With “Stan & Ollie” now in theaters, fans might find the newest release from Mill Creek of some interest, as it gathers a lot of interesting relics from Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. While it by no means features some of their best shorts and features, it definitely will spark some conversation by hardcore movie buffs, as it includes a list of movies that feature both comedic actors, and their shorts and films that they worked on as solo performers. It’s not the best collection but it’s a fascinating release that will help fans of the comedy team dissect a lot of the work that both men did outside of their team as well as what worked, and what just didn’t.
Among the two disc set are Laurel and Hardy Shorts and Features including the silent “The Lucky Dog” from 1921, the pair’s first on-screen appearance together, the Stan Laurel directed “Yes, Yes, Nanette” from 1925, and “The Stolen Jools” from 1931. There are two public domain features including 1939’s “The Flying Deuces,” the 1943 WWII propaganda film “The Tree in the Test Tube,” the second public domain feature is 1951’s “Utopia,” the team’s last film together where both men show their considerable age and don’t quite hit their highs as they used to. Disc Two includes three silent solo Stan Laurel films including 1922’s “Mud & Sand,” 1924’s “West of Hot Dog,” and some entertaining Stan Laurel home movies. These include clips of the pair playing with children, fishing, and engaging in general activities with what we can assume is their family and friends.
There are three silent Stan Laurel films pre-Laurel & Hardy including 1923’s “Orange and Lemons,” 1923’s “The Soilers” which is a spoof of the gold rush film “The Spoilers,” and 1923’s “White Wings.” There’s a slew of Oliver Hardy solo acting silent films including 1917’s “The Hobo,” 1919’s “Hop To It, Bellhop,” 1922’s “The Saw Mill,” 1922’s “The Show,” 1924’s “Kid Speed,” and 1925’s “The Paperhanger’s Helper,” also known as “Stick Around.” Finally there are Hal Roach Studios Oliver Hardy silent shorts before he “Laurel and Hardy.” Featured is 1925’s “Should Sailors Marry?”, 1926’s “Along Came Auntie,” 1926’s “Bromo & Juliet,” 1926’s “Crazy Like a Fox,” 1926’s “Crazy Like a Fox,” 1926’s “Enough to Do” also known as “Wandering Papas,” and finally 1926’s “Thundering Fleas,” an “Our Gang” short where Oliver Hardy plays a police man trying to foil the group’s antics.
The DVD release includes a Digital Copy, the caveat being that many of these films aren’t restored, so your experience with the titles may vary. Many of the films have cracking and hissing, while there are noticeable specks and blemishes on some of the older films, including 1923’s “White Wings” which is also of pretty crummy quality. That said, the set while imperfect, might make a great addition to completists of classic comedy, silent films, and “Laurel & Hardy.” I had a good time mining the material, as I love the comedy duo.