Author Topic: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along  (Read 10191 times)

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #210 on: March 03, 2019, 10:13:41 PM »
Actually, before I forget, did anyone see Tim Vine's recent RHLSTP? He picked a bunch of his favourite comedy skits, and I was delighted that he not only selected Laurel and Hardy, but he chose a clip from my very favourite short, Towed in a Hole. If you don't mind the chronology of the thread going a bit haywire, you can see it here:

https://youtu.be/gm7r5JGTuic?t=4265

The clip and discussion last about five minutes - nothing ground-breaking, but it's always nice to hear the love people have for the boys. I like how Richard Herring described their relationship: both stupid, but there's a hierarchy to the stupidity.

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #211 on: March 04, 2019, 07:45:40 PM »
Taking the last two chronologically, Early to Bed really isn't too enjoyable for me, all things considered. In fact, it comes as no surprise to read that it was directed by someone who'd never directed a Laurel and Hardy film before, nor did again. I mean, by this point we've surely all reached the conclusion that Stan and Ollie need to be a team, united in (and failing at) a common cause. Seeing them on opposite sides is bad enough, but to cast Babe as the vindictive bully he comes across as just doesn't sit nicely at all. Which isn't to say it's devoid of all merit, as there are still some good gags and a little bit of heart, but, I don't know... I can't help thinking this storyline might have been better suited to the Three Stooges or someone like that. It's accepted that they hate each other's guts.

All that said, there's a sort of fan theory that the big cosmic joke in the background of all Laurel and Hardy movies is that, despite initial appearances, when it comes down to it, Ollie actually needs Stan a lot more than Stan needs Ollie. This film - one of very few to feature just the boys and no-one else (no other human, at any rate) - is one of the earliest to sort of reinforce that idea. At the beginning, it's Stan who panics when he thinks he's going to lose his friend; by the end, he's happy to pack it all in, and it's Babe who finds himself going to extraordinary lengths to keep him. Perhaps I'm looking too deeply.

Special mention to the bit where Stan misses the door. I don't know whether the painting was supposed to fall off the wall, but it's a touch of genius that makes a simple throwaway joke even funnier, whether intentional or not. Also, weird to think that prohibition was in full effect at this point - a theme that shows up for a good few years yet in L&H films. (Them Thar Hills and Blotto immediately spring to mind.)

Two Tars is a huge improvement on the preceding, and far more in keeping with the characters we know and love. The first half or so, in which they again rescue two damsels in distress (this time from a bubblegum dispenser) really underlines Stan and Ollie's sheer incompetence in everything except for making a bad situation worse. There seems to be a running joke about all the women they come across basically wearing the trousers and being in charge - something that was probably a lot more obvious back then than it is now. One of them slips over at around 8:08 in the YouTube version, and I'm not entirely sure that's deliberate, but they covered it well if not. Nice to see Charlie Hall being all short and angry at the boys, as always.

The second half of course features the famous 'road rage' scene, and it's a joy to behold. It's one of those things that starts funny, goes on so long it starts to get silly, but then just continues to such an extent that it grows into something even more hilarious than before. The wanton destruction of so many cars - each in a unique way, it must be stressed - makes for so many brilliant visual gags (that one guy Fred Flinstoning his way out of the shot particularly got me) in such a short space of time that the laughs are just unrelenting. The fact that everyone seems to just accept what comes their way during their 'turn', as long as they can do whatever they want in retaliation, is a staple of Laurel and Hardy fights, and it works both one-on-one and on a massive scale such as a traffic jam. 

The end joke with the tunnel is pretty inventive, and I think at least part of that footage is reversed. Seeing the cop's bike being basically steamrollered is also a great moment. All in all, a definite classic - maybe the third best we've seen so far, behind (1) The Finishing Touch and (2) Should Married Men Go Home?, in my very rough personal ranking system. Or maybe You're Darn Tootin' should be somewhere in the top three, too. My opinions change frequently - too many classics! (Like I said, it's a very rough ranking system...)

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #212 on: March 04, 2019, 09:15:07 PM »
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?

The 2019 edition of Skretvedt's book adds a little information about this moment, and doesn't say it was a reference:

Quote
One unpleasant moment in the film comes when Ollie arrives home, tipsy, and describes to butler Stan the beautiful woman he's just met at a party.  He notes that she also has "a beautiful maid," and Stan perks up in anticipation of possible romance, but Ollie puts the kibosh on this by adding, "But she's Chinese."  In today's more enlightened times, this would not be an issue, of course.  Prints of this film struck after the 1950s changed the intertitle to read, "But she's married," which is funnier, not offensive, and more conclusive.
(page 131)

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #213 on: March 04, 2019, 09:37:21 PM »
I thought this would be worth reposting now, as we will be watching 'Habeas Corpus' this week:





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.

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #214 on: March 04, 2019, 11:23:49 PM »
Quote from: Durance Vile on March 01, 2019, 08:01:24 PM
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?

The 2019 edition of Skretvedt's book adds a little information about this moment, and doesn't say it was a reference:

Quote
One unpleasant moment in the film comes when Ollie arrives home, tipsy, and describes to butler Stan the beautiful woman he's just met at a party.  He notes that she also has "a beautiful maid," and Stan perks up in anticipation of possible romance, but Ollie puts the kibosh on this by adding, "But she's Chinese."  In today's more enlightened times, this would not be an issue, of course.  Prints of this film struck after the 1950s changed the intertitle to read, "But she's married," which is funnier, not offensive, and more conclusive.
(page 131)

The strangest thing is that what Babe mouths doesn't match the card anyway, so it's like someone later along in the process decided to throw that one in. I believe there was a common stereotype at the time that people from the Far East were quick to have loads of children, so that could be the crux of the gag. It brings to mind the end of this Buster Keaton short:

https://youtu.be/L4wZja2uu1M?t=1287

Unless it's nothing more than a language barrier joke that we've all misunderstood. Or perhaps it really is just plain nasty. Either way, let's see if embedding these works (just for fun):

                         

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #215 on: March 05, 2019, 04:24:37 PM »
Week 26

Habeas Corpus, released 01/12/1928

 


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


Viewing options:

Regarding the version on the UK DVD boxset:
Quote
Habeas Corpus - 1927 (silent)- I had expected the recently rediscovered original synchronised music and effects disc to be included here but this is not the case.  Instead we have a truly awful pipe organ score.  Main and intertitles are replacements - also unnecessary as they too exist, but picture is quite good.
(http://www.laurelandhardy.org/newDVDREV.html)


Sourced from the above boxset:  https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x24vag7


http://www.lordheath.com/menu1_165.html  (No comparison stills between DVD versions are shown for this film)


Here’s the US version (with the original Vitaphone synchronised audio):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5i7DiJa8lA

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #216 on: March 07, 2019, 10:00:58 PM »
I think Habeas Corpus is going to have to be filed under "Has it's moments; not a classic". I suppose it has its historical importance, what with being the first Laurel and Hardy with synchronised sound (though no speech just yet), and there are a few very funny moments, but overall it's not quite up to scratch with what preceded it.

I like the fact that the mad doctor is that kid of mad - just a complete fruitcake who, despite looking for dead bodies to experiment on, isn't really malicious. (Come to think of it, the fact that he sends the boys to get an already-dead body rather than, you know, simply offing these two guys off the street there and then has to go down as a good sign.) Also, plus points for the slowness of the wet paint gag, where most comics of the day would have revealed it all far too quickly.

Of course, a lot of the graveyard stuff is extremely reminiscent of Do Detectives Think?, and that feeling of semi-remake is something we're going to have to get used to as we enter the sound era. Despite what other sources say, I quite liked the bit with Ollie trying to give Stan a leg-up to hop over the wall. You can really feel Babe's incandescence as we ourselves start thinking, "Just jump!" Also, falling through the wall, getting smashed on the head with a spade, and whacking his own bare toes all see Babe at his very best. On the other hand, a tortoise with a lamp on its back sets fire to a guy in a graveyard with a white sheet over him. I mean, come on - contrived isn't the word! Thankfully the writing wasn't always like that.

The lack of a proper, satisfying ending probably sums it all up. Kudos to L&H for not just sticking to a formula and being willing to do something so much darker, and it's not by any means terrible. But, like I said, not a classic.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #217 on: March 09, 2019, 12:51:07 PM »
From Everson’s book:




From Skretvedt’s book:

 
 

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #218 on: March 10, 2019, 07:22:17 PM »
I'd go along with everything Spudgun has already said more eloquently that I could have done. It wasn't one of their best, but an interesting idea with plenty of good gags and a relief to be (kind of) back in the normal L&H world after the weirdness of Early To Bed. The climbing over the wall scene was long, but that was almost the point of it. They had the inventiveness to see how long they could get away with it. I get the feeling Stewart Lee may have seen this. It was basically an expansion of the graveyard scene in Do Detectives Think into a whole movie, and none the worse for it. I loved Stan climbing all over Ollie's face, getting over the wall and then popping up in a grave, and later on the terrified Stan leaping vertically over a ten-foot wall. It was a pity that the ending was so weak.

Not a great film, but a decent one all the same, and a refreshing take on the oft-neglected subject of hungry men stealing freshly buried corpses for money.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #219 on: March 10, 2019, 07:41:05 PM »
a relief to be (kind of) back in the normal L&H world after the weirdness of Early To Bed.

I really regret messing the sequence up, for exactly this reason.  ‘Two Tars’ came in between.

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #220 on: March 10, 2019, 08:07:18 PM »
Sorry, my mistake. I already knew that.

By the way, looking at that GIF up there of Babe falling down the manhole, I honestly can't see the join. Unless it's more cleverly done than I can figure out, he must have dived straight down it. Stan's timing is exquisite too, looking the other way just beforehand, then a slow double-take and look around. Superb.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #221 on: March 12, 2019, 06:03:39 PM »
Week 27

We Faw Down, released 29/12/1928




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


Viewing options:

Regarding the version on the UK DVD boxset:
Quote
We Faw Down - 1928 (silent)- Presented with original opening titles; the introductory, inter and end titles are replacements however.  Picture is as good as their talkies, ie. excellent.  The music and effects are very effective, but not original Vitaphone.

Footnote by Chris Seguin: The original [Vitaphone] discs for We Faw Down do exist; they're used on the German disc.  I wonder why the original score isn't on the UK version…
(http://www.laurelandhardy.org/newDVDREV.html)


Sourced from the above boxset:  https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x24v5ns



http://www.lordheath.com/menu1_163.html


I think this is the US release (which lacks the original Vitaphone audio):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OY59zCcq1QY

I believe this is the Dick und Doof version, using the original audio:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfgrYGVHICo

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #222 on: March 14, 2019, 05:53:54 PM »
From Everson’s book:

 


From Skretvedt’s book:

 
 

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #223 on: March 19, 2019, 06:01:49 PM »
The new edition of Skretvedt's book presents an interlude between 'We Faw Down' and 'Liberty':

   

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




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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #224 on: March 19, 2019, 06:39:37 PM »
Week 28

Liberty, released 26/01/1929




Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberty_(1929_film)


Viewing options:

Regarding the version on the UK DVD boxset:
Quote
Liberty - 1929 (silent)- This film opens with replacement titles which are remakes of believe it or not the Film Classics Reissue titles.  We also thankfully have the original music and effects discs.  Picture quality is very good although the replacement intertitles are unwarranted.
(http://www.laurelandhardy.org/newDVDREV.html)


Sourced from the above boxset:  https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x24uysn



http://www.lordheath.com/menu1_167.html


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

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #225 on: March 21, 2019, 08:29:34 PM »
Sorry to miss a week, but L&H films sometimes go in pairs and these were two unusually saucy ones, in diametrically different ways.

It's interesting to note that Liberty only came about because of the scene cut out of We Faw Down, but the finished films are entirely different styles of movie, and by this time it's becoming clear that the boys can turn their hand to anything and make magic. They're approaching the imperial phase now.

On first view I was a bit disappointed by We Faw Down, especially the scene where they get back to their wives and try to mime the show. I thought it went on too long. But on second view, the close-up acting is phenomenal, and that's something that tends to be forgotten with L&H. They were slapstick performers up with and above the best of them, but they were light years ahead of everyone else when it came to the subtleties. There's so much to enjoy in that scene, especially the brilliant call-back where Stan taps his wife on the Adam's apple and she sticks her tongue out.

Kay Deslys has turned up in a couple of films lately and she's been a good foil, but she was perfect in this. Her scene with Stan was magnificent. You could tell that the plot didn't hang together all that well but the final gag with the dozens of randy men jumping out of the windows was the best punchline so far and had me howling.

Liberty was a treat from start to finish. From the bathos of the opening gag right the way through to the last, this was broad physical comedy at its best, with the added bonus of the welcome return of Fin. That was one of their best: constantly getting caught attempting to take their trousers off and then the whole Harold Lloyd routine on the skyscraper.

Two completely different films that showed off just how versatile the boys were.

Here's the link to Laurel and Hardy on This Is Your Life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTAPZTfIXVE


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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #226 on: March 21, 2019, 08:46:30 PM »
I meant to do this at the weekend, because we stepped into 1929 this week, which means Laurel and Hardy’s first all-talking shorts are not far away.  The films for this year were released out of sequence so I have decided to label them ‘silent’, ‘synchronised music and sound effects’ and ‘all-talking’ as appropriate.


Laurel and Hardy 1929

Week 28 (19th March):  Liberty (synchronised music and sound effects; written mid-September 1928; filmed 1st-17th October 1928 with retakes 26th October and 13th-19th November; released 26th January 1929)
Week 29 (26th March):  Wrong Again (synchronised music and sound effects; written late October - early November 1928; filmed 21st November - 1st December 1928; released 23rd February 1929)
Week 30 (2nd April):  That’s My Wife (synchronised music and sound effects; written early December 1928; filmed 11th-16th December 1928; released 23rd March 1929)
Week 31 (9th April):  Big Business (silent; written mid-December 1928; filmed 19th-26th December 1928; released 20th April 1929)
Week 32 (16th April):  Unaccustomed As We Are (all-talking; written mid-March 1929; filmed 25th March - early April 1929; released 4th May 1929)
Week 33 (23rd April):  Double Whoopee (silent; written and filmed early-mid February 1929; released 18th May 1929)
Week 34 (30th April):  Berth Marks (all-talking; written early April 1929; filmed circa 20th-27th April 1929; released 1st June 1929)
Week 35 (7th May):  Men O’ War (all-talking; written early May 1929; filmed circa 11th-18th May 1929; released 29th June 1929)
Week 36 (14th May):  Perfect Day (all-talking; written late May - early June 1929; filmed circa 8th-15th June 1929; released 10th August 1929)
Week 37 (21st May):  They Go Boom (all-talking; written late June 1929; filmed circa 7th-13th July 1929; released 21st September 1929)
Week 38 (28th May):  Bacon Grabbers (synchronised music and sound effects; written and filmed circa 16th February - 2nd March 1929; released 19th October 1929)
Week 39 (4th June):  The Hoose-Gow (all-talking; script finished 29th August 1929; filmed 30th August - 14th September 1929; released 16th November 1929)
Week 40 (11th June):  The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (all-talking; written and filmed Spring 1929; officially released 23rd November 1929)
Week 41 (18th June):  Angora Love (synchronised music and sound effects; written and filmed early-mid March 1929; released 14th December 1929)