RESTORATION OF THE HAL ROACH L&H COLLECTION

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Stan16mm

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RESTORATION OF THE HAL ROACH L&H COLLECTION

PostMon Mar 21, 2011 9:05 pm

UCLA is undergoing a restoration of all the Hal Roach Laurel & Hardy titles
in their collection. The films, all on nitrate stock, will take several years to
restore. Chris Horak, the head of UCLA's film & television archive, told me
that the goal is to find every original camera negative in existence and go
from there. Features and shorts from the Hal Roach years is the target.

This Sunday, UCLA will have a website devoted to this new project and
they will be asking for donations to help fund this massive undertaking.

Stan Taffel
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moviepas

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L&H

PostTue Mar 22, 2011 4:07 am

So where does this leave that DVD-R set which I deliberately did not order?
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westegg

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PostTue Mar 22, 2011 6:17 am

I'd like to think this will mean domestic commercial availability in time, assuming current legal hooferoos are smoothed out. Hard to believe that a mere sixteen years from now marks the 100th anniversary of the first official L & H short ("Putting Pants On Phillip," I believe).

:shock: :) 8)
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PostTue Mar 22, 2011 9:08 am

I think "The Second Hundred Years" (released Oct., 1927) is the first official L&H film... It was billed as "Hal Roach's All-Stars starring Oliver Hardy & Stan Laurel" and the press materials referred to them as a team.
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sethb

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PostTue Mar 22, 2011 9:30 am

This sounds like very good and welcome news. While they're at it, it would be nice to see some of the silent and sound Charley Chase shorts, too.

If most of the original L&H titles are retained or restored, I will miss that Film Classics plaque logo, but not some of their lousy 1940's lab work!

One question, though -- I thought all of the Roach material was owned by Hallmark, RFI or the Kirsch Group or someone, and that they were in possession of the original negatives or whatever best elements still existed. Furthermore, I thought they had already done a restoration and preservation of these films.

I have the 21-DVD set that was released by Universal in the UK. While these "restorations" aren't perfect, they are supposedly about the best that can be had at this point in time, given the overprinting, poor handling and careless storage of much of this material over the past 75 years.

So is UCLA looking to improve upon what has already been done, or do they have access to better elements, or what? SETH
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Mike Gebert

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PostTue Mar 22, 2011 9:55 am

I think there are two different definitions of the word "restored" being used here, and when UCLA is done, hopefully they will look much better than the present "restorations."
If you truly love film, I think the healthiest thing to do is not read books on the subject. I prefer the glossy film magazines with their big colour photos and gossip columns, or the National Enquirer. Such vulgarity is healthy and safe. —Werner Herzog
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PostTue Mar 22, 2011 3:44 pm

You know what I think you are right Mike I think this might be FIRST OFFICAL Restoration in while for Laurel and Hardy
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sethb

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PostTue Mar 22, 2011 4:31 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:I think there are two different definitions of the word "restored" being used here, and when UCLA is done, hopefully they will look much better than the present "restorations."

Once again, that would be very good news, and it would be nice for "The Boys" to finally get their due.

If UCLA is doing this, does that mean that Bob Gitt might be involved? That alone would help to guarantee a superior product. SETH
"Novelty is always welcome, but talking pictures are just a fad." -- Irving Thalberg
"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk ?" -- Harry Warner
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PostTue Mar 22, 2011 11:02 pm

This sounds great...as long as whoever is dictating the projection speeds of the silents doesn't find that they "come alive" at 18fps.
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Mike Gebert

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PostWed Mar 23, 2011 6:37 am

Much as I enjoy this issue rearing its head as often as possible :twisted:...

...I'm pretty sure this is all about film restorations for now and the possibility of any video release is a far-off gleam in anybody's eye, at best.
If you truly love film, I think the healthiest thing to do is not read books on the subject. I prefer the glossy film magazines with their big colour photos and gossip columns, or the National Enquirer. Such vulgarity is healthy and safe. —Werner Herzog
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Jack Theakston

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PostWed Mar 23, 2011 11:09 am

The idea, as I've been told, is that the output will be back to 35mm film for the purpose of repertory screenings, in which case, the silents can be run at the operator's preference.
J. Theakston
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colbyco82

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PostWed Mar 23, 2011 11:38 am

I hope their search turns up a print of the original Blotto. I love the score on the Spanish version and the re-release score doesn't work for me as it isn't "authentic" to the time period the film was made.
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Stan16mm

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PostWed Mar 23, 2011 3:55 pm

The holdings of nitrate material at UCLA came from the Hallmark collection that was going to be literally destroyed because they didn't want to pay for storage on this material anymore. It took Rob Stone, formerly of UCLA and now LoC, to oversee the "takeover" of the material and safely have it brought into the safe arms of UCLA. He is a real hero.

As for "restorations". There has never been a restoration on these films like the one that's about to begin on these films. UCLA has restored "Way Out West" and a few of the other titles as well as some of the Charley Chase, Pitts & Todd shorts. The Universal 21 disc set IS NOT a restoration. They used 16mm Blackhawk prints for most of the silents (Feiner and Agee have 35mm materials on the silents and weren't letting it go elsewhere) and used as much of the 1980's transfers as possible. They look good but all the inherited blemishes and errors that have been copied into the films are still there.

The "original titles" used wherever possible were saved largely because a former LoC employee, Jim Harwood, did all he could in saving them from oblivion. There are a lot of heroes at work here. My part is going to try and raise as much funnding as I can for this. When it's completed, there will be new pristine negatives and prints on these films and, in turn, someday, the ultimate home video version to enjoy at home but it's going to take time and money.
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PostWed Mar 23, 2011 4:16 pm

Stan16mm wrote: My part is going to try and raise as much funnding as I can for this. When it's completed, there will be new pristine negatives and prints on these films and, in turn, someday, the ultimate home video version to enjoy at home but it's going to take time and money.


So where do we make a donation?
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PostWed Mar 23, 2011 4:24 pm

colbyco82 wrote:I hope their search turns up a print of the original Blotto. I love the score on the Spanish version and the re-release score doesn't work for me as it isn't "authentic" to the time period the film was made.

Not only did they replace the original music score when it was re-released in 1937 but some scenes were cut! It sure would be great to see the original uncut version with the 1930 score some day.
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PostWed Mar 23, 2011 4:25 pm

Richard Finegan wrote:Not only did they replace the original music score when it was re-released in 1937 but some scenes were cut! It sure would be great to see the original uncut version with the 1930 score some day.


Is that why Blotto is always called a three reeler but my print fits on an 800ft reel?
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PostWed Mar 23, 2011 4:40 pm

Jim Reid wrote:
Richard Finegan wrote:Not only did they replace the original music score when it was re-released in 1937 but some scenes were cut! It sure would be great to see the original uncut version with the 1930 score some day.


Is that why Blotto is always called a three reeler but my print fits on an 800ft reel?


Well, I had a Film Classics print of Blotto, and it didn't quite fill out a 1200' reel, but I think I don't think it would fit on an 800' reel. The film runs 26-27 minutes.
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Jim Reid

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PostWed Mar 23, 2011 6:06 pm

azjazzman wrote:Well, I had a Film Classics print of Blotto, and it didn't quite fill out a 1200' reel, but I think I don't think it would fit on an 800' reel. The film runs 26-27 minutes.


Mine's a Blackhawk. I'll have to time it.
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Jim Reid

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PostWed Mar 23, 2011 6:32 pm

My print runs 25:47 and fits on an 800ft reel. It's a full reel, but not overflowing.
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PostWed Mar 23, 2011 9:35 pm

Stan16mm wrote:The holdings of nitrate material at UCLA came from the Hallmark collection that was going to be literally destroyed because they didn't want to pay for storage on this material anymore. It took Rob Stone, formerly of UCLA and now LoC, to oversee the "takeover" of the material and safely have it brought into the safe arms of UCLA. He is a real hero.


This is astonishing to hear. We've all read about studios wiping out their nitrate holdings in the 30's and 40's because they assumed those holdings were worthless but the last I checked we are not living in World War II America.

Rob Stone needs to be lionized.

......and Hallmark needs to be slapped silly by their cute little tree ornaments.
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PostThu Mar 24, 2011 7:21 am

gjohnson wrote:Rob Stone needs to be lionized.



I'm familiar with lions in stone, but this will be the first time I've seen a Stone lionized.

Hope it's not too painful.


Jim
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PostThu Mar 24, 2011 8:06 am

Is this the first time you've seen a lion stoned...?
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PostThu Mar 24, 2011 9:02 am

gjohnson wrote:This is astonishing to hear. We've all read about studios wiping out their nitrate holdings in the 30's and 40's because they assumed those holdings were worthless but the last I checked we are not living in World War II America.

From what I understand, Hallmark unintentionally acquired the Roach material through a series of corporate mergers and acquisitions. They never knew quite what to do with it, other than authorize two lowball, poor quality DVD's to WalMart/Sam's Club. Hallmark was also apparently unwilling to spend money for proper restoration, preservation, or even storage.

But unfortunately, it's also my understanding that a copyright owner has the right to do as he/she pleases with a copyrighted work --- which would also include destroying it if they so desire.

While I don't agree with this arrangement and don't care for Hallmark's attitude, I will also say (but very softly) in their defense that I didn't see anyone else stepping up to the plate by offering to purchase the rights and the actual physical film elements.

Although we all love movies and film preservation, we sometimes forget that companies are not charities or museums, and are in business to make money. That said, I also believe that if Hallmark didn't want the responsibility of caring for and dealing with the L&H material, they should have taken some affirmative action to do something constructive about it, which would have benefitted their shareholders AND the films themselves. So it may be a LONG time before I buy another Hallmark card! SETH
"Novelty is always welcome, but talking pictures are just a fad." -- Irving Thalberg
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PostThu Mar 24, 2011 9:38 am

It seems obvious there was a glaring lack of film history lovers at Hallmark, since anyone with half a brain would've understood the enormous importance and value of such a library. Isn't Betty Boop in a similiar quandry--an unsympathetic copyright holder? We need a glistening DVD/Blu-Ray of Boop, along with of course the ultimate L &H set. It's insane these things elude while Walmart is filled with easily available bargain tripe.
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PostThu Mar 24, 2011 10:27 am

Jim Roots wrote:I'm familiar with lions in stone, but this will be the first time I've seen a Stone lionized.

Hope it's not too painful.
Jim


Jim, you need to seriously consider throwing away your old Joe Miller Joke book.
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Re: RESTORATION OF THE HAL ROACH L&H COLLECTION

PostThu Mar 24, 2011 11:37 am

The films I wonder about are from Roach's "All Star" series from the 1930s. They never get screened, they haven't been on TV in ages, and they're packed with familiar faces from the Roach stock company. And in spite of their obscurity, many of these films are very good.

If any of the Roach films need to be rescued from oblivion, it's these.
-------------------------------------
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https://televisiondiary.wordpress.com
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Jim Roots

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PostThu Mar 24, 2011 11:52 am

gjohnson wrote:
Jim Roots wrote:I'm familiar with lions in stone, but this will be the first time I've seen a Stone lionized.

Hope it's not too painful.
Jim


Jim, you need to seriously consider throwing away your old Joe Miller Joke book.


No way -- it's a first edition!!!


Jim
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PostThu Mar 24, 2011 1:19 pm

I sort of agree with the opinions above about Hallmark's indifference. I would agree a lot more if I knew for a fact that a region 1 DVD release of the Laurel & Hardy films wouldn't lose money. We see posts here every day stating how bad the DVD business is when it comes to classic films.

Hallmark ended up with the library because it was owned by RHI, the same company that owned the Hallmark Hall of Fame shows. They bought RHI to get the Hall of Fames but really didn't care about the Roach films. As assets, they put a high value on them which made it hard for another company to get them.

They have since been sold back to RHI, a company who is a little better about getting the films out there. Since RHI re-aquired the library, they have licensed them to TCM and licensed Genius to put out the Our Gang set.
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PostThu Mar 24, 2011 2:18 pm

Sorry all you SODs and Our Gang aficienadoes, BUT WHAT ABOUT CHARLEY CHASE??? We get "Becoming Charley Chase" and that's it? It's a great compilation with excellent narrative. Call me, greedy, but I would love to have more Charley from his original home, not just the Columbia years, if Sony ever decides to cut loose. Is Charley an orphan again, or might he be included in this "restoration" effort?
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PostThu Mar 24, 2011 4:57 pm

westegg wrote:We need a glistening DVD/Blu-Ray of Boop, along with of course the ultimate L &H set. It's insane these things elude while Walmart is filled with easily available bargain tripe.

I wholeheartedly agree. But unfortunately, at Christmas time everyone is looking for the double set of Spiderman 1 and Spiderman 2, or the boxed set of "Saw" (Volumes 1 through 5), not Betty Boop.

As someone once said, nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public. SETH
"Novelty is always welcome, but talking pictures are just a fad." -- Irving Thalberg
"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk ?" -- Harry Warner
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