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Author Topic: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films  (Read 2383 times)

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Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #30 on: August 23, 2019, 04:41:25 AM »
Surprised it only got one vote. Yeah, you could lose the first 20 minutes (or just pretend it's the short before the feature)…..

I think Laurel was hoping that the first 20 minutes would be released in America as a separate short. It was basically a sound remake of the silent short From Soup To Nuts. He even convinced Anita Garvin to come out of retirement and reprise her role as the hostess of the dinner party. For decades A Chump At Oxford was only shown in America as a 42 minute streamliner. Then beginning in the 80s for the syndicated television series The Laurel & Hardy Show and later the Video Treasures home video release, the 63 minute feature film was used from that point on. However, the Essential Collection has both the 42 minute and 62 minute versions.

... but Stan as Lord Paddington was priceless, just a hoot and a half. The window fight was classic, and the snooty way he treated Ollie afterward, and that voice....   priceless.

Laurel and Hardy were excellent actors who never got much of a chance to break away from their usual screen characters. Laurel did get to break character in the FOX film Bullfighters where he played a second character who was an equally pompous Mexican matador.

Oh, and to hell with Star Wars, Peter Cushing will always be Baron von Frankenstein to me.

Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
Revenge of Frankenstein (1958)
Evil of Frankenstein (1964)
Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)
Frankenstein Must be Destroyed (1969)
Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974)

(and yeah, he was a great Van Helsing as well, in what, 5 Hammer films?)

What I liked about the Hammer Frankenstein films was that they were all about Dr. Frankenstein as the villain and not the monster. I saw a couple of the Frankenstein films, and the monster wasn't even in them.  The American films abandoned Victor Frankenstein after the second film, but the monster kept coming back again and again. I mean, how do you kill something that can be revived every time it's shocked with electricity?


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #31 on: August 23, 2019, 04:42:58 AM »
#36
THICKER THAN WATER ( 1935 )
15 points, 2 lists, #17 George-2.0

"What do you mean you gave it to me? That was the money that she gave to me, and I gave it to you to give to him, then you gave it back to me, and I had to give it to her to give to him."

Stan talks Ollie into withdrawing all his money from the bank to pay off the money owed on their furniture, which he and his wife were paying for in instalments. But instead of paying off the furniture, they end up using all the money to pay for a grandfather clock they accidentally win at an auction.

SERIES FINALE
This was the final short in the Laurel and Hardy series. Thanks to independent theaters no longer booking shorts, Hal Roach was beginning to loose money on them. Although MGM theaters still ran shorts before their feature film, they were also Roach's distributor so didn't pay for the shorts.  Other theater chains also continued to show shorts, but each was owned by different Hollywood studios, and only screened their own product. From the beginning, Hal Roach had made his money selling shorts to the independent theaters. However, independents had begun running double features as a way to draw audiences during the depression. Instead of one feature film and an hours worth of supporting shorts, the double feature was a feature film and a less expensive film to book known as the B film. B films usually came from smaller studios like Monogram or Republic Pictures who specialized in producing low budget films. Realizing there was money to be made on B films, the major studios opened up their own B film divisions, each which produced a number of cheap films that were rented to independent theaters for cheap. Roach had little choice but to discontinue producing shorts, and produce feature films exclusively if he wanted his studio to survive.


OF MACABRE AND MAGIC
Thicker Than Water employed two bizarre gags that had become a favorite of Laurel's. The freak ending, and the first time white magic would be used in a L&H film. The white magic involved either Laurel or Hardy grabbing the edge of the screen, and in an optical wipe, pulling the next scene into frame.  Another white magic gag appears in Bonnie Scotland where by blowing into his thumb he is able to make his hat rise off of his head. Here the rules were set that only Stan had white magic abilities and Ollie didn't.

According to the Laurel and Hardy Encyclopedia Stan Laurel first used white magic in the film Way Out West. Perhaps because what he did in Bonnie Scotland could be explained as a trick, and Thicker Than Water meant to be a self aware gag, as if Stan and Ollie realized they existed inside a movie, and therefore force an optical wipe to the next scene. But inWay Out West, Stan's magic can only be explained as actual magical abilities. Throughout the film, whenever fire is needed, Laurel flicks his thumb and a flame shoots out as if it was a lighter. No better example of Stan's white magic was Blockheads. Due to a busted elevator, the boys are forced to walk up several flights of stairs. On one landing Stan sees sunlight from an open window shining on a wall, along with the shadow of a shade partially pulled down. Stan reaches for it and is able to pull the shadow of the shade down, repeating this on the next few landings. Once they reach Ollie's apartment Stan takes out tobacco to smoke. On realizing he has no pipe, he shoves the tobacco into his clinched fist, extends his thumb, lights the tobacco, and is somehow able to suck the smoke through his thumb.

There was another bizarre gag Laurel wanted in Blockheads but Hal Roach refused to allow him to film. Having already established that neighbor Billy Gilbert was a famous trophy Hunter early in the film, the ending was to have him chasing Laurel and Hardy with a rifle after he suspects them of  having an affair with his wife. The final scene was to repeat an earlier scene where Gilbert is being interviewed by reporters on his hunting expeditions and his trophies. He then shows the reporters Laurel and Hardy's heads mounted on the wall, calling them the homewreckers he bagged in California. After which Hardy turns to Laurel and says "Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into." After which Laurel cries "I couldn't help it" as the movie fades. The aborted ending to Blockheads was another favorite gag of Laurel's, the freak ending, where one or more of the duo is permanently disfigured or possibly killed. The freak ending in Thicker Than Water has a blood transfusion going wrong, resulting in Hardy looking like Laurel and Laurel looking like Hardy.

The first use of a freak ending in a L&H film was in Liberty, where a cop who had an elevator land on him while looking up the shaft, is squashed into a dwarf. The first time a freak ending effected either Laurel or Hardy was in Below Zero where after being thrown head first into a barrel full of water, Stan emerges with an enormous bloated stomach, having apparently drank all the water. Things escalated after that. In Come Clean Hardy pulls a plug out of a bathtub Laurel is in, sending him down the drain. In Dirty Work Hardy falls into a tub filled with an experimental chemical and ends up turning into an ape. In Going Bye Bye a convict they testified against threatens to break their legs off and twist them around their heads like pretzels if he ever escapes from prison. He does escape and keeps his promise.  That convict was played by Walter Long, who also got the chance to mutilate Laurel and Hardy in The Live Ghost. In that movie he is a captain who threatens to twist Laurel and Hardy's heads backwards if  they ever call his vessel a ghost ship again. Which they do.  Bohemian Girl has the boys sent to a torture chamber where Laurel is crushed in a press while Hardy is stretched on the rack. The last scene is of a squashed Laurel and stretched Hardy leaving the prison.

Hal Roach never liked the freak ending. Stan preferred it because it gave the film a proper ending gag when they couldn't think of any other way to end a film. By the time Blockheads was released, the relationship between Roach and Laurel had deteriorated to the point where Hal would no longer tolerate his movies being sabotaged with a freak ending. But that didn't stop Stan. When Roach lent the duo to RKO for Flying Deuces, Laurel had the original ending replaced with the one where Hardy is killed in a plane crash, and reincarnates into a talking horse. Amazingly, while they had barely any creative input in their FOX films, and more or less, were stuck with the script they were given, Laurel was able to get a couple of freak endings put onto the films. In A Haunting We Will Go Laurel disappears during a magic trick, and is found by Hardy in a prop egg, shrunken to 2 feet tall. And in Bullfighters someone threatens to skin Laurel and Hardy alive if he ever catches them, resulting in an ending where it is their talking heads on top of skeletons.


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #32 on: August 23, 2019, 05:32:53 AM »
#35
Going Bye-Bye! ( 1934 )
16 points, 3 lists, #18 Darth Geek

"Excuse me please. My ear is full of milk."

Butch Long is sentenced to life in prison, thanks to the testimony of Stan and Ollie. Butch vows to escape from prison, then track Stan and Ollie down, break their legs off, and tie them around their necks. They are advised to get out of town before Butch can make good on that vow. Ollie decides to bring along other passengers who can help pay for the gas and expenses, and asks Stan to put an advert in the newspaper. They get a call from a woman who needs for her and her boyfriend to get out of town, little realizing that her boyfriend is Butch, who has just escaped from prison. Furthermore, Butch was hiding in her trunk when the lock jammed, and Stan and Ollie, not realizing who is trapped in there, offer to help open it.

THE FOUR MONTH HIATUS
Laurel ran into legal troubles with his ex-wife Lois which resulted in him needing to leave the country to avoid her from suing him for more alimony. Initially Roach Studios put out a press release that Stan would be returning to England permanently, and Hardy was to be teamed with Patsy Kelly. This wasn't true, and was just a ploy to throw his ex-wife's lawyers off. Knowing that Laurel may need to leave the country for real, Roach suspended all work on any further Laurel and Hardy films. Eventually Laurel did leave the country, but just across the border into Mexico. There he married his next wife Ruth, despite his divorce with his former wife not yet settles and would not be finalized for another six months. Laurel told reporters he would not be violating any polygamy laws because he would not be living with Ruth once they returned to the United States, and after his divorce with Lois was finalized, would be having a proper marriage. Once the alimony issue was settled, Laurel returned to California and began working on Going Bye Bye

LAUREL TAKES CHARGE
During the hiatus the director for their unit, Lloyd French, was fired. A new director would be needed, so Laurel suggested Charles Rogers.  A close friend of Laurel's from his music hall days back in England, Laurel brought him to Roach Studios where he was a gagman and bit player, but then began grooming him for directing. The reason, unable to get Roach to allow him to direct the L&H films himself,  Laurel wanted a director who would be subordinate to him.  The films directed by Rogers were basically films directed by Laurel. This arrangement would continue for the rest of their shorts. However, once Roach discontinued the shorts and no permanent director was needed, Roach began assigning other directors for their feature films.


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #33 on: August 23, 2019, 06:47:16 AM »
#34
Berth Marks ( 1929 )
#16 points, 1 list, #10 Darth Geek

"Did you know that you have my pants on your leg?"

Vaudeville musicians  Stan and Ollie are on their way to Pottsville for a performance, and book a berth in a sleeper car on a train. Figuring out how to get into the upper berth without tumbling onto the floor takes some time. Finally, both manage to get into their bed, but spend much of the time in the cramped space trying to change from their street clothes into their pajamas. Meanwhile in another train car, all the passengers are involved in a clothes ripping melee triggered by something Stan had done earlier. Stan and Ollie finally settle down to sleep, when the conductor announces that the next station is Pottsville.

FROM EXPERIENCE
With each new film, Laurel, his gagmen, the director, the head of production Leo McCarey ( when he still worked at Roach Studios ) and sometimes Hardy, would sit around in a room to try to come up with an idea  for the plot. Sometimes someone had an idea they had for weeks and wanted to pitch. Sometimes someone saw something on their way to work and thought it was a good idea for the next Laurel and Hardy film. Sometimes no one had any ideas, and the writing session would go on for days until a suitable idea was thought of. And then sometimes someone would remember something that happened to them in the past. This was the case with Stan Laurel, who during one meeting began to recall how in his early Vaudeville days he had to sleep in cramped upper berths on trains between cities, often arriving at his destination before he even had time for a good sleep. If the upper berth was too cramped for one person, imagine how funny it would be to jam two people into the same berth? Other life experiences began to work their way into the script. How Laurel's inexperience had him changing his clothing in the berths before he found out there was a cloak room for changing in. How he often missed trains, or missed stations, because he could not understand the dialect of the conductor announcing the train's stops. The danger of leaving luggage behind on a station, or on a departing train. And the one time he left his shoes in the hallway of a seedy hotel expecting the hotel porter to shine them, only to discover in the morning they had been stolen, and the hotel he was in didn't even have a porter or shoe shining service.


RECORDING THE TRAIN
Once Stan decided the next film would take place on a train, the studio ran into a problem. Because sound film was brand new, there didn't exist a sound library to add sound effects to a soundtrack. They would need to record the sound of an actual moving train car. To do this, microphones were placed in a berth on an empty train. Unfortunately those microphones needed to be attached by wire to what amounted to a huge machine full of tubes that recorded the sound. Ahh, the early days before transistors. Usually the sound equipment was no problem as it was mounted onto the back of a flatbed truck and brought to whatever location they were shooting at. But in this case the machine was too big to fit inside the baggage car. It had to be placed on a flatbed car at the rear of the train, and on a few occasions almost teetered  off as the train ran over a switch or hit a curve. Which would have been a huge problem as this was the studio's only sound equipment, which they usually kept in a central location at the studio and attached by wire to the microphones on the many sets. Had this thing fallen off, it was doubtful Roach could afford to buy another, and he would have needed to go back to making silent films, which MGM warned him they would no longer be distributing. In later years sound equipment got less expensive and used less tubes and electronics. And every time someone recorded a new sound, like a gunshot or car motor, it was usually banked in a library for future use. Eventually Roach would have full access to MGM's sound library.

THE GIGGLES
Do I need to mention again how there was a learning curve to making sound films? Their first, Unaccustomed As We Are, had been shot entirely on a soundstage. For their second sound film Berth Marks, Laurel and Hardy needed to shoot the scenes of them boarding and departing a train in an actual station. Although the location work was brief, for the first time they ran into the problem of the laughter of onlookers being picked up by microphones. This was unavoidable at a public train station, and scenes needed to be reshot again and again as outside laughter was picked up. Things didn't get easy once back on a soundstage. While filming the upper berth scenes, Stan inadvertently shoved his foot into Hardy's underwear, and both broke out laughing. After that incident, both men could not help but to break out in laughter every few minutes, ruining take after take. To add to the problems, cameraman Len Powers also could not help but laugh during the filming and ruined many takes. This would not have been a problem during the silent films. Laurel and Hardy were use to listening to laughter from the crew back then. But now with sound films the entire crew needed to keep quiet until the director called cut. Something Len was unable to do. What was suppose to take only a few hors to film ended up taking three days due to uncontrollable laughter.


THE REMAKE
For their Fox film The Big Noise, the script writers came up with the idea of recycling the upper berth scene from Berth Marks, and threw in an added element. While Stan and Ollie are changing their clothing, a drunk wanders into their berth and they end up sharing it. Apparently the writers thought three men in a cramped space would be a lot funnier than two.  Stan Laurel had his own ideas about updating the Berth Mark routine. Realizing sleeper trains were quickly becoming a thing of the past, he wanted the scene to take place on an airliner. But the studio already had a train car  set they reused in all their B pictures and no airline interior set, so Stan's suggestion fell on deaf ears.


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #34 on: August 23, 2019, 07:01:18 AM »
#33
Double Whoopee  ( 1929 )
16 points, 1 list, #10 Stethacantus

"The King shall hear of this! And I'll tell the Queen too!"

Thee is much excitement in the lobby of a swanky Times Square hotel, because a German prince is arriving that day to be a guest. Stan and Ollie walk into the door and are mistaken for the prince and his prime minister. After the entire staff greets them, Ollie hands the manager a letter from a job agency telling him that they are the two doormen he had asked for, and:  "These are the best we could do on short notice.   There is some reason to believe that they may be competent." They turn out to be anything but competent, destroying the registry, starting a fight with a cabbie, causing another fight between guests and the staff in the lobby, and causing the German Prince to fall into a greasy elevator pit  not once, but three times.


STUNNER
No actress had a more memorable screen debut than 17 year old Jean Harlow. She plays a socialite arriving at the hotel by taxi. As she is exiting the cab, Stan accidentally slams the cab's door on the tail of her dress, and before he can stop it, the cab drives off taking the entire dress with it. Somehow Jean doesn't feel the dress being ripped off of her, and walks into the hotel lobby wearing nothing but her barely there undergarments, escorted by Ollie who also hasn't noticed the wardrobe malfunction yet. This was definitely something the Production Code would have never allowed. But as shocking as this scene was in the 1920s, it was nothing compared to what happened on the first take. The original undergarments Jean had on were no match for the bright studio lights. As she walked into the lobby, the lights caused her undergarments to turn completely transparent. Jean was rushed to wardrobe and given the undergarments seen in the film. But by then everyone on the set had seen, well, everything. And for the next few decades anyone lucky enough to have been on the lot that day could tell the story of how they saw Jean Harlow naked.

THEY TALK!
A sound version of this film exists! No, Roach didn't have sound recording equipment on the lot until Unaccustomed As we Are. But a sound version does exist and can easily be found on YouTube. It's the work of a chapter of the Sons of the Desert in New York. During a meeting in 1969 they began discussing how television stations were not airing Laurel and Hardy's silent shorts. Someone wondered why they didn't just dub the silent films the same way they dubbed foreign films. And by the end of the evening there was a plan to foley and dub a silent short. A print of Double Whoopee was acquired, and all the title cards were edited out. A lip reader was then hired to figure out exactly what the actors were saying.  Voice actors were brought in. Chuck McCann, who was a member of the Sons of the Desert, did the voices of Stan and Ollie. The completed film was only screened at Sons of the Desert meetings and a few Laurel and Hardy conventions. Until it got it's first home video release in 1994  as part of the Laurel and Hardy and Friends laserdiscs. Despite the sound version of Double Whoopee being proof of concept, no other silent Laurel and Hardy shorts have been dubbed. This was just a one time fan project.


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #35 on: August 23, 2019, 08:43:47 AM »
#32
DIRTY WORK ( 1933 )
17 points, 2 lists, #13 C Jones

"Somewhere, an electric chair is waiting."

Chimney Sweeps Stan and Ollie are hired to clean the chimney at a mansion, and end up destroying the chimney and burying most of the sitting room in soot.  The owner of the mansion is a mad scientist who is working on a secret formula capable of reversing aging. Having perfected the formula, he decides to demonstrate it to Stan and Ollie by putting one drop of the drug in a tub with a duck and turning it into a duckling. He decides to test it on a human next, and starts looking for his butler, who is currently in the bathtub washing all the soot off that Stan and Ollie got all over him. While the scientist searches for his butler, Stan and Ollie decide to test the formula for themselves on a fish. Unfortunately, while Ollie is  trying to put one drop of the formula into the tub, Stan knocks him in while he is holding the entire flask of the formula.

SCIENCE FICTION
One genre Laurel and Hardy seemed to avoid was Science Fiction. In fact, among the Roach films, this is just about it. There were films that sort of count. Thicker Than Water ends with Stan and Ollie switching bodies due to a blood transfusion that goes haywire. Habeas Corpus has a mad scientist who hires Stan and Ollie to steal a body for him. And if you count prehistoric films as Science Fiction, there's Flying Elephants. The FOX films were another story.. The Big Noise has what amounts to an atomic bomb, which didn't yet exist when the film was released. Well, not outside of secret test sites. Even more sci-fi is inventor Bob Bailey in Dancing Masters who invents an invisible ray. To a lesser extent Bob Bailey plays a con artist in Jitterbugs who claims to have invented a pill that turns water into gasoline. It's just a con, but his pretend invention was and still is science fiction, no matter who claims they invented such a pill. The scripts for the FOX films were out of Stan Laurel's control, otherwise he seemed to prefer staying away from the fantastic and keep the L&H films anchored in reality. The supernatural was also avoided. Although they were chased by ghosts in a few films, those were always false ghosts, such as the detective wearing a sheet in Habeas Corpus, a drunk covered in whitewash in The Live Ghost, and a cloth covered lamp which Stan is unwittingly pulling around by it's cord in The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case. The closest they come to the real supernatural is when Ollie reincarnates into a horse in Flying Deuces, although there are rumors that a pre-code print of Midnight Patrol shows the freshly killed Stan and Ollie either as ghosts or angels. As for fantasy, you get that in Babes In Toyland, but that's it. It should be pointed out that Laurel and Hardy had signed a deal with Hal Roach Studios in 1954 to produce a series of color films for television and possible theatrical release abroad calledLaurel and Hardy's Fabulous Fables which would have been nothing but fantasy stories, and would have included Jack and the Beanstalk, Aladdin and his Magic Lamp and Beauty and the Beast.  Laurel had even just completed writing the script for the first episode when he had a stroke, followed by the series of strokes that eventually killed Hardy

THE MASTER OF EFFECTS
A shame Laurel and Hardy didn't do sci-fi fantasy, because Hal Roach Studios had the best effects man in the business working for their studio. Roy Seawright was born in Los Angeles on November 19, 1905. Roy's father was the architect of Hal Roach Studios when they built a new studio in 1919. There was a construction accident, and Roy's father was killed. Hal decided the least he could do was give 15 year old Roy a job so his family wouldn't go destitute. He started working at the new studio as an office boy, but soon learned other tasks. He gravitated towards effects, eventually becoming the head of the studio's optical department. Whenever a film required a special effect or visual effect, Roy figured a way to pull it off. It was his animated bird that caused a house to collapse in The Finishing Touch. His animated mouse in Brats. And when the script for Swiss Miss called for soap bubbles to emerge from an organ and fly past Stan and Ollie, Roy created those effects as well. Perhaps his best known effect for a Laurel and Hardy film was the stop motion animated wooden soldiers in Babes in Toyland. He also devised special effects, such as when Stan and Ollie drove their car through a buzz saw in Busy Bodies, causing it to split down the middle. Even Dirty Work had Seawright effects, including a tub that bubbled on cue, and the collapse of a chimney that Ollie fell down. Another thing Dirty Work had was one of Roy's signature effects titles. A flask full of bubbling liquid which rises and falls, each time changing the credits inside. It was his animated Buzzsaw credits in Busy Bodies and his windshield wiper credits in Midnight Patrol. MST3K fans should be especially familiar with Seawright's work. His Academy Award nominated dinosaur effects for One Million BC ( 1940 ) were later sold off as stock footage, and was used in Robot Monster ( 1953 ), King Dinosaur ( 1955 ) and Teenage Caveman ( 1958 ).

TOO MUCH CHOCOLATE
Hardy takes a tumble down the chimney, and a ton of bricks and soot follow him. The bricks are obviously made of pumice or some other light material. For the soot,  powdered chocolate was used. It was actually much cheaper to buy hundreds of tins of powdered chocolate from the supermarket than creating real soot by burning wood.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2019, 08:45:55 AM by stethacantus »


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #36 on: August 23, 2019, 10:08:38 AM »
#31
OUR WIFE ( 1931 )
17 points, 1 list, George-2.0

"I told father we were going to be married, and it was all right until I showed him your picture, and he blew up."

Ollie has asked his girlfriend Dulcey for her hand in marriage. However, after seeing a photo of Ollie, her father forbids the wedding, and locks her in her bedroom. Ollie decides to get a ladder and elope with her. Unfortunately he has asked best man Stanley to help. After nearly ruining the elopement, Stan then rents a compact for a getaway car that the portly couple can barely squeeze into.

CLOWN CAR
Ollie asks Stan to hire a getaway car, and he hires a compact. Both Ollie and his fiancé are overweight, so both trying to squeeze into a miniature automobile takes a good portion of the short. In an interview with Babe London, the overweight actress who played Ollie's fiancé, she claimed the car was not as compact as you would think. Both she and Hardy got into it easily, and were comfortable. When it came time to film the scene they both pretended it was impossible to fit into it.

THE RETURN OF A LEGEND
Comedy legend Ben Turpin has a memorable surprise cameo as a justice of the peace. This was one of the "rare" screen appearances he made in a sound film. Turpin was born on September 19, 1869 in New Orleans, Louisiana. At an early age he had some sort of accident involving his head which left him permanently cross-eyed. His cross-eye affliction helped him become a famous vaudeville slapstick comedian. At one point he announced that he had taken a $25,000 insurance policy at Lloyd's of London against his eyes uncrossing. While this may just have been a publicity stunt, he really did fear his eyes would uncross, and would examine himself in the mirror every time he took a bump on the head. In 1907 he signed with Essenay, where one of his films was Mr Flip ( 1909 ) where he became the world's first screen victim of a pie. He continued to be Essenay's biggest star until 1915 when the studio signed Charlie Chaplin. At first the studio stuck him in the Chaplin films as a sidekick. Turpin didn't get along with Chaplin. His preference was crude slapstick while Chaplin spent too much time with character development, or refining gags. After a few films Turpin demanded that he no longer work with Chaplin, and was back to doing solo films. When his one year contract was up, Chaplin left for a better offer from Mutual Studios. Soon after, studio founder and star of the Bronco Billy films,  GM Anderson, sold his shares of the company and retired. Realizing he was on a sinking ship, Turpin sought work elsewhere. He ended up at Keystone studios in 1917. He stayed there until 1928. When sound film arrived, he decided to retire. He had invested his money wisely and no longer needed to work. However, he did offer to appear in any sound film if he was paid $1,000. It didn't matter if he was given a full role or a brief cameo, the price was $1,000. He ended up appearing in about 20 sound films, sometimes in an uncredited cameo that he still got $1,000 for. Two of those films were with Laurel and Hardy, the second being Saps at Sea. He even agreed to work with Chaplin again, who hired him for $1,000 for a bit part in The Great Dictator. Unfortunately it was not to be. On July 1st, 1940 he dropped dead of a heart attack, just a week before he was scheduled to shoot his scene. Which made Saps at Sea his final film.


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #37 on: August 23, 2019, 12:11:34 PM »
#30
Me And My Pal ( 1933 )
20 points, 2 lists, #12 C Jones

"My playing days are over. My time is too valuable to waste on such childish balderdash."

Best man Stan gives Ollie a gift on his wedding day; a jigsaw puzzle. While waiting for the cab, Stan opens the puzzle and begins solving it, eventually getting Ollie, the cab driver, and anyone else who shows up at the house involved. Everyone becomes so preoccupied with the puzzle, that the wedding Ollie is suppose to be going to is forgotten about.

BTW, pure coincidence that both films with Oliver Hardy getting married would end up back to back.

ONLY ENOUGH TIME FOR ONE JOKE
Me And My Pal is often criticized for being a one joke film. Which is actually the case, but for good reason. Initially the team was good for 12 new shorts a year,  which is about one short every month. But with feature films thrown into the schedule, they would be lucky to make half as many shorts.  Roach sold his shorts as a package deal. Theaters paid for a years worth of shorts and would be provided with one new short a week. It could consist of an Our Gang short, a Charley Chase short, a Boy Friends short, an Allstar short, a Harry Langdon short,  a Thelma Todd and ZaSu Pitts short ( later changed to Thelma Todd and Patsy Kelly when ZaSu left the studio ), or a Laurel and Hardy short. Most theaters bought this package in order to get the Laurel and Hardy shorts. Roach in turn needed to guarantee that X amount of L&H shorts would pe produced during the year's package.  Roach had decreased the quota to accommodate the team making two feature films a year. But when Fra Diavolo took longer to film than expected. They needed a short completed in less than two weeks time  to satisfy an April 22 release date deadline. Which meant they needed something completely scripted instead of having the boys improvise their gags on the set as usual. Me And My Pal was specifically crafted so that if no one thought of any gags on the set, then it could still be shot as scripted. Hence the single central gag of the puzzle.

WHAT'S IN A TITLE?
The short was originally going to be called The Best Man, but just before release was changed to Me And My Pal. The new title was a parody of Me And My Gal, which at the time was a hit romantic comedy starring Spencer Tracy and Joan Bennett.

WHAT'S IN A GAG?
Early in the film, Ollie listens to a radio announcement of his wedding, which turns into quotes from "Mr. Laurel" who was just supposed to press release the wedding announcement, but then drifted into his own views. Just before Ollie switches off the radio in disgust, the announcer mentions Mr. Laurel's opinion on Technocracy. This is not the only Hal Roach film where this term is mentioned during a joke, and the term has baffled fans of Laurel and Hardy, Our Gang and other Roach comedies for decades. Technocracy was a very short lived political movement of the early 1930s. It was derived from a system of governance of the same name, proposed in 1919,  where normal democracy is replaced with representatives selected because of their expertise in various scientific or technical fields. Basically, replace Congress with people of intelligence. By the 1930s  the economist  Thorstein Veblen proposed a variation of the idea where the normal economy of money would be phased out for a more socialist society where everything is provided for us thanks to the advances in technology.  He actually had a point. If some day robots replace all manual labor, and computers eliminate almost all the other jobs, then most of the population can no longer earn money, so a currency based economy would no longer be viable.  Unless countries switched to a socialist system, they would face starvation from most of the population, or be forced to ban most technology to prevent labor from being replaced by machines.  Fellow technocrats, Engineer Howard Scott and geologist Marion King Hubbert proposed that all currency be replaced with energy credits to help the transition of scientists and technicians into power and part of a transition away from currency and into a socialist society. The Technocracy movement took on a symbol identical to the Chinese TaiChi symbol, and for about a year held the nation's attention. This was due to the fact that the nation was in the grip of the Great Depression, Capitalism had failed, and any alternative not only seemed like a better idea, but was needed immediately.  For a brief period the world seemed poised into changing into a Technocracy. But it didn't last long. No one could come up with a viable plan for transition. And besides, the world's governments refused to give up power. Technocracy never went beyond talk, and within a couple of years economic programs like FDR's New Deal stabilized what was left of capitalism and began a gradual recovery. Technocracy went back to being science fiction. Of course, for the couple of years it reached it's peak of popularity, it became a punchline in comedies, and not just the shorts being made by Hal Roach. You will find the word surfacing in many comedies made around 1933.

THE OUTLAW NAT CLIFFORD
Frank Terry was one of Stan's gagmen who had small roles in a few of the L&H shorts. Terry began at Roach as a performer, writer and director. He can bee seen as the costars in the Stan Laurel solo short Hustling for Health ( 1919 ). This all nearly came to an abrupt end when Terry almost killed the studios biggest star. In August of 1919 Harold Lloyd was posing for publicity photos. Frank was asked to retrieve a prop bomb for Lloyd to use in a photo. Basically one of those round bombs with the fuse, which Lloyd was going to use the lit fuse to light a cigarette.  When the fuse ran out the prop bomb exploded. It turned out Terry had retrieved a real bomb by mistake. Thankfully the real bombs used by the studio weren't filled with that much powder as they were only used for effects and to not actually blow things up. But Lloyd was holding it near his face when it went off. Part of Lloyd's hand was blown apart, and his face was injured with the possibility he would loose sight in one of his eyes. Lloyd recovered, and continued to make thrill films using a prosthetic hand. But Terry's work load was suddenly reduced. He was no longer offered directing work, nor got any more acting roles other than occasionally minor role usually reserved for off the street extras. News of the accident with one of Hollywood's major stars soon had reporters investigating Frank Terry's past, which lead to the revelation that Frank Terry was not his name. Attempting to trace his past, they came up with a bunch of aliases. It would take years before what is believed to be his real name, Nat Clifford, was discovered. As was the reason for the various aliases. Nat was a wanted outlaw. Although his work on the English stage under another alias is well documented, his exact life is a mystery. But the legend is that Nat was born in New York City and ran away from home at 12, stowing away on a ship to England. There he became a boxer, eventually changing his profession to acrobat, then after his partner in his act broke his neck, switched to stage comedian. He apparently married more than one woman, and when his wives found out, fled to Australia to avoid arrest. In Australia he married several other woman at the same time, ending up having to flee from there as well. While on the run he faked his own death, which was reported in the papers, and made his way under new aliases through China to India. There he got in trouble with the law again for trying to cheat a Rajah in a card game. Sentenced to a prison island, he managed to escape, and made his way to America where under his newest alias Frank Terry, got a job at Keystone by convincing Mac Sennett he was once part of Fred Karno's troupe. After briefly working at Keystone, he moved to Roach. And then the accident. Amazingly Roach didn't fire Terry, but continued to keep him employed as a gag man. He eventually ended up with Laurel and Hardy. In Me and My Pal he has one of his biggest roles with the team, as Ollie's butler. And he is also the announcer's voice on the radio.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2019, 12:28:58 PM by stethacantus »


Offline George-2.0

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #38 on: August 23, 2019, 12:49:55 PM »
... but Stan as Lord Paddington was priceless, just a hoot and a half. The window fight was classic, and the snooty way he treated Ollie afterward, and that voice....   priceless.

Laurel and Hardy were excellent actors who never got much of a chance to break away from their usual screen characters. Laurel did get to break character in the FOX film Bullfighters where he played a second character who was an equally pompous Mexican matador.

I thought Oliver was wonderful, paired up with John Wayne, in The Fighting Kentuckian. He and the Duke had great chemistry.

« Last Edit: August 23, 2019, 12:52:01 PM by George-2.0 »


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #39 on: August 23, 2019, 01:51:54 PM »

I thought Oliver was wonderful, paired up with John Wayne, in The Fighting Kentuckian. He and the Duke had great chemistry.

They haven't yet released that on DVD, have they? I mean, an official release and not the copied from VHS bootleg releases.

I am also waiting for Zenobia to get a release on DVD. I should have bought it when it came out on VHS.


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #40 on: August 23, 2019, 01:52:31 PM »
#29
Way Out West  ( 1937 )
20 points, 3 lists, #10 George-2.0

"A lot of weather we've been having lately."

Stan and Ollie are prospectors in the old West honoring the dying request of a friend. He had discovered a gold strike, and before he died, asked Stan and Ollie to deliver the claim to his estranged daughter Mary Roberts. However, when they reach the saloon where Mary works at, they first run into the villainous owner Micky Finn, who convinces them that his wife, saloon singer Lola, is Mary, and steals the claim. Stan and Ollie soon figure out the deception, but before they can get the claim back, are run out of town by the sheriff. Their only option left is to sneak back into town at night, break into Finn's saloon, and steal the claim back.

COMMENCE  ADVANCIN'
Perhaps the most iconic sequence Laurel and Hardy ever shot, was of them dancing to the song At the Ball, That's All.  Not originally in the script, Laurel decided he wanted a stand alone performance by The Avelon Boys, who were cast to back Oliver Hardy singing a song later in the film.  As their performance of At The Ball, That's All was recorded on film, Laurel and Hardy and other crew and cast members tapped their feet to the music. One of the gag writers saw potential in this, and before long Laurel and Hardy had improvised a soft-shoe dance routine to the music. The only problem was that the Avelon Boys scene was shot on an interior set which included the front of a saloon and the saloon itself. But the dance routine would require reverse shots, and the rest of the town didn't exist. The problem was solved with a back projection screen, and some stock footage leant from MGM that was a still shot of a Western town street with extras in period costumes walking around, cowboys on horseback, and the occasional wagon driving by. If it isn't noticeable Stan and Ollie are dancing in front of a back projection, the same family walking across the street while waving at a wagon again and again is a giveaway.  In recent years an animated gif. from the scene was created cutting out the background so that Laurel and Hardy are dancing to a white background in a loop.

HIT SINGLE
The song Oliver Hardy sand with The Avelon Boys was Trail of the Lonesome Pine. It was also one of the rare times Stan accompanied Ollie singing a song. In 1975 it was released as a single in England to promote an album of dialogue and songs lifted from the Laurel and Hardy films.  The song became popular on the radio, and ended up peaking at #2 on the U.K. Singles Chart.

TITLES
In May of 1936, Hal Roach announced Laurel and Hardy were working on a Western with the title You'd Be Surprised. Shortly after Roach was informed by an attorney for another studio that the title was already copyrighted to them. So the name of the film was changed to Tonight's The Night, but once again lawyers from another studio informed Roach that the title was copyrighted. So it was changed to In The Money, but once again a lawyer from a rival studio contacted Roach to tell him the title was already copyrighted to them. So Roach gave the film the generic working title Way Out West with expectations to retitle it something more original and clever before it's release date. When no one claimed Way Out West was already taken, Roach kept it.



Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #41 on: August 23, 2019, 02:56:18 PM »
LAUREL & HARDY  AFTER 1938
or
WHAT'S EXACTLY WRONG WITH THEM FOX FILMS?

In his book on the film's of Laurel and Hardy, William K Everson separates their filmography between everything made up until Blockheads and everything that came after. His explanation was that Blockheads was their last great film, after which the quality plummeted. Most fans, however, forgive the final films made for Hal Roach, and instead have the divided at the first film made for 20th Century Fox.

Over at Universal Abbott and Costello we're having amazing success with one box office hit after another.  FOX wanted their own version of Abbott and Costello, and thought they could mould Laurel and Hardy into a suitable rip-off. Abbott and Costello's first starring film, Buck Privates ( 1941 ), broke box office records. It's plot had Abbott and Costello accidentally joining the Army, and causing a lot of trouble during basic training. FOX decided they wanted Laurel and Hardy's first film for their studio to be just like Buck Privates, so they dug through their cache of unfilmed scripts and found Great Guns.

It is said that it wasn't until Laurel and Hardy began filming Great Guns that they realized their contract with fox was as "actors only", and for the first time in their careers they would be sticking to a script, one which they had no say in picking. The irony was that Laurel and Hardy left Roach because of conflicts over creative control of their films. But even when Roach handed them a script they didn't like, he would allow Laurel to have the script rewritten, and would allow them to improvise new comedy routines on the set. At FOX they ended up with zero creative input, and were constantly being handed scripts they didn't like and were prevented from rewriting. The only good thing about the contract was that it was non exclusive, meaning they could also make movies for rival studios as long as their shooting schedule didn't conflict. But even that didn't work out for them.

M.G.M. was the distributor of the Laurel and Hardy films in the 1930s, and was eager to work with them again, signing them to a two picture deal. While FOX saw them as their answer to Abbott and Costello, M.G.M. still wanted the Laurel and Hardy they always knew. They even hired writers from Hal Roach Studios for the script, and director Edward Sedgwick, who briefly worked at Roach and directed Laurel and Hardy in Pick A Star. MGM even cast former Roach Studio foil Edgar Kennedy in the film. Which made it even more of a disappointment when the film turned out lackluster. According to some film historians, a beuroctrat working for the Army censored the script of most of it's humor because he didn't want civil defense made fun of. Other critics cite a formula all M.G.M. films followed where the protagonist had to hit a low point at the end of the second act so the audience would feel sorry for him, then do something heroic that redeems him in the third act. This was the formula the screen writers were restricted to. But the most obvious reasons Air Raid Wardens failed was because Laurel and Hardy were once again forced to follow a script instead of improving and refining their comedy routines on the set.

Even more of a disappointment was their second M.G.M. film Nothing But Trouble. This time M.G.M. decided they wanted a silent movie style thrill comedy.  They even brought director Sam Taylor ( who's directing credits include Harold Lloyd's Safety Last ) out of retirement for his final film, and had Buster Keaton write the visual gags. Once again Laurel and Hardy were not allowed to improvise or refine the gags. And all the thrill gags were ruined by the studio, that insisted they be done using back projection and trick photography. In my own opinion, this is Laurel and Hardy's worst film.

And then came Jitterbugs. Out of all the FOX films, this is the only one L&H fans respect. But this respect came about in the 70s as they began comparing it to The Sting ( 1973 ). In the film a young woman has her life savings stolen by a con man, and Stand and Ollie help her get the money back by running their own con on the con man. It gave both Laurel and Hardy a rare chance to demonstrate their acting abilities to play different characters. But from a comedy standpoint, wasn't really better than the previous films. Jitterbugs was an A movie. This anomaly was due to the studio wanting to promote their latest sensation, actress/singer Vivian Blaine who FOX hoped would become a major star. She plays the young woman Laurel and Hardy help, and although their names get top billing, this was really her film.

Inevitably FOX realized that Laurel and Hardy were no Abbott and Costello, and gradually began ripping off the older L&H films rather than the latest A&C film. The last few films for FOX frequently replicated gags and subplots from past Laurel and Hardy classics. Their final film, Bullfighters, even ended with an original signature Stan Laurel grotesque gag, as if the studio was finally allowing Stan some creative input. The last three FOX films are funnier than the first three. And yet the myth persists that the film's gradually got worse. Perhaps due to William K Everson, who didn't even bother adding any synopsis for any of the final films, saying each film was worse than the last.

Also, for the longest time The Big Noise was on the all time worst movie list alongside Plan 9 From Outer Space and Robot Monster. Presumably because someone wanted to add one of Laurel and Hardy's FOX films, and picked the film with the dumbest title. Eventually FOX decided to close their B movie unit, cancelling everyone including Laurel and Hardy's contracts. Ironically, Bullfighters did so well at the box office that FOX offered Laurel and Hardy a new contract to make A pictures. But Laurel was so dissatisfied with the quality of the previous FOX films that he turned the offer down. Had FOX not cancelled the original contract then L&H would have owed them a few more films.

Their final film, Atoll-K, a combined production from a few European studios, is perhaps the best of their post Roach era. Even though it had an international cast and crew who all spoke different languages, which made production nearly impossible, It had a decent script and Laurel and Hardy were again allowed to improvise. If it were not for the fact that Stan Laurel looks deathly ill and has the appearance of a man in his late 90s instead of his late 50s, then maybe it would be watchable.

In all honesty, the FOX films and the others made in the 40s are nowhere as bad as the fans would have you believe. They are being judged by the high bar set at Roach, which is a bit unfair. Compared to other comedies made in the 40s, these were pretty good. You at least got a couple of laughs out of each. But I feel sorry for anyone who's only experience with Laurel and Hardy is watching their films made after they left Roach. It's like as if someone's only experience with The Beatles is the latest Yoko Ono album. 

« Last Edit: August 23, 2019, 02:59:26 PM by stethacantus »


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #42 on: August 23, 2019, 03:26:35 PM »
#28
A Haunting We Will Go ( 1942 )
20 points, 1 list, #6 Johnny Unusual

"We use to belong to a lodge, didn't we?"

Stan and Ollie accept a job where they are to escort a coffin by train to Dayton, not realizing the corpse is really a live fugitive gangster named Darby Mason who is sneaking into Dayton to collect an inheritance. On the train baggage compartment, the coffin gets mixed up with a trick coffin of Dante the Magician, and while Mason's gangster friends get a coffin with a prop mummy inside, the coffin with Mason gets delivered to the theater where Dante is performing.  Stan and Ollie show up at the theater to repay Dante some money he lent them on the train, and he offers them a job as assistants. The other gangsters show up at the theater looking for Mason. Another detective who recognized Dante's road manager as an ex-felon shows up as well. And someone claiming to be the lawyer who is the executor of the will also shows up to snoop around. Dante uses the coffin in a trick, and a dead body falls out, and it is not Mason. At which point the movie becomes a who-done-it murder mystery, and Laurel and Hardy are completely forgotten.

 
THE MOVING CANDLE
Abbott and Costello had a popular skit they performed on stage where a spirit moves a candle on a table. Only Costello sees the candle moving, and every time he yells for Abbott to look, the candle has stopped moving. Universal wanted to incorporate the skit into a movie, so came up with a script that had Abbott and Costello in an old seemingly haunted house, that is really being haunted by gangsters looking for hidden loot.  Hold That Ghost was yet another hit for Universal and Abbott & Costello. 20th Century Fox had signed Laurel and Hardy in response to the unprecedented success of the Abbott & Costello films. Their first film for Fox was a blatant rip-off of Buck Privates. Fox decided Laurel and Hardy's second film would be a blatant rip-off of Hold That Ghost. The assignment of writing the outline went to Stanley Rauh, who forgot this was suppose to be a comedy, or even that it was supposed to resemble Hold That Ghost, and instead came up with a complicated murder mystery involving gangsters double-crossing each other. Lou Breslow, who had scripted Laurel and Hardy's previous Fox film, was brought in to add the comedy to the outline that Rauh forgot. But even Breslow couldn't figure out how to fit Laurel and Hardy into the film's third act. There wasn't enough time to start from scratch, so he basically wrote Laurel and Hardy out of the last couple of reels. Assistant Stan goes into a cabinet during a magic trick and vanishes. Ollie is still on the stage during the murder investigation, but just stands there neither saying or doing anything. Then suddenly he remembers Stan has disappeared in a trick and goes off to look for him. The mystery is solved without either Stan or Ollie involved, and the movie pretty much ends without them, with exception to a gag in the very last minute of the film. The rest of the cast has already left the theater. The film cuts back to Ollie still looking for Stan, and then finds him inside an egg, which once cracked open, reveals he has shrunk. And that is suppose to be the funny gag that ends the film. Breslow never wrote another Laurel and Hardy script, but did get a chance to write a script for the actual Abbott and Costello, MGM's Abbott and Costello Go To Hollywood ( 1945 ). He would later write the script for  Bedtime For Bonzo ( 1951 ). ( Just thought I'd throw that last one in. Has nothing to do with either L&H or A&C, but I couldn't pass up mentioning Breslow wrote the infamous Ronald Reagan comedy that became a punchline in the 80s )

OH CHARLIE
Breslow's job was not to make Laurel and Hardy funny, but to make the film as much like Hold That Ghost as possible. Something Stanley Rauh made nearly impossible because the only thing his outline had in common with Hold That Ghost was both had gangsters. The first thing Breslow did was change the title to A-Haunting We Will Go which is a lot closer to Hold That Ghost than the title Rauh gave it, Pitfalls of a Big City. Seriously, did Rauh completely forget what film he was supposed to be ripping off?  Of course, no one goes a-haunting in this film, but at least it gives the film a title that allows Fox to put a ghost on the movie poster. Next, Breslow stole the name Charlie. A big portion of Hold That Ghost has the cast looking for a character named Charlie who has apparently disappeared. For much of the film Costello wanders around calling out "Oh Charlie". So much so, that the working title was Oh, Charlie. In Breslow's rewrite, when Stan and Ollie are shown a coffin with gangster Darby Mason lying in it, ( pretending to be dead, ) they are told the name of the dead guy is Charlie. Later in the film, when Mason's fellow gangsters show up at the theater looking for his coffin, they tell Stan and Ollie it is all an elaborate college prank, and Charlie was just pretending to be dead. But unless they find the missing coffin, Charlie could suffocate and die for real. This leads to Stan and Ollie walking around back stage calling out "Charlie!"

IT WAS HIS FAULT!
Years later, when the Laurel and Hardy films made for Fox started to take on their infamous reputation, writers and reporters began contacting Breslow to basically ask him why his script for A-Haunting We Will Go sucked. Breslow insisted his script was funny, and threw the film's director Alfred L Werker under the bus. "He did the House of Rothschild with George Arliss. And that's the kind of thing he should have done. He should never have been allowed even  to see a Laurel and Hardy picture. Oh no. He knew nothing about that kind of comedy." So basically Breslow accused Werker of taking a comedy script and treating it like a crime drama. Except, of course, the script was a crime drama.  Especially in the last 15 minutes where Laurel and Hardy are no longer part of the story. How was Werker suppose to make that part of the film funny? But there is good reason to blame Werker. Throughout the film Laurel wanted to improvise gags and jokes to possibly improve the film. Werker insisted they stick to the script. Even forcing him and Hardy to use lines they objected to that went completely against their screen personas. For years there were claims from Fox that Stan Laurel had a wonderful time making A-Haunting We Will Go and was given the freedom to improvise lines. But later interviews with cast and crew members revealed every attempt by Stan to add a joke or change a line was rejected by Werker. And for his entire time working on the film, Laurel was in a depressed mood. Perhaps the best evidence that Werker was a bad choice for director is how he blew a gag Breslow lifted from the Laurel and Hardy short Wrong Again where a statue is knocked down and broken, and Ollie attempts to fix it, but puts the hip section on backwards so the butt is facing frontwards. Werker does not allow Hardy to properly set up the gag, shoots the statue at the wrong angle, and when we get to the payoff where Stan sees the statue and reacts to it, just has Stan do a brief double take and walk away.

DANTE
While A-Haunting We Will Go is usually dismisses by critics as one of Laurel and Hardy's worst films, they often point out it has cinematic value for preserving part of  Dante the Magician's act. Harry August Jansen was born on October 3, 1883 in Copenhagen, Denmark, immigrating to St Paul, Minnesota with his family when he was six. He first began performing stage magic under the name Charles Wagner, but later renamed himself The Great Jansen. In 1922 he caught the attention of magician Howard Thurston, who hired him as his opening act. Thurston renamed him Dante, and as Dante the Magician soon became world famous. He was considered part of the Golden Age of Stage Magic, which included Thurston and Houdini. He is probably best remembered today as originating the magical phrase "Sim Sala Bim". With the rise in the popularity of television, the audiences to Dante's shows diminished. A few years after making A-Haunting We Will Go Dante retired his act. He died of a heart attack on June 15, 1955. His death marked the end to the Golden Age of Magic. 

ALSO THIS
I am going to digress a bit here. In Randy Skretvedt's book Laurel and Hardy: The Magic Behind The Moviesthe first thing he says about this movie is: "It's a dreary experience to spend 67 minutes of one's life in the company of this wretched movie -- especially when one could spend the same 67 minutes watching Way Out West. Laurel and Hardy wander into this grade Z gangster melodrama at odd moments and try to inject some of the old gracefulness into material that is entirely humorless. Watching the team trying to insert their familiar characteristics into routines that would be woefully unfunny for any comedian is heartbreaking. Darby Mason may be the character who's inside that coffin, but the death knell sounds for Stan and Ollie in A-Haunting We Will Go." Strong words from Randy Skretvedt. Except... the other day I got my DVD copy of A-Haunting We Will Go because I had to go through the task of looking up a quote I could use. I didn't really find anything suitable, but did come across a line that either intentionally or unintentionally references Sons of the Desert. Anyway, while removing the DVD from it's case, I discovered there were liner notes. It was inside that paper that lists the chapters on one side and had the movie poster on the other. Although in this case I discovered that it was a pamphlet that opens, only I didn't spot it last time because for some reason Fox chose to put adhesive on the pamphlet to keep it closed, and it only opened now because I had the DVD stored in an unairconditioned room where the adhesive ( probably rubber cement ) melted nd caused an edge to open. So I looked at the liner notes, and guess who wrote them? Randy Skretvedt. It's pretty much the same stuff he has in his book, but doesn't say anything negative about the film, and even suggests Laurel got to improvise comedy bits. It basically makes the film sound like another Laurel and Hardy classic, with no mention of it being a grade Z gangster film that killed Laurel and Hardy's career. I guess everyone does have their price. As for my opinion, I can't completely call the Fox films crap. Because there are always a couple of gags in each film that make me laugh. But that's because Laurel and Hardy tried their best to make the material in the worst of the scripts work.

AND ONE LAST THING....
Disney owns this film! That's right. Not only does the merger with 20th Century Fox allow for the X-Men and Fantastic Four to finally join the MCU, but Disney now owns the Fox film library, including this film. So the official title of this film is now Disney's A-Haunting We Will Go. Now they can threaten to lock this in the same vault they locked Snow White and Bambi in.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2019, 07:36:21 PM by stethacantus »


Offline George-2.0

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #43 on: August 23, 2019, 06:58:26 PM »

I thought Oliver was wonderful, paired up with John Wayne, in The Fighting Kentuckian. He and the Duke had great chemistry.

They haven't yet released that on DVD, have they? I mean, an official release and not the copied from VHS bootleg releases.

I am also waiting for Zenobia to get a release on DVD. I should have bought it when it came out on VHS.

Olive put out a DVD about 5 years ago. But I haven't seen it and don't know the quality of the print. It shows up on TV (TMC?) which is how I've always watched it


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #44 on: August 23, 2019, 07:32:35 PM »
#27
Any Old Port ( 1932 )
20 points, 1 list, #6 C Jones

"We'd like a room with a Southern explosion."

Sailors Stan and Ollie take a room at a hotel, and discover the proprietor, Mugsy Long,  has kidnaped his maid, and is forcing her to marry him. Stan and Ollie rescue her, but in the process end up out on the street without their belongings and money. An old friend of Ollie's, who is a boxing promoter, gives him $50 to have Stan fight that night. Once in the ring, Stan and Ollie discover their opponent is none other than Mugsy Long.

THE LOST VERSION
Late in November of 1931, a work print of Any Old Port was screened before an audience, and it was a disaster. There was no way to salvage it. No one laughed during the first reel, and just barely giggled during the second reel. A drastic decision was made. Scrap the entire first reel, turn the second reel into the first reel, then shoot a new second reel. Since boxing comedies were a sure thing, Stan would be put into the ring with the film's villain. The new version got laughs from the audience, and the movie was released. The deleted footage long since lost. Fortunately the original shooting script still exists, along with stills from the lost reel. The following is the original version of Any Old Port

A merchant ship called The Breadpoultice has just arrived in port, and the captain ( Jams Finlayson ) and first mate ( Tiny Sandford ) are watching as the crew departs for shore leave. Each has a pet, such as parrots and monkeys. Captain Finlayson complains that his ship has turned into a floating zoo. Stan and Ollie walk by. Ollie is holding a tiny cage while Stan is pulling on a rope. Eventually what is on the other end of the rope emerges from the doorway, a full grown Ostrich. Captain Finlayson dos a double take and demands to know how they got that animal on his ship. Ollie shows him the cage and explains that the bird was in it when they bought it. Stan says that the man who sold it to them told them it was an African canary.
The captain gives Stan his pay, but then refuses to pay Ollie because he blew an advance in Shanghai. Ollie sees Stan counting his money on the dock. He asks if he can have some of it, and Stan gives him just one dollar. Ollie explains to him that he should share his entire bankroll, and he will even divide the money up.  But he divides it up this way. One for Stan and one for him. Two for Stan ( handing him another dollar ) and one, two for him ( pocketing two dollars. ) Three for Stan ( handing him a dollar ) and one, two, three for him ( pocketing three dollars ). Four for Stan ( handing him another dollar ) and one, two, three, four for him ( pocketing four dollars ). So Stan ends up with four dollars while Ollie ends up with ten. Stan complains, so Ollie gives him back the money and tells him to divide it. Stan does, and ends up doing the same thing with Ollie having ten dollars. Stan says "I guess you were right."
Stan and Ollie bring the Ostrich to the hotel that Mugsy runs. The footage of Mugsy demanding his maid marry him is shown. Ollie suggests they keep the bird outside until they get permission to bring it in. Stan ties it to a post
The footage of ollie and Stan signing the register is shown. Stan asks Mugsy if he can bring his canary in. Mugsy says it is okay as long as it doesn't sing at night. Stan responds that it doesn't even sing in the daytime. Stan goes outside, but only finds the rope the ostrich was tied to and the bird gone. Stan and Ollie look up into the sky and see the ostrich ( presumably a Seawright cartoon ) flying off into the sky. What followed was the reel with Mugsy locking the maid in the closet, and Stan and ollie rescuing her, involving a fight over the closet key which ends with Mugsy falling off the pier and into the water. The short ends with more deleted footage. This time of the maid's boyfriend showing up. They both kiss and walk off. While Stan and Ollie wave goodbye, a truck almost hits them and they fall off the pier trying to get out of the way. They end up in the water with Mugsy, and the short ends with him swimming after them.