There are so many good things to say about Laurel and Hardy The Definitive Restorations we needed two reviews to cover everything. The first review covered the first two discs in this four disc collection. Here, we tackle discs three and four.
It bears repeating that these restorations of Laurel and Hardy shorts and features are superb. The experience really is like being at the premieres way back when.
Disc 3 of Laurel and Hardy The Definitive Restorations features 8 shorts. In Helpmates (1932) Ollie asks Laurel to help him tidy up the place before his wife comes home. Laurel is unable to help without causing greater mayhem and breakage. The timing of hte sight gags in Helpmates is simply superb.
The gem on disc 3 is The Music Box (1932) which won the first Academy Award for live comedy short. The simple premise is the boys have to deliver a piano. This involves going up a very steep exterior staircase. What goes up must come down more than once. Oddly enough, the piano crate sounds like it is holding church bells and not a piano.
Other shorts on disc three include The Chimp (1932) where Stan and Ollie end up with a gorilla after their circus goes under. In County Hospital (1932) Hardy is in the hospital with a broken leg and Laurel seems determined to kill him. In Scram (1932) the boys are given 24 hours to leave town but not before they kindly help a drunk get home … to the wrong house. This is the only short in Laurel and Hardy The Definitive Restorations that shows its age as some sequences are more grey and white than crisp black and white.
Also on disc 3 are Their First Mistake (1932). Here Mrs. Hardy finds Ollie spends too much time with Laurel. Hardy tries to make up by adopting a baby but the boys end up being on their own with the baby. The Midnight Patrol (1933) was not my favorite. Stan and Ollie are cops and they try to capture a burglar. Busy Bodies (1933) features the boys working in a saw mill (the Roach Studio backlot) and show their talent for destruction.
Disc 4 includes the 1937 feature Way Out West, a 65 minute feature. Laurel and Hardy have to deliver the deed to a goldmine to a young, destitute heiress. The bar owner and his female accomplice stand in their way. Way Out West is very entertaining.
Shorts on disc 4 of Laurel and Hardy The Definitive Restorations include Towed in a Hole (1932) where fishmongers Stan and Ollie decide becoming owners of a fishing boat will make them more money. That is if they can repare the wreck they bought. This is the only short where only Laurel and Hardy appear. Twice Two (1933) was considered by the comedy duo as their weakest effort. It involves an anniversary party for the Laurels and Hardys. The scene where Stan goes to buy fifteen cents of ice cream is, however, brilliant.
The Definitive Restorations close with That’s That which is a blooper reel made in 1937 for Laurel’s birthday. It is okay. The Tree in a Test Tube is a PSA from the forestry service about the importance of wood. The first four minutes feature the only real colour footage of Laurel and Hardy.
There are commentary tracks for everything. Commentators are Randy Skretvedt and Richard W. Bann. I prefer Skretvedt’s commentaries. He is more natural and comes across and a convivial hard core fan with lots of fun facts to share.
Laurel and Hardy The Definitive Restorations are a must for comedy and classic film fans. The restorations are truly superb.
If you are a silent or classic film fan, I cannot but also recommend Accidentally Preserved, collections of restored shorts with new music by composer Ben Model.