Laurel & Hardy Remastered
For two of the greatest comedy minds in film history, there has been sadly very little at all about Laurel and Hardy in past years. It seemed that the pair had been tossed into obscurity, instead of being universally celebrated like figures such as Charlie Chaplin still are today.
Step forward the Laurel & Hardy Roadshow, who have been leading the "Laurel & Hardy Revival of 2015/16" which has involved re-releasing a number of their films in beautiful HD for the first time.
Seeing two of their films The Music Box and Block-Heads on the big screen in beautiful quality felt like the perfect treatment for a duo who were pretty much at the pinnacle of the entertainment industry for several years during the 1920s and whose combination of smart, snappy writing and pure, inventive slapstick was completely unmatched.
What really struck me was how well their material still stands up today. Every joke felt fresh and new while the chemistry between the two is undeniably perfect. The fact that their films were pure escapism, with little reference to the interwar society of the period, means that nothing feels outdated and no joke is missed.
The Music Box is the superior of the two films, an excellent example of their ability to turn a pretty simple premise, the delivery of said music box, into a catastrophic and at times excruciating disaster that is unrelenting in its comedy. The two dabble in witty retorts, spectacular slapstick and even a spot of tap dancing with equal success in each. It is little surprise then that The Music Box won them the 1932 Oscar for best short film.
Blockheads, the longer of the two features, was largely more hit-and-miss and a number of the gags felt shoehorned in and held little relevance to the plot. The best moments were often the most simplistic and much of the comedy felt overplayed. However, for all its flaws, it still possessed many of the golden moments that Laurel & Hardy are known for.
One can only hope that the revival of the great comedy duo continues and that more of their films receive the same, loving treatment. It would be fitting to see their huge wealth of material projected in as excellent quality as their comedy.