GERMAN L&H DVDs
By Roger Pashby
I heard on the grapevine (OK, read on the Internet, then!) that KirchMedia have gone bust, so these DVDs are very probably going to be in very short supply, and very soon too. Get out and grab 'em while you can! Personally, I fear for the releases planned for later in the year
EDITORS NOTE: We now have them out in the UK: NEW DVD SET NEWS
Many of the feature films on these DVDs also have a pre-amble or introduction by Theo Lingen, a German film critic, a sort of German Jonathan Ross, only somewhat older! Probably very interesting and enlightening, but I can't understand a word! In addition, where possible The nice thing about many of these DVDs is that they are 'themed', or at least any 'talkies' with precedents in the 'silents' are grouped together, ie 'SONS OF THE DESERT' is on the same disc as 'WE FAW DOWN', and 'CHICKENS COME HOME' appears with 'LOVE 'EM AND WEEP'. I have compared the silent material with that on the Michael Agee 'Lost Films of L&H' DVD collection, and I have to say that in most cases, these films come a poor second. However, for the record, here are my notes
'DAS MADEL AUS DEM BOHMERWALD'
THE BOHEMIAN GIRL
Nice print, almost perfect but for a couple of clipped scenes, notably the fracas in the inn over the coins where the last second or so is lost - I can't understand why.
Slightly scratchy at start and finish but not a bad print at all, and on a personal note, stars the beautiful Priscilla Dean. It also features the oft used "Almost blew my brains out" gag.
BROMO & JULIET
A Charley Chase short, good little film in fair quality, but has remade title and inter-title cards; in fact, the first two both contain spelling/grammatical mistakes!
Two newsreels from the UK tours, 'STAN & OLLY' (sic) and 'GRAND HOTEL' - both of these appear on the 'UTOPIA' DVD as part of the 'MEMORIES', albeit in curtailed form. I think that these are complete.
PACK UP YOUR TROUBLES
Haven't seen this film in years, so it was a pleasure to watch it. Seems to be a complete version, and in good condition too, but there is a definite problem with subtitles; every now and again the German subtitles hove into sight, even though they were switched off, and I can't stop this happening! Incidentally, if the Germans call this film 'Die Teufelsbruder', what are they going to called 'Fra Diavolo'???
Nice version with remade opening titles, and also inter-title cards, although it needs to be pointed out that original cards ARE in existence as evidenced by Michael Agee's 'Lost Films' version of this silent short. Same Vitaphone orchestra and effects soundtrack is used.
** There is also a German 'Dick Und Doof' version of this on the disc, called 'Blinde Wut', which has no title cards but a German dialogue track dubbed on.
THEIR FIRST MISTAKE
Seems to be complete, even down to the very annoying clip at the moment when Stan checks his identity on an envelope. There are some nice opening credits, although they are not the originals, which is very frustrating as they definitely do exist (see the Virgin Video tapes).
'PANIK AUF DER LEITER'
Good print, although original titles are lost again in this 'Film Classics' re-issue. Quite noisy at the start, but forgivable as this was their first short to feature background music.
Hooray! Original titles - and they're LOVELY! Nice quality print too.
Newly-made opening credits, but based on the originals, and the inter-title cards ARE originals. Picture quality is OK but falls down badly at the point where the Boys try to hide the goat under the bed - the pictures blurs dreadfully here, and I'm sure it doesn't on other prints I've seen.
Remade titles, but a good copy of the film itself.
MOVIE NIGHT (Charley Chase)
Super little short, lacking the original titles unfortunately, but shows Chase at his best. Nice little soundtrack (from the Beau Hunks, I believe?) and well-chosen effects work particularly well as Charley and audience are dive-bombed by the duck!
Super print - and it's got the original 'gag' opening titles with the chemicals bubbling away. Haven't seen this for a long time. Lovely!
Once again, nice copy together with it's original buzz-saw opening titles.
THEY GO BOOM
A couple of scratches on this otherwise good short. It's only after watching some of the later shorts that you realise how 'naked' these early ones were without a background score!
THE FINISHING TOUCH
Grainy and scratchy with re-made titles throughout, but then we're not really buying these DVDs for the 'silents' are we? We've already got better versions thanks to Mr. Agee!
BE YOUR AGE (Charley Chase)
These Charley Chase films just get better and better! A nice copy of the film, complete with original inter-titles, and featuring a VERY young-looking Oliver Hardy (1926). Oh, and the music from the Beau Hunks Orchestra, together with the spot-on sound effects, make this an absolute treasure!
Lovely print - what a shame that The Boys aren't at their best in this musical.
As good a copy as I've ever seen, and this one has the bonus of having the original 'circus' title cards too. Nice.
YOU'RE DARN TOOTIN'
Unless you've never seen this before, avoid this one like the Plague. Picture quality goes way off-beam during the shin-kicking contest, none of the original titles are present, and someone let a lunatic loose on a Wurlitzer for a soundtrack! If you must watch it, at least turn the sound down and play your 'Beau Hunks' or Ronnie Hazlehurst CDs.
Quite frankly, not the funniest Stan Laurel solo, but at least it's got all the original title and inter-title cards.
Three short trailers here, for 'A Chump At Oxford', 'Our Relations' and 'Pardon Us', the pick of which being the latter as it is the German phonetic version (also available on the DVD of the film).
'IN DIE FALLE GELOCKT'
New stylish opening titles, but I'm sure that the originals DO exist, so this is very annoying. The film itself is a nice clean copy and seems to be complete.
These titles are new - tasteful, but not original. Beautiful copy of the 1937 re-release, complete with soundtrack whipped from 'WAY OUT WEST'. Only one gripe - I can't remove the German subtitles when The Boys reward the 'Aching Heart' singer with a drink. Otherwise - great!
CHICKENS COME HOME
Again, new style titles, which although very pleasing on the eye are not what the enthusiast wants to see! Good picture, but again a peculiarity with subtitles which I can't remove at a time when Mae Busch is in Ollie's office. What is it with these??
LOVE 'EM AND WEEP
Nice titles - not original though - and a generally clean print.
Well, I'll be blowed if I can find any of these - help please!!
DAS GROßE GESCHÄFT
Picture quality is fine, and it has the original titles too. But there's a big problem with the sound - the 'lip-sync' is out. Why can't these folks just take a minute or so to watch before they make the transfer? Surely it can't be all that difficult to match sound and picture perfectly? Disappointing.
THE MUSIC BOX
Picture quality seems fine - if a little dark at the start - but the sound is patchy; sometimes it sounds a bit 'poppy' or 'crackly'.
This is the same copy as the one on the British release of 'Way Out West', with the lunatic released yet again to play a Wurlitzer; I complained then that the tune is often discordant, or 'warped', and I'm afraid that I haven't changed my opinion! Lovely quality film though.
GORILLA & PIANO SEQUENCE FROM 'SWISS MISS'
Almost 7 minutes of film lifted from 'Swiss Miss'.
Good print, excellent quality in both picture and sound. This is complete - it even has the scene where Fin gets his nose burnt, which has been excised from the majority of prints over the years.
SHOULD MARRIED MEN GO HOME?
Good little film, with appropriate Beau Hunks Orchestra soundtrack (not the Wurlitzer ham this time!) Picture quality is good, other than at the start of the mud fight, which is a bit blotchy. Newly created titles on show here.
The usual one for this film, which has appeared on - I think - two other DVDs.
If you have an AMAZON.COM or AMAZON.CO.UK account, then you can buy these from www.amazon.de .The only snag is that the site is all in german,but the layout is the same as the USA and UK versions. However, we do import a few of these DVD's for our sales stall.
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