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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Flying Deuces [Blu-ray]


(A. Edward Sutherland, 1939)



Also coming to Blu-ray by Network in the UK (Region 'B') in June 2015


Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Boris Morros Productions

Video: VCI Entertainment



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:08:54.130 

Disc Size: 21,929,421,704 bytes

Feature Size: 11,751,751,680 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.94 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 19th, 2015



Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-2 Video



LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit



English, None



• This is Your Life: Laurel and Hardy (29:31)
Sons of the Desert rare Spanish trailer (2:32)

• The Paper Hanger's Helper (1925 Silent with Hardy - 8:52)

• Lucky Dog (1921 Silent with Laurel and Hardy - 16:49)





Description: In one of the best and funniest of all the Laurel and Hardy features, these master comedians blunder their way through one hilarious, hair-raising adventure after another in the Foreign Legion. Joining the Legion to help Ollie recover from being ‘jilted' by the girl of his dreams, they ironically get involved trying to straighten out a tangled love affair between a young officer and his fiancÚ.



The Film:

In their first starring feature away from the Hal Roach studios, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy play a couple of fish peddlers from Des Moines on a Cook's Tour of Paris. While stopping over at quaint suburban inn, Ollie falls in love with innkeeper's daughter Georgette (Jean Parker). At Stan's prodding, Ollie pops the question to Georgette, who gently refuses because there is Someone Else. Disconsolately, Ollie decides to commit suicide by jumping into the Seine, insisting that Stan join him in his plunge to oblivion. The boys are halted from this drastic action by the timely arrival of Francois (Reginald Gardiner), an officer in the French Foreign Legion. Francois convinces Stan and Ollie that they'll forget all about Ollie's lost love if they join the Legion, and within a few days our heroes are in uniform at an outpost in French Morocco, where they are promptly assigned to laundry detail. Alas, try as he might, Ollie can't forget his beloved Georgette-until Stan suggests that he pretend to forget so that they can get back in their own clothes and head home. This Ollie does, but not before accidentally setting fire to a mountain of laundry. After leaving behind a rather nasty letter of resignation for their scowling commandant (Charles Middleton), Stan and Ollie pack their bags and head for the airport-where Ollie is reunited with Georgette, who turns out to be the wife of their commanding officer Francois! Sentenced to death for desertion, the boys tunnel their way out of their jail cell and hide out in an airplane, which Stan accidentally sends into flight. After a wild and noisy ride, the plane crashes, leading to the flm's hilarious-and somehow touching--"freak" ending. Officially a remake of Les Aviateurs, a French vehicle for Fernandel and Toto, The Flying Deuces also owes a lot to the earlier Laurel & Hardy Foreign Legion farce Beau Hunks. Highlights include Stan and Ollie's impromptu soft-shoe rendition of "Shine on Harvest Moon", and Stan's lunatic excursion into Harpo Marx territory as he plays a bed-spring "harp". Produced by Boris Morros and released by RKO Radio, Flying Deuces is unquestionably the best of Laurel & Hardy's non-Hal Roach vehicles.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE


The happy reunion of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy after a characteristic interlude of reproachful squabbling may not be as handsomely celebrated by "The Flying Deuces" as it might be, but their new picture at the Rialto is reason enough for a glad-hand and a bit of hatchet-burying all around. Anything which contributes to the generation of laughter in the body politic is okay by this department, even though it be the oldest jokes. And since laughter is what our honored friends are able to provoke plenty of (even though it be with the oldest jokes), their latest effort is recommended.

Excerpt from NY Times located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Flying Deuces is one of the conspicuously absent titles from the 21-disc Laurel and Hardy Boxset from Universal reviewed HERE. So the film has, surprisingly, come to Blu-ray - on both sides of the pond this year. Compounding the weak elements of The Flying Deuces - is VCI's MPEG-2 encode (as opposed to AVC). They certainly aren't doing themselves any favors as we stated with their HD transfer of What the Peeper Saw. Being single-layered with a low bitrate doesn't encourage stellar visuals. The 1939 feature source has enough inconsistencies to contend with.  The 1080P has some contrast issues as well - over bright in spots it tends to look very unnatural and I see very little evidence of grain textures either. The transfer is soft, flat and waxy. I think it could look better and I will definitely compare with the Network Region 'B' Blu-ray released later this year.




















Audio :

VCI opt for a linear PCM 2.0 channel mono track at 1536 kbps. Like the video it has some issues - mostly inherent in the source and limitations of the original production. John Leipold + Leo Shuken - veterans of a massive amount of uncredited film score work in the 1930's (and later Shuken did some TV themes) did the music along with pieces from our two boys singing Shine On, Harvest Moon or The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise as played by Stan Laurel on a bedspring harp. Marvin Hatley's Ku-Ku is played throughout as part of the score. I'm more forgiving for the audio weaknesses than the improperly transferred video. There are optional English subtitles offered and the backcover states the disc is region 'A'.



Extras :

Included as supplements are a, kind of sad, This is Your Life: Laurel and Hardy with Ralph Edwards hosting the 1/2 hour TV show from 1954. Stan and Oliver are rather docile throughout. We also get a, supposedly rare, Spanish trailer of Sons of the Desert and two silent films; The Paper Hanger's Helper from 1925 has Oliver Hardy and runs shy of 9-minutes and Lucky Dog from 1921 - in their first screen appearance together, Stan plays a penniless dog lover and Oliver plays a crook who tries to rob him and his new paramour. It runs almost 17-minutes.



Well, time for honesty... I'm not going to reserve my opinion till I have seen the Network release. I don't recommend this VCI Blu-ray. I see an attempt but the MPEG-2 and poor video quality is enough to pass - especially with another company bringing it out in a month. Potential purchasers have been warned.  

Gary Tooze

May 13th, 2015


Also coming to Blu-ray by Network in the UK (Region 'B') in June 2015


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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