Author Topic: A Communal Watch of the Laurel and Hardy Talkies 1: 1929-30  (Read 3747 times)

Endicott

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Re: A Communal Watch of the Laurel and Hardy Talkies 1: 1929-30
« Reply #30 on: November 10, 2020, 10:11:37 PM »
Sounds great - look forward to seeing the complete version if they ever release that set in the UK.

- - - -

edit : Ooh, blinkin' eck - I've just found it on youtube! (recorded from a showing on French TV)

Oh that's beautiful. Cheers.

Endicott

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Re: A Communal Watch of the Laurel and Hardy Talkies 1: 1929-30
« Reply #31 on: November 10, 2020, 10:12:24 PM »
This week:  Laurel and Hardy's first all-talking film.


32) Unaccustomed As We Are, released 04/05/1929



Just pushing this to the new page.

daf

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Re: A Communal Watch of the Laurel and Hardy Talkies 1: 1929-30
« Reply #32 on: November 10, 2020, 11:34:28 PM »
Some highspots for me -

Stan : "Any Nuts?"
- - - - -
Mrs Hardy : "Get a load of this big boy!"
- - - - -
Todd's nudey bod!!
- - - - -
Ollie : "No, Barbara, we are FROO!"
- - - - -
Ollie's 'Spaghetti Look' to audience



Re: A Communal Watch of the Laurel and Hardy Talkies 1: 1929-30
« Reply #33 on: November 16, 2020, 06:24:45 PM »
I gave my thoughts on Unaccustomed As We Are in the previous thread, but a couple of other things struck me this time around. The first is the kitchen-exploding scene, when compared to the semi-remake Block-Heads. In the latter, there's only one explosion, and it's massive, which is funny in its own right. But here, in contrast, they go for one of my favourite L&H 'routines':

1) Ollie does something stupid and hurts himself
2) Slow reaction, then blames Stan
3) Gradual 'reset' and regaining of composure, ready to do it properly this time
4) Ollie does the exact same thing again

Two different ways to approach the same joke, and I think I prefer this one. Related to that, thanks to sound, they are now able to do a lot more off-camera gags. Blowing up the kitchen is one (which may have worked without sound, admittedly, thanks to the fire), and Stan's fall down the stairs at the very end is another (that one definitely needs the sound effect for it to last as long as it did). There was a moment in Battle of the Century where someone slipped on a banana skin, and they cut to a different angle to show it - I think that would have been funnier if he'd fallen out of shot, but without sound they really had to signpost everything. I'm sure out-of-sight jokes would have been done on stage long before this, but this is a good example of the artform adapting to the technology, or indeed technology changing the artform.

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Re: A Communal Watch of the Laurel and Hardy Talkies 1: 1929-30
« Reply #34 on: November 19, 2020, 06:16:18 PM »
Not one of my favourite Laurel and Hardy shorts, but I don’t think that’s the point.  The duo were beginning an entirely new phase of their career, and this first attempt at a talkie is what told the world that Laurel and Hardy were going to be okay.  They would survive the transition.

The ‘talkie’ version of their characters is immediately set in place here.  No more work needed to be done on their voices, or how they would interact.  Both Stan and Ollie have their speaking tone and inflections in place - what we see here is what we will always experience from this point onwards.

I suppose there are a few indications that the team aren’t yet comfortable with this new format, but they completely get away with it.  The first couple of segments reveal a new kind of static wordiness, which really feels perfectly natural for these characters because their voices are so good, but it’s Laurel and Hardy in the form of a stage play rather than the chiefly physical expression we have been used to.  Not that these segments aren’t without brilliant physical work - they brim with it - but the team might still be working on the best way to weave their usual style with so many words.  We go from the corridor to meeting Mrs Hardy, and when Ollie and his wife begin their argument, Stan’s discomfort might be slightly under-baked, or perhaps the camera focuses on him for a little too long.  But when the music kicks in, and Mrs Hardy spits her fury in rhythm with the record, it all fits together, blends and suddenly it’s very apparent that Laurel and Hardy’s talkies wouldn’t be defined by the vocalisation of intertitles. 

Somewhat interestingly, silent versions of these initial Laurel and Hardy talkies were made for screening in theatres that hadn’t yet been fitted for sound.  In case you are wondering, the first three minutes of the silent Unaccustomed As We Are contain no fewer than twenty one intertitle cards and yep, it’s clear the team are outgrowing the silent format.  You can see it here:  https://vimeo.com/240319555.  Check it out, at least to see how it sidesteps the victrola scene and Stan’s final fall down the stairs.  And also it seems like some of the sharp jump-cut edits in the sound version occur where intertitles exist in the silent one.  Compare and see what you think.

When Mrs Hardy leaves the boys, the physical comedy takes a step up, and once again we can see what sound will be bringing to their future films, and it’s not gratuitous.  Some of it is timing, like hearing the gas explosion before Ollie falls backwards through the door.  And of course, Stan’s cry.

A few other things - I love Stan’s delivery of “Oh I thought you said breeches.”  You know that’s what he’s going to say but the delivery is just so great - it’s impossible not to fall in love with these characters on the basis of such perfect minor details. 

Also, I never quite connected with Edgar Kennedy in the silent films but he really comes to life for me here.  The more I see of the extended Hal Roach family, the more I love them all, really.

I find something charming, rather than unpleasant, about the grainy, scratchy soundtrack of this film.  The patched-together nature of Battle of the Century and the soundtrack of Unaccustomed As We Are both communicate the struggle of these old films against the pull of deterioration and decay, and I find myself even more grateful that they exist.



« Last Edit: November 19, 2020, 06:35:08 PM by Replies From View »

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Re: A Communal Watch of the Laurel and Hardy Talkies 1: 1929-30
« Reply #35 on: November 19, 2020, 06:26:43 PM »
Filmed a month and a half before Unaccustomed As We Are, Double Whoopee is one of three silent films that ended up being released as Laurel and Hardy's sound era was taking flight.  The other two are Bacon Grabbers and Angora Love.


33) Double Whoopee, released 18/05/1929


daf

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Re: A Communal Watch of the Laurel and Hardy Talkies 1: 1929-30
« Reply #36 on: November 19, 2020, 08:17:34 PM »
Some highspots for me -

- Mananging to lipread Ollie's "Why don't you watch where your going" (twice!)

- Hat & Pen business

- Harlow's Nudey Bod!!

- Charley Hall's Abe Lincoln Hat-beard



daf

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Re: A Communal Watch of the Laurel and Hardy Talkies 1: 1929-30
« Reply #37 on: November 20, 2020, 06:52:09 AM »
Charley Hall's Abe Lincoln Hat-beard

Oops - Charlie Hall, I mean!

(Excuse me, my ear is full of Big Finish Eighth Doctor and Charley Pollard audios!)


Re: A Communal Watch of the Laurel and Hardy Talkies 1: 1929-30
« Reply #38 on: November 21, 2020, 06:36:40 PM »
- Mananging to lipread Ollie's "Why don't you watch where your going" (twice!)

Did you see this 'voiced' version, linked to in the previous thread?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xw_kQ2Jvfbs

It's sort of the audio equivalent of colourising a film, but it's worth watching. Apparently even silent movies had scripted dialogue.

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Re: A Communal Watch of the Laurel and Hardy Talkies 1: 1929-30
« Reply #39 on: November 21, 2020, 06:47:25 PM »
Thanks Spudgun.  And in case anyone missed it in the earlier thread:

The new edition of Skretvedt's book includes information about that 1969 version of Double Whoopee:



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