Universal bring you the definitive Laurel & Hardy Collection in May
Universal Pictures Video have announced the UK Region 2 DVD release of a groundbreaking twenty-volume definitive Laurel & Hardy Collection that will debut on 3rd May 2004. All twenty parts will be available to buy separately (£15.99 RRP each) or as one entire collection (£199.99 RRP), with the majority of features and shorts restored and, with most of the sound films, offering alternative colour versions to complement those in black and white. Those who purchase the entire twenty-volume Laurel & Hardy Collection will also receive a special bonus disc not available separately. Most of the films, in particular the foreign-language versions with L&H speaking their own dialogue, have never been available on DVD before in the UK.
Material for each DVD in this Universal Pictures collection has been carefully selected to reflect a theme in their work by the UK’s leading Laurel & Hardy expert, Glenn Mitchell. A special introduction has also been devised for each volume that offers an invaluable insight into one of the world’s most famous comedy duos. This collection from Universal Pictures Video is an unrivalled compendium that can be discovered step-by-step or in its entirety. It will be cherished by comedy fans, cineastes, people with a passion for classic films and a whole new generation who can now finally discover one of cinema’s most influential comedy teams for the first time ever on DVD.
Full details follow...
Laurel & Hardy Volume 1: A Chump At Oxford Plus Related Stories
One of Laurel & Hardy’s best-loved feature films, A Chump at Oxford sees them travelling to England to obtain an education, only for Stan to be revealed as a long-lost British aristocrat! Also included is the classic silent comedy From Soup To Nuts, which the team remade as a section of A Chump at Oxford – only with Stan switching his character to that of ‘Agnes’, the maid! Also in this compilation is an earlier glimpse of ‘Agnes’ in one of their greatest talkie shorts, Another Fine Mess.
Laurel & Hardy Volume 2: Someone’s Ailing - Classic Shorts
A collection of classic Laurel & Hardy shorts on the theme of ailments, plus the only example of a direct sequel in L&H history. In County Hospital Ollie’s broken leg offers him a chance to rest, which he does until Stan pays him a visit. Them Thar Hills sees Ollie suffering from gout, prompting a trip into the mountains, while its sequel Tit For Tat shows what happened after their return. In Perfect Day it’s Edgar Kennedy’s turn to suffer gout, a condition aggravated by Stan and Ollie’s attempt to organise a family picnic. They Go Boom! is about Stan’s attempts to care for Ollie when he catches a cold, a position reversed when Ollie tries to cure Stan’s toothache in Leave ‘Em Laughing.
Laurel & Hardy Volume 3: Way Out West plus shorts featuring James Finlayson
Regarded as the most popular of Laurel & Hardy’s feature-length films – not least for the song The Trail of the Lonesome Pine - Way Out West sees Stan and Ollie visiting the town of Brushwood Gulch to deliver the deed of a gold mine, only to be deceived by James Finlayson, playing a villainous saloon-keeper. A great favourite among Laurel & Hardy admirers, Finlayson is featured elsewhere in this compilation through the classic L&H shorts One Good Turn and Thicker Than Water.
Laurel & Hardy Volume 4: Ollie and Matrimony - Classic shorts
A collection of classic Laurel & Hardy shorts based on the misadventures of Oliver Hardy before, during, after or instead of getting married! In Beau Hunks a failed romance prompts Ollie to join the Foreign Legion, taking Stan with him. Our Wife centres around his attempts to elope with his beloved ‘Dulcy’, with assistance from Stan as the Best Man. Helpmates, one of the team’s best short comedies, sees Stan and Ollie trying to clean up the residue of a wild party before the return of Mrs. Hardy, while in Me and My Pal Ollie’s wedding day is disrupted when Stan arrives with a jigsaw puzzle.
Laurel & Hardy Volume 5: Our Relations and ‘dual roles’ shorts
Among the full-length Laurel & Hardy films, Our Relations is one of the most polished and perhaps the most ingenious. Clever editing and optical work create the illusion of two sets of Laurel & Hardy, with confusion arising between Stan and Ollie and their identical twins, Alf and Bert. Also included are two classic shorts employing a similar dual-identity motif, Brats – in which they play their own small sons – and Twice Two, introducing us to Stan and Ollie’s twin sisters!
Laurel & Hardy Volume 6: Murder in the Air - Classic shorts
A collection of classic Laurel & Hardy shorts with the overall theme of murder, including one of their few surviving foreign-language editions plus the English version of a film incorporated into it. The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case is a spoof of the kind of thriller prevalent at that time, complete with hysterical relatives, grim policemen and disappearing bodies. Noche de Duendes is the Spanish-language version of this film, extended in length by reworked material from an earlier short, Berth Marks, which is also included in this compilation. In Oliver the Eighth regular foil Mae Busch is at her best as a homicidal maniac!
Laurel & Hardy Volume 7: Block-Heads and related shorts
Block-Heads is one of the most popular Laurel & Hardy feature films. In World War One, Stan is left to guard a trench only to be discovered – still at his post – twenty years after the war! Ollie, now married, sees Stan’s picture in the newspaper and, visiting his friend at the Old Soldiers’ Home, invites him home for a meal … from which point Ollie’s peacetime existence seems more like another battlefield. Also included is L&H’s very first talkie, Unaccustomed As We Are, a 1929 two-reeler from which Block-Heads drew much of its inspiration. Another take on military life is presented in the early silent With Love and Hisses, while another classic silent, Should Married Men Go Home?, demonstrates once again how Mr. Laurel could disrupt the home life of Mr. and Mrs. Hardy!
Laurel & Hardy Volume 8: Blackmail - Classic shorts
A collection of classic Laurel & Hardy shorts based around the theme of blackmail – actual or implied! In one of the team’s best shorts, Chickens Come Home, Ollie is a candidate for Mayor whose campaign is endangered by the reappearance of a girl from his past. Alongside the familiar version of this film is its feature-length Spanish equivalent, Politiquerias, with L&H speaking their own foreign dialogue, plus the early silent short, Love ‘Em and Weep, on which it was based. Another early silent, Sugar Daddies, provides a variant on the idea (plus the same climactic gag!), while in the sound short Come Clean, regular foil Mae Busch – the blackmailer in Love ‘Em and Weep and its remake – is once again demanding money from Stan and Ollie. In the classic silent Early to Bed, Ollie has money to spare – and this time it’s Stan who learns the power of blackmail!
Laurel & Hardy Volume 9: The Bohemian Girl and related shorts
A classic full-length Laurel & Hardy film, The Bohemian Girl is based on the opera by Michael W. Balfe. Stan and Ollie play gypsies in Europe as it was centuries ago, earning their living by an ingenious means of picking pockets. When Mrs. Hardy disappears with her lover, they become guardians to a small girl who is really the daughter of an aristocrat. The Bohemian Girl was the last L&H film to feature Thelma Todd, who had worked with the team since their first talkie in 1929. This compilation includes one of her starring short comedies with ZaSu Pitts, On the Loose, to which Laurel & Hardy contribute a guest appearance. Also included is That’s My Wife, a classic silent L&H film that at one stage was going to be reworked as part of The Bohemian Girl, plus the earlier Hardy solo film that inspired its plot, Along Came Auntie.
Laurel & Hardy Volume 10: Snow! - Classic Shorts
A collection of classic Laurel & Hardy shorts – and a foreign-language feature – set amid the snow! The Fixer-Uppers takes us to a French-influenced artists’ neighbourhood, where greeting-card salesmen Stan and Ollie agree to help a woman whose husband has been neglecting her. To arouse the husband’s jealousy, Ollie poses as her lover – and is challenged to a duel! For comparison, this compilation also includes Slipping Wives, an early, pre-teaming appearance of L&H on which the plot of The Fixer-Uppers was based. In Laughing Gravy, Stan and Ollie defy their landlord by keeping a small dog in their lodgings, and have to brave the elements when their pet is thrown out. This compilation includes the original two-reel version, as released in 1931, alongside extended material incorporating a rediscovered third reel that was never released at the time. This longer version, introducing an entirely new twist to the plot, is also featured in Les Carottiers, a French-language edition – with Laurel & Hardy speaking their own dialogue – that combines Laughing Gravy with another L&H film of the period, Be Big.
Laurel & Hardy Volume 11: Saps at Sea and ‘music’ shorts
A collection of classic Laurel & Hardy, including the feature-length comedy Saps at Sea - Laurel & Hardy’s last film for Hal Roach – in which Stan’s trombone-playing aggravates Ollie’s newly-acquired allergy to the sound of horns! Continuing the musical connection are two short comedies in which our heroes struggle to earn a living as musicians: Below Zero – presented in both its original version and in its rare Spanish-language edition, with L&H speaking their own dialogue – and one of their best silents, You’re Darn Tootin’
Laurel & Hardy Volume 12: L&H and the Law - Classic shorts
A collection of classic shorts, with Stan and Ollie finding themselves – mostly – on the wrong side of the law. In Scram! a judge orders them to leave town after finding them guilty of vagrancy. Night Owls sees Stan and Ollie in the same condition, but the local cop is willing to let them go if they are willing to pose as burglars. Ladrones is an extended Spanish-language version of Night Owls, with L&H speaking their own dialogue. Stan and Ollie are shaven-headed convicts in The Second Hundred Years, a silent classic in which they escape from jail disguised as painters. The shaven heads are still visible in a guest appearance made at the same time, in the Max Davidson comedy Call of the Cuckoo. In Duck Soup they elude the sheriff by taking refuge in an empty mansion, posing as owner and maid for the benefit of prospective tenants. Forty-Five Minutes From Hollywood, the first Hal Roach film in which both Laurel and Hardy appeared, casts Oliver Hardy as a hotel detective. The all-time classic Big Business – sometimes hailed as the greatest of all the L&H films – involves them in battle with irascible James Finlayson, following their attempts to sell him a Christmas tree.
Laurel & Hardy Volume 13: Sons of the Desert and related shorts
A classic feature film – regarded by many critics as Laurel & Hardy’s best – plus the silent short that inspired it, another attempt by Stan and Ollie to escape their wives, plus L&H returning a guest appearance with Charley Chase. In Sons of the Desert Stan and Ollie attend the Chicago convention of their lodge but tell their wives they are going on an ocean voyage for the sake of Ollie’s health – then discover that the ship has sunk! The silent short We Faw Down anticipates this story, with Stan and Ollie claiming to have attended a stage show – unaware that the theatre has burned down. In Their Purple Moment Stan and Ollie go out for an evening without their wives, only to discover that their money has been replaced with useless coupons. Sons of the Desert includes a guest contribution from fellow-Roach comedian Charley Chase; On the Wrong Trek sees L&H returning the compliment in one of Chase’s own films.
Laurel & Hardy Volume 14: A Job to Do - Classic shorts
A collection of classic shorts, all of which present Stan and Ollie with a task to perform. Busy Bodies is the famous film where Stan and Ollie work in a sawmill. In Double Whoopee they start work at a plush Broadway hotel – and close a taxi door on Jean Harlow’s dress! Hog Wild concerns their efforts to fit a rooftop aerial. In Dirty Work they are back on the roof, this time as chimney sweeps at the home of an eccentric scientist. Stan and Ollie are in the building trade for The Finishing Touch, while in The Music Box – perhaps their most famous film – they have to deliver a piano up a huge flight of steps. The Music Box was inspired by one of their earliest comedies as a team, Hats Off. Sadly, no copy of the film is known to survive, but this DVD includes a selection of stills from this long-lost classic.
Laurel & Hardy Volume 15: Pack Up Your Troubles - and related ‘Adopt-a-Child’ shorts
A classic feature film, plus two great shorts continuing the ‘adopt-a-child’ theme. In Pack Up Your Troubles, Stan and Ollie join up for World War One and, with the return of peacetime, become unofficial guardians to the small daughter of a fallen army buddy. Their First Mistake turns out to be adopting a baby in order to keep Mrs. Hardy occupied, only for them to discover that she has left. In the early silent comedy Putting Pants On Philip it is Oliver Hardy who plays guardian to a young Scotsman, Philip (Stan Laurel), who makes an embarrassing spectacle with his traditional garb and fondness for chasing girls!
Laurel & Hardy Volume 16: Maritime Adventures - Classic shorts
A collection of classic shorts, based around the maritime adventures of Stan and Ollie. In The Live Ghost they help round up a reluctant crew for a ‘ghost ship’ – and are shanghaied themselves! Taxi driver Stan is similarly aboard ship against his will in Sailors, Beware! The classic Two Tars is the famous film in which Stan and Ollie, as sailors on shore leave, become involved in a massive traffic jam. They are again sailors on leave in Men O’War, with hostilities taking place this time on a boating lake. Any Old Port! sees Stan and Ollie arriving in port from a whaling voyage, to find their assistance required by a damsel in distress. Another imperilled damsel is Stan’s girlfriend in the early, pre-teaming L&H comedy Why Girls Love Sailors. One of the best-loved L&H shorts, Towed in a Hole, is that in which they buy a boat – and fill it with water to detect the leaks!
Laurel & Hardy Volume 17: Swiss Miss - and ‘Animal’ shorts
A classic feature film – complete with an ape! - plus two shorts continuing the ‘animal’ theme. In Swiss Miss Stan and Ollie visit Switzerland in the hope of selling mousetraps, only to find themselves having to work in a hotel to pay off their bill. One of the most memorable scenes is that in which they are required to transport a piano across a flimsy rope bridge, where they meet an escaped gorilla! Another large ape is ‘Ethel’, the title character of The Chimp; while large creatures of a quite different kind appear in the Stone-Age comedy Flying Elephants.
Laurel & Hardy Volume 18: Married Life – and Anita Garvin
Two classic Laurel & Hardy shorts, accompanied by rare extended-length versions in Spanish – with Stan and Ollie speaking their own dialogue! The theme of this compilation is married life, with supporting actress Anita Garvin playing Mrs. Laurel in Blotto, Be Big and in the latter’s Spanish-language equivalent, Los Calaveras. In Blotto, Stan needs to contrive an excuse to spend a night out with Ollie. Mrs. Laurel overhears their plans but decides to go along with them, but not before replacing their bottle of genuine booze – this being the Prohibition era – with an entirely different mixture! Be Big starts with Stan and Ollie ready to go away for the weekend with their wives, only to learn that their hunting lodge is holding a testimonial dinner for them that evening. Ollie feigns illness and the wives go away without them, but there remains the problem of getting into the hunting regalia and riding boots. Los Calaveras is a feature-length Spanish edition combining a version of Be Big (incorporating some comedy material unseen in English) with another short of this period, Laughing Gravy.
Laurel & Hardy Volume 19: Pardon Us and related shorts
A collection of classic Laurel & Hardy, including their first starring feature film, Pardon Us, in which they are sent to prison for breaking the Prohibition laws, an earlier short, The Hoose-Gow, where they join a prison road gang and start – of all things - a rice-pudding fight, plus the famous silent short on which that climactic scene was based, The Battle of the Century.
Laurel & Hardy Volume 20: More Brushes with the Law - Classic shorts
A collection of classic Laurel and Hardy shorts, presenting Stan and Ollie on both sides – but, for a change, more usually the right side! – of the law. In Going Bye-Bye! their evidence has led to a criminal being brought to justice – but, thanks to Stan, he decides to break out and take his revenge. In Do Detectives Think? it’s L&H’s turn to guard someone against a vengeful criminal. Another detective follows Stan and Ollie after they are engaged as grave-robbers (!) in Habeas Corpus. The police take an interest in an escaped goat in Angora Love, while Stan and Ollie are sheriff’s men trying to serve a summons in Bacon Grabbers. They actually join the police in The Midnight Patrol but in Liberty are back in more typical mode, as escaped convicts who find themselves trapped on a partly-built skyscraper. Wrong Again – in which Stan and Ollie manage to put a horse on a piano! - concludes with perennial cop Harry Bernard in one of the best-remembered sight gags from the L&H repertoire.
Laurel & Hardy Volume 21: Special Disc for Consumers Who Purchase All 20 Volumes
This Special Bonus Disc contains two Laurel & Hardy rarities: the original 1930 version of Brats with the original music score, art-deco style opening titles plus the long-missing introductory gag card (a later, reissue version of this short appears in vol. 5), and a short reel of clips from Hinter Schloss und Riegel, the German version of Pardon Us (which appears in vol. 19), remade by Laurel & Hardy with the aide of language coaches and prompt boards.
Also included are three related films – two of them featuring Oliver Hardy - which form a ‘sampler’ of other Hal Roach comedies. In Thundering Fleas, Oliver Hardy appears alongside ‘Our Gang’ regulars as a cop whose uniform is suddenly occupied by the energetic refugees from the flea circus – and who has to improvise a semblance of decency after the disappearance of his trousers! Also present are Laurel & Hardy’s future foil James Finlayson and, beneath a large prop moustache, star comic Charley Chase. Fluttering Hearts is a Charley Chase two-reeler with a pre-Laurel & Hardy appearance of Oliver Hardy, and Prudence is a Max Davidson comedy, reportedly written by Stan Laurel (although the official story credit belongs to Hal Roach). To round off this bonus disc is a documentary tribute to Laurel & Hardy hosted by Dom Deluise with comments from – among others – Johnny Carson, Walter Matthau, Chuck McCann, Steve Allen, Rich Little, Dick Martin, the Smothers Brothers and Henny Youngman. L&H are featured in scenes from many of their sound and silent Roach films, plus extracts from The Flying Deuces and some brief moments from Laurel’s solo work.