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on 21 October 2017
Best documentary of laurel and hardy
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on 13 September 2017
Bought for a friend, said was very good A lot of unseen stuff.
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on 25 September 2017
A must for L&H fans ,very informative ..
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on 14 September 2017
Amazing documentary on the greatest comedy team of all time. Well worth buying!
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on 10 July 2015
I don't normally write reviews, but in this case I felt I had to, because I love this DVD set.

I have been a Laurel and Hardy fan since I was young. But they haven't been on TV in America since the 1980s. I stumbled on the absolutely fantastic restored re-release of their Hal Roach talkies "Laurel & Hardy: The Essential Collection" (available on Amazon), and it got me wondering about their lives, and in particular why they left Hal Roach to make mediocre movies for Fox/MGM.

This documentary answered that question when I was unable to find the answer on the Internet. I haven't read any biographies in book form of these men whose films have given me so much joy throughout my life, but this documentary made me feel that I don't need to. It's an affectionate biography, but it does show the "warts" in a way that humanizes these comic geniuses.

There is a lot of rare footage, and footage (such as color footage of their European music hall tours) that I've never seen anywhere else. The "postcards" are thick sturdy cardboard, one of which I'm thinking of having framed (the reproduction of a sepia tone photo with autographs).

If you're a fan of Laurel and Hardy, I can't imagine that you won't absolutely love this. The music on the menu of the bonus DVD (lasting about a minute) haunts me. It seems both regal and somewhat jovial, suitable for court jesters to a King (and Laurel and Hardy did have a command performance). I wish I knew where that music came from.

Also, it's about 90% in English, with the rest (German, French) having subtitles.

I guess the last thing I'll say about this set is that I know I'll watch it more than once. It's that well done.
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on 24 February 2017
This is an affectionate tribute to a beloved comedy duo, with many interesting background facts and revelations.

Laurel and Hardy were a Saturday morning TV treat for me, and many other UK viewers, as a child in the 1970s.

The old age of their vintage comedies never detracted from the comedic skill and likability of the wonderful Stan and Ollie (or "Babe", as he was known).

Great comedy timing, simple-but-engaging plots - including Ollie's bewildered looks to camera - were the recipe for their enduring celluloid success.
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on 12 April 2013
The best of all L & H documentaries (and a great companion to the History Channel work on Stan Laurel), this one boasts countless unseen and rare stills and live footage (most of which are from their least annotated period, 1946 to 1965).

The narration is excellent and all the known and "unknown" interviewees have something interesting to say. Let's place Ida Laurel at the top of that list! Yes, Stan's daughter is here. Like most of the contributors, however, she has nothing fresh and new to say (yes, all of us youtube afficionados would have loved some detail on a recently uncovered newreel of Stan solo in 1951, hosting a "Swim Meet", etc.), but one segment captures her watching some home movie footage shot at her Dad's 75th birthday and it's very moving. We also get a chance to see his great granddaughter at an L & H celebration.

The Producers have skillfully interwoven movieclips which advance the story - well, in a Laurel and Hardy kind of way - and it's a delight.

Jerry Lewis, Marcel Marceau, and Chuck McCann, standout in interviews, past and present.

Languages: Dutch / English / French.
Note: the DVD would not play over my TV system but *did* play on my PC!
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on 30 December 2012
LAUREL AND HARDY: THEIR LIVES AND MAGIC is a loving, often moving documentary on the famous comedy duo. Its title is obviously meant to evoke comparison with Randy Skretvedt's written history LAUREL & HARDY: THE MAGIC BEHIND THE MOVIES, and for the most part, it is quite worthy of comparison with that excellent book.

German filmmaker Andreas Baum has painstakingly brought L&H's personal and paired history to life. The movie features much rare footage from L&H's music-hall period, as well as the last known footage of Stan Laurel shortly before his death. Much of this footage seems almost pre-destined to move L&H buffs to tears. Also, scenes from many L&H/Hal Roach movies are used to "punctuate" much of the doc's facts, and while that could have been too cutesy a method for linking scenes, here it is done most tastefully.

Baum's interviews are beyond reproach. He gets great insights from contemporary L&H buffs such as Richard Bann, Tyler St. Mark, and Rene Riva, as well as a rare interview with Stan's daughter Lois. He also interviews an astonishing number of L&H's peers. When notables from L&H's period are not available, Baum nicely weaves in chats from previous film work (much of it from the British documentary CUCKOO, where film clips with Jerry Lewis and Babe Hardy's widow Lucille are intercut nicely).

My only quibble with the movie is that there are a few strange gaps here and there, factual and otherwise. (Editorial gripe: Why does every attempt at documenting L&H on film including so many factual bloopers? The otherwise wonderful CUCKOO suffers from the same defect. These documentaries always seem to have blunders that any average member of Sons of the Desert could detect and correct instantly.)

L&H's war-related short THE TREE IN A TEST TUBE is discussed as though it was made before L&H's Fox films, where film history tells us it was actually shot on the Fox lot. (Strangely, too, clips from that film are presented silently, minus Pete Smith's narration.) Also, a few of the mentioned dates are off by about a year, as when the Sons of the Desert is referenced as having begun in 1964, when it could have easily been verified that the group began in 1965.

The strangest of all omissions occurs with footage of Stan Laurel's funeral. Throughout the documentary, interviewees are identified every time they appear on the screen. Yet with the footage of Stan's funeral, entertainment legends including Buster Keaton and Dick Van Dyke go unheralded. Listing their names would surely have been helpful to viewers who are just beginning on their "journey" with Laurel & Hardy.

However, these relatively minor defects are not enough to spoil any viewer's enjoyment of this fine documentary. In addition, a 70-minute bonus disc includes some lovely extras, such as rare footage of Stan in his later years. The documentary is a superb introduction to L&H for those unfamiliar with them, and a touching trip down Memory Lane for hard-core L&H buffs.
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on 23 March 2014
A long and detail documentary covering the lives and careers of two of the best comedy stars Hollywood has ever produced, it's a German made production but is in English 75 to 80 percent of the time but some interviews with German contributers have been subtitled, which can get a tad annoying at times but their contributions and opinions do make up for this short coming.

Certainly an excellent introduction to their careers and makes a great addition especially if you've got several of their DVDs already and want to know more about them as people.
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on 9 January 2014
a very well made film, with an affectionate slant. good interviews with a number of fans . it just makes you want to start watching the films straight away.
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