Hallmark finally follows up their initial Laurel and Hardy DVD release with this second volume, and there appears to be an issue with some over the quality versus similarly released European versions. I have not seen these other releases, so I can't comment on them in comparison to this one, but if you have a DVD player that will accommodate DVD releases from other countries, you might want to choose buying the alternative rather than this release (I figure if you own such a DVD player, you'd be willing to search out various releases for the best quality, but I don't so this is what I have).
The first feature is Chickens Come Home (1931), 30 minutes, and features Ollie as a prominent businessman (seller of high grade fertilizer), running for mayor under the campaign of `cleaning the city of vice'. Only problem is an indiscretion from his past show up, with the pictures to prove it, and is looking for her own payday in order to keep quiet. On the night Ollie is supposed to meet with her, his wife is holding a dinner party with some very influential people, so he sends Stan to run interference until he can get away and deal with the determined woman.
The second feature, Way Out West (1937), 65 minutes, takes place in the old west, as one might deduce from the title, and has Stan and Ollie delivering a deed to a valuable gold mine to the daughter of the recently deceased owner, but they're tricked into handing over the deed to an unscrupulous saloon owner (James Finlayson, master of the exaggerated double-take) and his attractive wife, who also happens to provide entertainment at the saloon in the form of a singer. The boys soon learn of the swindle, and try to make things right by attempting to retrieve the deed and deliver it to its rightful owner, a poor dishwashing woman who also works in the saloon.
The third and final feature is Block-Heads (1938), 57 minutes, and begins during WWI as Stan and Ollie are soldiers and Stan is ordered to hold a trench while the rest of the men, including Ollie, go over the hill to engage the enemy. For whatever reason the men don't return, and Stan is left guarding the trench for the next 20 years as no one returns to tell him the war finally ended. He's finally made aware of the fact, returns to the states where Ollie finds him and bring him home, only to have Stan inadvertently destroy not only his home but also Ollie's marriage.
I don't think I'd encounter too much argument in my saying I think this is one of the greatest comedic duos of all time, and in watching these features one can see how much they've influenced those who have followed. Take Way Out West...how many times have you seen the `piano' gag (characters hiding inside a grand piano, only to have the antagonist begin striking the piano keys, and those inside being tormented by the pianos innards) in various cartoons and such? I think part of what made the duo so enduring, even to this day, is the underlying friendship and commitment (on and off the screen) to each other, despite the onscreen disputes and debacles. They may often be at odds with each other, but that quickly fades as an outside force comes into play, such as in Way Out West with James Finlayson's (who appeared in a great number of Laurel and Hardy features) character of the greedy saloon owner, and then the boys become united against a common foe. Speaking of Finlayson, he was a wonderful supporting comedic actor in his own right, often overshadowed by the larger than life antics of others. Did he deserve more than what he got? I'm unsure, but I do know without his performances these features would have lacked something that few could have replaced.
As far as the picture quality of the features on the DVD...I thought it was decent (as was the audio), but other reviews say it could have been better, and offer options that may be worth looking into, so my advice is to read the other reviews and consider their recommendations before purchasing. I did notice a few moments where there were flaws in the picture, which I had attributed them to the age of the features, rather than the source material used, but that may not be the case.