Author Topic: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along  (Read 13742 times)

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #150 on: December 28, 2018, 11:16:20 PM »
I’ve realised that as this thread grows it will become increasingly difficult to locate information that was shared on earlier pages.  So here’s a list of entries so far from Glenn Mitchell’s Laurel and Hardy Encyclopedia, with each one linking to the relevant post.  As much as anything else, this is to help me know what I’ve already shared so I don’t start repeating myself, but I also hope it helps you navigate this thread.  In bold are the entries that I was intentionally sharing; in brackets are any additional entries that happened to be complete on those pages.  I’ll be extending this list every time we complete a year’s worth of Laurel and Hardy films.


The All-Star Series
The Battle of the Century
Mae Busch (same pages:  Bobby Burns; Richard Burton; Buses; Businessmen)
Call of the Cuckoos (same pages:  Camera-Looks)
Charley Chase (same pages:  Charities; Chases; Charlie Chaplin; Characters - the last of these is complete, but the pages are in the wrong order)
Children
Dorothy Coburn (same pages:  Cologne)
Crying (same pages:  Criminals)
Max Davidson (same pages:  William Scott Darling)
Do Detectives Think?
Duck Soup (same pages:  Duels)
James Finlayson (same pages:  Fish)
Forty-Five Minutes From Hollywood
Anita Garvin (same pages:  Reginald Gardiner; Billy Gilbert)
The Hal Roach Studios (same pages:  Hair; Alan Hale)
Hats Off (same pages:  Betty Healy)
Homosexuality  (same pages:  Homes; The Hoose-Gow)
Edgar Kennedy (same pages:  Buster Keaton; Patsy Kelly; Fred Kelsey; Tom Kennedy)
Lost Films (same pages:  Walter Long)
Love ‘em and Weep
The Lucky Dog (same pages:  Sam Lufkin; Jacquie Lyn; Sharon Lynne)
M-G-M
Midgets (same pages:  Mexico; Charles Middleton)
Names (same pages:  Near Dublin)
Now I'll Tell One (same pages:  Nudity)
Pathé Exchange (same pages:  Lee Patrick; Blanche Payson)
Putting Pants on Philip
Rediscoveries
Reissues and Remakes (same pages:  Reincarnation)
Risqué humour  (same pages:  Riding High)
Sailors, Beware! (same pages: Sailors; Malcolm St Clair)
The Second Hundred Years
Slapstick (same pages:  Sickness; Randy Skretvedt; Skyscrapers; Martha Sleeper)
Slipping Wives (same pages:  Martha Sleeper)
Solo films
Sound (same pages:  Spectacles)
Sugar Daddies
Teaming (same pages:  Sam Taylor; Telegrams; Telephones)
Why Girls Love Sailors
With Love and Hisses (same pages:  Norman Wisdom)
Noah Young (same pages:  Hal Yates; Yes, Yes, Nanette!)

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #151 on: December 29, 2018, 01:09:14 PM »
Laurel and Hardy 1928

Week 17 (1st January):  Leave ‘em Laughing (MGM; written and filmed October 1927; released 28th January 1928)
Week 18 (8th January):  Flying Elephants (Pathé; written and filmed circa mid-May 1927; released 12th February 1928)
Week 19 (15th January):  The Finishing Touch (MGM; written and filmed circa late November - early December 1927; released 25th February 1928)
Week 20 (22nd January):  From Soup To Nuts (MGM; written and filmed  December 1927 - January 1928; released 24th March 1928)
Week 21 (29th January):  You’re Darn Tooting (MGM; filmed 17th-27th January 1928; released 21st April 1928)
Week 22 (5th February):  Their Purple Moment (MGM; filmed 15th-24th February 1928; released 19th May 1928)
Week 23 (12th February):  Should Married Men Go Home? (MGM; filmed 12th-21st March 1928, with added scenes 23rd March and 11th May, inserts on 2nd May, and retakes 12th May; released 8th September 1928)
Week 24 (19th February):  Early To Bed (MGM; filmed 19th-20th June 1928, with retakes 25th-26th June; released 6th October 1928)
Week 25 (26th February):  Two Tars (MGM; filmed 22nd-23rd June and 26th June - 3rd July 1928; released 3rd November 1928)
Week 26 (5th March):  Habeas Corpus (MGM; filmed 16th-24th July and 30th-31st July 1928; released 1st December 1928)
Week 27 (12th March):  We Faw Down (MGM; filmed 23rd August - 1st September 1928, with retakes 13th September; released 29th December 1928)

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #152 on: December 29, 2018, 04:27:27 PM »
Thanks ever so much for that! Interesting to see that the last three made in a row were Hats Off, Putting Pants on Philip, and The Battle of the Century - it seems that the grand joke they were working with at the time was Stan and Ollie having the capability to start something small, and before you know it everything has escalated wildly out of control with the whole town involved. It looks like each time they were trying to outdo the previous one in terms of scale.

Interesting observation, and you may be right.  What I’m also detecting is a decision to have a first half that is distinct from the second, possibly as a result of considering films in terms of physical reels.  Ten minutes of one thing, followed by ten minutes of something that is a little removed and more chaotic.  It will happen again in ‘Leave ’em Laughing’.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #153 on: January 01, 2019, 04:05:38 PM »
Week 17

Leave ‘Em Laughing, released 28/01/1928




Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leave_%27Em_Laughing


Viewing options:

Regarding the version on the UK DVD boxset:
Quote
Leave 'Em Laughing - 1928 (silent)- The remade title cards immediately disappoint and picture quality is very poor indeed.  The intertitles have been replaced all round.  Far better material can be found on the Lost Films Of Laurel and Hardy series in the US.
(http://www.laurelandhardy.org/newDVDREV.html)


Sourced from the above boxset:  https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x26g7bt



http://www.lordheath.com/menu1_142.html


As usual the print released in the US is the superior version:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UAAASH9iq0

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #154 on: January 02, 2019, 11:30:01 PM »
From Everson’s book:

 


From Skretvedt’s book:

   

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #155 on: January 03, 2019, 02:35:38 PM »
At 18:30 into the documentary Buster Keaton Rides Again, Keaton describes the traffic scene in ‘Leave ’em Laughing’:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HOWv7Ce69E

Quote
Keaton's comedy was the most scientifically methodical of all the great silent clowns, and in one scene in which he describes the plot of the 1928 Laurel and Hardy short Leave 'Em Laughing, we can see the admiration and near envy he had for that duo, who could work from the simplest of premises. Laurel, whose mind was as sharp and active as Keaton's, believed in improvisation on the set, whereas Keaton seemed to want every minute detail worked out.

http://theageofcomedy.laurelandhardycentral.com/bkrides.html

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #156 on: January 03, 2019, 08:14:54 PM »
That's my favourite of them all so far. Suddenly, everything's in place: the outfits, the right wrong-sized hats, the bed, the car. This is a Laurel and Hardy picture.

More importantly than that, they've finally found their characters. Although they don't have names in this film, they're clearly Mr Laurel and Mr Hardy now, and - in the first reel at least - they're two little brothers lost in a cruel, absurd, grown-up world.

There's a tenderness in this that hadn't quite come to the fore in the previous films. Ollie is looking after Stan, but it's changed from the uncle-nephew relationship of Putting Pants on Phillip to a sibling relationship, which offers much more scope for kindness, but also for petulance, jealousy and betrayal. They've found the key now.

There are so many beautiful little moments in this film: Stan's twisting rabbit ears, Ollie thinking Stan (or himself) has pissed the bed, the appearance of Charlie Hall and the arse-kicking in turns, the dentist frantically wrestling with the patient in the waiting room. The first reel alone is a classic.

You can't be sure, but the moment when Stan and Ollie wake up from the laughing gas looks to me like they were genuinely in hysterics.

The second reel is a long-drawn-out gag but perfectly played and never gets boring. A heroic turn by Edgar Kennedy, too.

By the way, does anyone know what the tune they're playing on the American version is as the car sinks into the mud? It's some sort of Souza march, but I only know it as "The Boilermaker's Prayer", a slighly mucky comic song that was popular with dockyard workers of my Grandad's generation.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2019, 10:20:20 PM by Durance Vile »

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #157 on: January 03, 2019, 08:29:06 PM »
Going to watch that Keaton film now. I vaguely recall seeing it many years ago but can't remember much about it now. Thanks for digging it out!

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #158 on: January 03, 2019, 11:58:09 PM »
Some relevant entries from The Laurel and Hardy Encyclopedia:


Beds:




Cars:

 


Dentists:




Gag titles:




Charlie Hall:

 


Landlords:



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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #159 on: January 08, 2019, 04:13:20 PM »
Week 18

Flying Elephants, released 12/02/1928




Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Elephants


Viewing options:

Regarding the version on the UK DVD boxset:
Quote
Flying Elephants - 1927 (silent)- Replacement main titles (the originals are I believe lost) but with original intertitles. As with most surviving Pathé L & H films the print is generally very muddy.
(http://www.laurelandhardy.org/newDVDREV.html)


Sourced from the above boxset:  https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x24uwff



http://www.lordheath.com/menu1_74.html


Here’s the US version:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2DcX4i49qc

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #160 on: January 10, 2019, 07:52:27 PM »
Flying Elephants had its moments, but it was very much a step back from Leave 'Em Laughing. It was a farly enjoyable silly film with lots of dolly birds in scanty clothing for the dads, but nothing special, and a bit of a disappointment compared to last week. Was it one of the ones that was shot before L&H properly teamed up and only got released later when they were hitting it big?

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #161 on: January 10, 2019, 09:21:50 PM »
Was it one of the ones that was shot before L&H properly teamed up and only got released later when they were hitting it big?

That's right - the last one from Pathé.  I've listed the production and release dates of all the 1928 films on the second post of this page.

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #162 on: January 10, 2019, 09:25:38 PM »
Ah - should have been paying attention. Thanks!

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #163 on: January 12, 2019, 01:09:09 PM »
One of the only two L and H films - Utopia being the other one - not to be made in California, I seem to remember reading once.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #164 on: January 13, 2019, 11:00:41 AM »
One of the only two L and H films - Utopia being the other one - not to be made in California, I seem to remember reading once.


That sounds right, though I haven't been able to verify it.  Here's an encyclopedia entry on locations though:




Plus an entry on animation:

 


Cavemen:



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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #165 on: January 13, 2019, 11:07:47 AM »
And of course some reviews...


From Everson’s book:




From Skretvedt’s book:

   
 


Yep - 'Sugar Daddies' was made after 'Flying Elephants' - that's how far we stepped back this week!  This was the last of the Pathé shorts though, so we're only moving forwards now.  Onwards and upwards...

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #166 on: January 14, 2019, 11:41:04 PM »
I heard about this site http://www.lettersfromstan.com/ might be of intrest to you guys.

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #167 on: January 15, 2019, 12:31:50 AM »
Back one to Leave 'Em Laughing, and there are more 'new' proper Laurel and Hardy elements on show. In particular, this is a bit of a tour de force for Babe in places as he twice gives extremely long looks to camera: once when the hot water bottle leaks, and later with the dawning realisation of his tooth having been pulled. These slow, lingering shots would of course become a trademark, and it's amazing that you can basically read Ollie's thought processes without a single word being spoken. Handy to have in the silent era, needless to say.

On top of that, we have the 100% telegraphed joke that pays off not once, but twice: a close-up of a drawing pin means it's definitely going to be stepped on, and carelessly throwing it away in anger means it'll happen again to the same person. We all know that. But, somehow, despite most of the Laurel and Hardy classics employing this device, they never fall foul of jibes of being predictable - even though (in these specific instances) they are. Why? In my opinion, for the simple fact that they always deliver. You know what's coming, so it's got to be really funny, and thanks to the way they play it, it is.

Incidentally, that pet theory I was working on about the grand joke being a small bit of daftness from Stan and Ollie escalating into the whole town falling into chaos... well, it still just about stands. That is to say, having had the kilt crowd trouble, the mother of all hat fights, and the pie battle of the century, now a combination of laughing gas and a basic misunderstanding leads to the roads becoming totally gridlocked. Or maybe I'm looking too deeply.

Anyway, when it comes to Flying Elephants, I think Durance Vile's summing up above of 'has it's moments' is just about the nicest way to put it. The running joke of people throwing their club over their shoulder to carry it but cracking the person behind them on the head was probably the funniest thing about it, and it really underlines how far the boys came in a very short space of time. It's by no means bad, and I suppose maybe it would have sat better if we'd watched it before Sugar Daddies, but what a difference it made when some genius decided they should be a team.

I wonder who gave this one its title. I mean, the brief animated bit, as brilliantly surreal as it is, is hardly enough to warrant being named after. Perhaps someone at Pathé, in the rush to capitalise on Laurel and Hardy's new-found success, skimmed through until they saw that bit, thought "Yeah, that'll do", and slapped a title card on. Or maybe the elephants were supposed to play a bigger part. Either way, something doesn't add up.

That was a real bear, though, by the way, wasn't it? The things they used to do...

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #168 on: January 15, 2019, 04:38:38 PM »
Week 19

The Finishing Touch, released 25/02/1928

 


Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Finishing_Touch


Viewing options:

Regarding the version on the UK DVD boxset:
Quote
The Finishing Touch - 1928 (silent)- Replacement main titles (the originals appear to have decomposed, as is the case with the US version) and intertitles, but with good enough picture.
(http://www.laurelandhardy.org/newDVDREV.html)


Sourced from the above boxset:  https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x24v857



http://www.lordheath.com/menu1_157.html


Notice the different camera angles between those selected stills; as Glenn Mitchell points out in his Encyclopedia entry, ‘The Finishing Touch is one of very few Laurel and Hardy silents where elements of both American and British versions are known to exist.’

Here’s the US release, which combines elements from both of those versions, and as usual is a better quality print all round:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibrgVPSYzhA


If you are a completist it’s worth checking out both the UK and US versions this week, as their differences are not entirely a matter of ‘better’ or ‘worse’; as well as different camera angles you’ll find subtly different takes used for some of the close-ups, for example. 

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #169 on: January 15, 2019, 05:41:17 PM »
This is a heartwarming thread. Well done all.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #170 on: January 15, 2019, 10:49:24 PM »
You know me by now; I had to do this.  Some differences of camera angle that I thought I’d share.

First up, Ed Kennedy as the policeman, scratching his head as Stan sets up some planks in an unsafe manner.  US print on the left; UK print on the right.

 

Quite a striking difference there, and one that stands out even when you aren’t comparing the films side-by-side.  The UK version gives a more direct shot of Kennedy’s face, though whether that makes it a better angle is a matter of personal preference.  I personally think the US version does a better job of conveying Kennedy’s puzzlement, as the angle of his arms is clearer.  The US print is zoomed out more than would have been intended (as Ant Farm Keyboard has pointed out in a previous post, we weren't meant to see the film stock's rounded corners), so we may be losing a little of Kennedy's facial performance that way.  With all these images we are also contending with the upload resolution of the videos I took them from, which doesn’t always communicate the sharpness of the source material very well.


Here’s Ollie looking at the camera.  US print on the left; UK print on the right.

 

This interests me because Ollie’s trademark look to camera is beginning to bed in nicely, but we can see that for UK audiences, Ollie wasn’t looking at them at all!  His looks of resignation were addressed to the other camera!  It’s quite odd to think of.


Finally, just a little staging comparison which I think highlights again which camera was considered “main”.  US print above; UK print below.

 

 

As usual the UK print runs at an unnaturally fast speed, so this moment of Stan passing behind Ollie is over more quickly anyway, but I think this comparison shows in a subtle way how the performances are directed towards the US camera.  To my eyes, the angle of Ollie’s body and the direction of Stan’s walk form a less effective shot in the UK print, and Stan's face is too quickly obscured as he passes Ollie’s shoulder.

Regardless of which I prefer, I just find all these differences fascinating.  It's essentially additional Laurel and Hardy footage!  When it comes to the slightly different takes used for certain close-ups (rather less easy to capture in still images), the material feels as precious as the various foreign language versions of talkie films that still exist (we'll get to these in future weeks).

« Last Edit: January 16, 2019, 01:50:39 AM by Replies From View »

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #171 on: January 16, 2019, 10:55:06 PM »
From Everson’s book:




From Skretvedt’s book:

 

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #172 on: January 16, 2019, 10:58:25 PM »
Encyclopedia entry on policemen:


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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #173 on: January 18, 2019, 05:21:37 PM »
Mitchell points out that ‘The Finishing Touch’ is a descendant of two solo films:  Laurel’s ‘Smithy’ from 1924, and Hardy’s ‘Stick Around’ from 1925.

Here’s ‘Smithy’:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1ERDQ7NCro


And ‘Stick Around’ was shared in this previous post:

Since the films featuring both Laurel and Hardy have so far been ostensibly Laurel films with added Hardy, I thought I'd share 'Stick Around' from 1925, which features Hardy in a more prominent role (but of course no Laurel).  This is partly in response to Hardy's 1954 recollection that his looks to camera had their origin in 'Why Girls Love Sailors'.

This is Hardy's recollection (I didn't notice this when I was sharing pages 121-123 above):




And to balance that recollection, from Skretvedt's book, page 27:

Quote
Many of Babe's most famous comic mannerisms can be seen in embryonic form in his early solo films.  Especially notable is a 1925 comedy, Stick Around, co-starring Hardy and Bobby Ray as inept paperhangers.  The derby, the toothbrush moustache, the flowery gestures and the disgusted looks to the camera are all there - it's as if Hardy had already created the "Ollie" character and was merely waiting for the right partner to come along.

Here is that film:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tUSHqGvWPs


More information about ‘Stick Around’ and a mention of ‘Smithy’ can be found on pages 166-169 of Simon Louvish’s book Stan and Ollie:  The Roots of Comedy:



 

 

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #174 on: January 21, 2019, 04:07:21 PM »
For anybody interested, a paperback version of the Ultimate Edition of Skretvedt’s book came out last Tuesday:




I’m going to continue sharing pages from the older edition here for the time being, and would encourage you to buy the new one.

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #175 on: January 22, 2019, 12:50:40 AM »
Reading all those printed reviews of The Finishing Touch, I can honestly say I can't believe how mixed the reaction is. Far be it from me to disagree with the experts, but I think this is absolutely top class slapstick from Laurel and Hardy and a very clear laying down of the blueprint of what was to come. I'm glad that they jettisoned all pretensions of an actual plot (i.e. why the house needed to be finished) in favour of just giving the boys a task/situation in which to repeatedly prove their incompetence - do that, and they'll never let you down. Right from the off as Ollie snatches the clipboard and they bicker while the truck nearly rolls away, we know we're in for a treat.

There are a few examples in this one of the following recipe:

1) Bad thing happens.
2) Steps are taken to rectify situation.
3) Same bad thing happens to same person.

It sounds simple, and on paper it wouldn't necessarily read as particularly funny. Indeed, in the hands of lesser actors, some of these 'Babe falls off something that Stan has moved/broken/sawn through' would have come across as just plain silly, maybe cruel, or even pathetic. It's a testament to Laurel and Hardy as a team that they always found a way to make these jokes work brilliantly.

It's a fairly minor thing, but my biggest laugh came when Stan lost his bucket on the end of his shovel. They really did wring every last drop of comedy out of it. Firstly, there's the entirely redundant step of picking up the nails and placing them on the shovel, before dropping them into the bucket. Then there's the masterful way he 'accidentally' hooks it out of sight. On top of that, we get an early example of Stan's delayed reaction as he manages to drop all the nails before twigging - it's just longer than acceptable before he notices something's amiss, and this was a trademark right to the very end. (It also reappears here with the saw/hat mix-up later on.) The sheer bafflement and then blaming Ollie is the icing on the cake.

Speaking of the nails, I love how by the time Babe swallows a mouthful for the third time, he's pretty much just accepted it as par for the course and goes to get some more. Then there's the bit when Stan thinks he's lost a finger. The supporting cast are excellent too. And, after the final big gag of the house being destroyed, there's still time to drop a rock on someone's toe and bicker about it. I've run out of things to say while barely scratching the surface, but I really can't praise this one enough, and (again) can't understand why so many of the professional reviews were so tepid. Seriously, if someone told me this was their favourite of the silent shorts, I wouldn't look at them funny. Just watch it and enjoy it, people!

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #176 on: January 22, 2019, 12:59:37 AM »
Mitchell points out that ‘The Finishing Touch’ is a descendant of two solo films:  Laurel’s ‘Smithy’ from 1924, and Hardy’s ‘Stick Around’ from 1925.

Here’s ‘Smithy’:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1ERDQ7NCro

Thanks for that, too - it was also very entertaining. I think you can see more of The Finishing Touch in this than in Stick Around, and if anything, the house collapse is slightly funnier. But seeing what the boys were up to a few years before teaming up makes it all the more odd that films like Flying Elephants ever got made, when they were obviously on the right trajectory all the way up to Duck Soup. How and why did they lose their way so soon after that? Never mind, though - we're now at the point where they'd very much found it again, even if they had to take the scenic route to get there.

Also, just an afterthought regarding the US v UK versions... How long before someone marries them up and we've got Laurel and Hardy in true 3D?!

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #177 on: January 22, 2019, 08:03:24 AM »
Also, just an afterthought regarding the US v UK versions... How long before someone marries them up and we've got Laurel and Hardy in true 3D?!

This is an amazing idea!

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #178 on: January 22, 2019, 09:16:00 PM »
Week 20

From Soup To Nuts, released 24/03/1928




Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/From_Soup_to_Nuts


Viewing options:

Regarding the version on the UK DVD boxset:
Quote
From Soup To Nuts - 1928 (silent)- Replacement main titles; the absence of the opening title card and replacement intertitles in reel 1 immediately disappoint.  However it should be noted that the intertitles from reel 1 were replaced due to decomposition.  A generally grainy picture but somewhat compensated for by an excellent Beau Hunks score.
(http://www.laurelandhardy.org/newDVDREV.html)


Sourced from the above boxset:  https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x24uy0e



http://www.lordheath.com/menu1_81.html


Again those stills reveal differences in camera angle and framing between the US version and the others.  Here’s the US version, and I’d urge you to watch both if you are a completist:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idVngsqVIjc

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #179 on: January 25, 2019, 06:42:51 PM »
From Skretvedt’s book: