I have previously written about Force Entertainment’s Three Stooges DVD box set releases, and gave them pretty good reviews. Even though they are not restored versions like the box sets released in the US by Sony, they still look pretty good and there are no great issues. Unfortunately I cannot say the same thing for Force Entertainment’s Laurel & Hardy Volume 1 DVD set.
This set is unwatchable for the reason that the soundtrack is out of sync with the picture. This means that there are times when the actors mouths are moving but no sound coming out, or alternatively there will be sound but the actors mouths are not moving. I have so far tried to watch nine of the shorts films contained on the DVDs, and seven of those have issues with the soundtrack. This is just unacceptable. I know that these films are quite old, yet that is no excuse for this. It is really sloppy and shows no quality control whatsoever. It’s as if someone blindy put the films onto the disc without any care for how the end product would come out. You’d think that a company like Force Entertainment would be worried about damaging their reputation by releasing something as shoddy as this. I have emailed them, detailing the problems that I have with their disc set. I asked them if they are aware of the problem and if they have rectified it. I also asked if there was anyway that they could replace the crappy set that I have with one that they have rectified all the soundtrack problems. In the US if a company releases a DVD with just a slight problem the companies will happily replace the discs, so I don’t see why Force Entertainment won’t do the same. It’s the only decent thing to do.
There are twelve short films on four discs. As I said earlier, I have tried to watch nine of the films so far, and seven of these have had soundtracks that are not synced with the picture properly. The twelve shorts for those who are interested are:
- Below Zero (1930) – This is one of the films which syncs properly.
- Our Wife (1931)
- Unaccustomed As We Are (1929)
- Brats (1930)
- Busy Bodies (1933)
- The Midnight Patrol (1933)
- County Hospital (1932)
- Them Thar Hills (1934) – One of the absolute classic shorts that is unwatchable thanks to the poor syncing of the soundtrack here.
- Tit For Tat (1935) – Another classic and thankfully this does not have any problems with the soundtrack.
(Please note, I have not watched any of disc 4 yet. I became too disillusioned after all the issues that I had to go through on the first three discs!)
- Any Old Port (1932)
- Berth Marks (1929)
- Come Clean (1931)
I cannot recommend this at all. Hopefully Force Entertainment (now called Beyond Entertainment) will retify the problem and replace the poor quality discs that I have purchased. Unfortunately for us who live in Australia this is the only release of Laurel and Hardy that is available. In the UK there is a ripper 21 disc box set available featuring restored versions of nearly all the Laurel and Hardy classic short and feature films. (The set also features colourised vesrions of the films, but the less said about them the better!) The set costs £149.98 which is extremely expensive, but you can get the individual discs quite cheaply. (£6.97)