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Laurel and Hardy: Fugues of Destruction

Perfect Day
February 17, 2019 - 1:11 pm

Access every screening in the UCLA Festival of Preservation with a $50 pass.

UCLA Film & Television Archive continues its mission to save the Hal Roach films of Laurel and Hardy. No body of classic comedy has been as badly abused as the Laurel and Hardy negatives, mercilessly pushed through laboratory meat grinders for decades to extract every showprint to garner every last nickel from a relentless audience. Restoring these films includes not only finding the pictorially and physically best surviving copies, but authentic content such as day-and-date title sequences lost when reissue distributors appended their own credit cards. In the case of the three sound shorts here the original soundtracks (replaced in the mid-1930s with new music mixes) had to be recovered. Digital technology now permits us to achieve repairs once thought impossible, making these films look and sound as they did nearly 90 years ago.Scott MacQueen

The Battle of the Century  (1927)

Preservation funding provided by Jeff Joseph/SabuCat and UCLA Film & Television Archive.

The Battle of the Century (1927) is the legendary short featuring Stan and Ollie triggering the ultimate pie fight, known for many years only as a fragment. Jon Mirsalis’ seminal discovery of a complete print in 2015—and his generosity in making it available—has permitted no fewer than three restorations to be conducted. Now there’s a fourth, spearheaded by Jeff Joseph, drawing on the most primary elements and augmenting with stills.Scott MacQueen

DCP, b/w, 19 min. Production: Hal Roach Productions, Inc. Distribution: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Producer: Hal Roach. Director: Clyde Bruckman. Titles: H.M. Walker. Cinematographer: George Stevens. With: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy.

Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive in conjunction with Jeff Joseph/SabuCat. Preserved from one reel of 35mm nitrate print, one reel of a 35mm acetate dupe negative and a 16mm acetate print. Laboratory Services: The Stanford Theatre Film Laboratory, Deluxe Entertainment Services Group, Cineaste Restoration/Thad Komorowksi, Point 360/Joe Alloy.  Special Thanks: Jon Mirsalis, Paramount Pictures Archives, Richard W. Bann, Ray Faiola, David Gerstein.

Perfect Day  (1929)

Preservation funding provided by a UCLA Spark crowdfunding campaign. Thanks to our numerous donors including members of the “Sons of the Desert” tents, M. Duane Rutledge and The Packard Humanities Institute.

Even as the team became accustomed to sound, they wisely maintained the structure and rhythm that made their best silent shorts so—perfect. Their families embark on a picnic but somehow never get the car away from the curb. Perfect Day (1929) is a simple premise. Frustration builds like a Bach fugue, the main theme stated, developed and flowering into an apotheosis. Here, it’s trying to get that damn family car away from the curb to a picnic ground, and everything that can impede that progress, does so. There is still room for petty destruction with the neighbors.Scott MacQueen

35mm, b/w, 20 min. Production: Hal Roach Productions, Inc. Distribution: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Producer: Hal Roach. Director: James Parrott. Story Editor: H.M. Walker. Cinematographer: George Stevens. Recording Engineer: Elmer Raguse. Cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Edgar Kennedy, Kay Deslys, Isabelle Keith.   

Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive. Preserved from an incomplete 35mm estar picture fine grain of reel 1; a 35mm nitrate Movietone apeture print of reel 1; a 35mm nitrate workprint of reel 2; a 35mm nitrate variable density mixing unit of reel 2, and syncronous sound discs. Laboratory services by Roundabout Entertainment, Fotokem, Audio Mechanics, DJ Audio, Inc., The Stanford Theatre Film Laboratory. Special thanks to Sonar Entertainment, Michael J. Sheridan, Les Perkins.

 

Hog Wild  (1930)

Preservation funding provided the Laurel & Hardy Preservation Fund, including the support of many “Sons of the Desert” tents, and Jeff Joseph/SabuCat.

Hog Wild (1930) is yet another fugue of destruction, a brilliant extrapolation of a calamitous theme with catastrophic variations. Stan and Ollie must mount that radio aerial on the roof (“Mrs. Hardy wants to get Japan!”), in the process inevitably destroying the house, the automobile and very nearly themselves.Scott MacQueen

35mm, b/w, 19 min. Production: Hal Roach Productions, Inc. Distribution: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Producer: Hal Roach. Director: James Parrott. Story Editor: H.M. Walker. Cinematographer: George Stevens. Cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Dorothy Granger, Fay Holderness. 

Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive. Preserved from one reel of 35mm nitrate camera negative, one reel of a 35mm nitrate work print, a 35mm nitrate dupe negative, and synchronous sound discs. Laboratory Services byRoundabout Entertainment, Pacific Title & Art Studio, Fotokem, Audio Mechanics, DJ Audio, Inc., UCLA Film & Television Archive, Simon Daniel Sound. Special thanks to Sonar Entertainment.

Brats  (1930)

Preservation funding provided by the Laurel & Hardy Preservation Fund, including the support of many “Sons of the Desert” tents, The Packard Humanities Institute and Jeff Joseph/SabuCat.

The only performers in the original version of Brats (1930) are the two comedians, playing themselves and their children. Housing arrangements seem curious (the big and little boys all cohabit a single house), and Little Stanley, being tucked in with Little Ollie, makes the curious admission that the oddly absent “Mama” (that portrait of Jean Harlow on the mantle?) always tucks “us” in. It’s clearly a unique design for living. The oversized props, looking like prototypes for Tod Browning’s The Devil-Doll, are a delight. Brats has not survived in its full aperture image, but the original 1930 sound discs have been recovered.Scott MacQueen

35mm, b/w, 21 min. Production: Hal Roach Productions, Inc. Distribution: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Producer: Hal Roach. Director: James Parrott. Story Editor: H.M. Walker. Cinematographer: George Stevens. Cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy.

Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive. Preserved from 35mm nitrate dupe begatives and Western Electric sound discs. Laboratory services by The Stanford Theatre Film Laboratory, Roundabout Entertainment, Fotokem, Audio Mechanics, DJ Audio, Inc. Special thanks to: Gary Lacher, Steve Slocum, Jeff Joseph/SabuCat, Sonar Entertainment.