The UCLA Film and Televsion Archive is spearheading a fundraising effort to fully restore Laurel and Hardy shorts and features. Many of their shorts and features are still on nitrate film, which is slowly deteriorating. The goal is to preserve each Laurel and Hardy film in both digital formats and 35mm. The library currently holds sixty shorts and about a dozen features.
The Hal Roach film library, which owns the prints, has changed hands many times, and over time the films have sustained considerable wear. Consequently, the original negatives are in awful shape. There is a lot of work to be done to fully restore the prints: digital and photochemical repair, soundtrack correcting and main title sequences replaced. UCLA has geared their fundraising efforts towards the public since Laurel & Hardy titles are some of the most beloved comedies of all time.
The fundraising, however is playing against time. “We need to get this done now, while it’s still doable,” says major contributor Jeff Joseph. “This window of opportunity will not stay open for long. Every year more and more nitrate film turns to goo and then to dust.”
There is a strong push to restore and preserve Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy’s comedy classics because since they are from the 20-40’s, most contemporary audiences have only seen television reruns without ever viewing Laurel and Hardy on the big screen. Overall, the goal is to preserve the classic comedic duo so that generations of audiences can treasure the esteemed comedy act.
Donations can be made online here