The Paperhanger’s Helper is a standard bit of slapstick knockabout starring Bobby Ray and Oliver Hardy, with Bobby making a mess of a sanitarium wallpaper job while Oliver sits about ‘supervising’ and putting the crush on a pretty nurse. This one-reel abridgement of the two-reeler Stick Around (1925) reveals signs of its excised storyline, and features one mildly-amusing gag involving a circus poster.
The Lucky Dog (1922) is believed to have been shot in 1919 as the first in a series of films to star Stan Laurel, and was released for the first time in 1922. Persistent apocrypha dates the film to 1917 in error. The film is significant as the first time that Laurel and Hardy appeared in a film together.
The Sawmill (1922) is another in a series of elaborate but lame Larry Semon comedies, nonetheless featuring a giggle or two, with a heavily-madeup Hardy as a terrorizing lumber mill foreman.
Hop to It, Bellhop [Hop to It!] (1925) is another Bobby Ray comedy featuring ‘Babe’ Hardy as a pair of bungling bellhops. The better of the two Ray comedies on this disc, the film features a series of well thought-out and funny gags.
Kid Speed (1924) is a Larry Semon comedy in which, after a series of gags at a garage, Larry races his automobile against Hardy for riches and the affections of Dorothy Dwan. Above average, for a Semon film.
Yes, Yes, Nanette (1925) is a funny James Finlayson vehicle, directed by (but not starring) Stan Laurel and supported by Hardy. Jimmy endures meeting his new in-laws, his wife’s old boyfriend, and the family dog.
Enough to Do [Wandering Papas] (1926) stars Clyde Cook and was directed by Laurel. Clyde’s funny adventures revolve around his job as camp cook and a hermit’s daughter’s elopement. — Carl Bennett
Alpha Video, ALP 4679D, UPC 0-89218-46799-7.
One single-sided, single-layered, Region 0NTSC DVD disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 6 chapter stops; standard DVD keepcase, $7.98.
Release date: 22 February 2005.
Country of origin: USA
Despite being listed on the disc’s packaging as a 1915 release, The Paperhanger’s Helper is actually a rerelease version of Stick Around (1925). The print appears to be a good 16mm reduction print, with contrastiness and a distressing lack of image detail being its most noticeable shortcomings. The video transfer is a little fast, creating (what some people think is normal for a silent comedy) a jerky, manic pace to the film’s action. The combination of tight reduction print framing and television overscan cropping of the full-frame transfer will result in the top of Hardy’s head often disappearing on most TV monitors. (Older 16mm prints flat out require windowboxed video transfers due to their tight cropping of the original 35mm image area.)
The Lucky Dog (1922) appears here in lesser visual quality than in the the Roach DVD edition from 1999, apparently transferred from a very-good 16mm reduction print. Despite its lack of sharp image detail, a full greyscale range is present in the print resulting in an acceptable viewing experience.
The Sawmill (1922) has been transferred from a good but tightly-cropped (apparently) 8mm reduction print that features blurry and very-contrasty image details. The image is so tightly cropped in this too-fast video transfer that heads often disappear into the overscan cropping area of most televisions. This is the hardest-to-watch film on the disc.
Hop to It! (1925) has been transferred from a very-good but contrasty (what appears to be) 16mm reduction print of the British release entitled Hop to It, Bellhop. The slightly-fast and reasonably-framed transfer is better than others on the disc, due to the passable quality of the source print.
Kid Speed (1924) has been transferred, at a more-appropriate speed than other films on the disc, from a very-good but slightly contrasty 16mm reduction print of soft detail that has snippets of footage lost to print splices. One of the better of several substandard prints utilized for the disc.
Yes, Yes, Nanette (1925) has been tight-crop transferred from a very-good 16mm reduction print that looks okay despite occasional moments of exposure flares and hot highlights. The video master has a glitchy roll at 1:24:20 into the disc.
Enough to Do [Wandering Papas] (1926) has been transferred from a very-good but contrasty 16mm reduction print. The print appears to end abruptly, as the storyline ending is unresolved.
The films are accompanied by a series of piano recordings of Scott Joplin songs (if memory serves and has correctly identified the recordings) by Joshua Rifkin.
Some of the films in this collection have appeared (and look better) elsewhere on DVD, some appear on DVD here for the first time. This budget edition is probably worth its modest cost, but we look forward to quality improvements in the home video editions of all these films in future discs.
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.