Author Topic: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along  (Read 14703 times)

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #270 on: June 03, 2019, 11:32:54 PM »
That's fine regarding the short break, RFV, and don't worry: you're not talking to yourself, some of us have indeed just got a bit behind.

Please keep up the great work!

Thanks very much, Spudgun.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #271 on: June 05, 2019, 12:24:15 AM »
Week 39

The Hoose-Gow, released 16/11/1929




Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hoose-Gow


Viewing options:

Regarding the version on the UK DVD boxset:
Quote
The Hoose-Gow - 1929- Original opening titles but with replacement introductory titles.  Print quality is very good.  There is also an alternative colourised version of this film which does have the original introductory titles!
(http://www.laurelandhardy.org/newDVDREV.html)


Sourced from the above boxset:  https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x24v6nk



http://www.lordheath.com/menu1_225.html


It seems like the US versions of the talkies are going to be a great deal harder to find online than the silents have been.  I made an attempt to upload a decent rip of ‘Berth Marks’ to dailymotion a few weeks ago but it was swiftly taken down.  I can’t find the US release of ’The Hoose-Gow’ available to stream online at all.

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #272 on: June 05, 2019, 03:18:18 PM »
That's fine regarding the short break, RFV, and don't worry: you're not talking to yourself, some of us have indeed just got a bit behind.

Please keep up the great work!

The same goes for me too. I love this thread but I have to watch the films twice before I can make any comment other than "that bit was great", and once you get behind it's hard to catch up. But I have been watching them religiously and really looking forward to every Tuesday.

It must be an awful lot of work keeping this ticking along, so by all means take a break, just don't make it too long!

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #273 on: June 05, 2019, 04:02:29 PM »
Thanks Durance Vile!

Can anyone recommend somewhere for me to upload any videos that I can’t find a decent link for?  Dailymotion took down my upload of ‘Berth Marks’, so that’s not an option.

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #274 on: June 05, 2019, 06:42:41 PM »
No, sorry, no idea about that.

I've got the UK box set (incidentally thanks to a heads-up years ago on another message board from David Stubbs of Chart Music fame). That's absolutely no good at all to anyone else, but it is one of the reasons why I enjoy this thread so much. The box set is so illogically ordered - and cluttered up with colourised versions - that it was always hard to know where to start with it, so I always ended up just dipping in at random.

I've always been an L&H fan, but the box set is so chaotically ordered that it was a bit of a disappointment, really. This thread, with its chronological order and all the background information, has made it make sense. Long may it continue and keep up the good work. Also, are the books still available?


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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #275 on: June 05, 2019, 09:18:25 PM »
The older books can be obtained second hand from various online places, but I noticed they all had a bit of a bump in price when the Stan and Ollie biopic was released, so if they all seem bizarrely expensive that could be why.

I can heartily recommend the newest version of Skretvedt’s book over the older editions.  I have included a few pages from it in this thread for comparison and extra information so the difference should be quite obvious.

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #276 on: June 09, 2019, 12:53:07 AM »
The slow catch-up starts here for me with Berth Marks, and, like Durance Vile posted, I'm surprised by just how scathing some of the critics were. Not that it's one from the top echelons, but as far as I'm concerned, it's supposed to be uncomfortable, excruciating and claustrophobic to watch. That's all part of the joke, like that one where they're trying to scale the wall of the graveyard. This goes so much further than that, and to haul them over the coals for trying something new just because it isn't your typical Keystone Cops madcap 100mph slapstick anarchy is really harsh.

I also really liked the way the B-plot - everyone else on the train ripping each others' clothes in tit-for-tat attacks - is presented. The boys are completely oblivious to it all, despite being the ones who inadvertently started it, and to me the implication is that this basically follows them around. They cause chaos and devastation wherever they go, mostly by accident, and often without realising, like some sort of mythical bad luck charm. Away from that, I got a big laugh out of the 'I bet you're real good' line, even though it's not really a gag as such. For some reason, I just love those old-fashioned passive-aggressive insults that take a bt of processing. I also picked up on two jokes that wouldn't have worked in a silent film: the station announcer's "Morny Stannit" routine, and the bit where the first lot of clothes-ripping continues off-screen via sound effects and shadows only. That second one in particular demonstrates how quickly they figured out that sometimes not seeing the outcome of whatever bad thing is happening to someone can be funnier than showing all the action in detail. A single well-placed sound effect can get a huge laugh all by itself.

Moving on to Men o' War, and I think that the opening skit with the gloves/bloomers was my favourite part. They're doing their very best to come across as all chivalrous and charming, and the dialogue that could fit either way is cleverly worked out. Babe's look at the "soldiers" comment and subtle determination not to get landed with the thick one made me laugh, even if it's not particularly PC. And then we're into remake territory, with the whole not-enough-money situation and Stan not understanding that he has to turn down the offer. His deep regret at the "Do you know what you've done" scolding underlines the whole childishness of the relationship, and his munging of the word "sassafras" may be the first of that type of spoonerism that he occasionally did. (And if you look closely, his jackpot seems to be immediately spent on the girls - another nice incidental gag.)

All very good, which is to be expected with the slightly under-used Jimmy Finlayson on board, and the same can be said for the next scene with Charlie Hall being just as short and angry as ever. He really is fantastic, and his refusal to back down even though it actually was him who crashed into them in the first place perfectly in character. It's another "...and then everyone joins in" ending, but it builds nicely, and there's enough of a twist on the usual theme and enough dignity lost all round for it to be enjoyable. Not that the short isn't above criticism: there are a few blatant continuity blunders, including the boat still being tied up when they launch (which looks like is going to be a joke, but isn't), oars switching positions back and forth, and an early close-up of Babe that's edited in badly; you can also see them actively trying to sink the boat at the end for the final joke. But overall, I think I'd rate this as above average so far, and more evidence that they were settling into the talkies pretty well.

More to follow in due course - you have been warned.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #277 on: June 10, 2019, 06:38:23 PM »
From Everson’s book:




From Skretvedt’s book:

   

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #278 on: June 11, 2019, 05:11:39 PM »
Week 40

The Hollywood Revue of 1929, released 23/11/1929

 


Wikipedia:  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hollywood_Revue_of_1929


Filmhttps://m.ok.ru/video/278162377358

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #279 on: June 17, 2019, 11:16:33 PM »
From Everson’s book:




From Skretvedt’s book:

   

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #280 on: June 21, 2019, 06:57:24 PM »
Week 41

Angora Love, released 14/12/1929

 


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


Viewing options:

Regarding the version on the UK DVD boxset:
Quote
Angora Love - 1929 (silent)- Again a disappointment as the original pipe organ score has been replaced by a Beau Hunks score.  Main titles are replacements - the originals are feared lost.  However, the intertitles are originals.  Picture quality is quite poor for a late 1929 release.
(http://www.laurelandhardy.org/newDVDREV.html)


Sourced from the above boxset:  https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x26g5ev



http://www.lordheath.com/menu1_169.html


Here’s the US version:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2NkdwhPh-8

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #281 on: June 21, 2019, 08:22:56 PM »
From Everson’s book:

 


From Skretvedt’s book:

   

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #282 on: July 03, 2019, 01:32:30 AM »
Still way behind, but we can't let this thread die. Perfect Day is brilliantly funny, and features some of the best 'choreography' the boys ever did. (No idea why Everson is so negative.) I'm talking about the seemingly never-ending little physical gags - I don't know how they managed to contrive so many ways for poor Uncle Edgar's foot to take a hammering, but every incident makes perfect sense and happens with precision timing to make it look accidental. Really fantastic stuff. The slight irony is that the very first big slapstick moment with the sandwiches isn't quite up to the usual standard, but after that, it's a slapstick masterclass.

I loved the anticlimax of the car failing after those interminably long goodbyes with the neighbours. It's obviously going to happen, but giving it the gigantic build-up strengthens it immensely. I also got a big laugh out of the whole throwing-out-the-clutch gag - not just the innocent idiocy of Stan, but then Babe throwing it right at his head. That may be the first example we've come across of a massively overblown sound effect being used to heighten the action and the comedy. One thing that didn't sit particularly well was the way Stan answered back whenever they got into an argument - that's something that they soon ditched, with him instead either protesting childishly, or taking it before dishing out revenge. Here, he sort of tries to give as good as he gets, and that's not the character we know and love. Also, "Don't call me Ollie" sounds weird in hindsight. (Hindhearing?)

The closing stunt is a good one, and just one of those mad things old Hollywood would do purely because they could. And what do we make of that reveal when the reverend walks past? Social satire, years ahead of its time, and probably the sort of thing they had to leave behind when the Hays Code came in. The short mostly takes place in just a single location, which would be impressive, except...

They Go Boom!
is even more restricted, with just a bedroom and a kitchen - but that's all Laurel and Hardy needed to make another top class film. Again, the slapstick between them is timed so well, as are all the mishaps in the boys' multiple losing battles against inanimate objects. Babe is quite horrible in this one, but we'll let him off as he's unwell, and this short plays into that theory that the ultimate joke of the partnership is that he needs Stan a lot more than Stan needs him.

I mentioned sound effects earlier, and the funny snore at the beginning may be their first use of a ridiculous one to get a laugh all on its own. Remember, this was an entirely new art, and they were trying things that couldn't have been done on film and would have been difficult to make work on stage, so it's slightly surprising such a short silly moment can still get such a big laugh, but there you go. The rip of the nightgown is another moment enhanced by an effect, but did you notice the bit preceding it, when Stan goes to remove the plaster Ollie has sat on? The expression on Babe's face! He looks genuinely concerned that Stan's trying it on with him, despite spending 90% of the short in bed with him. I wonder if that was a meta-gag, whether it was their way of establishing that it's not that kind of relationship, or whether I'm looking too deeply.

Now, I'm never disappointed by the sudden appearance of Little Mr Furious (a.k.a. Charlie Hall), but up until that point, the short felt like a play rather than a film. Part of me is left forever wondering how this could have been developed as a two-hander, with no real plot development, but just a torturous night of illness, ham-fisted help, and aforementioned inanimate objects only conspiring to make things worse. And then, with matters finally under control, just as they drop off to sleep, of course the picture falls down, water shoots out, the blinds pop, and the alarm clock goes off.

But I'm fine with an exploding mattress, too.

Ultimately, I class both of these shorts are really top notch - despite Everson's negativity - and will never get tired of them.

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #283 on: July 03, 2019, 01:37:40 AM »
On a bit of a tangent, but while I'm thinking about it, that fake sound-dubbed version of Double Whoopee... It's a bit mad, isn't it? But, it actually worked surprisingly well. I know they had a script to work with, but I reckon there must have also been some pretty impressive lip-reading going on at times, too. The weirdest line was when Babe furthers an argument by insisting out of nowhere he's a taxpayer, and elaborates no further.

Anyway, it got me to thinking of how much easier it would be to do this nowadays with modern technology, and how they could hire proper voice actors and compose full scores rather than relying on stock music, and then it hit me: Why doesn't this feel as abhorrent as those colourised versions? There's no logical reason why I should refuse to watch anything other than the original black-and-white versions, yet actually be quite intrigued by the possibilities of making the same films non-silent, but that's exactly how I feel. There's probably a deep philosophical point to be made about this, but I'll leave that to others.

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #284 on: July 09, 2019, 09:38:32 PM »
Anyone still watching these? Bacon Grabbers takes us back to the silent era, and off the back of a couple of single-location (or thereabouts) talkies, it's surprisingly noticeable just how different a formula this one follows. Not battling the constraints of the cumbersome sound equipment allows for faster and more elaborate outdoors action. The timing of the chases and the summons always being in the wrong place when the opportunity presents itself are very well contrived, but, overall, I'm going to fly in the face of the critics again and say that I don't think this was a particular memorable outing for the boys.

Not that it's bad or anything. The early scenes in the office and trying to get the car started got a few laughs, and the ladder shenanigans (with Stan banging his head on the same bit more than once) were also funny. The best moment may have been Babe being dragged across the road by the dog, and then nearly getting run over. The 'everybody loses' ending (due to the wife paying off the debt and the steamroller) was probably an old joke even then, but it's still well constructed and executed. But on the whole, the short felt to me that it was either missing something - and I don't mean sound - or was a little too elaborate for its own good.

As for The Hoose-Gow, again, there are some very funny moments, but it still falls a little short of greatness in my opinion. If timing was the strength of Bacon Grabbers, then I'm afraid the opposite sometimes applies here, thanks in part to the fact that it's a talkie. The rhythm of the end rice pudding battle, for instance, just doesn't stand up to similar "...and then they all join in" endings from earlier (e.g. Battle of the Century, You're Darn Tootin', etc.). It's too slow and contemplative, even compared to the turn-based battles of, say, A Perfect Day. It's like it was trying to be one thing, but took the timing of another. The lack of any musical backing probably hampers it further.

On the plus side, the running gag of Stan incrementally taking out every single one of Babe's jacket pockets is brilliant, as are just about all the tool-related accidents between the pair of them. The rope ladder appearing behind Tiny Sandford also got a laugh - Tiny is good value throughout, in fact, and Jimmy Finlayson's presence as the dignified warden also helps. The tree-chopping antics were also top notch, and I'll never not enjoy Stan doing something inexplicably stupid like taking a small pinch of salt/pepper from his hand, before unthinkingly dumping the rest in. And hiding a whole apple in his mouth! To be honest, I can't really fault much specifically at all - it's just that climactic fight which has been timed all wrong that unfortunately detracts from the whole thing. Less than the sum of its parts, I suppose, but never mind.

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #285 on: July 09, 2019, 10:46:11 PM »
Almost seamless:


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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #286 on: July 11, 2019, 12:09:55 PM »
Thanks for all your posts spudgun!  I really appreciate you keeping this thread alive, and will try to add a few more things in response over the next few weeks.