Laurel and Hardy-Music Box/Busy Bodies/Towed in a Hole (1932)
|Year Of Production||1932|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Various|
Universal Pictures Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.37:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are, of course, the famous comedy duo that made numerous films from the 1920s to the 1940s. Their film career has spanned the transition from silent films to "talkies" and this DVD presents three well-known sound shorts (produced by Hal Roach) circa 1932-33. The "official" web site for Laurel and Hardy is www.laurel-and-hardy.com.
Stan Laurel was born Arthur Stanley Jefferson on 16 June 1890 in Ulverston, England and died on 23 February 1965. Oliver Hardy was born Norvell Hardy on 18 January 1892 in Harlem, Georgia and died on 7 August 1957.
The following descriptions of the three films are taken from Laurel and Hardy Central. Note that the DVD packaging erroneously refer to Busy Bodies and Towed in a Hole as "silent shorts" but they are actually sound shorts (each around 20 minutes in length) and are presented on the DVD with dialogue.
Written and filmed December, 1931. Released by MGM, April, 1932. Produced by Hal Roach. Directed by James Parrott. Three reels.Laurel and Hardy are to deliver a piano to a house which sits atop an enormous flight of stairs. Their attempts to carry the piano up the stairs results in it rolling and crashing into the street below several times, often with Ollie in tow. They finally succeed in getting the piano in the house, where they make a shambles of the living room. The owner of the house, Professor Theodore Von Schwarzenhoffen, returns and is outraged at what he finds. He attacks the piano with an axe, but regrets his actions when he discovers it was a present from his wife.
Cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Billy Gilbert, Lilyan Irene, Sam Lufkin, Charlie Hall, William Gillespie, Gladys Gale.
The Music Box is the only Laurel and Hardy film to be honoured with an Academy Award, for "Best Short Subject," 1931-32.
Written and filmed October-November, 1932. Released December, 1932. Produced by Hal Roach. Directed by George Marshall. Two reels.Fish peddlers Laurel and Hardy decide to buy a boat so they can catch their own fish, eliminate the middleman, and have the profits go to the fish. They buy a rundown old boat, and have little success at repairing and painting it.
Cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Billy Gilbert.
Written and filmed July, 1933. Released by MGM, October, 1933. Produced by Hal Roach. Directed by Lloyd French. Two reels.The Boys work at a lumber yard, which has a plentiful supply of tools, paint, nails and electric saws. You get the idea.
Cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Charlie Hall, Tiny Sandford.
In general, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the transfers. Shadow detail and sharpness are probably below average compared to say a 1950s black & white film, but quite good considering the film source. The transfer is reasonably detailed - for example I can read (with some difficulty) lettering on the piano crate and wagon.
The B&W version of The Music Box suffers from some telecine wobble during the opening titles, but mercifully the actual feature itself is quite stable.
The colour version of The Music Box suffers from colour smearing throughout the entire feature, and generally looks less sharp and detailed than the B&W version. The transfer also seems to have cropped the right edge of the film slightly.
I would say I greatly prefer the B&W version over the colour version, and I am by no means a purist. The difference in quality is rather like comparing a live TV broadcast against a VHS recording. The colour version suffers from what I can only describe as "colourisation artefacts", of which I can quote several glaring examples:
There appear to be no MPEG artefacts present in the transfer, although with the colour version it's hard to tell since the transfer is rather blurry.
All three shorts seem to be subtitled. I engaged the "English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing" track briefly and the subtitling seems to be adequate.
There are two audio tracks, English and Spanish. Both tracks are mono, but are encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 at a bitrate of 192 Kbps. I listened to only the English track.
Dialogue quality seems adequate considering the age of the films and I can detect no audio synchronization problems. However, there seems to be an "echo" in the dialogue around 23:50 in the colour version of The Music Box.
|Surround Channel Use|
|DVD||Pioneer DV-626D, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (203cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front left/right: B&W DM603; centre: B&W CC6S2, rear left/right: B&W DM601|