Author Topic: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along  (Read 15372 times)

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #180 on: January 29, 2019, 05:03:22 PM »
Week 21

You’re Darn Tootin’, released 21/04/1928




Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You%27re_Darn_Tootin%27


Viewing options:

Regarding the version on the UK DVD boxset:
Quote
You're Darn Tootin' - 1928 (silent)- Again someone has gone to a lot of trouble replacing the main titles.  Curiously these were on the previous video version by Vision Video!  Print quality is excellent.  The intertitles appear to be replacements.  The soundtrack is irritating at best.  I would have much preferred a Beau Hunks score but this version has obviously been timed to the musical shenanigans on screen.  Print quality degenerated a bit at the shin kicking scene but reverts to excellent material thereafter.
(http://www.laurelandhardy.org/newDVDREV.html)


Sourced from the above boxset:  https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x26g6cd



http://www.lordheath.com/menu1_161.html


Again note the differences in camera angle and framing between the UK and US versions of the film.  Here is the US version:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5z_Tl-1CthM


If you’re a completist it’s worth checking out both the UK and US versions of You’re Darn Tootin’, as they each contain small amounts of footage missing from the other.

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #181 on: January 31, 2019, 08:48:57 PM »
From Soup To Nuts was top-notch physical comedy all along, but with a couple of unusual things in there worth noting.

Babe had discovered the joy of falling into a pie, and boy, did he make the most of it. Some lovely dabbing of the fingers on the soup tureen as well, and also, the way he presented the visiting card. He's really coming into his own now.

Stan had an odd part in this. It was back to the old feisty, leaping Stan, which makes you think he still hadn't quite found he right role for himself yet.

For me though, both of them were upstaged by Anita Garvin, reprising and bettering Stan's cherry-on-the-plate routine from The Second Hundred Years, with added tiara malfunctions. Perfect timing and expressions. She was the the star of this show.

That and her pie-sitting triumph in the Battle of the Century got me thinking about silent comediennes. I've never heard of any, but that might just be down to ignorance on my part. Were there any genuinely big female comedy stars of the day? Do we have any of their films?

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #182 on: February 01, 2019, 08:08:50 AM »
That and her pie-sitting triumph in the Battle of the Century got me thinking about silent comediennes. I've never heard of any, but that might just be down to ignorance on my part. Were there any genuinely big female comedy stars of the day? Do we have any of their films?

Well, they're not quite silent films, as they were during the talkie era, but Hal Roach did attempt a female Laurel and Hardy-style double act with ZaSu Pitts and Thelma Todd in the 1930s, who appeared in several two or three-reelers together.  Pitts was later replaced by Patsy Kelly.  One of their films, 'On The Loose', is included in the Region 2 Laurel and Hardy DVD set, as L and H made a cameo appearance in it.  The full set has been released on DVD in Region 1 in America, I believe.

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

Thelma Todd also worked with quite a lot of comedians of the era, including several appearances in Laurel and Hardy films, she was also in films with the Marx Brothers, Buster Keaton and Charley Chase.

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

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #183 on: February 01, 2019, 06:44:14 PM »
The Laurel and Hardy cameo means that ‘On The Loose’ will feature in our watch-along, and we will be reaching it on 22nd October.  There’s an entry on Thelma Todd in Mitchell’s Laurel and Hardy Encyclopedia, which I’ll share tomorrow when the daylight means I can take a decent photo!

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #184 on: February 02, 2019, 12:39:26 PM »
Thelma Todd:

 

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #185 on: February 02, 2019, 12:48:46 PM »
From Everson’s book:

 


From Skretvedt’s book:

   

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #186 on: February 02, 2019, 09:26:18 PM »
You're Darn Tootin' is a masterpiece. There's really not a second in it that's wasted.

First of all, we have the audacity of a musical sketch in a silent film, and it works perfectly. Then there's the scene at the boarding house (shot at the same Max Roach stage which featured in all the other films), with the soup gag, culminating in the dramatic aggrieved exit, elbows first with the wrong hats on.

In the street scenes, how did Ollie get down that hole so quickly? Also, when his trousers got set on fire, I particularly enjoyed his dog-with-worms arse-scooting in the style of Gary Lineker.

Then there was the fight, with its inherent, immutable logic. Punch in the guts, kick in the shin (Ollie getting kicked in the shin is one of the finest things in cinema, so they could afford to do about eight of them before escalating) and then the nuclear option, pants off.

And the final gag with the pair of them escaping in a fat man's trousers. Honestly, how can that be topped?
« Last Edit: February 02, 2019, 09:45:17 PM by Durance Vile »

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #187 on: February 03, 2019, 03:48:00 PM »
Here is 'A Pair of Tights', as mentioned in Everson's review of this week's film:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Iw6xb3nrTY


And a little more information:


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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #188 on: February 05, 2019, 05:10:50 PM »
Week 22

Their Purple Moment, released 25/02/1928




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


Viewing options:

Regarding the version on the UK DVD boxset:
Quote
Their Purple Moment - 1928 (silent)- Replacement titles all round; a shame as the originals exist.  Picture is a bit grainy but so is material in the US.
(http://www.laurelandhardy.org/newDVDREV.html)


Sourced from the above boxset:  https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x26g7mn



http://www.lordheath.com/menu1_162.html


Here’s the US version:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JiNIPCYU760

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #189 on: February 06, 2019, 12:35:17 PM »
From Everson’s book:

 


From Skretvedt’s book:

   

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #190 on: February 08, 2019, 09:24:15 PM »
I always wait until I've watched the films before I read the articles that RFV posts from the books, and they bear out my first impressions of that film. I felt short-changed by the ending.

Up until then it was fine stuff, with some very decent comedy and excellent close-up acting from everyome involved, but then they finished up with that half-hearted pie fight in the kicthen that left everything unresolved. I wonder what happened to stop them doing the escaping-as-midgets ending that was originally planned.

A bit of a disappointment, all told.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #191 on: February 11, 2019, 07:53:22 AM »
Here's an entry on deleted scenes:

 

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #192 on: February 11, 2019, 08:59:19 AM »
Yes, it's structurally a bit odd, Their Purple Moment.  It's partly because it all seems to be building up promisingly, their wives finding out and following them, the two women they're dining with showing themselves to have quite a viciouds streak - armed with a knife and gun - and the cab-driver's price steadily going up on the clock he's brought in, but the last few minutes seems to forget all of that and just finish it on a runaround chase and pie fight in the kitchens, which feels a bit disconnected from the rest of the story.

There's a lot of it included in one of Robert Youngson's compilation films, I'm not sure which one though.

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #193 on: February 11, 2019, 09:42:03 PM »
So much great stuff to catch up on! Firstly, an afterthought about The Finishing Touch (still my favourite so far, incidentally): that scene with Stan carrying the plank but being at both ends of it may be the first gag where we see that he can sort of break the laws of physics at will. This became a running joke, what with his lighting his thumb in Way out West and closing the shadow of a blind in Block-Heads, etc. etc.... The implication being that Stan's too dim to know he can't do the impossible. Or maybe that makes him more enlightened than the rest of us? Whatever, I was pleased to stumble upon this photo:



Don't they all just look so... real, ordinary, lovely and happy? I can't quite put it into words. Anyway, From Soup to Nuts was very good, but still a bit of a step back in my opinion. Ollie continually falling into the cake was brilliantly done and very funny, but... Well, we'll get to that later. I think everyone's picked out Anita Garvin and her cherry/tiara routine as being the show-stealer, and it is indeed absolutely sublime. One question I have is over just how risqué that ending was, with Stan in his 'undressed' state. That is, was it shocking and envelope-pushing, or just a bit of fun as we see it today?

You’re Darn Tootin’ was absolutely brilliant, and another step towards classic Laurel and Hardy. On paper, it's a crazy idea to make the first reel of a silent film all about a musical recital, but they make it work with their visual performances. I wonder if this was an original idea or had been done before, because it reminds me of any number of Golden Age cartoons that came not long after. The second act in the house does wonders to establish more about the relationship of Stan and Ollie, and has real emotion to it. Then there's the busking scene, which was later remade to better effect, but let's not take anything away from this. Special praise, though, has to go to the bit where Stan falls down the manhole. It could have been so bland in less creative hands: Stan doesn't look where he's going, falls down manhole. But the way they do it here, with him falling out of sight, and then we see he's gone face-first, legs waving in the air... Well, that had me properly laughing. This may be the first camera-reveal gag the boys did - I can't think of an earlier one - and it shows that they weren't above using the technology available to make a joke better.

The end palaver with the trousers makes this one the next in line of the "...and then the whole town joins in" endings, but they still pull it off (pun partially intended) extremely well. Starting with the steamroller and then all the turn-based shin-kicking, it's as mad as it should be, but still with its own internal logic. From a technical standpoint, I only wish that very final shot with them both waving from the same pair of fat-man trousers had been edited on slightly better, as it doesn't quite do the gag justice for some reason. That's a tiny nit-pick in an otherwise excellent short, though, and again I'm surprised that some of the published reviews are a little lukewarm.

Now for Their Purple Moment. We've had glimpses of wives and girlfriends before, but now it's fantastic that we've got to the first of the domestic comedies - but this one promises more than it delivers. It starts well enough, with the characters firmly established for what they are, and Stan's superb hiding place for his money. But one thing I've said previously is that too much plot gets in the way of Laurel and Hardy doing what they do best, and I think that's the case here. Of course there are funny moments, and both Stan and Babe get long close-ups when they realise that they're without cash, within which the pair of them demonstrate phenomenal acting as we can read every thought going through their heads. But, overall, it seems like every other short is a step in the wrong direction.

Which isn't to criticise Their Purple Moment too harshly, as it's still very funny. I mentioned Ollie repeatedly going into the cake in From Soup to Nuts; well, in a way, it's even funnier when it happens to the poor waiter here. The fact that he's a 100% innocent outside party who's cursed in the presence of Stan without even realising what's going on somehow elevates the joke in my opinion. But the ending... Well, it's tacked on, isn't it? I mean, they literally went back and shot that after the first previews, so presumably the whole dancing dwarf thing didn't go down well. Pity. Looking at the chronology of it, filming originally wrapped on 24th Feb; the very next day, The Finishing Touch was released. So that was their latest as far as the test audience was concerned, and maybe the fact that that ended with the money-grabbing stone-throwing fight and the house being demolished is what led them to try a more manic finish. I think we all agree that it's just plain lazy, and still feels like it lacks a punchline, but I suppose you can't win 'em all.

Enough waffle from me. Bring on the next!

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #194 on: February 11, 2019, 09:52:54 PM »
For me though, both of them were upstaged by Anita Garvin, . . .

That and her pie-sitting triumph in the Battle of the Century got me thinking about silent comediennes. I've never heard of any, but that might just be down to ignorance on my part. Were there any genuinely big female comedy stars of the day? Do we have any of their films?

You know, I was thinking exactly the same thing. Anita Garvin and Dorothy Coburn in particular have so far been wonderful support for the stars, and it's a pity they're not more lauded.

Here is 'A Pair of Tights', as mentioned in Everson's review of this week's film:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Iw6xb3nrTY

Really enjoyed that, too. If that short was indeed intended for Laurel and Hardy, though, presumably the male and female parts would essentially have been switched. I'm imagining Stan trying his best with the ice-creams, or would it have worked better with Babe? Either way, the gag at 9:10 where she tries to get through the door with none of the grace and dignity she's imagining is a truly masterful piece of physical comedy.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #195 on: February 12, 2019, 05:02:30 PM »
Week 23

Should Married Men Go Home?, released 08/09/1928




Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Should_Married_Men_Go_Home%3F


Viewing options:

Regarding the version on the UK DVD boxset:
Quote
Should Married Men Go Home? - 1928 (silent)- This version has remade titles and a nice score from the Beau Hunks Orchestra.  Nice picture quality but remade intertitles and end title.
(http://www.laurelandhardy.org/newDVDREV.html)


Sourced from the above boxset:  http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x26g07z



http://www.lordheath.com/menu1_77.html


Here’s the US version:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t46YV0tvIM4


Footage behind the scenes:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXXZ63ZXY-w

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #196 on: February 16, 2019, 04:33:51 PM »
From Everson’s book:

 


From Skretvedt’s book:

 

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #197 on: February 19, 2019, 04:18:16 PM »
Week 25

Two Tars, released 03/11/1928




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


Viewing options:

Regarding the version on the UK DVD boxset:
Quote
Two Tars - 1928 (silent)- Replacement titles all round (the originals do exist); picture quality is very good indeed with a Beau Hunks Orchestra accompaniment.
(http://www.laurelandhardy.org/newDVDREV.html)


Sourced from the above boxset:  https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x26g5r9



http://www.lordheath.com/menu1_164.html


Here’s the US version:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTF1OFykQAg

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #198 on: February 20, 2019, 09:23:35 PM »
One good film and one great film there.

Should Married Men Go Home is one of the first "domestic" films in a well-off milieu. You often think of L&H as down-and-outs, but there were plently comedies where they played hen-pecked middle class husbands. The first half of this one, especially the awkward sitting-room scene, brought out some superb comedy acting, getting away from the usual slapstick. The golf course scenes were good, too, but the mud fight seemed a bit repetitive, following straight on from You're Darn Tootin' and the Battle of the Century. What saved it right at the end was the look on Edgar Kennedy's face as he surfaced with his lost ball.

With Two Tars, though, they found a neat way out of that problem: the wanton and deliberate destruction of inanimate objects. I liked the the nice touch of the boys causing all the mayhem while wearing the two girls' hats. I noticed one of their signature moves appeared in this one: the "don't touch that, let me do it" hand-slapping routine. The whole film was superbly done from start to finish.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #199 on: February 22, 2019, 03:24:58 PM »
You may have noticed a jump from Week 23 to Week 25 there.  I've accidentally broken the sequence, which is a shame.  Between 'Should Married Men Go Home?' and 'Two Tars' was 'Early To Bed', which I'll have to share next week instead.

Sorry about that!

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #200 on: February 22, 2019, 03:40:39 PM »
I also somehow put the release date of 'Their Purple Moment' as 25/02/1928 instead of 19/05/1928.  A smaller error but it still annoys me a bit.

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #201 on: February 22, 2019, 10:02:31 PM »
You're all right, we'll let this one go. But woe betide it happens again.

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #202 on: February 22, 2019, 10:04:55 PM »
There's a right way and a wrong way to put up an exhaustive, strictly linear Laurel and Hardy watch-along.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #203 on: February 23, 2019, 11:53:35 AM »
From Everson’s book:

   


From Skretvedt’s book:

     

 

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #204 on: February 24, 2019, 11:02:08 PM »
There's a right way and a wrong way to put up an exhaustive, strictly linear Laurel and Hardy watch-along.

To be fair I think there are only about three of us still taking part now anyway.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #205 on: February 26, 2019, 06:38:04 PM »
Week 24

Early To Bed, released 06/10/1928




Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_to_Bed_(1928_film)


Viewing options:

Regarding the version on the UK DVD boxset:
Quote
Early To Bed - 1928 (silent)- Again replacement main and introductory titles.  The print quality is ok but is very poor in places particularly at the end where it's worn and faded.
(http://www.laurelandhardy.org/newDVDREV.html)


Sourced from the above boxset:  https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x24v40g 


http://www.lordheath.com/menu1_140.html  (No comparison stills between DVD versions are given for this film)


Here’s the US version:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCVPaBb9lEI

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #206 on: March 01, 2019, 08:01:24 PM »
Early To Bed is one of the oddest ones we've had so far. It's got some great gags in it: the pigeon shit, the reprised wet-the-bed-joke, the big vase, the chandelier and the gargoyles on the fountain, but the parts they're playing are so far from what they normally are. Stan's a put-upon, almost entirely sensible victim and Ollie has been turned by his money into a massive, childish cunt. It's almost like an abusive relationship.

Another thing was the joke on the caption about the maid being Chinese. Was this a 1920s reference to something or other, or just plain old racism?

It was a very decent comedy, nevertheless, but a strange one as well. 

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #207 on: March 02, 2019, 02:13:22 PM »
From Everson’s book:

 


From Skretvedt’s book:

 

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #208 on: March 02, 2019, 06:39:24 PM »
Here are reviews for the last two films from that Conrad Brunstrom blog.  I wanted to get us back into sequence by putting 'Two Tars' back into our minds:


Early to Bed:  https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/will-success-spoil-oliver-hardy-oh-you-betcha-early-to-bed-1928/

Two Tars:  https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/21/appetite-for-autodestruction-two-tars-1928-reviewed/

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #209 on: March 03, 2019, 10:10:18 PM »
To be fair I think there are only about three of us still taking part now anyway.

Hopefully more will start joining in once we get to the talkies, and even more when specific classics come up. That said, I really do encourage anyone who's never seen these silent shorts before to give them a go - you may be surprised at the level of sophistication on show. They're not all 20 solid minutes of slipping on a banana skin or taking a custard pie to the face, as you may have been led to believe (though if they were, Laurel and Hardy would have still made them funnier than anyone else).

As for me, I've been happily keeping up and then completely forgetting to post. Picking up where I left off, Should Married Men Go Home? was already one of my favourites of the silents, partly because it has a bit of everything. We've got the domestic situations at the beginning, then the money troubles with the drinks, which is followed by the golfing shenanigans, and finally the '...and then everyone joins in' set piece in the mud.

I love how the peacefulness of the opening scene is firmly established before Stan comes along, and how his status of 'general nuisance' very soon escalates to the level of 'disaster zone'. But I especially like how they achieve that without him being a bull in a china shop - just very small bits of carelessness and misfortune which accumulate (doubly so when trying to fix the most recent blunder) to have a devastating effect. And it's obviously contagious, too, as before long Babe has gone and destroyed his record player in spectacular fashion. The mere presence of Stan seems to bring a curse upon everyone in close proximity, and they seem to be making that a proper character point now.

Over to the golf course, and it's a realy pity that this is just about the last we'll see of Viola Richard and Edna Marion. Does anyone know why they were both so unceremoniously ditched by Roach? Years of good service, then one month's notice - not nice. Nevertheless, they were obviously professional to the last, as both are excellent in this, appearing to be damsels in distress but then taking the boys for every last penny (and watch). They were evidently very good sports, too, willing to be caked in mud and generally roughed up where most of us would have told the studios where to stick it by this point.

Before all that, Stan and Ollie's complete lack of coordination over the refusal of drinks, before Babe downs one and leaves Stan in the lurch is brilliantly constructed. They recycled this scenario a few years later, but the comedy was already there from the off. I really like the way they shot the picking-up-the-golf-balls scene, with Stan's shenanigans not being the main focus, but almost a background gag. The slapstick that follows is great, Edgar Kennedy and the wig difficulties add another dimension, and the utter chaos of the ending far more fitting than, say, Their Purple Moment.

Plenty of other great gags throughout that I haven't brought up (pretending not to be in but seeing each other close-up peering through the window, Ollie being dressed and ready for golf under his dressing gown, smashing the fence, the running joke of Stan's hat being too big etc. etc. - too many to mention), good pacing and enough variety to hold the interest. I'm sort of keeping a very rough ranking in my head as we're making our way through these, and so far I think I'd have to put Should Married Men Go Home? in second place, only behind The Finishing Touch. (I'm not including Hats Off or Battle of the Century.) Strangely, this opinion seems to be at odds with many of the published sources, who at times were a little dismissive of those two, but there you go. Oh, and that behind-the-scenes footage on the golf course is absolute gold dust - lovely to see.

I've got carried away there and written far too much - like I said, it's one of my favourites - so I'll stop for now. More on the others I missed (if you can stand it) when I get the chance, probably. Two Tars = great, Early to Bed = not so great, just in case I don't.