Fans of vintage slapstick will be excited to know that the films and shorts of an iconic comedy duo are now being restored.
Hal Roach’s “Laurel and Hardy” Shorts and Features: The beginning of the preservation process
According to journalist Susan King’s column for the “American Cinematheque” classic film group, several Hal Roach (1892-1992) comedic features and shorts, featuring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were showcased in early May. The restored films premiered at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles and the Aero Theater in Santa Monica, California.
According to an article in “Discover Hollywood” magazine, the new digital restorations included iconic shorts from the duo’s Hal Roach days, including the Academy Award-winning short “The Music Box,” “Towed in a Hole,” “Helpmates” and “Busy Bodies.”
The festival also showcased restored versions of the duo’s 1937 feature for Roach, “Way Out West” and their 1939 feature for Boris Morros, “The Flying Deuces,” along with 35mm prints of “Bonnie Scotland” (1935) and “The Devil’s Brother” (1933). The events were presented by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, in conjunction with Jeff Joseph of SabuCat Productions, Marty DeGrazia of Sonar Entertainment (current North American rights holders of the Hal Roach film library) and Tom Holland of Holland Releasing.
The Restoration of “Laurel and Hardy” shorts and features
Restoration efforts for the Hal Roach “Laurel and Hardy” films began in 2013, as part of a campaign launched by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, through the use of various funding sources for the project. Testimonials in support of the Laurel and Hardy/Hal Roach preservation project came from notable persons in the industry, including film historian, critic and Laurel & Hardy fan Leonard Maltin; actor, comedian, Oliver Hardy impersonator and one of the founding members of the “Sons of the Desert” organization, Chuck McCann; author Richard W. Bann and Jan-Christopher Horak, director of UCLA’s film archive.
A sign of hope for future generations to experience “Laurel & Hardy” comedies
With the recent restoration efforts of select Hal Roach “Laurel & Hardy” shorts and films, this is a hopeful sign that these films (and other Hal Roach films that will possibly be restored from original nitrate elements in the near future) will receive greater attention, so that current and future generations will be able to experience fine cinematic works from the iconic duo of slapstick comedy (either in digital streaming formats or on Blu-Ray disc).
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