and Bobby don't share a huge amount of scenes together and are acting more in competition than as friends or a true team. Ollie's character also turns rather mean and sinister in this one, despite starting out as a seemingly good guy. The two play bellhops in a hotel and continually cause trouble, particularly Bobby.
Overall, while Ollie's character hadn't yet become the one we know and love, thus not doing a lot to raise these shorts beyond merely entertaining and historically interesting to truly memorable classics, these shorts are well worth a look for not only fans of his but also those who are interested in some of the lesser-known comedies of the silent era."
An answer for J. Black "Hull K.R. forever"
Bigwood90 | Jersey City, NJ USA | 01/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The title "45 Minutes From Hollywood" doesn't refer to the running time of the film. It is actually a reference to the 1905 George M. Cohan show (and song) "45 Minutes From Broadway" which, in turn, refers to a small town's distance (in minutes) from Broadway."