Author Topic: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along  (Read 15903 times)

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #60 on: October 25, 2018, 04:53:59 PM »
From Skretvedt's book:

   


One factor contributing to the occasional two-steps-forward, one-step-back experience of watching Laurel and Hardy’s earlier films is that they were not always released in the order they were made.  Skretvedt’s book orders the films it describes by production date rather than release date, and the next film we see won’t be ‘Sailors, Beware!’ as it was not the next film released.  Keep an eye on this, and I’ll mention it again when we catch our first glimpse of ‘Flying Elephants’.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #61 on: October 28, 2018, 10:54:31 PM »
The next film we watch was the first Laurel and Hardy short to be released by Roach through M-G-M studio rather than Pathé.  That difference has so far only been highlighted once in our thread, in Everson's 1975 review of 'Duck Soup', in which he said:  "Admittedly, the fact that [the first "new" Laurel and Hardy I'd seen in some ten years] was a Pathé - and an early one at that, rather than an M-G-M - worked against expectations of it turning out to be a classic, and indeed its values are more academic than comedic."

I'm going to let any differences between the Pathé and M-G-M films emerge by themselves during our watch-along, but I've realised that now is the time to share these encyclopedia pages on the two distributors, particularly as it will shed light on some films being released out of sequence.


Here's the encyclopedia entry on Pathé; when Roach severed his relationship with them, their response was to delay release of the pre-partnership Laurel and Hardy films until the pair had grown in popularity:




And here's the entry on M-G-M:


Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #62 on: October 30, 2018, 05:19:49 PM »
It's difficult to judge With Love and Hisses. On the one hand, it has its amusing moments but ultimately is nothing to write home about; on the other hand, there are a couple of elements that are interesting from the perspective of the chronology of the boys' films. Po-faced analysis follows...

The first minor thing that I picked up on is the scene around 4:13 in the YouTube link. We've seen Stan do his 'confused' face already in earlier shorts, but here he takes it to the next level. Where previously it was just a brief throwaway moment, here they really dwell firstly on his obliviousness as he flicks through the magazine and digs into the box of chocolates, and then his sheer bafflement at Ollie's burning anger. The scene at 4:40 is possibly the longest 'look' we've had so far, and it's that face where you can really see the cogs whirring as he tries (and fails) to process it all that became the trademark in the years to come.

The other point that struck me was the change in pace. So far we've had a fair few farcical comic romps with characters and the action going all over the place at high speed, but now we have the beginnings of another Laurel and Hardy staple. Take, for instance, the scene beginning at 10:37. Instead of being a series of quickfire gags with everything going wrong in a big way, we get a long slow scene with someone (in this case Jimmy Finlayson) just trying to go about his everyday business, but getting more and more irritated as he's constantly thwarted in increasingly frustrating ways. The plot is barely advanced at all for nearly five minutes, and it's precisely this that L&H would ultimately thrive on: a straightforward situation where nothing happens except their own stupidity and incompetence. Of course, the boys aren't yet in cahoots in this one to play off each other as well as they ultimately would down the line, but I see this is the genesis of that.

Or perhaps I'm looking too deeply into all this. Either way, I did enjoy the short even though, like I said, it's nothing too special. It's nice to see the return of the animated special effects (the stink lines and all that - I believe they used to basically scratch these straight onto the developed negative, but I'm willing to be corrected), and of course the only billboard in the film is going to prove important to the plot. I liked the running "Report to me..." joke, even if it didn't really go anywhere. All round, decent. I've seen all these before, but this is the first time I've watched them chronologically, and it's really adding to the experience.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #63 on: October 30, 2018, 05:25:06 PM »
Week 8

Sugar Daddies, released 10/09/1927




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


Regarding the version on the UK DVD boxset:
Quote
Sugar Daddies - 1927 (silent)- Remade main titles which omit the introductory title.  The print is generally very good considering its age with minor scuffs.
(http://www.laurelandhardy.org/newDVDREV.html)


Video source (from the above boxset):  https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x24uvqb

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #64 on: October 30, 2018, 05:54:06 PM »

(http://www.lordheath.com/menu1_91.html)

The US version seems like a cleaned-up version of the same print, but the chief differences here are the running speed and the music, which some may prefer.  Unfortunately there isn't much sharpness to the image, and I don't know if that is due to the resolution of this upload or something else:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GijvB_DRhL8

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #65 on: October 31, 2018, 08:07:44 PM »
That was pretty good, I thought, with some nice touches - Fin's throbbing head, Charlotte Mineau's "Fin" squint, and a first appearance of the phrase "another fine mess", albeit said by Stan to Fin. A daft film that bowled along at a nice pace, with some interesting use of a moving camera. There's a lot more Stan/Ollie interaction in  this one too - especially the hat routine, although it wasn't yet anything like a double act. Stan hadn't found his character yet and Ollie was again playing a butler. Were there ever plans to promote them as a trio? 

And that Fun House looked like a fucking death trap.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2018, 08:18:07 PM by Durance Vile »

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #66 on: November 01, 2018, 08:57:09 AM »
Interesting too to see an extended version of the exact same coat gag, with Stan riding on James Finlayson's back, as seen earlier in Love 'em and Weep - identical down to Finlayson's upside-down head appearing under the hem and giving them away.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #67 on: November 03, 2018, 10:31:06 AM »
Already made by this point between 'With Love And Hisses' and 'Sugar Daddies' were 'Sailors, Beware!' (filmed around April 1927), 'Do Detectives Think?' (filmed around May 1927) and 'Flying Elephants' (also filmed around May 1927).  The last of these would be held back by Pathé until February 1928!

Here is Skretvedt's book (you can see the last paragraph for 'Flying Elephants' on the top of the first page):

   

That final sentence refers unfortunately to the next film that was made, not the next one we'll see...

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #68 on: November 03, 2018, 11:03:05 AM »
Interesting too to see an extended version of the exact same coat gag, with Stan riding on James Finlayson's back, as seen earlier in Love 'em and Weep - identical down to Finlayson's upside-down head appearing under the hem and giving them away.

Yes; I am interested in this too.  With comedies like this, cinema-goers would be used to their favourite gags being repeated in new films rather than experiencing any single film as often as they wanted.  When viewed in order these repetitions give the films a sense of rehearsal, I suppose, and I like it a lot.

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #69 on: November 04, 2018, 05:46:51 PM »
I found Sugar Daddies to be slight, but nevertheless amusing. The concept is funny enough, even if the plot isn't actually resolved, and the very final skirt-lifting punchline... well, you can see it coming a mile off, but I wonder how it played back then. A lot of the book reviews posted above so far are a bit harsh on the early silents, in my opinion. Obviously they don't fare too well in comparison to the classics that were to follow, but watching them chronologically, they just about all stand up in their own right.

I'm enjoying seeing the practical effects they used back then - this is the second short in a row where James Finlayson has some sort of inflatable about his person for the purposes of a visual gag, in this case the throbbing head. It's also great to see (as mentioned already) the return of the Stan and Jimmy cloaked monster, which I can only imagine went down so well in cinemas the first time round that they decided to build half a film around it. These repeated jokes happen a fair bit, and can get a little tiresome when you watch them all too close together, but that image of Fin's upside-down head popping out between his own legs is one I'll never grow tired of.

But the fact that so far I've barely mentioned Laurel and Hardy themselves means we're back to the issue of this not being a proper Laurel and Hardy short. In fact, one of the books or sites linked to above (can't remember which) said something about the boys and Jimmy basically being considered a trio at this point, and I can completely see that on the strength of this one. That said, there's some good hat interplay with Ollie when Stan first appears, which shows the sort of timing that they would perfect as a double act. I also got good laughs out of the "She cries every time her mother gets married" card (it tells us so much in so few words), and the reveal of Stan being the saviour attorney (not that I wasn't expecting it, but it was done well). Also, he waves goodbye on the phone, which is a brilliant subtle touch.

To sum up, most of the ingredients are there, and we're not a million miles off everything falling into place.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #70 on: November 04, 2018, 09:57:13 PM »
Thanks again, Spudgun.  Yes, contemporary publicity considered Laurel, Hardy and Finlayson a trio before Laurel and Hardy were formally established as a double-act, according to Mitchell's Encyclopedia entry on Finlayson (as shared on page two):  https://www.cookdandbombd.co.uk/forums/index.php/topic,69067.msg3628951.html#msg3628951

Is anybody else fascinated by the gawking passers-by in the boardwalk scenes of 'Sugar Daddies'?  I can't stop watching them.  Real people observing Laurel and Hardy being filmed.

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #71 on: November 05, 2018, 12:14:26 PM »
This fellow appears to have been doing a similar thing: https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2018/11/03/theres-going-to-be-a-fight-laurel-and-hardy-in-blockheads-1938/ (scroll to the bottom of the post for links to all his L&H reviews).

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #72 on: November 05, 2018, 07:44:22 PM »
Well, it sucks that I was late to the party. I've been meaning to do this with Chaplin's films at some point but haven't found the time yet. Maybe him or Keaton next? Yeah, that'll be a while yet.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #73 on: November 05, 2018, 10:56:20 PM »
Well, it sucks that I was late to the party. I've been meaning to do this with Chaplin's films at some point but haven't found the time yet. Maybe him or Keaton next? Yeah, that'll be a while yet.

Welcome - you're not too late at all!

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #74 on: November 06, 2018, 12:49:04 AM »
Stan and Ollie doing the Tango going directly into camera must be a giffable avatar right. Love everything in the fun house, espcially the way tunnel. Fins prat falling and looking straight into camra had me chuckling.

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #75 on: November 06, 2018, 04:22:19 PM »
Is anybody else fascinated by the gawking passers-by in the boardwalk scenes of 'Sugar Daddies'?  I can't stop watching them.  Real people observing Laurel and Hardy being filmed.

Yeah, street scenes like that comes across to me like an entire era frozen in time. Makes me wonder whether, at this stage, the bystanders were more interested in Laurel and Hardy themselves or just the spectacle of a film camera being used. Either way, they're transfixed.

Stan and Ollie doing the Tango going directly into camera must be a giffable avatar right.

Loved that shot - it looks a bit like a forerunner of the famous dance scene in Way Out West.

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #76 on: November 06, 2018, 04:43:25 PM »

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #77 on: November 06, 2018, 05:16:12 PM »
This fellow appears to have been doing a similar thing: https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2018/11/03/theres-going-to-be-a-fight-laurel-and-hardy-in-blockheads-1938/ (scroll to the bottom of the post for links to all his L&H reviews).

These are great; thanks olliebean.  I've realised that not all of the reviews he's done appear in that list (eg no 'Why Girls Love Sailors'), but the blog has a search function that should find what you're after.

Fantastic gif work, Delete Delete Delete!  The camera doesn't seem to like moving backwards; it's juddering as if it's about to fall apart!

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #78 on: November 06, 2018, 05:19:22 PM »
Week 9

Sailors, Beware!, released 25/09/1927

 


Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sailors,_Beware!


Regarding the version on the UK DVD boxset:
Quote
Sailors, Beware! - 1927 (silent)- New titles all round with a generally muddy print, but I've never seen a good print of this film.  The Beau Hunks Orchestra compliment the film nicely.
(http://www.laurelandhardy.org/newDVDREV.html)


Video source (from the above boxset):  https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x26grxv

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #79 on: November 06, 2018, 05:30:38 PM »
From Skretvedt's book:

   

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #80 on: November 06, 2018, 07:14:44 PM »
Another fine romp, there, this time with a plot that was slightly more than could fit on a fag packet, and some very nice set pieces.

Ollie stood out on this one, with his classic mannerisms really coming through this time - the look to camera and the fawning to the women. Stan wasn't yet the passive Stan of the double act.

And it took me a while to realise that the "baby" really was an adult. He was good.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #81 on: November 07, 2018, 10:41:41 PM »
Does anyone else sense that Laurel is sometimes doing a Finlayson impression in this film?  It's interesting.  See for example his reaction when he notices the "baby" helping during the card game (14:50 into the dailymotion video).

This version of the film may be preferable, with its slower running speed and different music (Stan's same "Finlayson reaction" is at around 19:45 here):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcbx6H_eTQI

That youtube link seems to correspond to the first source in the following list - unfortunately it's not the third one from the top, which looks like the best one (see how it is cropped less tightly, suggesting it's using a superior print) but I can't locate it online.


http://www.lordheath.com/menu1_92.html

You can see it can be quite a task to identify what's what when it comes to the different versions of these films floating around online, which is why I have settled on offering the UK DVD version as the consistent default, even though it is often inferior.

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #82 on: November 07, 2018, 10:45:04 PM »
I knew something was up with that Baby when I saw it smoking a Cigar.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #83 on: November 09, 2018, 05:02:01 PM »
Encyclopedia entry on the teaming of Laurel and Hardy (including the promotion of Finlayson alongside them):

 

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #84 on: November 09, 2018, 05:09:54 PM »
And two additional encyclopedia entries relevant to this week's film.


Children:

 


Midgets:


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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #85 on: November 13, 2018, 05:35:43 PM »
Week 10

Now I’ll Tell One, released 09/10/1927




Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Now_I%27ll_Tell_One


A fragmented experience this week, as only the second reel of Now I’ll Tell One still exists, and it’s a film in which Laurel and Hardy only appear in separate scenes.  Here is the best source I have found for the extant material, which includes 100 still images of a slightly higher quality before the reel itself, which is of lower quality.  If you want to skip the still images, the surviving reel of this film begins 5 minutes into the video:  https://vimeo.com/145734180

More information about this film can be found here:  http://www.lordheath.com/menu1_128.html


My other Laurel and Hardy books were published before Now I’ll Tell One was rediscovered, but I have found the following information online from a later edition of Skretvedt’s book:

A description from the 29th October 1927 edition of “Moving Picture World”:

Quote
Charlie [sic] and Edna are happily married. One quarrel leads to a divorce court where, egged on by a vamping judge, Edna makes up a wild series of yarns as to how he was cruel, got drunk, abused her, etc.  Each of these is pictured and cleverly travestied and in addition there are some original comedy bits introduced in the courtroom procedure and the absurd antics of Charlie's lawyer, portrayed by Stan Laurel.

And Skretvedt says:

Quote
In costume and manner, Stan is practically the same character that we remember from 'Sugar Daddies,' which was shot about a month later.  As Chase's lawyer, he's just as hyperactive as when he 'defends' Finlayson in the later film.  Hardy appears as a policeman in one of the flashback sequences.  There are no scenes which depict the comedians together in the surviving reel, and it appears unlikely that they had any scenes together in reel one.  Technically, it's a Laurel and Hardy movie - but just barely.



An encyclopedia entry on Laurel and Hardy rediscoveries, which include a few films we have already seen:


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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #86 on: November 17, 2018, 12:13:55 PM »
Charley Chase:

 


Reading up the sides, you may spot that the two pages of this Charley Chase entry are swapped; its first page is page 63 of the encyclopedia, and its second is page 62.  Turning from page 63 to 64 takes you straight to Charlie Chaplin (see below), and until I realised what had happened I was enjoying the possibility that seemingly nothing this week was going to be a complete experience.

You may as well have the Chaplin page as well, so you can imagine me slowly turning back and forth between pages 63 and 64 of this book for several minutes like Stan.




Page 65 doesn't continue that entry on characters, either.  I haven't found the rest of that one yet.

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #87 on: November 17, 2018, 01:56:29 PM »
In my search for more information about Charley Chase in 'Now I'll Tell One' (1927), I stumbled upon Charles R. Bowers in 'Now You Tell One' (1926).  Apart from the name similarities I don't believe these films are related, but as this week has been a little light on Laurel and Hardy entertainment I thought some of you might like this tangential supplement.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cn54BtdnZf8


If you can't read French, here is an English transcript:

Quote
NOW YOU TELL ONE

The quest for truth is often clouded by uncertainty.
Citizens united against ambiguity
have therefore founded the Liars Club.

Each year a champion liar is honoured
with a gold medallion bearing the effigy of George Washington.

"Last evening at the Capitol,
"Mussolini insisted upon treating me to a farewell dinner."

"And 47 elephants I had saved from hoof-and-mouth disease
"came to trumpet in his honour."

"We always talk about swimming across the Channel.
"I did it, without bragging, without boasting...
"No one ever knew about it."

"I would have done the crossing in less than 45 minutes,
"if we had not gotten a flat."

"Gentlemen, now we shall hear from Senator Foghorn,
"delegate from the Federation of Professional Liars."

"I have just been looking for a thief who got away
"with a high C which a famous tenor apparently forgot on his night-table."

"Gentlemen, this is pathetic.
"All your stories are more or less a bunch of truths!"

"When we compete with the Philadelphia chapter,
"they'll beat us hands down."

An adventure? Ah, gentlemen...
I hardly know where to begin.

"Attention, please...
"Mr. Bowers here will tell us a story
"that even the King of the Gullible
"would never believe."

"Here it is: I have discovered a magic process to graft anything."

"I decided to visit all the farms in the area
"and sell my potion door to door."

"Merry Christmas, sir."

"Look how cute both of them are."

"There are mice around."

"I love those little holes,
"your house looks like a golf course."

"It's because of the mice,
"they spend most of their time making sawdust."

"What a funny cat! Is he sick?"

"Wounded, sir!
"He bravely fought a whole army of mice."

"Mice... mice..."

"The mice drove him totally mad."

"He has already broken a whole load of brooms.
"He even hired a caddy from the golf course
"to carry his spare brooms."

"So old-fashioned to chase mice with a broom.
"A vacuum cleaner would be much more practical."

"I have an idea. We need some nasty cats.
"I can see that you have a young hunter,
"I'll make him some huntresses."

"You may live here while you conduct research."

"For a kiss from her,
"I'd have grafted anything she wanted."

After some unsuccessful trials,
Bowers was finally harvesting the fruit of his labours.

"It seems as if something is missing."

"How are you doing with your experiments?"

"Wonderfully...
"But I'm thinking that one sultan is enough.
"I will give him a harem."

"This is wonderful, but now I'll be short of mice
"to feed all these cats."

"Will you be done soon?"

"Sir, I'm in love with your daughter."

"My daughter? You idiot, she's my wife!"

"Mr. Bowers, you are undoubtedly the King of Liars."

"I beg your pardon, Gentlemen, this is a true story."

"Now now, no boasting!"

Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #88 on: November 18, 2018, 06:02:36 PM »
That Charles Bowers film is an interesting one. He's like a cross between Buster Keaton and Gilbert Ratchet - in fact I believe Bricolo, as the French called him, means handyman or tinkerer.

There were some very - haha- inventive gags in there and tons of good, sometimes very weird, special effects. How on earth did they do that one with the cats growing on the tree? I'd like to see more of his films.

As for the "L&H" one, it's a shame there's not much left of it. This is the second one we've seen with Stan playing a lawyer (wearing exactly the same pair of glasses, by the look of it). Was this a stock character of his at the time?   

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Re: A Laurel and Hardy watch-along
« Reply #89 on: November 20, 2018, 05:02:38 PM »
Week 11

The Second Hundred Years, released 08/10/1927

 


Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Second_Hundred_Years_(film)


Viewing options:

Regarding the version on the UK DVD boxset:
Quote
The Second Hundred Years - 1927 (silent)- New titles all round with a Beau Hunks score.  The picture quality is quite poor, however this film has always surfaced in similar quality.
(http://www.laurelandhardy.org/newDVDREV.html)


Sourced from the above boxset:  https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x26g418



http://www.lordheath.com/menu1_129.html

As usual the US release of this film is the superior option despite its lower upload resolution.  The print is cleaner and some intertitles missing from the start of the UK version have been restored:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sl0XAwrCaQU


The following link may also be of interest, though it corresponds to a version of this film we are currently unable to see:  https://thelostlaugh.com/2016/10/30/lhrevelations/