Laurel and Hardy, the Definitive Restorations (updated)

Grand Sheik Tracy Tolzmann of the Block-Heads tent of Minneapolis has been in touch with some amazing news. (Please Note: This Blog was updated on 24 April and again on 20 June 2020)

He confirms that “…there’s big news on the Laurel & Hardy front!  A new DVD and Blu Ray will be released on the 130th anniversary of Stan Laurel’s birth – June 16th – comprised of 19 newly-restored comedies and hours of bonus materials!”

Now at the moment, there doesn’t appear to be any news on a UK release, but rest assured, as soon as anything comes to light, the news will be spread around for all. Tracy has confirmed that the release will be Region Free, which means even if not released in the UK,we will be able to enjoy the release by buying on Amazon US or similar.

Make no mistake, the quality of the restorations is quite remarkable. Framing, perspective, wobble, scratches, edits etc etc all look to be sorted. Click on the films below for a side-by-side YouTube comparison of Me and My Pal : Hog Wild : Their First Mistake : One Good Turn : Come Clean. You’ll be astonished!

Tracy adds: “My old friend Randy Skretvedt sent me additional details regarding the forthcoming DVD and Blu Ray release of the “Definitive Restorations” of 19 Laurel & Hardy films.” These details are reproduced below

“Randy Skretvedt’s and Dick Bann’s contributions to the preservation, restoration, and perpetuation of the films of Laurel & Hardy is immeasurable. Their sharing of their knowledge and collections on these DVDs is truly a gift. Jeff Joseph’s work though his company SabuCat cannot be praised enough. The attachment shows some of those whose efforts have made this release a reality! Every L&H buff owes them all a debt of gratitude.

“I will add proudly that Sons of the Desert tents are also credited for their contributions to the restoration efforts. I am especially proud of the Block-Heads tent of Saint Paul and Minneapolis — Oasis No. 3 — as we have contributed thousands of dollars to the restorations through sales of L&H souvenirs, T- and sweatshirts, and memorial donations.

Vice Sheik Peter J says “Just had a look at the new remastered trailers on Ubend and wow what a fantastic difference, superb quality and first thing I noticed after all of these years is that when you see the 2 hats at the start of their films the one on the right as you look at them the hook it is hung upon actually comes through the hat! Also good old MGM looks in fine fettle not raggy looking as he does in the originals. Everything about the new ones make them look as if they have been done yesterday. Quite remarkable.”

Update: 24 April 2020

It seems that the DVD/BluRays Laurel and Hardy, the Definitive Restorations still haven’t appeared as available in the UK (though I would be happy to be corrected on this one). Not due for release until 16 June (Stan’s 130th Birthday), they can however be pre-ordered in the US. Amazon.com are still listing these at full price, but thanks to Tracy Tolzmann, I’ve been able to communicate with http://www.deepdiscount.com who have both the Blu-Ray ($79.95)  and the DVD ($59.95)  listed at discounted prices of $58.40 and $44.65 respectively (Approx £47.00 and £35.50) They’ve also told me that shipping to the UK is $3.99 (£3.20).

Update: 20 June 2020

Tracy Tolzmann “The big day has finally arrived! Look what came in Thursday’s mail“.

“THE BATTLE OF THE CENTURY with commentary by my old friend, Block-Heads’ Grand Sheik Emeritus and Exhausted Ruler Dick Bann, was the first film we watched. GREAT!!! Well worth the wait. The box set is FABULOUS!!!  Dick’s contributions to the world of Laurel & Hardy are innumerable, and Randy Skretvedt is owed equal accolades!”

Tracy’s first report on the New releases: “Tonight we screened HELPMATES — like Randy Skretvedt says in the commentary, his favorite short, and my favorite talkie short, too! Having seen — and therefore heard — everything umpteen times, I’ve opted to screen each film with commentary. Randy’s was very interesting as expected. He’s in fine voice and shares lots of nice insights.

I know he couldn’t mention everything happening, but was a bit surprised that he didn’t comment on what the soot was actually comprised of. (I believe it is cocoa powder, same as DIRTY WORK…still a messy situation!) Also, he didn’t mention the hand on the right edge of the frame chucking the flower pot at Bobby Burns’ head…a great freeze frame opportunity! I’m sure he had many more stories that could have been used…and that’s in just this one short!”

“My only complaint so far is that when the commentary track is on, ALL OTHER FILM AUDIO is absent!So when Randy mentioned the great Leroy Shield tune just starting on the track, we can’t hear it! Usually the film audio is heard quieter in the background during commentaries. This was true on Dick Bann’s commentary for THE BATTLE OF THE CENTURY, too, where the music only track would have been nice to have behind the commentary. Also TREE IN A TEST TUBE — great commentary by Randy, no film audio, and SONS OF THE DESERT (from which I only looked at excerpts so far).

I have not spot checked other films, but suspect the situation will persist. I tried various audio tracks on my remote with the results that it went from film audio with NO COMMENTARY to commentary with NO FILM AUDIO. The subtitles are activated automatically when in “commentary on” mode, so maybe it was designed this way. Perhaps the Blu-ray — which I have also pre-ordered and expect by early July — will allow the film audio to be heard quietly during commentary. I’ll have to wait and see.”

“So that’s my report to date and I’m stuck in it…with it…up.

From RANDY SKRETVEDT — Here are the contents of the DVD edition of LAUREL & HARDY: THE DEFINITIVE RESTORATIONS

The official release date is June 16, 2020 (the 130th anniversary of Stan Laurel’s birth); pre-order will be available on Amazon in May.

All of the material on the six disc DVD edition is included in the four disc Blu-ray version, (in different configurations).

Presented by Kit Parker Films and The Sprocket Vault.

All films — including the interview films, the trailers and the audio interviews — have optional English subtitles. The theatrical films (including The Tree in a Test Tube and That’s That) have optional commentaries by Richard W. Bann (for The Battle of the Century and The Music Box) and by Randy Skretvedt (all others).

Film preservation by Richard W. Bann, The UCLA Film & Television Archive, The Library of Congress

Digital restorations produced by Jeff Joseph/SabuCat and performed by Thad Komorowski/Cineaste Restoration. A.R.T. by Point 360. Final Conforming and Clean Up by The Finishing Touch.

Laboratory Services: The Stanford Theatre Film Laboratory, UCLA Film & Television Archive, Audio Mechanics, Simon Daniel Sound, DJ Audio, Inc., Deluxe Entertainment Services Group, Roundabout Entertainment, Inc., FotoKem, Pacific Title & Art Studio, Film & Video Transfers, Chace Audio, YCM Laboratories, The Cinemalab.

DVD and Blu-ray element assembly, design and authoring by Tiffany Clayton.

Funding provided by Laurel & Hardy Preservation Fund, Sons of the Desert Tents, Jeff Joseph/ SabuCat, The George Lucas Family Foundation, The Film Foundation, The Packard Humanities Institute, Friends and Family of Ron Isroelit, The Stanford Theatre Foundation, The Winklevoss Foundation, The Carl David Memorial Fund for Film Preservation, Turner Classic Movies, Tom Luddy, Gary Meyer, Julie Huntsinger.

Special thanks to Richard W. Bann, Ray Faiola, David Gerstein, Jon C. Mirsalis, Sonar Entertainment, Paramount Pictures Archives, Michael J. Sheridan, Lou Sabini, Ralph Celentano,

Les Perkins, Gary Lacher, Steve Slocum, Mike Mashon/The Library of Congress, RHI Entertainment LLC, The Museum of Modern Art, Katie Trainor, The British Film Institute, Nigel Algar, Katrina Stokes.

Disc 1

Feature: Sons of the Desert, preserved by UCLA Film and Television Archive

Short: The Battle of the Century, presented nearly complete with original amber tint and a new score by Donald Sosin.

Photo Galleries: Sons of the Desert Publicity Portraits • Scene Stills • Deleted and Candids • Posters and Publicity • Early Script • Dialogue Continuity • Contracts and Documents

Battle of the Century (including Press Sheet and publicity material)

Early Career: Stan Early Career: Babe

Anita Garvin Interview film from October 1981 (in color)

Trailer: Sons of the Desert (in Spanish)

Disc 2

Shorts: Berth Marks, with original 1929 soundtrack and 1936 reissue soundtrack; Brats, with original 1930 soundtrack and 1937 reissue soundtrack Hog Wild (from full aperture 1:33 source)

Photo Galleries: Berth Marks, Brats, and Hog Wild including production stills, press sheet articles, music cue sheets, poster and lobby card art.

Audio Interview excerpts from Randy Skretvedt: (accompanied with photo galleries): 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?”)

Disc 3

Shorts: Come Clean; One Good Turn; Helpmates; The Music Box:

Photo Galleries: Come Clean • One Good Turn • Helpmates • The Music Box (including production and candid stills, press sheet articles, poster and lobby card artwork, call sheets and production reports, music cue sheets) • A Short History of the Hal Roach Studios • Supporting Players • Crew Members • Studio Hijinks

Trailers for: Beau Hunks and Pack Up Your Troubles

Disc 4

Shorts: The Chimp; County Hospital; Scram! Their First Mistake

Photo Galleries: The Chimp • County Hospital • Scram! • Their First Mistake (including production and candid stills, press sheet articles, poster and lobby card artwork, call sheets and production reports, music cue sheets) • Snapshots from the 1932 UK Vacation • Babe Hardy’s Vim Comedies Scrapbook • L&H with Hollywood Friends;

Joe Rock Interview and Roy Seawright Interview (both filmed by Randy Skretvedt, October 1981; in color)

Ship’s Reporter interview with Babe Hardy, June 10, 1950

Disc 5

Shorts: Towed in a Hole; Twice Two; Me and My Pal; The Midnight Patrol; Busy Bodies:

Photo Galleries: Towed in a Hole • Twice Two • Me and My Pal • The Midnight Patrol • Busy Bodies (including production and candid stills, press sheet articles, poster and lobby card artwork, call sheets and production reports, music cue sheets) • Catalina, July 1934 • Portraits in Costume • Portraits out of Costume • Laurel & Hardy and Golf • Special Occasions • Odd Publicity Shots

Original trailers for: Babes in Toyland, The Flying Deuces, A Chump at Oxford, Saps at Sea

Disc 6

Feature: Way Out West

Shorts: That’s That: The Tree in a Test Tube

Photo Galleries: Way Out West: 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.

That’s That

The Tree in a Test Tube

Stan in Retirement

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) Original trailer for: Way Out West

Says Tracy “The release on June 16th of “Laurel & Hardy — Definitive Restorations” is the perfect way to commemorate the 130th anniversary of Stan Laurel’s birth! And we couldn’t agree more.

He added “I’ve been corresponding back-and-forth a lot with Randy Skretvedt since the initial news, and he keeps giving me new little details. I’ve known Randy since 1978 and Dick Bann since 1972. Innumerable “goodies” from their private collections are in the extras on the release.”

Tracy sent the above photograph of the two main protagonists involved in this splendid project – Dick Bann and Randy Skretvedt – with Exhausted Ruler, John McCabe during the Block-Heads Saint Paul convention in 1988.

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