They were one of the movies' most successful and best-loved comic duos, probably because their irresistible slapstick antics were underscored by an indomitable optimism. Beginning with shorts made at the Hal Roach Studios,... more » Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy struck a universal chord by sharing a contentious yet benign friendship that always survived whatever indignities their mutual bumbling brought upon them. This TCM Archives two-disc collection focuses on the team at their zenith during the sound era and spotlights two features produced by Roach for MGM. The Devil's Brother (1933) (also known as Fra Diavolo) is a laugh-filled adaptation of the Auber operetta in which "Stanlio" and "Ollio" tangle with a notorious robber baron. The delightful Bonnie Scotland (1935) is a misadventure that takes the boys to Scotland and India.« less
"In answer to another poster's comments, this set does include the Laurel and Hardy segments from "Hollywood Revue of 1929' (1929), 'Hollywood Party' (1934), and 'Pick A Star' (1937). These are the best bits from these films. 'Holywood Revue' is painful to watch in its full form, and 'Hollywood Party' isn't much better. 'Pick a Star' is the only one that's worth watching. With these excepts of 'the boys' performances, you get all the laughs with none of the tedium."
Less-essential films still charm and entertain
Anyechka | Rensselaer, NY United States | 10/13/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The material included on this two-disc set does seem more geared to serious fans as opposed to new or casual fans, but these films, while not as essential as the likes of 'Our Relations' or 'Way Out West,' still charm and entertain regardless, and aren't the type that would turn off a newer fan. We should feel lucky that there have been so many releases of L&H films lately instead of complaining about what isn't getting released. Besides, there's always the option of getting a region-free DVD player and paying a little extra to get the boxed set of their Hal Roach shorts and major features from amazon.co.uk, like I did, or buying the German Hal Roach set, which I've heard is just as great.
'Fra Diavolo,' aka 'The Devil's Brother' (1933), is a costume comedy and one of their comic operettas. While I don't really care for this film too much, I can still really appreciate how well-made it is. Like with just about any comedy group, one doesn't watch L&H to see secondary characters taking up a lot of the action and detracting attention away from the stars with a subplot that doesn't involve them enough! Coupled with all of the songs, it's almost like one of their Fox films, although at least here they're not yet being relegated to almost supporting characters. And it is a joy to see the always wonderful Jimmy Finlayson and the beautiful Thelma Todd, even in costumes and powdered wigs. Dennis King, as Fra Diavolo, is also a delight to watch. I basically like the film well enough when L&H are center stage, but not that much when they disappear and the secondary characters start taking up all of the action.
'Bonnie Scotland' (1935) also has them in the same situation, although at least here the secondary characters (some boring young couple) don't assume that large of an amount of time. I prefer this one to 'Fra Diavolo.' There are funnier gags and scenes, even though it's not quite at the level as their most classic features. Jimmy Finlayson is also in this one, as the boys' commanding officer. The first half of the film is great, though the second half goes downhill a little. The boys being in the army had so much comic potential, particularly with Jimmy as their commanding officer, but it just wasn't utilised properly. It's not that I find this a bad unsatisfying film the way other fans do, just that the execution is a little uneven, and it ends kind of abruptly, with no resolution of the subplot.
These two-disc sets from TCM always include a documentary in addition to the main features, and here that documentary is 'Added Attractions: The Hollywood Shorts Story.' Yes, it would have been nice to have had a documentary focusing on the boys instead of on short subjects in general, but the documentary is still great. It tells the rise and fall of the short subject, from the days when all movies were shorts, to the proliferation and popularity of the one- and two-reeler in the Teens, Twenties, and Thirties, to the different types of shorts and the different people who made them, and finally to what made them a dying breed in the Forties and Fifties, finally a complete thing of the past by the time the last short subjects department (at Columbia) closed up shop in the late Fifties. It's actually kind of sad that now moviegoing is no longer as diverse as it was when short subjects were popular; instead of just going to see the one movie, viewers had a whole program, with newsreels, the main feature, travelogues, and short subjects from various comedians, really never knowing what one was going to get in addition to the main feature.
Extras include audio commentaries, introductions by TCM host Robert Osbourne, a fragment from the lost 1930 Technicolor film 'The Rogue Song,' their magic act scene from 'The Hollywood Revue of 1929,' trailers, their two scenes from 'Hollywood Party' (1934), and their three scenes from 'Pick a Star' (1937). Most people who have seen these features in their full length say that they're not much to write home about, so it doesn't seem like that big of a loss that only the pertinent clips were included here, even if that means seeing them somewhat out of context.
Overall, this collection is a must-have for fans, and even has something to offer for newer fans. Not all of their films can be top-notch classics, and it's ridiculous to complain about this product for what it's not rather that for what it actually is. Stan and Ollie always shine and bring smiles to faces, even in their less-essential films. That's how special and talented they were. My only real complaint about this is how the discs are arranged in the box. Instead of having one disc on each side, they're stacked so that they overlap somewhat, making it more difficult to remove them."
Ollie and Stan accidentally join the Scottish Army
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ollie and Stan sneak aboard a ship to Scotland. Stan's grandfather leaves him a bagpipe and snuff box- (the sneezing scene is worth the cost of this film)! They accidentally join the army, and are sent to India where they once again foil the plans of an invading army. Parts of this film were rereleased in "Laurel & Hardy on Parade". Bonnie Scotland is full of laughs and well worth the cost! It has a nice plot and very few dull moments. Contains several popular scenes including Ollie's bed on fire, Ollie sneezing in a pond, a pleasant dance, and a rival with a popular character. If you enjoy bagpipes, humor and Laurel & Hardy- this is a great movie!"
Give us more, TCM...
frankebe | redwood city, ca United States | 06/24/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These are perfect, gorgeous prints. Excellent indexing, too! Although amazon.co.uk offers a 21-DVD set of "remastered" L&H films (almost their complete Hal Roach oeuvre), the prints are not at all good like the ones on these DVDs. So we are all still waiting for a truly decent set of "The Complete L&H" to come out. I do highly recommend this release.
Devil's Brother is self-recommending, and if you've ever been a little embarassed by HOW dopey Stan can be, here he shows how clever and physically deft he is.
There is more controversy over Bonnie Scotland. This much-criticized film is actually filled with good things: it has an absolutely darling June Lang in the subplot; it has L&H stepping blithely into the picture to the tune of a village blacksmith inadvertently pinging away the Koo Koo theme on his anvil(!); Ollie sneezing the water out of a stream; L&H setting their bed on fire (and Ollie as well); a warm and memorable shot of L&H and William Janney jaunting off to a big adventure; a "musical mirage" (with Marvin Hatley!); Stanley readjusting the march-step of an entire regiment; a delightful and satisfying L&H dance, complete with a good comic ending; one of the most heart-tugging goodbyes ever committed to film, but which is so funny you can't cry; and a spectacular ending with pandemonium overtaking all.
Critics write that the romantic subplot is left unresolved, but the resolution is so obvious that I never questioned it as a kid, and still don't. My only criticism is that the secondary story is not happy, and I wish its scenes were shorter. But it does add to the continuity and dramatic arch of the movie. A little editing could make this a classic.
The second DVD has hard-to-find L&H excerpts from 3 non-L&H films of the 1930s, and they're all good. My only gripe here is that the very last and important few seconds of the Banditos clip from Pick A Star is cut out. I also wish that instead of a boring documentary, they had included the Stolen Jools, and the entire re-edited version of Pick A Star, which was released in the 1950s as A Day at the Studio, and which is supposed to be a pretty good tightened-up version. But this second DVD is a bonus, anyway, so it doesn't reduce my star-rating."
Joe Libby | 01/08/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While BONNIE SCOTLAND doesn't qualify as a classic, it's still lots of fun for Laurel and Hardy fans. The film's main problem is it's uncomfortable grafting of the boy's comedy onto a melodramatic B-picture storyline. June Lang and William Janney are the romantic leads, but unfortunately their roles are rather shallow and unsympathetic. Thankfully, Stan and Ollie's scenes are good enough to keep the film moving and enjoyable. Highlights include the boys innocently wreaking havoc in a Scottish boarding house, their improvised dance to "One Hundred Pipers," and Stan's constant inability to keep in step with the rest of the Scottish army unit! There are also good comic moments from James Finalyson, Mary Gordon and diminutive Daphne Pollard (hilarious as a cockney chambermaid). The picture and sound on this video transfer are sharp and clear."