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Fans continue film tradition at festival

Posted: October 11, 2017 - 1:37am
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Dan and Jerrye Lail are members of the Sons of the Desert, an international group devoted to Laurel and Hardy and named for one of the comedic duo’s films.

Love of Laurel and Hardy is what brings Dan and Jerrye Lail to Harlem each year for the annual Oliver Hardy Festival.

But the pair are not just tourists.

The longtime fans make the nearly two-hour trip from their home in Loganville to bring a few 16 mm Laurel and Hardy films from their collection to show for festival-goers in the Laurel and Hardy Museum's Theater.

"I've been a Laurel and Hardy fan since I was a kid when I watched them on TV," Dan Lail said. "When the internet came about, I found film online and I could actually afford it and I started collecting films. I probably have 50-60 Laurel and Hardy films now and I show films in my home."

During the festival, Lail uses two Super 8 Elmo film projectors and one Bell and Howell 16mm projector to show a Laurel and Hardy film every 30 minutes.

"Two-reelers are called two-reelers because each reel is 10 minutes, so it makes a 20-minute short film, usually about 17-18 minutes," Lail said. "I have a selector box for the sound. The lenses are adjustable to fit the screen, and it's nice and bright, with about 200 watts of light."

Lail said his favorite Laurel and Hardy two-reeler is Chickens Come Home and his favorite Laurel and Hardy feature film is A Chump at Oxford.

The Museum's theater, called the Babe's Bijou Theater, can typically seat 50-60 people, according to Lail, who said the room fills up easily for each film every year.

Lail said the films' upkeep is not difficult.
"They're all on what's called safety film. Keep them in the right temperature and humidity and they will last more than 100 years," Lail said. "I have had no problems with films deteriorating. Most of these are on polyethylene, which does not deteriorate."

The films and festival are big reasons why they continue to return every year, but the friends they've made bring it full circle.

"I have made so many friends here," Lail said.

The couple is also looking forward to showing their films in the new theater next year. That's when the museum makes its move to the old Columbia Theater next to the Harlem Library currently undergoing renovations.

 

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