Author Topic: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along  (Read 15902 times)

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A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« on: September 11, 2018, 06:09:07 PM »
A chronological watch of all the Laurel and Hardy shorts and features; one per week so that it doesn't become laborious.

Every Tuesday I will be sharing details from the relevant pages of this book:



I will also provide a link to the best video source I can find for that week's film.  Watch in your own time (before the following Tuesday), and talk about it here if you fancy it.



Week 1

The Lucky Dog, released 01/12/1921

 


Wikipedia:  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lucky_Dog

Video source:  https://vimeo.com/129975262

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2018, 12:08:40 AM »
What a great idea! Shall I kick off? My completely disorganised thoughts, with potential spoilers...

There are basically three 'acts' - the street scenes, the dog show, the bit in the house - and they all flow together but only seem loosely connected, even though there is a logical thread to it all. I can't quite put it into words, but they hadn't really mastered the art of storytelling on the silver screen at this point, and mostly just bolted sketches together. (Observation, not criticism.)

The street scenes had some good slapstick, and the classic Laurel and Hardy thing of the exact same dreadful thing happening (or nearly happening) a second time having just about recovered from the first time - in this case, the tram - is already present and correct. I wasn't expecting the car to hit at the end of that. That was brilliantly done.

That double-exposure effect with the dancing girls near the start seemed a bit ahead of its time. Was it?

It feels wrong to see Babe as the baddie, but he managed to be both convincing and funny.

I thought they could have made more of the dog show scene, as it looked to be set up for a giant set piece, but it's all over pretty quickly. In contrast, the bits at the house dragged a bit for me, and nowadays that would have been tightened right up.

People being shot up the bum is never not funny in black and white movies.

I liked the occasional topical gag that popped up in the speech cards, although there were a couple I didn't get.

To sum up, although they both appear, obviously this isn't really a Laurel and Hardy short as such. They're not in partnership, not a bowler hat in sight, and one of them's the bad guy. Nevertheless, we do get a very brief glimpse of the Stan and Ollie of the future in the scene around 20:08, with them both trying to get the gun to fire. The book excerpt above doesn't really tell us what sort of reception this film got on release, and from that I think we can deduce that it was nothing more than what was par for the course at the time, totally unremarkable and otherwise forgettable, but retrospectively has gained a wonderful historical significance. In other words, not sensational and not terrible, but definitely worthy of a watch nearly a century later.

I don't know whether I'll keep up, but I'm looking forward to watching as many L&H films again as possible, so thanks for starting this, RFV. I'll try not to suck the life out of all of them.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2018, 12:12:17 AM »
A fantastic start Spudgun, thanks!  I will value your contributions whenever you can offer them!

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2018, 03:30:16 PM »
I found this film likeable for mainly three moments:  Laurel's character puzzling over the discovery of money in his pocket, the sequence where his hat's brim keeps distracting him during his conversation with the woman in the carriage, and the business between him and Hardy on the sofa in the final segment, particularly when he puts his fingers in his ears to avoid being deafened by the gun aimed at his head.

Laurel's character attempting to lose the dog in a rubbish bin didn't sit well with me, and some of the slapstick, though very skilled, felt pat and repetitive throughout due to the weakness of the material.  The back-and-forth with the entangled dog leads was particularly tiresome to me; not a terrible idea, but something about the direction of it didn't work and it lasted far too long.

As pointed out by Spudgun above, the dog show felt like it was meant to be a climactic and chaotic set piece, but it ended up somehow truncated, even fragmented, and the film just moved on.  The placement of a still image suggests that the scene has missing segments, but I don't know.

I agree that the final stuff in the house drags on.  Most of it isn't needed, and isn't especially fun to watch.  I hope the cast and crew enjoyed doing it, but most of the time I couldn't even tell what was meant to be happening.  Being shot in the bum is funny though.

Anyway, it's fascinating to see glimpses of the future Stan and Ollie here.  Laurel gets some moments to shine, mostly when the camera's close enough to capture his facial expression.  In the scene where he's perplexed by the money found in his pocket we see a hint of the delightfully bewildered reactions he would later perfect:  it is Stan, frozen in the moment, simply trying to process what is going on.  It's lovely.  And I agree with Spudgun's observation that when both Laurel and Hardy are trying to get the gun to fire we see a tiny morsel of their future collaborative dynamic.  And when Stan peers from behind his cushion to see that he is still holding the gun in his own hand, so hides behind his cushion again, you can almost hear his familiar howl from the talkie era.

So that's that; I enjoyed it as a historical curio but I can't say it's on my list for immediate rewatches. 

Laurel and Hardy would appear together again five years later, when Forty-Five Minutes From Hollywood was released in December 1926, and this time it would be Hardy in the larger role.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2018, 10:59:34 PM »
Some further reading if you are interested, since the films we're currently watching pre-date the Laurel and Hardy partnership:




By the time they were next seen together, Laurel and Hardy were independently signed with the Hal Roach Studios, so here's a page or so about that:

 

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2018, 05:25:14 PM »
Week 2

Forty-Five Minutes from Hollywood, released 26/12/1926




Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/45_Minutes_from_Hollywood


Viewing options:

Laurel and Hardy were both independently signed with the Hal Roach studio by this point, which means most of what we'll be watching can be sourced from the following UK boxset (the links I share won’t be my own rips or uploads, I should add):



The restorations on that collection are not always brilliant, and I have found the following website useful for offering a perspective on the films and to consider whether there might be better sources for this watch-along:  http://www.laurelandhardy.org/newDVDREV.html.  For example, the restoration of Forty-Five Minutes from Hollywood is reviewed as follows:

Quote
Forty-Five Minutes From Hollywood - 1926 (silent)- The boys' first appearance together at the Roach Studios, but alas they don't share any scenes together.  All of the titles have been remade.  Picture quality is quite good considering its age but is rather worn during Stan's scenes.

I’ll keep an eye on those reviews and any greater problems that are described, as sometimes other prints exist that are an improvement.  Please feel free to offer any alternative sources if you prefer any.  Sometimes I will share an alternative source myself, but I won’t always know where these have come from; please let me know if you do.


Video source (from the above boxset):  https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x24uwvx

Alternative source (different music, slower running speed (more naturalistic? - but for what reason?), a few seconds of extra footage, and less worn during Stan’s scenes):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2EXJEDhvDE 
« Last Edit: September 18, 2018, 05:41:47 PM by Replies From View »

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2018, 11:36:52 PM »
That's the DVD box set I've got, except slimline. I got it for around £20 a few years ago and love it, but there are some obvious corners cut, the colourised versions a literal waste of space, and the ordering is just plain daft. In fact, before we go any further, does anyone know anything about the American set?:

https://www.amazon.com/Laurel-Hardy-Essential-Collection-Stan/dp/B005BYBZKY

Or this Dutch one?:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Laurel-Hardy-Complete-Collection-Features/dp/B00PKEZUE2

The American one is apparently far superior to our British one, except that the silent films are missing. The Dutch one bills itself as "Complete" from 1927-1940 (and The Flying Deuces is included), but I've got no idea what prints it uses. Anyone?

As for Forty-Five Minutes from Hollywood, random wafflings and possible spoilers follow...

There seem to be a lot of in-jokes in this one. How would the 'Look out for conmen and assistant directors' joke have played back then? I can't imagine many people outside of the film business finding that funny, and I'm not even sure why they go for assistant directors (as opposed to producers, agents, etc.). Baffling.

On the other hand, peeling the sausage like that really tickled me for some reason.

I'm assuming the bike was on some sort of early low-loader, but that's a relatively ambitious sequence for the time with the cows and all that, and probably quite dangerous. On that subject, at around 6:07 (in the DailyMotion link), he really does roll out from under the train while it's moving. Twice, in fact - either side of the cut. I know it's not going fast, but it's still mad and potential instant death.

The tour sequence is a nice slice of history, but most of it is lost on me. I thought the guide at 6:29 was surely James Finlayson, but IMDB doesn't list him in this at all. Am I seeing things?

Bathing Beauty dives despite having no diving board, nearly brains herself.

Ollie's wife foreshadows the type of woman he'll be married to in his more famous roles - and the line "This time I'm innocent" brilliantly hints at a major backstory. I'm not sure they'd have got away with that gag after the Hays Code came in. There are also a lot of references to Prohibition down the years in Laurel and Hardy films, and I suppose the bloke out the back with the bottle and business card is the first.

Someone getting shot up the bum is never not funny in black and white movies.

There's a major continuity headache concerning what floor of the hotel we're on.

The end gag could and should have resulted in more people getting drenched and other such chaos, and it's a rather limp way to go out as it is.

To sum up, we're still on the first course as we wait for proper Laurel and Hardy as a double-act, and like The Lucky Dog last week, Forty-Five Minutes from Hollywood only really stands up today because of its accidental historical significance. The in-jokes and references to the film industry don't really translate, and ultimately the whole thing descends into farce (not necessarily a criticism, but Fawlty Towers it ain't), and nothing is properly resolved. Stan is criminally underused, and his bit really isn't anything to write home about at all. Nevertheless, it's still worth a watch, and I really hope more people start joining in on this watch-along. It's LAUREL AND HARDY, people!

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2018, 09:33:18 AM »
In fact, before we go any further, does anyone know anything about the American set?:

https://www.amazon.com/Laurel-Hardy-Essential-Collection-Stan/dp/B005BYBZKY

Or this Dutch one?:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Laurel-Hardy-Complete-Collection-Features/dp/B00PKEZUE2

The American one is apparently far superior to our British one, except that the silent films are missing. The Dutch one bills itself as "Complete" from 1927-1940 (and The Flying Deuces is included), but I've got no idea what prints it uses. Anyone?

This week I received a PM from a fellow CaBber who may wish to remain anonymous (please let me know if that's not the case!), who has very generously offered to rip, encode and upload the US Essential Collection for us.  He also has the similarly superior US version of the TVM Archives collection (containing Fra Diavola/The Devil's Brother and Bonnie Scotland) and the official MGM DVD for Babes in Toyland, and will aim to set us up with those in due course.  I am obviously thrilled about this contribution to the watch-along.

The first film to appear on the Essential Collection is the sound short 'Unaccustomed As We Are' (May 1929), which we will reaching on 16th April.


I don't know about the Dutch release though.  I wonder if that is the source for the alternative versions of the silent films that I will sometimes be sharing.

« Last Edit: September 22, 2018, 11:26:10 AM by Replies From View »

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2018, 09:49:38 AM »
The tour sequence is a nice slice of history, but most of it is lost on me. I thought the guide at 6:29 was surely James Finlayson, but IMDB doesn't list him in this at all. Am I seeing things?

That chap is Al Hallett:

http://www.lordheath.com/menu1_530.html

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0356465/


Did you only watch the dailymotion link for the film?  The other link (the youtube one) is far less faded during Stan's scenes, so I recommend you view that one too for contrast!

« Last Edit: September 22, 2018, 11:21:51 AM by Replies From View »

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2018, 11:09:49 AM »
As there will be differences in soundtrack between alternative versions of these silent films, I thought I'd share this now:




So a few months before all-talking Laurel and Hardy shorts became the standard in May 1929, a number of their films experimented with the format by introducing music and synchronised sound effects to otherwise silent films.  These films are Habeas Corpus (December 1928), We Faw Down (December 1928), Liberty (January 1929), Wrong Again (February 1929), That's My Wife (March 1929), and then, once the team were already releasing all-talking shorts, Bacon Grabbers (October 1929) and Angora Love (December 1929) were the last of the earlier format, utilising music and synchronised sound effects but otherwise silent.

However (and this is the reason I am mentioning this now), the above encyclopedia entry adds that in 1930 some of the earlier Pathé shorts were reissued by Wardour Films with sound disc accompaniments.  Forty-Five Minutes from Hollywood (December 1926) was one of the films initially released through Pathé Exchange, but I don't know whether it was reissued in this way, or whether the soundtrack on the UK DVD release uses an original 1930 disc (if indeed one was made) or a modern reconstruction.  If anyone knows the answer, then please add it to this thread!


Many silent films released in the UK DVD boxset make use of the Beau Hunks Orchestra, whose wikipedia page is here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beau_Hunks.  Their sound is very authentic, but to my untrained ear it complicates the question of what soundtracks existed or have survived for these films.

« Last Edit: September 22, 2018, 11:46:19 AM by Replies From View »

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2018, 01:55:22 PM »
Very odd seeing Stan in the white-faced make-up in The Lucky Dog. He seems to be very much a clowning figure in that Keaton/Lloyd tradition in this film, nothing like the later persona in the double-act at all.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2018, 01:59:18 PM »
My feelings and thoughts about Forty-Five Minutes from Hollywood are pretty much summed up already by both the encyclopedia entry and Spudgun’s response.

Is it just me or do Orville (Glenn Tryon) and the bank robber look almost the same?  I’ll accept it could just be me, as I have difficulty distinguishing between faces at the best of times, and it makes following television dramas and films quite difficult.  Let me simply say that if the actors playing Orville and the bank robber hadn’t made physical contact in their scenes together I’d have assumed it was the same actor playing both parts.  To confuse me even more, the identity of the actor playing the bank robber doesn’t seem to be listed anywhere I’ve looked.

It also took me a few viewings to appreciate that the “imbibing trashman” from the scene outside the window was later the character responsible for startling the cat that darts up Hardy’s trousers.  It’s nice to see animation in anything like this, but it removes a layer of the film’s reality, I suppose.  Or maybe it adds another layer.

I don’t have much else to add for the time being, except to say that even here I think both Laurel and Hardy stand out amongst it all.  Maybe it’s the lens of retrospect and the fact I’m studying them more than all the other characters.  But Hardy’s expressions are fantastic, even through his huge moustache, and Laurel’s own presence elevates the role of the “starving actor” far beyond the needs of the scene.  Notice the heavy lines accentuating his eyes, as the orthochromatic film stock of this period was insensitive to their very bright blue colour (I believe Hal Roach preferred to use him as a writer and director around this time for that reason; see also ‘Madame Mystery’ below).

To conclude:  five whole years after their fortuitous meeting in The Lucky Dog, Stan and Ollie performed independently in Forty-Five Minutes from Hollywood in sequences that were separated by a door.


———

If you have the time and sufficient interest in tangents to these films, Madame Mystery (released 18th April 1926) is a Hal Roach production that was co-written and directed by Stan Laurel, starring James Finlayson, and featuring Oliver Hardy in a minor part.  The glimpse of Theda Bara in Forty-Five Minutes from Hollywood came from this film (I'm presuming it was an outtake as I can't see the exact footage here): 

https://archive.org/details/MadameMystery

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madame_Mystery

https://comedydissertation.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/screencapped-shorts-madame-mystery-1926/

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2018, 05:13:44 PM »
Week 3

Duck Soup, released 13/03/1927




Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duck_Soup_(1927_film)


Viewing options:

Regarding the version on the UK DVD boxset:
Quote
Duck Soup - 1927 (silent)- The first film where they resemble the L&H characters.  This was one of their long lost films which was recovered in 1974 from a Belgian Archive.  The print was incomplete, however another version was discovered in France with some scenes from the Belgian print missing but with the missing sequence from the Belgian print intact.  Tell me that again!  A disappointment here though as the missing sequence has not been included.  The print retains the vertical streak that was on the original Vision Video version.  Terrible background music only adds to the disappointment.  The print quality is not very good.  The boys remade this in 1930 with the superb Another Fine Mess (the story works better as a talkie).
(http://www.laurelandhardy.org/newDVDREV.html)


Sourced from the above boxset (the music is indeed dreadful.  Also note that the familiar opening music used here, known as the ‘Cuckoo’ theme, shouldn’t actually make its debut until 1930):  https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x24uw5a

Alternative source (includes missing sequence, uses the original music and lacks the vertical streak.  It has unfortunately been uploaded at a slightly lower resolution than the above source, though it’s unnoticeable I think):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erQXRXexrbE

It is worth comparing the two versions.  The intertitles are completely different throughout, with Stan and Ollie’s dialogue suggesting a more informal relationship in the latter version.

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2018, 05:19:27 PM »
Was Duck Soup really popular in the 20's and 30's, as The Marx Brothers would release thier film Duck Soup in 1933.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2018, 05:22:02 PM »
Was Duck Soup really popular in the 20's and 30's, as The Marx Brothers would release thier film Duck Soup in 1933.

The end of the encyclopaedia entry mentions the reuse of the title.

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #15 on: September 25, 2018, 05:26:39 PM »
Ah ha found an explantion of the meaning of the phrase on Urban Dictionary.

Quote
duck soup
Easy adj.
Commonly used by gumshoes in books by Chandler and Spillane. If something is as good as done or will be done very easily is said to be "duck soup."
It's duck soup from here on out.

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #16 on: September 25, 2018, 05:39:22 PM »
Stan always makes a good Maid. Loved the exploding box at the end when they were taking it to the Transfer Truck.

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #17 on: September 26, 2018, 09:54:31 AM »
I don't know if I've mentioned this before but South Lanarkshire primary schools do a filum club.

Clearly the person who makes the choices likes a bit of L+H as last term Way Out West was on and last week Sons of the Desert cropped up.

Little 'un loves 'em.  'Dad, do you know this song *sings Honolulu Baby*?' 

'Of course I do, where did you hear it?'
'Film club, do you know the film where they say they're going away..and then the fat one does this...and the thin one does that...and the boat sinks...and their wives see them on the news...and...she starts throwing plates at them...and...and....'

Looks like I've got someone to go and see the film with.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #18 on: September 26, 2018, 03:06:03 PM »
Ah ha found an explantion of the meaning of the phrase on Urban Dictionary.

Is Laughing Gravy similar, at all?

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #19 on: September 29, 2018, 08:55:33 AM »
While I decide what to say about Duck Soup, if anything, I thought you may be interested in two reviews from William K. Everson, who wrote about Duck Soup both before and after the film’s 1974 rediscovery, in the following two books:

The Films of Laurel and Hardy, first published in 1967 (this reprint 1976):

 



Laurel and Hardy, first published in 1975 (this edition 1996):

   



Both are excellent books, and if you are serious about Laurel and Hardy I can recommend them, along with the Encyclopedia.  They are all currently very easily available online.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #20 on: September 30, 2018, 12:05:28 PM »
I like to watch these short films at least twice before I respond to them.  They often have an idiosyncratic pace or rhythm that I don’t always appreciate on first watch, and I tend to miss details the first time around that I am more likely to pick up on later viewings.  How fun, then, that Duck Soup simmers for us somewhere between two slightly different composite versions, so that rewatching becomes an activity of attending to details that are themselves actively changing as we switch between the available sources.

Immediately the version with the organ soundtrack (the dailymotion link) grates, for its use of the familiar 'Cuckoo' theme (first introduced in 1930, three years after this) suggests Laurel and Hardy are now an established partnership, when they are not.  In this way a layer of the future is intruding upon a film that should lack knowledge of what Laurel and Hardy would become, and I find this distracting.  The alternative version of Duck Soup I have shared (the youtube link) promises the "original" Vitaphone music and synchronised sound effects from the 1920s, and I'm going to take their word for it.  They may instead date from when the Pathé shorts were being rereleased by Wardour Films in 1930 (mentioned here) but nevertheless, they are more pleasing to the ear than the organ soundtrack.

Aside from the respective soundtracks, what immediately stands out is how quickly Laurel and Hardy’s dynamic came together in this, only the third film in which they both appeared.  The matter of 'future intrusion' comes through again in the intertitles, however, which are translations back into English from the rediscovered French and Belgian prints.  The wording of the translations therefore derives from a time when Laurel and Hardy’s routines had already been perfected over more than a hundred films, so when we look at Duck Soup for glimpses of the magic that was yet to come, we need to consider how the intertitles might offer 'completions' in a way that may not have been true to the time.

See for example 8:03 of the youtube version.  The intertitle (translated from the Belgian print) gives Ollie the words "Ooooooh!  It’s the Forest Rangers!" and both he and Stan run back and forth in panic, the way we recognise they will do quite a lot in future years.  But does "Ooooooh!" not derive from the talkie era?  It’s a strange transcription otherwise.

That moment occurs at 6:34 in the dailymotion version, with a more literal translation from the French rendering the line:  "Those are the recruiters for the fire fighters!".  The translation doesn’t appear to embellish the words with later 'Stan and Ollie' mannerisms quite so self-consciously, but I’ve noticed that the formal wording ends up heightening Ollie’s 'pompous' persona, and again it’s unclear how much of this would have been an aspect of the original wording, rather than a side effect of translating into French and back into English.  So for example at 2:34, we have "Come, Hives - we have an appointment with Rockerfeller at the National Bank!" - it has the familiar ring of the pretentious Ollie ordering Stan about, but the same formalities fit Stan’s voice less well.  We may never know what the tone of the original words would have taken, and therefore we are left with these early Stan and Ollie characterisations feeling incomplete.  Ah well. 


So when considering how much of their future dynamic was already in place, we may need to ignore the words entirely, and observe only their physical movement.  There’s a lot to love and I’ll simply remark on a few that stand out in my memory.

- The little exchanges that tell us Ollie believes himself to be a higher status to Stan are pivotal to Laurel and Hardy’s films, and are already present here.  Notice how Ollie places a cigar in his mouth and simply indicates to Stan:  come on, you know what your role is when I do this.  And Stan goes ahead.

- The business on the bike; Stan rides on the handlebars of Ollie’s bike even though there is a second bike standing there to be taken, and throughout the scene their faces express subdued panic in ways that are instantly familiar to fans of their later work.

- Stan’s 'vacant' face in general is taking shape here.  That wonderful skill he has of looking slightly dazed as he processes information, before then taking a few tentative steps whilst still dazed.  It’s here.

- As Delete Delete Delete pointed out in his post, Stan dresses as a maid expertly well.  This would become a trope in several Laurel and Hardy films, with Stan never too obviously 'a man in a dress'.

- Stan's shrieking panic as a situation escalates and becomes too much to bear.  Stan has mastered this already, but not all situations call for it.  In the bathroom sequence of Duck Soup (the youtube link only, as the scene is missing from the other source), it seems to come somewhat out of nowhere.  Later films would craft it to perfection.

- The chaos in the house during the final few minutes is far better directed and edited here than the equivalent sequence of The Lucky Dog.  The reasons for the escalating madness are clearer, and the execution of all the little details makes the whole experience tighter and funnier.

- On the subject of direction, there are lovely little touches like the black frame 'closing in' around the home owner's portrait as Stan focuses his attention on it and realises what’s happening.



That could be all I want to say about Duck Soup, though I may add this further thought:

In his 1975 review above, William K Everson’s immediate exuberance at the rediscovery of Duck Soup - a film missing for nearly fifty years when it was found - is plain to see.  And it's worth remembering his excitement as we push on through these old films, for it is so easy to take their existence for granted.  The fragmented composite versions of Duck Soup we have seen this week highlight the precarious nature of all film from this era.  Instead of taking a singular, definitive form, Duck Soup instead exists somewhere in our minds and our memories, as we attempt to internally reconcile imperfect translations, sometimes-missing sequences, images that are grubbier in one version than another (and vice versa), vastly different soundtracks with their own histories and intertitles with constantly changing fonts.  And through it all, Laurel and Hardy are beginning to take form in their own way.

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #21 on: October 01, 2018, 10:12:23 AM »
I really need to catch up here, this thread looks amazing, and I haven't watched anything but stupid YouTube videos for months. Keep up the great work!

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #22 on: October 02, 2018, 12:04:32 AM »
Late to the party here and nothing too incisive to add, but random thoughts follow anyway...

Duck Soup is the first proper Stan-and-Ollie partnership, and it's amazing how fully-formed the dynamic between them is already. I wonder whether they were intended at this point to always be tramp characters (like Charlie Chaplin), whether they expected they would change with each short as necessary, or whether as a team they'd thought no further ahead than making this as a one-off. But there's no doubting who's in charge, and the "Me, not you" gesture of superiority around 6:50 in the YouTube link is an early demonstration of the guy with ideas above his station who Ollie soon perfected.

The burning match in the eye is a nice touch, and it's nice to see the slapstick starting to get a bit more creative in general. (That includes the later internal chase scenes.)

Stan jumping on the same bike as Ollie despite there being a second easy-to-steal bike right there in front of him is a truly great visual gag, and it's later mirrored when, presented with two curtains to hide behind, Stan opts for the same one as Ollie. Really establishes the characters perfectly.

I love how they don't just grab themselves a quick meal when the opportunity arises, but go all-out and lay on a full banquet.

Stan fighting to retain his feminine grace is brilliant throughout. And I'm probably being naive, but I think I'm missing something about his panic attack in the bathroom. Is he simply freaking out over the possibility of seeing the lady naked, or the consequences should he be found out? (Or something else altogether? Either I'm being slow or looking too deeply.)

The plan to paint the real owner as a nutter is clever and plays out well. As pointed out above, it's much easier to follow the chaos in this one compared to previously, and the obligatory shoot-out is suitably farcical.

The ending seems a bit tacked-on, almost like they had the idea for what would make a funny closing visual gag and worked backwards from that. Nothing's really new these days, but I wonder whether audiences back then had seen that sort of 'effect' before. Either way, it works, and the pacing in general is an improvement over what we've seen so far. (It could be me, but I find a lot of two-reelers from the era tend to drag a bit in their final third. This keeps the action moving along nicely and tightly, though.)

To sum up, this is the first time I've ever seen that YouTube version with the earlier sound (compared to the DVD set), and it definitely heightened my enjoyment of a short which I already liked anyway. In fact, I never knew another print existed, so thanks for the link, RFV! From memory, the next few L+H shorts aren't quite as good, but that's more a compliment to Duck Soup than a put-down of what's to come. Overall, very worthy of the boys indeed.

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If you have the time and sufficient interest in tangents to these films, Madame Mystery . . .

https://archive.org/details/MadameMystery

I must thank you for this, too - never seen it before, and I never know where to start when it comes to silent comedies starring those other than the A-listers. Very enjoyable. That Jimmy Finlayson's bald head = man with beard with feet pointing in the wrong direction gag was remarkably well executed and gave me a good laugh.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #23 on: October 02, 2018, 07:36:04 AM »
Stan fighting to retain his feminine grace is brilliant throughout. And I'm probably being naive, but I think I'm missing something about his panic attack in the bathroom. Is he simply freaking out over the possibility of seeing the lady naked, or the consequences should he be found out? (Or something else altogether? Either I'm being slow or looking too deeply.)

This review talks about additional footage being restored to the bathroom scene so that it makes more sense, in a version that we have yet to see:  https://thelostlaugh.com/2015/10/27/laurel-hardy-revelations-from-silent-laughter-saturday/

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #24 on: October 02, 2018, 05:16:42 PM »
Week 4

Slipping Wives, released 03/04/1927

 


Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slipping_Wives


Regarding the version on the UK DVD boxset:
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Slipping Wives - 1927- The titles appear original but sometimes what appears original has been replaced by new titles artificially aged with added dirt and scratches!  The intertitles themselves look flawless (they look original); the rest of the print has several scratches but overall is a very well restored film.  The end title is a replacement.
(http://www.laurelandhardy.org/newDVDREV.html)


Video source (from the above boxset):  https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x26g6nj

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #25 on: October 02, 2018, 07:49:43 PM »
Loved Stan finally placating Ollie by jumping in the bath fully clothed and the phrase ''Red hot mama'' made me laugh out loud. With Stan being the main character again in this one, you can compare it to the first film posted and they are worlds apart really, everything is so much better here but especially Stans performance and mannerisms etc.    Also loved Ollie kicking Stan up the arse the first time just because he was titting about in the hallway.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #26 on: October 06, 2018, 03:34:23 PM »
For anybody wanting the rest of the 'Slipping Wives' review from Everson's The Films of Laurel and Hardy (1967):

 

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #27 on: October 06, 2018, 03:47:47 PM »
Many thanks to Alternative Carpark who has drawn my attention to Laurel and Hardy, The Magic Behind the Movies by Randy Skretvedt (this edition 1988):




Below are the pages that review the films we have watched so far.  I don't plan to reproduce the entire text, but this is really an excellent book and I urge you to check it out (this edition is available second-hand online at reasonable prices).  This sample should give you a good sense of how well researched and written it is:


The Lucky Dog:

   


The Hal Roach silents so far:

   

   

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #28 on: October 06, 2018, 10:49:52 PM »
It also took me a few viewings to appreciate that the “imbibing trashman” from the scene outside the window was later the character responsible for startling the cat that darts up Hardy’s trousers.  It’s nice to see animation in anything like this, but it removes a layer of the film’s reality, I suppose.  Or maybe it adds another layer.

The bit where said trashman breathes fire (12 mins or so in on the DM version) is a pretty impressive effect though, any idea how they did that?

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #29 on: October 07, 2018, 12:07:22 AM »
Enjoyed the use of the word Gink.

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Gink: A man, especially one regarded as foolish or contemptible.

the gag with the Hat sticking to the table was a grewat visual, Ollie throllting Stan in the bath was highlight.

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Then came Forty Thousand Phildelphians, and poked out his Eyes.

Loved everything with the Ghost Cat, looks so funny and its really high leap was fantastic.


Though Ollie without Moustache is just wrong.