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Author Topic: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films  (Read 2438 times)

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Offline stethacantus

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List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« on: August 21, 2019, 06:16:41 PM »

Normally at this point in any LoC there is just a brief introduction. Perhaps a short essay of paragraph or two on the topic, maybe a music video to get everyone in the mood. But in those cases everyone is familiar with the topic. Since most of the members here have claimed never to have seen a Laurel and Hardy film, I thought though this topic required a short biography of the team to open it. I began writing the biography about six months ago, adding to it at work whenever there was nothing else to do and my options were either to write something, or sit in the chair starring at a paperclip until it was time to go home. And  since the paperclip's novelty  wore off months ago, it would be writing the bio during the late afternoon down time. It was supposed to be brief, but when I finished, found out it was novel length. So I spent another few months editing it down to a third of it's size, and it's still ridiculously long. So that's what I am opening this LoC with. Those not interested can easily scroll past it.

But as for the opening video, I was originally going to post music from an orchestral group called The Beau Hunks, who dedicated their careers in recreating the background music from the Hal Roach  films. But then the clip I was going to use, which was an hour long melody of their music, got removed from YouTube. While searching for a last minute replacement, I found this inexplicably out of tune orchestra playing a melody of Hal Roach tunes.

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/GhNaOI_iwP0" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/GhNaOI_iwP0</a>


Arthur Stanley Jefferson was born on June 16 1890 in Ulverston, Lancashire England. His father, Arthur Jefferson Sr., Was a stage comedian. His mother, Margaret Metcaffe,  an actress. When Arthur was twelve his father landed a job managing the Metropole Theater in Glasgow Scotland. Since his father ran the theater, Arthur asked if he could perform comedy pantomime from time to time. He had learned the craft from years of watching his dad and other comedians on stage, and once his father gave him the chance, proved to be good physical comedian.


Norvell Hardy was born January 18, 1892  in Harlem, Georgia. Only ten months after he was born his father, Oliver Hardy, died of old age. His father was old enough to have been a plantation owner during the slave era, and had fought on the side of the South during the Civil War. Norvell's mother, Emily Norvell, most likely married the old man for his wealth, but wound up inheriting none of it. To make ends meet, she found work managing boarding houses. Most of the  tenants were traveling actors and other stage performers, which inspired Norvell as he was growing up. By the age of eight Norvell was on stage as a singer, performing at local Vaudeville theaters.   

In 1906 at the age of 16, Arthur left the security of his father's theater and performed in his first professional gig at the Panopticon Theater. He was soon traveling across the United Kingdom performing his act. By the age of 20 he had caught the attention of impresario Fred Karno, who invited him to join his comedy troup. At Karno's suggestion, Arthur dropped his first name and began using instead his middle name, making  Stan Jefferson his stage name. While touring with the Fred Karno Troup, he was asked to be the understudy for another of Karno's discoveries, a young stage comedian named Charlie Chaplin. Karno felt that only Stan Jefferson was talented enough to perform Chaplin's skits. In 1912 the Fred Karno Troup went to America on tour. Critics loved Chaplin, and he became enough of a sensation that he got an offer from Mack Sennett, a one year contract to star in comedy moving pictures at his Keystone Studios. With his star gone, Karno decided to end the tour and return to England. Stan returned with the troup.

Norvell had also changed his name, adopting his father's name of Oliver around 1910. His singing career never took off, so he decided to find more practical work as a movie projectionist. Oliver often complained to anyone within earshot on how bad the actors in those early moving pictures were. One day while screening a film, he said to a friend  "Even I could act better than that!", to which his friend said "If you can do better, then why don't you get a job acting in movies?" Oliver took him up on the dare, and in 1913 traveled to Jacksonville, Florida to find work at a studio called the Lubin Manufacturing Company. He was in luck. Charlie Chaplin had become a sensation playing a character called The Tramp, and every studio wanted to make their own knock-off Tramp comedies. Part of the formula of Chaplin's films was to have a large heavyset villain called the heavy. And Oliver Hardy was large. The first film he appeared in, Outwitting Dad, was released in 1914. In the next two years he would act in more than 50 films, usually playing the heavy.

Stan had loved the enthusiastic cheers of American audiences, and decided to return to the states and tour Vaudeville as a solo act. There he met Australian actress Mae Charlotte Dahberg and the two fell in love. They decided to form a comedy duo called the Laurels, due to the ring of laurel leafs they wore in their heads as part of their roman inspired stage costumes. From that day forward Stan's stage name was Stan Laurel, and Mae's was Mae Laurel. But despite sharing the same last name, Mae and Stan never officially married each other. In 1917 a film producer put the Laurels in their first movie called Nuts in May. A prophetic title because it turned out Mae was legitimately nuts. However, Stan was so in love with her that he continued to put up with her insanity.

The same year the Laurels made their film debut, Oliver Hardy made his first movie for a Hollywood studio.  He had worked for various studios along the Easter seaboard, including brief stints at Pathé and Edison. But by the mid 10s most film production companies we're packing up and moving to California, and Hardy moved with them.

In 1918 Stan Laurel was signed by Vitagraph to play bit roles in the film's of comedian Larry Semon. He would last there for only five films. Apparently during a screening of a daily, someone told Semon that Stan Laurel was funnier than he was. Semon immediately had Stan fired. Suddenly out of a job and having not booked any Vaudeville shows due to him thinking he would be hard at work at Vitagraph, Stan was destitute. Fortunately he had made friends with someone who owned a studio.

Harold Eugene Roach was born January 14th, 1892 in Elmira, New York.  As a young boy Harold attended a lecture by Mark Twain.  This inspired him to become a humorist just like Twain. At the age  of 16, Harold left home, taking odd jobs across the country, eventually ending up in Alaska panning for gold. Somewhere during his adventures he adopted his nickname Hal. He eventually ended up working on a construction job in the Mojave Desert in 1912. While there he heard that Universal was filming a comedy nearby and was looking for extras. Having always wanted to work in comedy but never actually doing so, Hal decided to drop by the set. There he met Harold Lloyd who was also looking for work as an extra. The two would become lifelong friends, often going from studio to studio looking for extra work in comedies and both dreaming of some day being comedy stars themselves.

In 1914  Hal suddenly inherited a small fortune from a relative.  He decided to use his new wealth to form the Rolin Film Company.  Hal would act as studio head and write the scripts while Harold Lloyd would star in their comedies, playing another variation on the Tramp character called Willie Work. Hal spent all of his inheritance making the Willie Work shorts, but could find no distributors interested in buying them. The money ran out and Rolin closed. Lloyd left for Keystone Studios.  Hal left to work as Essenay.

About a year later Hal was approached by a representative from Pathé. They had seen a copy of one of the Willie Work shorts and wanted more of them produced. They agreed to pay off Rolin's debts and give the studio enough money to reopen. Hal contacted Lloyd, and the good news was he hated working at Keystone and was eager to work at Rolin again. Only he wanted to try a new character he had invented at Keystone but Mack Sennett wasn't interested in. Lonesome Luke. For the next two years Hal produced Lonesome Luke shorts for Pathé, with only moderate success. Then in 1917 Lloyd came up with his iconic glasses character, and soon after his films took off. Their success allowed Roach to produce shorts with other comedians. One of which was a down on his luck comedian he had befriended a few years earlier, Stan Laurel.

Mae continued to be a problem. Stan wanted her to be in his movies, but she rarely took direction and often disrupted the set. Even when not cast in one of Stan's films she would often crash the set. By now she was constantly fighting with Stan who stubbornly refused to believe she was insane.

In 1920 producer GM Anderson hired Stan Laurel  for a single short to be made for a new studio called Reelcraft, which if tested well would be the first of a Stan Laurel film series. Anderson began hiring the cast who, if the series was picked up, would be it's stock players. The director Jess Robbins  suggested Oliver Hardy would be a perfect heavy for the series. Hardy had, by now, worked at just about every film studio, including Vitagraph, who hired him to appear in the Larry Semon films just weeks after Stan was fired.  In late 1920 the short The Lucky Dog was shot, featuring The new comedy team of Stan Laurel and a dog. Oliver Hardy played a criminal hired by the film's villain to kill Laurel and his little dog too. Apparently Reelcraft went out of business due to lawsuits, and Laurel and Hardy parted ways. Hardy returned to Vitagraph where he would costar as the Tin Woodsman in Semon's horrible adaption of The Wizard of Oz ( 1925 ). Anderson took Laurel over to Metro. They did a few shorts before Anderson retired from show business and the Stan Laurel series was discontinued.

In 1924 producer Joe Rock offered Stan Laurel something no other studio would. A long term contract. But there was one condition. Mae Laurel could neither appear in the film's, nor come anywhere close to the sets. When the volatile Mae began showing up anyway, Rock paid to have her shipped back to Australia. Stan didn't stop him, apparently reaching his limit with her antics. The distributor who bought the Joe Rock produced Stan Laurel films ended up not releasing them. Because they were not released, Stan wasn't paid. Worse, his contract with Rock prohibited him from acting for other studios, or appearing on stage. Rock refused to release Laurel from his contract, convinced he could eventually work out a deal with the distributor to release the shorts, and that Stan would eventually become a big star for him. But without being paid, Stan was back to being destitute.

Once again it was Stan's friend Hal Roach to the rescue.  Stan's contract with Rock prevented him from performing. But it didn't prevent him from working at another studio as long as he didn't appear on film. So Roach hired Stan as a writer and director.

There had been a lot of changes at the old studio. The biggest was that Harold Lloyd had left in 1923 for a contract with Paramount. Another big change was the studio name. In 1919 Hal bought out the shares of the co-investors of Rolin, and once he completely owned the studio, renamed it Hal Roach Studios. And one of the things he began doing once  he was full owner was sign actors to full contracts. He called them his All Stars. Half of them were movie stars from other studios who's popularity had faded. His biggest get was Theda Bara, who was the world's first movie idol. Theda had made the huge mistake of taking a break from movies for a few years of stage acting, becoming the first film star to discover that fame fades when you are no longer in the spotlight. After making a single comedy short for Roach, ( which Laurel directed ) the humiliated Bera retired from showbusiness for good.

The rest of Roach's All Stars were talented comedians who had been in the film business for years but had never achieved name recognition. Among them was Oliver Hardy, who joined shortly after Larry Semon bankrupted his own studio with his expensive adaption of The Wizard of Oz. With Roach's biggest and only star gone, he began hunting for the next great screen comedian. And was sure he had found the next Harold Lloyd with actor James Finlayson.

James Finlayson was born on August 27, 1887 in Sterlingshire Scotland. His was a trained dramatic actor who worked in stage dramas. After immigrating to America in 1911,  he began acting in Broadway plays. One of those plays went on a national tour in 1916, and while performing in California, Finlayson decided he wanted to head to Hollywood to act in the movies. At the time the only roles available to him were in comedies, which he discovered he had a knack for. By 1919 he was working at Keystone Studios as one of the Keystone Cops. In 1923 Hal Roach asked him to sign with his studio, where he would eventually be the star in his own series of shorts.

Actually, it was all up to the distributor Pathé if there would be a James Finlayson series, and they weren't convinced the one time Keystone Cop would be a box office draw.  In the meantime there was an All Stars series, and for many of the films, Finlayson would play the lead. When Stan Laurel joined the studio as a writer/director, part of his duties was to make a star out of Finlayson.

One of Roach's contract actors Stan liked to cast in his films was Oliver Hardy. In 1926 Stan was about to direct a comedy starring Harry Myers when he got a call from the hospital. Hardy had fractured his leg in an accident and would be out of commission for weeks. Someone was needed to replace Hardy as the butler in the Meyers film. Behind schedule and with all the other contract players busy on other Roach films,  Stan decided to play the role himself. He thought as long as he disguised himself with a large bushy mustach and didn't take screen credit, then Joe Rock would never find out it was him.

Actually, Joe Rock did recognize Stan Laurel under the disguise, and probably would not have sued Hal Roach Studios had Stan not gotten bold and appeared in a couple of other films in the same disguise. Roach asked to meet with Rock, where he asked him how much it would cost to just buy out Laurel's contract. By the end of the meeting Stan Laurel officially worked as a film comedian for Hal Roach Studios.



Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2019, 06:16:57 PM »

Now officially an All Star,  Stan made one request. He had always wanted to do a filmed adaption of Home From The Honeymoon, a stage comedy his father had written decades earlier. The story had newlyweds trying to rent a mansion for their honeymoon, unaware the man they think is the owner is really a burglar, and the guy pretending to be the butler is another burglar. Stan was to play one of the burglars and Syd Crossley the other.  However, someone at the studio replaced Crossley at the last minute with Oliver Hardy.

That film, ( which had it's title changed to Duck Soup,  ) was the first time Laurel and Hardy worked together as a team. But no one at Roach Studios seemed to realize what had just been created. Stan and Oliver went off to act in other Roach comedies, occasionally appearing in the same film, but not as a team.
They both ended up as supporting characters in the Finlayson shorts. Although the films had scripts, Roach would let his actors improvise their comedy on the set. At the end of the day the director would watch that day's rushes and decided what worked, what didn't work and would be cut, what sort of worked and needed improvement, and what worked so well that it should be expanded. The finished film often deviated from the script. Sometimes entire plots were abandoned when a comedian came up with a funny routine that took over the film. Quite often Laurel's interactions with Hardy took over what was supposed to be a Finlayson short.
Either Roach or head of production Leo McCarey came up with a brilliant idea. Officially team them up as a trio. Finlayson, Laurel and Hardy. The contract with Pathé as distributor was up, and Roach accepted an offer from M.G.M. to be their new distributor.  The first All Star film released for M.G.M., Sugar Daddies (1927 ), was a good example of what Roach was trying for.  Rich playboy Finlayson accidentally marries a woman while drunk, and she and her family show up at his mansion demanding half of his fortune. In the short Hardy plays his butler and Laurel his lawyer.  Laurel and Hardy end up working together to sneak Finlayson out of his house, and then later out of a hotel when the family track him there as well. Sugar Daddies may have been the studio's deliberate attempt to make the trio work. But even in this short where Finlayson plays the lead character, it was Laurel and Hardy who ended up with most of the laughs.
 
So when it came time to asking M.G.M. to distribute a new series, Roach didn't offer them Finlayson, Laurel and Hardy, but just Laurel and Hardy.  You can thank head of productions Leo McCarey for that decision, as he convinced Roach that Laurel and Hardy worked best as a duo, and Finlayson wasn't necessary. Although The Second Hundred Years was planned as another All Star short with the trio, it ended up the first film with Laurel and Hardy as a duo and Finlayson's role reduced to just a few scenes. Unhappy with being replaced with Laurel and Hardy, Finlayson left the studio at the end of his contract and began working for First National Pictures. The trio was officially dead.

Laurel and Hardy may have been a duo, but they weren't yet a team. Stan continued to pick scripts where they played random characters. In Putting Pants on Philip, Laurel plays a sex crazed Scotsman while Hardy plays his American cousin who meets him for the first time when Philip comes to America. The entire film is the embarrassed Hardy chasing after Philip, who in turn is chasing after any woman he sees. Occasionally Laurel and Hardy would do a short where they acted like there later more familiar screen personas. But it would take a while for Stan to figure out their Stan and Ollie characters were what they did best.
By 1929 they had found their screen characters, but were facing a new challenge. Talking pictures. During 1928 a sound stage was constructed at the Roach studio,  microphones and electronic equipment installed, and sound engineers were hired to operate the recording equipment. Meanwhile the studio began releasing pre recorded music and sound effects records to accompany their silent shorts, in preparation if releasing records with the full sound track once they converted to sound. The first all talking film made by Laurel and Hardy was jokingly titled Unaccustomed As We Are and gave audiences their first chance to hear Laurel and Hardy's voices. The early sound era was risky for movie stars who's careers often ended because their voices didn't match their screen personas. Fortunately for Laurel and Hardy, their voices not only complemented their screen characters, but made them even funnier.

In 1931 the duo released their first feature film Pardon Us, a prison comedy that began as a short, but was expanded into a feature film when the production went well over budget. More feature films would follow. Stan and Oliver preferred making shorts in which they had full creative control. But with the full length features they were restricted to scripts and often had to devote half the film to musical numbers. In 1934 Hal Roach acquired the rights to the hit Broadway musical Babes in Toyland. Stan Laurel flat out refused to do it, but after a lot of arm twisting, agreed to do it only if he could throw out the script Hal had written  and have a new script written by his gagmen. This was the beginning of a rift between both men that would eventually break up their friendship and have Stan leave the studio.

Shorts were no longer making money because fewer theaters were booking them. The new rage in the late 30s was the double feature, rather than a feature film and five shorts.  Hal's decision was to stop production on shorts and move into feature films only. Stan was not thrilled with this, and the rift between him and Hal grew deeper. The final Laurel and Hardy short was Thicker Than Water in 1935.

By 1938 the rift had festered into a feud that played out in the press. Stan would tell one paper he was close to quitting. Hal would tell another paper he was thinking of removing Hardy from the Laurel and Hardy series and putting him in a new series with Thelma Todd as his wife and Spanky from Our Gang as his son. Stan finally got his freedom from Hal Roach when his contract was suddenly terminated after missing several days of work. The only problem was that Oliver Hardy's contract had another two years. Upon Stan's departure, Roach announced that Hardly would be teamed with Harry Langdon. Only one such feature was made, Zenobia in 1939. Realizing Hardy was not as much of a box office draw without Laurel, Roach offered Stan a deal to return to his studio until Hardy's contract ran out. They made two more features for Roach, and were lent to R.K.O. for Flying Deuces, after which they parted with the studio for good.

Stan and Oliver hoped they could find a studio that would give them complete creative control of their feature films. What they got instead was a contract with 20th Century Fox. Universal was breaking box office records with their Abbott and Costello films, and FOX wanted their own comedy team. So they offered Laurel and Hardy a deal.  Unable to find any studio willing to give them creative control, they accepted FOX's offer. Stan would later say this was a big mistake. Their contract with FOX specified they were actors only. FOX picked their scripts and their directors, and stuck them with a producer who didn't quite understand comedy. About half the film's L&H made for FOX were rip-offs of successful Abbott and Costello films. In 1945 FOX decided to discontinue their B movie unit, effectively cancelling Laurel and Hardy's contracts. Having had enough, Stan retired Laurel and Hardy from motion pictures.

For the next five years Laurel and Hardy toured America, performing skits on stage.  In 1950 they decided to return to the movie business as a team, accepting an offer to star in a European production called Atoll- K. It was supposed to be a 12 day shoot, but ended up dragging on for 7 months. Stan got seriously sick, needing to stay in an on the set hospital bedroom between takes. Feeling a duty to honor his contract, he continued on with the film, despite looking horribly sick and near death for most of the production. Fortunately he was able to recover after filming was finally completed. They both had been signed to appear in an R.K.O. musical, but were forced to drop out as filming on Atoll-K dragged on for months. It would become their last feature film together.
After an appearance on This Is Your Life, they had an offer from Hal Roach Studios to star in a television series. Shooting of the series was postponed when Laurel had a mild stroke and needed a few months off to recover. Then Hardy had a stroke himself which left him bedridden and unable to speak. He would suffer two more strokes, the final one which put him in a coma he never woke up from. Oliver Hardy passed away  August 7, 1957.

Stan Laurel refused to work in movies again without his partner. He was offered television and movie roles, including a cameo in It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World ( 1963 ), but turned them all down. In 1961 he was given an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement. A group of his fans wanted to form an appreciation club, calling themselves The Sons of the Desert after Laurel and Hardy's most successful feature film, or more specifically, the fictional fraternal lodge in that film Laurel and Hardy belonged to. They dedicated themselves to the preservation of the Laurel and Hardy films. Laurel approved of the club, even giving them suggestions on their constitution. Stan never lived long enough to be a member. The first official meeting of the Sons of the Desert was held after his death on February 23, 1965 as a memorial service. Today the Sons of the Desert have chapters all over the globe, and members in the hundreds of millions.


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2019, 06:30:09 PM »
In a way, it's sort of appropriate the #50 film came in first in the B lists and made this LoC. It was sort of responsible for the whole idea of a L&H LoC. Back when I did the Santa Movie LoC I was so sure everyone else would add it, because not that many good movies with Santa exist. But then I began to realize that no one seemed to have ever seen it. One of the all time great holiday films! But I bet a lot of people here saw that Christmas movie where the kid gets his tongue stuck to the flag pole dozens of times. ( What was it called? ) Anyway, TCM shows this every Christmas day, so no reason not to watch it next D25.

#50
BABES IN TOYLAND ( 1934 )


B List Selection

"Upset? I'm housebroken."

Silas Barnaby, the richest man in Toyland holds a mortgage over the Old Woman's shoe, threatening to toss her and all her children out on the street unless he weds her beautiful daughter Bo Peep. But Bo Peep is not interested, having just fallen in love with Tom Tom the Piper's Son.  Borders Stannie Dum and Ollie Dee offer to get her the money for the mortgage, but instead end up fired from their toy making job after a mix-up of Stannie  has them building 100 life sized mechanical wooden soldiers instead of toy sized ones. An attempted by Stannie and Ollie to burgle the mortgage from Barnaby's house fails, and they are ordered exiled to Boggeyland. However, Barnaby promises to drop all charges and give Mother Peep the mortgage as a wedding gift if Bo agrees to marry him. She agrees, but Ollie  thinks of a clever scheme to stop the wedding and trick Barnaby out of the mortgage. Barnaby attempts revenge by framing Tom Tom for the murder of one of the three little pigs, but Stannie and Ollie foil that as well. Barnaby himself gets exiled to Boogeyland. However, it turns out the Boogeymen see him as their King, and he uses them as his army to destroy Toyland and steal Bo Peep once and for all. All seems bleak, until Stannie remembers they have an army of life sized mechanical toy soldiers ready to repel the Boggeymen hoards.

UNFILMABLE
This is the sad story of how the friendship between Hal Roach and Stan Laurel ended, and would eventually send Laurel and Hardy to 20th Century Fox. The story begins in New York City where Hal Roach had gone to acquire film rights to Broadway musicals to be adapted into Laurel and Hardy feature films. Basically, musicals sold more tickets, and the songs and extra characters padded out the film. They also provided a plot, which meant most of the script was already written. Usually the big studios got the rights to the best musicals, leaving just the minor hits like Fra Diavolo for Roach.

But then he found out that the rights to Babes in Toyland were still available. Babes in Toyland was the Cats of it's day. At that time the most successful Broadway show ever. Roach consider himself very lucky and bought the rights before any other producer could get to them, then put out a press release that Laurel and Hardy would be starring in the screen adaption of Babes in Toyland to be released the coming holiday season.

On the train ride home he read the musical for the first time, then realized why every studio took a pass on it. It had no plot. It was basically Mother Goose characters walking on and off the stage singing songs about themselves. Roach had a good stiff drink, picked up the book for the musical again, and decided that if Babes in Toyland didn't have a plot, then he would write one himself.

By the time his train arrived in Los Angeles, Hal had completed an entire first draft script which he was proud of. The only problem was that Laurel didn't like it. At first Stan tried to be polite and said he and Hardy couldn't do it because they wouldn't be wearing their signature bowler hats. Since Roach had already press released that the film was on it's way, he needed Laurel and Hardy to do it. A compromise was reached. Laurel was willing to make the film, provided he have one of his guys write a second draft. The second draft cut out almost every in Roach's first draft. Hal Roach was pissed.

Even with a new script, Laurel would regularly hold meetings before a scene was to be shot and rewrite the lines, or improvise new gags. He and Roach were constantly clashing over the film. After one particular nasty profanity filled  fight in Roach's office, Laurel return to the set and announced they would be changing a line. It was the scene where Stannie Dum gives Barnaby a large Christmas present, marked "Don't open until X-Mas", with Ollie hiding inside to steal the mortgage. The original line Barnaby said was "Christmas is still a week away". The new line he said was "A Christmas present, in July?". Hal Roach wanted Babes in Toyland to be a Christmas film he could rerelease every holiday season. But with one line changed, the events all took place in the summer. Roach didn't catch the line change until the film was already in wide release.  By the time  Babes in Toyland finished shooting, Stan Laurel and Hal Roach were no longer friends. And things between them would only get worse.

THANK DISNEY
Today we know Disney as that place full of lawyers who will sue anyone coming anywhere close to infringing on their property. But back when Walt was still alive, Disney Studios was a much friendlier company. Not only did Disney give permission to use a live version of Mickey Mouse in Babes in Toyland ( actually, a monkey in a Mickey Mouse costume ), but also allowed the use of The Three Pigs, along with their theme music Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf. Laurel and Hardy in return allowed Disney to use them in a Mickey Mouse cartoon.

CURSED!
only 14 weeks into shooting, Stan Laurel tripped on part of the set and tore most of the ligaments in his right leg. This was the beginning of a series of freak accidents and illnesses that beset both cast and crew. The day after Laurel was rushed to the hospital, an assistant director slid off of the Old Woman's Shoe and suffered the same injury. Kewpie Morgan, who played Old King Cole, ruptured his stomach muscles from doing a belly laugh for a scene. Oliver Hardy was rushed to the hospital the last day of shooting to remove his tonsils. While there he found out Hal Roach was in the same ward having an emergency appendectomy. Another alleged injury happened to an extra. There was a pool built into the set for a scene where Ollie gets dunked. Stan would regularly push unsuspecting cast members in as a joke. The extra sued claiming he broke his back in the pool
 
THE AMAZING HENRY BRANDON
Babes in Toyland marked the screen debut of actor Henry Brandon, who was amazingly only 21 years old when he played the elderly villain Silas Barnaby. Brandon had played a similar character in the play The Drunkard when Hal Roach caught a performance and decided he was perfect for the role of Barnaby. However, Roach had assumed Brandon was much older. When Roach finally met him, he said "Your not the old son of a bitch I saw in the play last night?!" Roach cast him anyway, and then went through three makeup artist who were unable to convincingly age him. The fourth makeup  artist succeeded. Brandon was asked to return to Roach studios to repeat his role of Barnaby for Our Gang Follies of 1938 where he forces Alfalfa to sing Barber of Seville in the streets after Alfalfa's Opera fails


WHAT'S IN A NAME
Today Babes in Toyland is better known by it's alternative title March of the Wooden Soldiers . But where did it get that title? In the early 1940s Hal Roach was suing MGM for $1,263,993 in a breach of contract suit. A settlement was worked out where Roach would sell them some of his feature films. Among the films sold to MGM were the Laurel and Hardy features Fra Diavolo, Bonnie Scotland, Pick a Star that had Laurel and Hardy as guest stars, and Babes in Toyland. A few years later independent producer Boris Morros  sold Flying Deuces to a distributor called Astor Pictures. Astor made a lot of money rereleasing Flying Deuces, and was interested in acquiring more Laurel and Hardy films. But Hal Roach wouldn't sell to them. Astor found out that MGM owned four Laurel and Hardy films via the lawsuit settlement, and began negotiating with them. MGM decided to lease Astor the films for rerelease, provided they remove all MGM logos from the prints, and they give them different names. So Fra Diavolo was rereleased as Bogus Bandits, Bonnie Scotland rereleased as Heroes of the Regiment, Pick a Star rereleased as Movie Struck, and Babes in Toyland rereleased as March of the Wooden Soldiers. In an odd legal twist, MGM discovered they couldn't legally release Babes in Toyland under it's original name because Walt Disney Studios had acquired the rights to the musical. So when it was sold to television, they used the name March of the Wooden Soldiers along with the Astor rerelease print instead of the master print MGM was holding in it's vault. For the next 60 years the name stuck, and was so familiar with television audiences that it's the title used in all the home video releases.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2019, 12:26:49 PM by stethacantus »


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2019, 07:45:41 PM »
#49
PERFECT DAY ( 1929 )

1 point, 1 list, #25 Stethacantus

"Oh shit!"


THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD
The idea for this film came from Stan Laurel's neighbors, who were on their way to a picnic when their car wouldn't start. For the next hour Stan watched as the whole family, kids and all, sat patiently in the back of a convertible as the dad fiddled around under the hood. The car finally started and off the family went.  Stan wondered what would happen if the car never started, how long the family would sit there waiting until they gave up and went back in their house. It was then that Stan realized that this was a perfect plot for a Laurel and Hardy film. 20 minutes of them attempting to go on a picnic and getting no further than the end of their own block.

MOUNTIES
This was Laurel and Hardy's fourth sound short, the second one shot on location instead of in studio, and there was a learning curve.  Production on their previous film needed to be shut down due to the voices and laughter of spectators being picked up by the sound microphones. This had never been a problem in the past. Some of their classic silent shorts were shot with spectators just feet away, and just outside of camera range. The crowds of onlookers could be as noisy as they wanted. And they often were. But sound film meant you couldn't have people yelling out they want your autograph, or anything else directed at the actors. They were asked to be quiet, but rarely were. So for Perfect Day Hal Roach got the services of the Culver City Mounted Police who kept everyone a good distance away from the shoot where the microphones couldn't pick up their voices no matter how loud they yelled.

A MOTION PICTURE FIRST
A Perfect Day made it's home video debut in 1985, which meant L&H fans who owned the video could watch again and again, and rewind a gag over and over again, and generally examine the short in greater detail than anyone had done before.  That's how something that had not been noticed for over 50 years was suddenly noticed. It happens about 12 minutes into the film. Stan and Ollie are in the midst of fighting a neighbor when Ollie spots something and everyone runs into the house. It is their pastor, and they don't want him to know they are skipping church to go on a Sunday picnic. But if you listen closely you can easily hear Edgar Kennedy utter the words "Oh Shit!" Like I said, there was a learning curve to making sound films. And one of the things that needed to be learned was not to curse on film. During the silent era, actors used all sorts of foul language. Those who learned lip reading got the full experience. Even biblical epics had cast members using foul language. With sound, the profanities had to end. Which wasn't much of a problem as by that time studios expected you to stick to lines from a script, which would not have any foul language on it. For stars like WC Fields who talked like sailors on shore leave at a brothel,  they needed to learn to substitute their usual language with something tamer. Fields, for example, changed God Damn to Godfrey Daniels. Western heroes changed Damnit  to Darn, or Dagnabbit. And Shit became the inoffensive shucks.  The problem at Hal Roach Studios was that the comedians continued to improvise their lines well into the sound era instead of using the lines in the script.  This meant the occasional swear word would be uttered by mistake, and the scene would need to be reshot. Even the Our Gang films had the occasional curse word uttered from one of the child actors. Every time the offensive language was caught by crew members. Except for this time. Not only did they miss it, but so did every censor board, and all the theater audiences, and millions of television viewers. Kennedy's utterance of "Oh Shit" was so natural, and Oliver Hardy's performance so distracting,  that no one noticed the first use of the word Shit in a sound film.


Offline George-2.0

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2019, 07:50:15 PM »
Really, Babes in Toyland only got a single vote, and from the B list? One of my pals (Fred as a matter of fact) loved that movie. He might have been the reason I saw it way back when.

And that was Brandon's first movie? Interesting. He was cast in several westerns I've seen, was Scar in John Ford's The Searchers, and was even in a MSTed movie/serial (Manhunt in Space)

I've not seen Perfect Day

Interesting reading material, lots of info there - a good start to the list!



Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2019, 09:26:02 PM »
Really, Babes in Toyland only got a single vote, and from the B list? One of my pals (Fred as a matter of fact) loved that movie. He might have been the reason I saw it way back when.

And that was Brandon's first movie? Interesting. He was cast in several westerns I've seen, was Scar in John Ford's The Searchers, and was even in a MSTed movie/serial (Manhunt in Space)

I've not seen Perfect Day

Interesting reading material, lots of info there - a good start to the list!

Babes in Toyland got 2 votes. 25 and 17 points. The next one on the list got 25 and 16 points.  I wasn't quite sure if it was appropriate to print the totals from the B list other than mentioning the winner. But I am thinking of possibly printing the results of the B list later in the LoC.


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2019, 09:29:05 PM »
#48
Oliver the Eighth ( 1934 )
2 points, 1 list, #49 George-2.0

"I was dreaming I was awake. Then I woke up and found myself asleep."

Ollie answers an ad in the newspaper from a wealthy widow looking for a new husband, little realizing she is insane. Years earlier she had a husband named Oliver who left her, and ever since she has been luring men named Oliver to her mansion and murdering them in their sleep. By the time Stan and Ollie figure this out, they are already trapped in the mansion for the night.

THE BUTLER DIDN'T DO IT
This is the one an only appearance in a Laurel and Hardy film of actor Jack Barty, who plays Jitters the Butler . He was an  English stage actor who made his film debut at the Roach studios, appearing in nine shorts there., after which he returned to the U.K. and spent the rest of his career acting in English films. Aside from acting in films, he helped write the script for Sons of the Desert which turned out to be Laurel and Hardy's most celebrated feature film.

THE FINAL HALF HOUR
This was the last of the Laurel and Hardy shorts to be a three reeler.  By 1934 Hal Roach was loosing money on his shorts, as most theaters began to prefer booking two feature films under a double feature bill, rather than booking one feature and several shorts.  Because of the improvised nature of their films, Laurel and Hardy often came up with more material than could be fit in two reels. Initially the only solution was to cut the third act and end the short during the second act by writing a new ending. But by the beginning of the sound era, Roach began allowing Laurel to expand his shorts into a third reel. One short, Beau Hunks, ended up running for 40 minutes. Roach had also claimed that their feature film Pardon Us began as a short. The reason for allowing Laurel to make 30 minute shorts became apparent with the rediscovery of the foreign releases of their films. In some countries two 30 minute shorts were combined into a single feature film, and one short was expanded to a full 60 minutes and released as a stand alone feature film. And Roach was making more money by selling the shorts as feature films. But now that Laurel and Hardy were making actual feature films, the 30 minute shorts were no longer needed.

A DEATH IN THE FAMILY
Two days into shooting this film, Stan received word that his brother Everett had died. He had gone to the dentist to pull a bad tooth, and after being administered Nitros Oxide, commonly known as Laughing Gas, had a heart attack. ( The irony was that the plot to a previous Laurel and Hardy short had Stan and Ollie going to the dentist and receive an overdose of Laughing Gas. ) Filming was suspended while Laurel returned to England to attend the funeral.

IT WAS ALL A DREAM
Laurel and Hardy made two horror themed shorts, and both ended with Ollie waking up to find out it was only a dream. Typically a dream ending exists because the writers can't come up with a way to end the short. Although in Laurel-Hardy Murder Case one could make the argument that Stan and Ollie could have beaten the villain. A dream ending was used in another film Laurel and Hardy appeared in, MGM's all star fiasco Hollywood Party. No suitable ending had been shot. Reportedly MGM brought in nearly every director on their lot to shoot the film, each quitting the project and asking that their name not be attached. One of the final directors was brought in to shoot an ending. The story goes that he watched the work print of the film so far, after which he said about the mess he had just seen "This is a nightmare!"  After which he realized he had an ending. Jimmy Durante wakes up to realize the bad film was all a dream.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2019, 09:49:12 PM by stethacantus »


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2019, 09:35:05 PM »
#47
The Hoose-gow ( 1929 )
2 points, 1 list, #24 Stethacantus

"Here! You can't do any harm with that! .....  OOOWWWWW!"

Stan and Ollie are sentenced to prison after being caught in a police raid. After a botched escape attempt, they are brought to a work camp where Stan spends more time damaging Ollie's prison uniform with picks than digging a ditch.

THE PICK  INJURY
One of the gags in this film called for Stan to hit Ollie with a pick. Originally they were to use a safe rubber pick, but it didn't look right on film. The scene was reshot with a real pick, which Hardy was suppose to move out of the way of as Laurel swung it at him, giving the illusion that Stan had hit him and he recoiled. However, Hardy was a bit too slow, and the pick pierced his body for real. Hardy gave out a loud shriek, and not realizing what had happened, the crew laughed at his performance. Only Laurel and Hardy knew what had just happened, and it wasn't until the blood started gushing out that the rest of the crew realized the accident had occurred.

THE RICE MELEE
In their second to last silent comedy The Bacon Grabbers a gag was filmed and abandoned. A truck backs into Laurel and Hardy's car and punctures the radiator. As water gushes out, the truck driver suggests they fill the radiator with rice, which should plug the leak.  As the film continued, the rice inside the radiator was to begin pouring out as it heated up, eventually spraying out the tailpipe as well and hitting innocent bystanders.  Deciding the gag was too impractical to film, and they already had plenty of material for the rest of the film, they decided to save the gag for another film. They scripted the gag for A Perfect Day, this time with the car exploding and sending the rice slop al over the neighborhood, resulting in a rice fight with the neighbors.  But this and many other gags were abandoned when Laurel and Hardy got 20 minutes of film shooting the first half of the script. The gag was finally used in this film. Ollie accidentally punctures the mayor's car, and a fellow prisoner suggests using rice to fix it before the mayor comes back. This results in the cooked rice pouring out of the front of the car, and eventually the slop is used for a rice fight between the inmates and guards.

THE COUNTY HOSPITAL
While much of the beginning of the film was shot in an actual county jail yard, the location scout decided the front of the prison didn't look enough like prison gates. So the scene where the paddywagon drives into the prison was filmed at the gates of the county hospital instead. This does explain what appears to be a continuity error. When Laurel and Hardy attempt to escape from the jail, it is suddenly in the middle of a field, when the scene showing the paddywagon driving into the prison had it in the middle of a city block.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2019, 12:29:17 PM by stethacantus »


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2019, 09:38:26 PM »
#46
BELOW ZERO ( 1930 )
3 points, 1 list, #23 Darth Geek

"There's a dollar. Move down a couple of streets."

In the freezing winter of 1929, Stan and Ollie take up busking, but their off tune rendition of In The Good Old Summertime fails to raise any money other than a dollar offered to them if they take their act to another block.  Their performing ends when an irate woman, who blames them for a snowball that landed in her stew, breaks their instruments. They find a wallet full of money in the snow, but then immediately after are harassed by a mugger who wants the contents of the wallet for himself. A police officer shows up and drives the mugger off, and a grateful Stan and Ollie offer to treat him to lunch. However, when it comes time to pay the bill, Stan discovers a picture of the cop in the wallet and realizes he dropped it. Seeing Stan has his wallet, the policeman takes it back, and walks off without paying the bill, leaving Ollie and Stan to face the angry proprietor.

MISTAKEN IDENTITY

The woman who pays Stan and Ollie to move to another block calls Ollie "Mr. Whiteman". This is a reference to a famous band leader named Paul Whiteman, who was a doppelganger for Oliver Hardy.   
known as "The King of Jazz", Whiteman's career peaked around the late 20s and mid 30s with such hit singles as Mississippi Mud and Rhapsody in Blue. His music style influenced Leroy Shield, Marvin Hatley and the other composers who arranged background music for the Hal Roach films of the early 30s. Critics often made references as to how he and Oliver Hardy looked alike, hence the reference which modern audiences probably wouldn't get.

AN OLD FRIEND
Below Zero marks the debut in a Laurel and Hardy  film of comedian Bobby Burns, who plays both the blind man who somehow sees the silver dollar Ollie dropped on the ground, and later in the same film playing a customer at a restaurant who cant pay his bill and ends up taking a beating from the owner and his staff. He first entered the film business in 1908 under the professional name of Robert Burns, eventually changing his first name to Bobby as his career took off. It peaked around 1917 when he became part of the comedy team Pokes and Jabs, with himself playing Pokes, and Walter Stull playing Jabs. About 95 Pokes and Jabs shorts were made in a two year period. One of the supporting players in the shorts was Oliver Hardy. When the series was discontinued Burns returned to Vaudeville for a couple of years before returning to the screen as the star of a series of unsuccessful shorts. By the time he joined Hal Roach, most likely at Hardy's insistence, he was down to playing uncredited bit parts. After Laurel and Hardy left Roach, Burns moved on to Columbia as a bit player in the Three Stooges shorts, Appearing one more time with Laurel and Hardy in there MGM film Air Raid Wardens

NEVER WASTE A GOOD GAG
Those who have watched most of the Laurel and Hardy films will notice how many gags are recycled. This was a result of almost everyone at Roach Studios having come from the stage where good gags were never thrown out, and would become a permanent part of any comedian's act. In film this was different. If a good gag was conceived, it was used once and never again. With the arrival of sound film, everyone came to the conclusion that the silent films may never be seen again. So while new gags were still being generated, comedians took the opportunity to revive older gags that worked so well in the past. In this case Laurel recycled a gag from his early solo film Kill or Cure ( 1923 ), where he played a tonic salesman who after a minute of pitching his product to someone, has that person walk away revealing he was standing in front of a sign that reads " Deaf and Dumb Institute". In a variation of that same gag, Stan and Ollie spend hours in front of a building, playing their instruments while people keep walking past them not noticing them. They decide to find a more profitable location when Stan moves, revealing he was sitting in front of a sign that reads "Deaf & Dumb Institute"
« Last Edit: August 21, 2019, 09:40:04 PM by stethacantus »


Offline George-2.0

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2019, 10:08:16 PM »
That is a funny line (Paul Whiteman)

Criterion has actually released the King of Jazz movie, so that how I knew of him. For info and such... https://www.criterion.com/films/29389-king-of-jazz


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2019, 10:24:13 PM »
THE FOILS
When Laurel and Hardy weren't causing needless damage to each other, they often caused needless damage to someone else. The comic foil, that temporary enemy that the boys found themselves teaming up against, Short tempered and disliking them the second they met. A foil could be anyone from a nurse to a butler, to even an entire crowd. Encounters with foils could erupt into entire reels of reciprocal destruction as each took turns breaking each other's property. Or it could just be a brief nasty encounter. If insulted or worse, Laurel and Hardy were quick to retaliate, as long as there were no police around. And the foils were unlikable enough that the audience instantly took the boy's side, even when vandalizing someone's property.  Here are the actors who would go on to become Laurel and Hardy's most memorable foils.

James Finlayson
In 1929 First National Pictures  was acquired by Warner Bros. who were only interested in their California studio facilities. After only four films for First National, Finlayson was unemployed. So he returned to Hal Roach Studios where this time he knew he would only be a supporting actor. He was immediately teamed up with Laurel and Hardy for their most celebrated silent comedies, Big Business. For the first time he was their foil. He would appear in 24 more Laurel and Hardy films, although not always as their adversary.  Know for his exaggerated  double take during the silent era, his legacy will always be with his sound films due to one unintentional catch phrase.  During one of his first sound films he momentarily forgot his voice was being recorded and began to say "Damn it!", but then caught himself  midway through uttering the word "damn" and tried to cover it up by yelling "oh". The director thought it was funny and asked him to continue yelling "D'ooh!" whenever his character was exasperated. He continued using it in all his films. It would outlive him, being used by other comedians, and eventually becoming  a catchphrase of Homer Simpson. Undoubtedly Laurel and Hardy's greatest foil, the last film they made together was Saps at Sea in 1940, after which he left Roach for good. He continued appearing in small film roles until his death of a heart attack in 1953.

Charley Hall
Born in Birmingham, Warwickshire, England on August 19, 1899, his original trade was carpentry. That is until he ended up in the Fred Karno troupe shortly after they returned from America without Chaplin. While on break from the troupe, Charley visited his sister who lived in New York City, and she convinced him to stay in America.  He found work as a stage hand. There he befriended comedian Bobby Dunn, who convinced him to return to the stage. This would eventually lead to working in films, and being signed by Hal Roach. Hall would end up being the foil who appeared in the most films with Laurel and Hardy, 50 ( including minor characters. ) The first appearance being the pre-team film of Duck Soup, followed by The Second Hundred Years , and his last film being Saps at Sea.  Charley usually played the landlord, almost always living in the apartment below them and having to listen to the noisy chaos above when he is trying to sleep. Know to L&H fans as "Little Nemesis" due to his height of only 5'5", he was fully capable of standing toe to toe with the boys. As he did in the reciprocal destruction classic Them That Hills, the only L&H film to have a sequel, Title for Tat. In both Hall plays the same character of a jealous husband who believes Hardy is after his wife. The sequel was good enough to earn an Academy Award nomination for best live action short. After leaving Roach Studios, Hall continued to appear in small roles, including Chaplin's Limelight and a few Abbott and Costello films. Hall passed away on December 7, 1959.

Edgar Kennedy
Born April 26, 1890 in Monterey County California, Edgar Kennedy was originally a boxer, having at one time in his career going 14 rounds with Jack Dempsey. Having had enough of the sport he moved on to Vaudeville, and from there to Keystone Studios where he was one of the original Keystone Cops. Even before signing with Hal Roach, Kennedy gained the nickname "Slow Burn" for his ability to gradually go from happy to mad, a decent acting skill to have in slapstick comedies. Roach usually had Kennedy playing a police officer. This was the case with his first film with Laurel and Hardy, Leave em' Laughing, where he played a frustrated traffic cop trying to get the boys ( who are both high on laughing gas ) to drive through an intersection. His last film with them happened long after they had left Hal Roach Studios, in 1943's Air Raid Wardens for M.G.M. Studios. By then Kennedy was staring in his own series of shorts for R.K.O., many which were directed by former Roach director Hal Yates. Another former director from Roach Studios Kennedy worked for was Leo McCarey, who cast him as the man running the lemonade cart in Duck Soup ( 1933 ). Kennedy continued making shorts and playing bit parts in movies even after he contracted throat cancer, which he eventually died of on November 9, 1948.

Billy Gilbert
With his distinctive booming voice, you would suspect Billy Gilbert had some sort of vocal training, and you would be right. William Gilbert Barron was born September 12, 1894 in Louisville Kentucky to parents who were both opera singer. Trained as a singer from a young age and having the DNA of two talented parents, William was touring Vaudeville as a singer by the age of 12. He later drifted into musical comedies, which is how Stan Laurel discovered him and got Roach to sign him. Like the rest of the contract players, Gilbert appeared in various film series, beginning with Charley Chase. His first L&H film was One Good Turn and the final was Blockheads. Gilbert had a successful career as a character actor outside of Roach Studios, with his most memorable roles being Herring in Chaplin's The Great Dictator and the voice of Sneezy in Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. But his most memorable role will always be  the pompous  Professor Theodore von Schwarzenhoffen, M.D., A.D., D.D.S., F.L.D., F-F-F-and-F in Laurel and Hardy's Academy Award winning short The Music Box. Gilbert passed away on September 23, 1971 of a stroke.


Tiny Sandford
Born Stanley J Sandford on February 26, 1894 in Osage, Iowa, , he would gain the nickname "Tiny" after a growth spurt ended with him growing to nearly 7 feet tall. After a brief stage career that went nowhere, Tiny decided to try his luck in motion pictures. While his size held him back on the stage, he discovered screen comedians wanted giant actors to act as the villain, or heavy. In no time he was working for Charlie Chaplin, the biggest Hollywood star of the era. appearing in many classic comedies including The Gold Rush and Modern Times. He also found work in dramas, most notably as Porthos in  The Iron Mask, Douglas Fairbanks final silent film. Finding work among Roach's All Stars, Tiny first appeared with Laurel and Hardy in their pre-team short 45 Minutes From Hollywood, which doesn't really count for much as that was the movie where Laurel and Hardy were in the same scene, but in two different rooms. And it was filmed during the time Laurel was still  under contract to Joe Rock, so he is disguised with a bushy mustache making him almost unrecognizable. And Tiny wasn't even in that scene with them. Realistically, his first film with them was their first film as a team. The Second Hundred Years where he played a prison guard. Almost all his appearances in a Laurel & Hardy film was as either a cop or guard, which is why, combined with his height, they never intentionally retaliated against him. Tiny's final appearance in a Laurel and Hardy film was Our Relations. A few years later he retired from showbusiness after filming a small part for his old friend Chaplin in The Great Dictator in 1940. He died October 29, 1961.

Walter Long
Walter Long was born March 5, 1879 in Nashua, New Hampshire. As early as 1910 Long was working for D.W, Griffith as one of his stock actors, and moved with the company when it relocated from Fort Lee, New Jersey to Hollywood, California. There he met and fell in love with actress Luray Hurtley, and the two wed. Long's best known and most infamous role in a Griffith film was as an African American named Gus in the film Birth of a Nation ( 1915 ) with Walter in heavy black face acting as foolish as possible. He was also in Intolerance ( 1916 ) which his wife also acted in. In 1918  the Spanish Flu Epidemic spread across the world killing millions, wiping out 5% of the world's population within a year. Luray contracted the flu and died in 1919. Walter never married again. By the 1920s he was working for Rudolph Valentino, appearing in such classics as The Sheik ( 1921 ) and Blood and Sand ( 1923 ). Because of his rough looks he was type casted as a thug or gangster. Hal Roach cast him to play a prisoner called The Tiger, the films main villain in Laurel & Hardy's first feature film Pardon Us. He wound up acting in four more Laurel and Hardy films, the last being a film they all guest starred in called Pick a Star.  Despite depicting criminals and prisoners for most of his career,  Long considered himself a  law abiding patriot, and served in both World Wars. On July 4th, 1952 he insisted on participating in a firework show, during which he suffered a heart attack and dropped dead.


Lupe Vélez
I had intended to limit  this section to just actors who appeared in more than bit roles in at least  five Laurel and Hardy films, Over their careers they had faced off against countless foils, many of which they faced only once. There was the memorable Henry Brandon as Barnaby in Babes in Toyland,  Dorothy Coburn as the nurse in The Finishing Touch, Peter Cushing in A Chump at Oxford, Charles Middleton came up short in only four films, two which he played basically the same role of the commander of the French Foreign Legion. But rules are rules, and if I didn't have them then this section would go on for pages and include a lot of bit players who were nowhere as talented as the actors mentioned above. ( which is why Stan Laurel never used them again. ) But one actress participated in such a memorable routine of reciprocal destruction  that the rules deserve to be broken just so she can make this list. Lupe Véle  only appeared in two Laurel & Hardy films, one of which was one of the pre-team films Sailor's Beware! in which Oliver Hardy was playing a purser who chases stowaway Stan Laurel around a ship. María Guadalupe Villalobos Velez was born on July 18, 1908 in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. She began her career in the Mexican Vaudeville circuit, where her volatile personality  had her feuding all the time with her fellow performers. The press this generated elevated Lupe into a major Vaudeville attraction. In 1926 Lupe received a telegram from a stage director  in Los Angeles offering her a part in his new play.  When she arrived she found out the part had already been cast to another actress. A talent scout for M.G.M. found out she was in town and offered her a screen test. She was referred to Hal Roach, and her bit part in Sailors Beware! was her movie debut. She made only one other short for Roach, which was another bit part. She was offered a contract by Douglas Fairbanks, to be his leading lady in The Gaucho, making her a major Hollywood star. So how did she end up in a movie where she has an egg fight with Laurel and Hardy, M.G.M. Studio's monstrosity Hollywood Party, which will be explained in full later.  Needless to say the egg breaking routine went on to become one of Laurel and Hardy's most beloved, even if it did end up in a turd of a film. Shortly after Hollywood Party, Lupe signed with R.K.O. for the highly successful Mexican Spitfire film series. She was at the peak of her success when on December 14, 1944 she took her own life after becoming pregnant out of wedlock. Unfortunately she is only remembered today for that suicide and the scandal that surrounded it. It is very possible that if she had lived, she would have ended up in another film with Laurel and Hardy. There final film with FOX, The Bullfighters was filmed just months after her death. It was set in Lupe's home country of Mexico, and it had Laurel and Hardy rehash their egg fighting routine again. Only this time with actress Carol Andrews. It is very possible the script for this film was written hoping to have Lupe in the cast.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2019, 10:44:14 PM by stethacantus »


Offline F-Zero

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2019, 03:00:48 AM »
Love it when the OP is passionate about something I've never really looked at before.  Lay it on me brother.


Offline PsychoGoatee

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2019, 03:44:41 AM »
For sure, interesting cool stuff to read. Learning stuff!


Offline Darth Geek

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2019, 06:31:16 AM »
Wow, that is a lot of great writeup! Good job stethacantus. I'll have to read all of it later, it's interesting stuff.



Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #14 on: August 22, 2019, 09:37:25 AM »
#45
The Second Hundred Years ( 1927 )
4 points, 1 list, #22 Stethacantus

"Its The Wrong Way To The Right Place."

Convicts Big Goofy and Little Goofy come up with a foolproof plan to escape prison. By turning their prison uniforms inside out, they can pretend to be one of the painters hired to whitewash the prison. But once outside, a curious cop begins to follow them around. So to throw his suspicion off they attempt to prove they are painters by whitewashing everything in town. When that doesn't placate the officer, they make a run for it. Jumping into the back of a limo, they both manage to overtake the men inside, steal their clothes, and toss them out in their long johns. Oblivious to what just happened in the back seat the chauffeur drives Big Goofy and Little Goofy to their destination. A dinner party at the prison warden's house.

FIRST HARDY AND LAUREL FILM
At Leo McCarey's insistence, Laurel and Hardy were turned into a team. While Finlayson worked on the film, he discovered he was reduced to supporting player. In fact, he was given very little to do in this film. He had arrived at the studio with a promise he would be groomed to be the star of his own film series. He watched as Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy gradually took over his films. He became part of a trio, then as the team was about to officially begin their own series, got cut out. He would just be another supporting player at the Roach studio. Any wonder he left the studio shortly after completing this film? Meanwhile the Roach publicity department began press releasing the news of the formation of a new comedy team. Hardy and Laurel! This despite the decision to put Stan Laurel's name first in the opening credits for The Second Hundred Years Not only did press releases and press kits have Hardy's name first, but also continued to suggest Finlayson was still part of the team, and in one press release, continued to refer to them as a comedy trio.

LAUREL DIDN'T WANT TO BE IN LAUREL AND HARDY
When McCarey told Laurel about the decision to make him and Hardy a trio, he told McCary he was against the idea. It wasn't that he had anything against Oliver Hardy. Stan had grown very friendly with him and loved to work  with him. But by this time Stan preferred writing and directing, and had decided his performing days were over. The only reason he continued to act on film was as a favor to Roach, but he found the behind the scenes work more rewarding. He had already directed several films for Roach ( including a few featuring Hardy ) and had written a few scripts. Once headlining as part of a duo, he would no longer have time for directing. But Roach insisted, so Laurel reluctantly became part of a team. It took a little time, but once he and Hardy discovered their screen characters, he began to fall in love with the teamwork. Of course it helped that Stan took creative control over the teams films, even bossing the directors around. As for Hardy, when he got the news about becoming a comedy team, he was thrilled. His whole career he had been nothing but a supporting player. Now for the first time he would be a star.

ANYTHING FOR A LAUGH
To show how committed Laurel and Hardy were to their comedy, they agreed to shave their heads bald in order to play prisoners. This meant they both would be out of commission until their hair grew back.  Roach did find work for them, by casting them as insane  asylum inmates who lived next door to Max Davidson in his film Call of the Cuckoos.  Joining them as fellow inmates in this brief guest starring role were Charlie Chase and James Finlayson. It would take another month before enough of their hair grew back so they could film their next team film Hats Off

« Last Edit: August 22, 2019, 10:01:25 AM by stethacantus »