Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations [Blu-ray]

Approaching Stan Laurel’s 130th Birthday, from Kit Parker Films comes another in a vast library of shorts from Laurel and Hardy. For folks that love the pair of comedic performers and actors, “The Definitive Restorations” is a great set with some of the best shorts from the legendary duo. I love Laurel and Hardy, and digging through this set allowed me some great laughs, and a glimpse in to a very talented pair of comedians that brought fun to the big screen. The shorts and two features included were remastered and further restored for this set, allowing them to clean up a lot of debris and imperfections and preserve a lot of the integrity of the original masters and reels. It’s stunning to say the least, and contributes to an already worthwhile experience for comedy buffs and film collectors alike.

Presented by Kit Parker Films and The Sprocket Vault, there are two feature films, the very funny 1933 adventure “Sons of the Desert,” and the 1937 Western comedy “Way Out West.” Along with the pair of feature films restored for a new generation, there are a slew of classic shorts from the comedy duo with the iconic Hal Roach producing. Among them there’s 1929’s “Berth Marks” (with original 1929 soundtrack and 1936 reissue soundtrack), 1927’s “The Battle of the Century,” which is accompanied with a new music track by Donald Sosin and is virtually complete and restored. There’s the 1930 short “Brats” (with original 1930 soundtrack), the 1933 work time short “Busy Bodies,” the 1932 wacky circus adventure “The Chimp,” the 1933 caper “Come Clean,” the hilarious 1932 adventure “County Hospital.”

There’s the pre-code 1932 comedy “Helpmates,” another pre-code 1932 comedy “Hog Wild,” the 1933 wedding farce “Me and My Pal,” there’s the 1932 crime caper “Midnight Patrol,” the hysterical 1932 short “The Music Box” where the pair try to get a piano up a large flight of steps. 1931’s “One Good Turn” is a fun adventure involving a mix up, 1932’s “Scram!” involves the pair as tramps looking for a place to sleep, there’s the 1932 “Their First Mistake” involving the pair chasing an infant around town, the 1932 fishing adventure “Towed in the Hole,” and finally there’s 1933’s “Twice Two” where the pair go drag playing a pair of married couples, and is the last film directed by frequent collaborator James Parrot.

The “Restorations” set comes spread over four discs for Blu-Ray and six discs on DVD.  There are Photo Galleries including Sons of the Desert Publicity Portraits, Scene Stills, Deleted and Candids, Posters and Publicity, Early Scripts, Dialogue Continuity, and Contracts and Documents. There are Press Sheet and publicity material for “Battle of the Century,” and looks at Stan and Babe in their Early Careers. There’s a 1981 color interview with Anita Garvin, and a Spanish trailer for “Sons of the Desert.” There are Photo Galleries for “Berth Marks,” “Brats,” and “Hog Wild” including production stills, press sheet articles, music cue sheets, poster and lobby card art.

There are Audio Interview excerpts from Randy Skretvedt (accompanied with photo galleries), along with interview excerpts with Billy Bletcher, actor, Joe Rock, producer, Hal Roach, producer, Anita Garvin Stanley, actress, George Marshall, director, Roy Seawright, special effects designer, Venice Lloyd, widow of cameraman Art Lloyd, Richard Currier, film editor, Bert Jordan, film editor, Walter Woolf King, actor, Lucille Hardy Price, Babe’s widow Marvin Hatley, musical director (including performances of “Ku-Ku,” “Honolulu Baby,” and “Will You Be My Lovey-Dovey?”) The Photo Galleries for “Come Clean,” “One Good Turn,” :Helpmates,” and “The Music Box” includes production and candid stills, press sheet articles, poster and lobby card artwork, call sheets and production reports, and music cue sheets.

There’s the fascinating “A Short History of the Hal Roach Studios” and looks at various Supporting Players in the productions, Crew Members, and of course the various Studio Hijinks. There are also trailers for “Beau Hunks” and “Pack Up Your Troubles.” There are photo galleries for “The Chimp,” “County Hospital,” “Scram!,” and “Their First Mistake” including production and candid stills, press sheet articles, poster and lobby card artwork, call sheets and production reports, music cue sheets. There are also Snapshots from the 1932 UK Vacation, the segment “Babe Hardy’s Vim Comedies Scrapbook,” and the fun segment “L&H with Hollywood Friends.” There’s an interview with Joe Rock and Roy Seawright (both filmed by Randy Skretvedt, October 1981), and a 1950 Ship’s Reporter interview with Babe Hardy.

Among the Photo Galleries for “Towed in a Hole,” “Twice Two,” “Me and My Pal,”  “The Midnight Patrol,” “Busy Bodies” there includes production and candid stills, press sheet articles, poster and lobby card artwork, call sheets and production reports, and music cue sheets. There’s the segment Catalina, July 1934, Portraits in Costume, Portraits out of Costume, a look at Laurel & Hardy and Golf, them during Special Occasions, and some Odd Publicity Shots. There are also the Original trailers for Babes in Toyland, The Flying Deuces, A Chump at Oxford, and Saps at Sea (usually packaged with “Babes in Toyland” on television airings).

There is the bonus shorts “That’s That: The Tree in a Test Tube,” and photo galleries for “Way Out West” including Portrait Stills, Scene Stills, Candid Stills, Pressbook Articles and Artwork, Poster and Lobby Card Artwork. Original 1913 Sheet Music, Script and Synopsis, Dialogue Continuity, Music Cues, etc. Finally, there’s a look at Stan in Retirement, and Marvin Hatley music tracks (from Sons of the Desert, Them Thar Hills, Way Out West, Block-Heads, A Chump at Oxford and Saps at Sea).