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Author Topic: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films  (Read 2656 times)

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Offline F-Zero

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #75 on: August 24, 2019, 05:47:52 PM »
THE LADIES
Hal Roach Studios had some of the greatest female screen comedians under contract. He even managed to sign the comedy legend herself, Mable Normand for a few films late in her career.  Here are some of the most memorable leading ladies to work with Laurel and Hardy.





Thelma Todd
Another actresses to die Young was Thelma Todd. Born July 29, 1906 in Lawrence Massachusetts, Thelma had chosen to be a school teacher. To pay tuition for college, she entered local beauty pageants. It was there that a talent scout for Paramount Pictures spotted her and talked her into going to Hollywood. But her brief time at their studio only resulted in bit parts. It was Hal Roach who recognized her potential and signed her to his studio. Much like Mae Busch, Thelma's first film for Roach was Unaccustomed As We Are as Hardy's next door neighbor who inadvertently ends up in her underwear hiding from Mae in a trunk.

After supporting the boys, Roach put her in a film series with Zasu Pitts as the female counterparts to Laurel and Hardy. Todd quickly became a sensation. Paramount wanted her back, so Roach lent her out for a couple of Marx Brothers films, and to M.G.M. for a Buster Keaton film. Roach would lend her out a few more times, as well as give her parts in the Charley Chase, Our Gang and Laurel and Hardy films. When Zasu left the studio, Thelma was teamed with Patsy Kelly. Roach kept her busy, and it paid off as she gradually grew into the studio's most popular star, and was position to become one of Hollywood's greatest actresses.

But it wasn't to be. On December 16, 1935 Thelma was found dead in the front seat of her car, in her garage with the motor running. Suicide was quickly ruled out ( no suicide note, was in good spirits, had just signed a 7 year contract with Roach ), and police settled on the theory that Thelma had locked herself out of her house, got into her car to warm up, and accidentally asphyxiated herself on the car's exhaust fumes. Her close friends had a different theory. Thelma had opened a successful restaurant and gangster Lucky Luciano wanted to use it as a front for an illegal casino. Thelma refused, and he had her killed.

She was midway through filming Laurel and Hardy's Bohemian Girl. Although it broke his heart, Roach was forced to cut her scenes from the film because the resolution to her characters story wasn't filmed. He did keep in a few of her scenes while assigning her character's story to other characters. It would be her last movie with Laurel and Hardy.


Word on the street was Irving Thalberg gave Thelma Todd to the Marx Brothers to teach her a lesson.


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #76 on: August 24, 2019, 06:12:38 PM »
#12
LIBERTY ( 1929 )
42 points, 2 lists, #4 Stethacantus

"Lets go change our pants"

Convicts Stan and Ollie have just escaped from prison.  Quickly changing from their prison uniforms into civilian clothing, they both accidentally put on each other's pants. All efforts to find a secluded spot to swap their pants fail as each time they are discovered with their pants half down. Finding an empty construct site, they are able to swap their pants in an elevator. But in doing so accidentally send it to the top of the skyscraper being built, and end up stranded on the girders with no way down. 

THE WAY OF ALL PANTS
In their previous short We Faw Down, Stan and Ollie get their clothes wet, and after drying them out, end up wearing each other's pants  by mistake.  They were to spend half the short trying to change them and getting caught by people who thing they are up to something else. When it turned out they had way too much material for a two reel short, Laurel reluctantly cut the pants gag, but vowed to use it in their next short.  The excuse for them wearing the wrong pants  in Liberty was they hurriedly changed out of prison garb and into civilian clothes after escaping from prison. Now all Laurel need to do was figure out what to do in the second reel. Most likely the inspiration came from former Hal Roach Studio star Harold Lloyd.

THE TOWER
Filming on an actual skyscraper construction site was out of the question. The Western Costume Company had a ten story warehouse building with a parking lot on the roof. It was a perfect spot for the Roach carpenters to build a three story steel skyscraper skeleton set ( made of wood crafted to look like steel girders. ) The roof of the building was 150 feet above the street. The skyscraper set above was an additional 30 feet to the top girders where Laurel and Hardy were to film their scenes.  The Costume Company roof had flag poles which cameraman George Stevens needed to keep out of frame. Shot at the right angles the set looked convincingly like the top of a skyscraper under construction.


SAFETY LAST
When Stan Laurel walked onto the set for the first time, he was reluctant to go to the top where he and Hardy were to film their scenes. It was Hardy who pressured him to take the prop elevator the extra 30 feet up. Hardy had no problem with being up there. to ease Laurel's fears, he told him "There is nothing to worry about. There's a safety platform right below us." It was a wide wooden platform about five feet below the part of the  girder the men were to stand when filming their scenes, just out of the camera's frame.  Laurel was still not convinced. That's when Hardy said "I'm going to show you that it's perfectly safe." and with that jumped down to the platform. It immediately broke, sending Hardy falling towards the street. When the wood for the safety platform was delivered Leo McCarey discovered it was sugar pine, a soft wood not very sturdy. McCarey complained and ordered sturdier wood for the platform. They weren't suppose to be shooting that day, so he never warned anyone not to try jumping on it. Fortunately McCarey had also insisted on installing a safety net at the base of the structure. The net broke Hardy's fall, and kept him from continuing his plummet past the edge of the Western Costume Company building and down to the street below. Hady was bruised, but still alive. 
« Last Edit: August 24, 2019, 06:15:19 PM by stethacantus »


Offline CJones

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #77 on: August 24, 2019, 06:49:34 PM »
I just logged into Youtube, and I'm bombarded by L&H videos. Now I feel compelled to watch them all, especially since so few of mine have made the list.

Wait.... This was your plan all along, wasn't Stethacantus >:D


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #78 on: August 24, 2019, 07:08:38 PM »
#11
Big Business ( 1929 )
44 points, 2 lists, #1 George-2.0

"If you had a husband, would he buy one?"

Door to door Christmas tree salesmen Stan and Ollie enrage homeowner Finlayson who didn't want to buy a tree, and got fed up with them continuously ringing his doorbell. Having had enough, he cuts the tree they are selling in half with shears. Stan and Ollie retaliate by taking a knife and vandalizing his front door. Finlayson retaliates by taking Ollie's pocket watch and smashing it on the ground. This continues with each side retaliating by destroying  each other's stuff until it escalates to the point where Finlayson is destroying Stan and Ollie's car and all their entire supply of trees, while Stan and Ollie are busy destroying his house, his furniture, and all the plants in his front yard.



A SOUND IDEA
The sound era was here, whether the Hollywood studio liked it or not. MGM was committed to producing nothing but talking pictures from that point on, as was all the other major Hollywood studios. They would still release silent versions of their sound films with caption cards, for the theaters that hadn't yet converted to sound. But it was important that every film from that point on be recorded with a soundtrack. Since MGM was Roach's distributor, ignoring sound was out of the question.  He would need to build sound stages which would allow him to build sets insulated from outside noise. That meant demoing most of his lot. So he requested that the shorts filmed at that time be planned as location shoots off the studio lot. Which is why Leo McCarey decided the next Laurel and Hardy film have them as door to door salesmen.

THE TRUTH
Hal Roach had a favorite behind the scenes story which he repeated on talk shows well into his 90s. Since they couldn't build a house on the lot, they need a real house for Laurel and Hardy to destroy. A location scout drove around Los Angeles taking pictures of bungalows they could use. A staff member at Roach Studios recognized his house among the pictures, and since he was going on vacation, agreed to lease the house to the studio on condition he would get reimbursed for any damage. When the crew arrived at the house, the key the staff member gave them didn't work. Director James Horne decided, since they would be breaking the door anyway, to kick it in.  For the next few days they filmed the destruction, and were about a day away from completing when a car pulled up in the driveway and a family got out. The mother saw the damage done to the house, the furniture, and the trees and shrubs surrounding it and broke down in tears. It was their house. James Horne was given the wrong address. Roach's story would end with him having to pay for the damaged house, and the rent on the house he didn't use. However, when Stan Laurel was still alive, a fan wrote him a letter asking if the story was true, and Laurel wrote back that the house belonged to a staff member, and Roach made the rest of the story up. What is for sure is the house was repaired, is alive and well and still exists on 10281 Dunleer Drive. Here it is on Google Maps:

You see, it still..... holy shit, is that a for sale sign on the Big Business house!?


Shit! I'm buying that place! How much do you think they are asking?


OTHER MYTHS
One myth so persistent that even magazine articles and documentaries have reported it as fact, is the time of year the film takes place. Supposedly Laurel and Hardy are selling Christmas Trees in July. However, neither the promotional material nor the text in the film itself mentions anything about the month it takes place in.  On top of that, the short was filmed in December, and both Laurel and Hardy are wearing overcoats, indicating it's cold outside. For all intents and purposes, this is a Christmas film. Unlike Babes in Toyland which does take place in July.  Another myth about this film has Jim Finlayson accidentally knocking himself out could. It was said to have happened when he did one of his trademark double takes where he whips his head around in a circular motion before squinting with one eye. Supposedly while doing this he hit his head against the door frame and went out cold.


GOODBYE LEO
This was the final Laurel and Hardy film Leo McCarey worked on before his contract expired and he left Hal Roach to direct feature films. However, he continued to get writing credits on Roach films. The most likely reason being he left behind a stash of unused scripts.


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #79 on: August 24, 2019, 07:22:23 PM »
HOME VIDEO GUIDE


If this LoC has inspired you to begin buying Laurel and Hardy films, here is the nearly complete history of their release to the home video and projection market. Keep in mind that a lot of these are out of print and both hard and expensive to get, so building anything close to a complete film library in any format could get expensive. Note that this is North America only. I never kept track of foreign releases because they were PAL and/or region blocked, and imports usually cost a lot more. You may live somewhere that most of the L&H films are available and in print, or you may live some place where you are shit out of luck. Also, quality of film prints used for releases may vary from country to country.


Pathé was the distributor for Hal Roach Studios in North America up until 1927. After Roach left for distributor MGM,  Pathé began selling Laurel and Hardy films on 16mm for the home market. Laurel and Hardy return to the home market in the 1960s when Blackhawk Films began selling their silent films on Super 8 ( 8mm ).  For their customers who could afford sound projectors, they also sold 16mm and  later magnetic strip 8mm films, both their sound shorts and some of their sound features. L&H fans were not completely satisfied with Blackhawk as they removed the original titles and credits which had the MGM and Pathé logos, replacing them with Blackhawk titles and logos. But at the least Blackhawk would update their library whenever better prints if the silent films became available.

The jump to VHS would seem inevitably, but Blackhawk stubbornly stayed in the film market until they were bought out and dissolved in the mid 80s. The first L&H to become available on video was Flying Deuces, but only because it had lapsed into the public domain. Broadcasters discovered this first, and it aired regularly on local stations across the country just because it was free. Just about any video company willing to distribute black and white films on home video had Flying Deuces. Budget video company Goodtimes began by distributing Flying Deuces  and built their company from there. Amazing how well Flying Deuces sold on the home video market, considering anyone with a VCR could have simply taped it off of the many airings on PBS and saved the $10.

20th Century Fox launched a label called Playhouse Video which would released their G rated movies for kids. They decided to tap into the film's Laurel and Hardy made for their studio in the 40s, releasing Great Guns and The Bullfighters, the first and last movies L&H made for that studio. No plans were made by Playhouse to release the other four Fox films.

A company called Nostalgia Merchant began by releasing old public domain films,  but soon began paying for and releasing copyrighted films. This included what was supposed to be a ten volume set Laurel & Hardy Comedy Classics which would have been every single one of their sound shorts. But at the time the soundtrack recordings for both They Go Boom and Unaccustomed As We Are could not be located, so the Tenth volume ( which would have also included The Chimp and Hoosegow ) was never released. Nostalgia Merchant also released a few of their feature films.

As the 80s came to a close, a still active Hal Roach decided he wanted his old films colorized and rereleased. Way Out West was picked up by budget company Video Treasures. They would later release other Laurel and Hardy sound shorts and feature films, including for the first time A Chump At Oxford and Saps At Sea, but opted to use the non colorized prints.  Another budget company Goodtimes released March of the Wooden Soldiers, and it turned out to be such a big deal that they splurged on the release, transferring it on the SP speed and putting it in a clamshell box. A third budget company Cabin Fever released several other colorized Laurel and Hardy sound shorts.


A lawsuit between Hal Roach and MGM in the 1940s over unpaid revenues ended with an out of court settlement where MGM would buy the rights to a handful of Roach films, including Babes in Toyland, Bonnie Scotland and Fra Diavolo, as well as Pick a Star in which Laurel and Hardy appeared as guests stars in two scenes. Over the years MGM sold off the television rights to Babes in Toyland, but kept the master print. In 1992 MGM was suddenly interested in releasing all their Laurel and Hardy movies on VHS. This included Bonnie Scotland, Fra Diavolo and Pick a Star, s well as the MGM produced all star fiasco Hollywood Party which Roach had lent Laurel and Hardy for another guest starring role, Air Raid Wardens and Nothing But Trouble which Laurel and Hardy made for MGM in the '40s, and a Robert Youngson compilation film Laurel and Hardy's Laughing 20s.

In 1994 FOX released a number of the studio's 40s era films on VHS, including The Big Noise which many Laurel and Hardy fans considered their worst film. ( Nice box though. ) This was the last major Laurel and Hardy release exclusively for the VHS format.

In 1985 3M released a series of Laurel and Hardy laserdiscs, each with one feature film and one short. With so few laserdisc owners, the series probably would have gone unnoticed. But the source print for Pardon Us turned out to be an unedited preview print with extra scenes that were never part of the theatrical release.  Aside from 3M, Vestron  released the public domain Flying Deuces on laserdisc.

It would not be until 1993 that more L&H laserdiscs we're released. MGM released some of their films as double feature discs. Bonnie Scotland came with Pick a Star, The Devil's Brother with Laurel and Hardy's Laughing 20s, and finally Hollywood Party with a feature L&H were not in, Going Hollywood. This may sound like a two for bargain, but the retail price was for two laserdiscs, so basically MGM was forcing you to buy the second movie if you only wanted the first movie.

Since Goodtimes was incapable of manufacturing laserdiscs, they passed on the rights to Image to release the colorized March of the Wooden Soldiers. Image was impressed with the sales, and wanted to release more L&H films. Good timing as they came across Michael Agee, who in turn had just signed a deal with Richard Feiner, the owner of the rights to the silent Laurel and Hardy films, to allow Agee's company, Nostalgia Archive, to release the film's on home video. Agee was in the process of restoring the films, and wanted L&H fans access to them.

Image decided to release the films as part of a series called The Lost Films of Laurel and Hardy with two 20 minute shorts per volume. Their official reason for giving the series this name, was the claim the L&H silent films had not been available for years and had never been shown on television.  Not true. Blackhawk Films was selling them on Super 8 less than a decade earlier, Feiner and Roach had collaborated on a syndicated series s called Laurel and Hardy Laughtoons which featured many of the L&H silent shorts, and the Robert Youngson compilations were both shown on television and sold on home video. Agee himself was not happy with the series. He wanted the discs to include a lot more content, specifically other old films he had either restored or rediscovered. An agreement with Agee was made to sell a second series at the same time called Laurel and Hardy and friends. When Image saw how well the ....and Friends series was selling, even though they were charging an extra $10 for the extra content, they decided to discontinue the Lost Films series at vol #4 and release the rest of the shorts in the ....and Friends series.

Confusing enough? It gets worse. Two of the shorts which were already released on the Lost Films series were released again as part of the ....and Friends series, supposedly because Agee acquired better prints of both from the Library of Congress. And then the ....and Friends series was discontinued at vol #8. Why? Because Image decided to abandon laserdisc for the brand new format of DVD. The new series, called The Lost Films of Laurel and Hardy: The Complete Collection, began at vol #1 with a projected 10 volume run. Much like the ....and Friends series, each disc had about two L&H shorts, maybe one or two pre team solo shorts, and the rest of each disk having shorts from other comedians, like Charley Chase or Our Gang. And if you thought you could just skip volumes and just buy the ones with the L&H films you didn't yet have from the Laserdisc releases, well tough!  Of the two L&H shorts on each disk, one was previously unreleased while the other was already released on laserdisc. You had no choice but to buy all 9 volumes. That's right! 9 volumes! What happened to vol #10? It was released under the title Laurel and Hardy and Friends. Agee was holding out hope that the lost L&H silent short Hats Off would be rediscovered while the series was being released, and kept Vol #10 as a placeholder. But Hats Off never turned up, so the final volume had a sound short, Be Big, instead. Changing the title to Laurel and Hardy and Friends was a last minute decision. But while both the box and disk had the release title, the encoded program on the disc still had .... Volume 10 on the start up menu.

Image had also released the silent shorts on VHS, mostly as single films, but occasionally as double features. This was the end of any Laurel and Hardy films being released on VHS. The new format for home video was DVD. It took DVD only a couple of years to destroy Laserdisc. Now it was gradually destroying VHS.

Just before it's film and video library was acquired by Warner Bros Home Video, MGM released Air Raid Wardens and Nothing But Trouble as a double feature DVD. Warner teamed up with TCM to release a deluxe DVD set called TCM Archives: The Laurel And Hardy Collection with both The Devil's Brother and Bonnie Scotland, and the L&H guest starring scenes from Hollywood Review of 1929, Hollywood Party and Pick a Star, as well as a surviving fragment of a scene from the otherwise lost musical Rouge Song. For those of you who wanted the entire films, Hollywood Review of 1929, Hollywood Party and Pick a Star were later all released as part of the Warner Archives series.

Another film MGM released on DVD just prior to being absorbed by Warner Bros was March of the Wooden Soldiers. Only, instead of the previously released colorized version, MGM used their own archived master print of the film which still has the original Babes in Toyland title!! If you are going to purchase March of the Wooden Soldiers/Babes in Toyland on DVD, then the MGM release should be the one you buy, if not for the original title, then for the best preserved print. Or if you don't really care, get the Televista release, which is part of their Laurel and Hardy Triple Feature set. It also has Bogus Bandits, the rerelease title for Devil's Brother, and Starstruck, the rerelease title for Pick a Star.  The third party distributor who had the films was required to remove the MGM logo and retitle the film's before they could rerelease them. These particular prints, which all look terrible, never had their copyrights renewed, so are theoretically public domain. This is the same theory about March of the Wooden Soldiers, because the rerelease title was never copyrighted. 

All three films are currently available on DVD by other budget and fly-by-night distributors, all using the same poor quality re-releasing master. More mainstream companies won't touch them due to their questionable legal status. ( Legends has released March of the Wooden Soldiers, but paid the copyright holder a licensing fee, which gave them access to the uncut colorized version. ) Even more widely available on DVD are their definitely public domain films Flying Deuces, Utopia ( the North American release of Atoll-K ) and the short Be Big which became public domain due to a clerical error when it's copyright was renewed in the 1950s. Also in the public domain, any film they made in the 1910s which earned their status just prior to Congress extending copyright protection. This includes The Lucky Dog, but no other movie both Laurel and Hardy appeared in. But it does include a lot of their earlier solo work. So many companies have released DVD sets of "Laurel and Hardy" movies that are almost entirely solo films on the same disc. It should be noted that Keno did release a "restored" version of Flying Deuces. It was actually a superior European print and not a restoration. Also, it was originally transferred in PAL then transcoded into NTSC resulting in the film being slightly sped up, and the original RKO titles we're replaced. Otherwise the best existing print of Flying Deuces is currently in a vault controlled by Warner Bros, and they have very little incentive to release the movie. As for Atoll-K, there is something close to a restored print. But it is only on DVD in Germany.

If it is quality prints of crappy films you want, then good news! 20th Century Fox has released all of it's Laurel and Hardy films in two box sets of DVDs. Although I am sure only the completists would be interested in buying them. For those of you looking for the Roach era films, there is the European released set with films restored by Universal. But since Universal does not have distribution rights in North America, those restorations will remain in PAL. The company that did have distribution rights for North America was Hallmark. But when they did put the films on DVD for the first time, instead of mastering from film prints, they choose to take the pre-existing 25 year old Nostalgia Merchant video masters, none of which were the best prints to begin with. Two, maybe three disappointing volumes were released via Hallmark, each volume with one full length feature and four shorts.

And then came Laurel and Hardy: The Essentials . A DVD box set of all their films made at Hal Roach Studios, not including any of the silent films, or the film's that Roach gave to MGM as a settlement, or Babes in Toyland which Roach also lost the rights to. But everything else was there. And they were all remastered from actual film prints, making the set the best North American release of their films so far. Of course there are some issues. A bad choice in packaging has the discs in slip covers which seem designed to scratch DVDs no matter how carefully you remove them. And the film's have been cropped. My guess, someone made a transfer which cropped the top and bottom so that, with slight stretching, the film's would fill a modern television screen. Then realizing someone botched the transfer, it was compounded by cropping the edges so the film's were once again 1:3:1. It is mainly noticeable on opening credits or any other time text is on screen and is cut off. Noticeable to die hard L&H fans are when characters are cropped.

This now leaves one final format. Blu-ray. So far only two release. The television print of March of the Wooden Soldiers which is no different quality than the DVD, and a superior print of Flying Duces. FOX has released their L&H films on Blu-ray in Europe, and is sure to do the same in North America. But what everyone is really waiting for is the restorations from UCLA. A couple of years ago UCLA announced they wanted to restore the entire Hal Roach film library, including all the Laurel and Hardy films, in what promises to be the definitive restoration. As of yet, no word on when these restorations will be released on home video.

As for what is already out there, all of the Super 8 and VHS release are out of print and considered collectors items. Even more in demand is all of Images releases of the silent films. They are also OOP, and since the DVDs are a format still in use, each volume is worth well over $100. Amazon has a couple of volumes listed at $250. If you want affordable, both box sets of the FOX films are being sold together on Amazon for only $24. As for any DVD previously released by MGM or Warner Bros, all are out of print, but can still be found in dwindling supplies. Warner has decided for any further release, they will all be on the Warner's Archive label, if you don't mind buying DVDs that were burned instead of pressed. The MGM release of March of the Wooden Soldiers is still available, but on a disc with two other MGM films you probably don't give a crap about. The stand alone disc is harder to find. The Essentials Collection is still in print and retails around $45. ( sometimes a lot less if there is a sale. )
« Last Edit: August 24, 2019, 07:39:00 PM by stethacantus »


Offline George-2.0

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #80 on: August 24, 2019, 07:37:03 PM »
Just thinking of Big Business makes me chuckle. It's just total chaos and destruction, but damn if the escalation of such didn't have me in tears from laughing so hard. The trio completely loses their shit, and it's a riot to see that happen.









Online MartyS (Gromit)

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #81 on: August 24, 2019, 08:41:51 PM »
For streaming it seems Amazon Prime is the best option.  Been searching using justwatch.com and Amazon has the most.  There are a few on Tubitv.com streaming with ads, a few on a service called hoopla, and a half dozen or so streaming on Amazon Prime.

For rent or buy Amazon also seems to have the most (dozens of shorts and movies), with iTunes having a couple that Amazon does not.  Just about everything is $3 to rent and $10 to buy, except for shorts that are $3 to buy so why bother renting...


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #82 on: August 25, 2019, 07:18:09 AM »
#10
HOG WILD ( 1930 )
46 points, 3 lists, #2 Darth Geek

"Hey, what did you go down for?"

Ollie's wife asks him to put an antenna on their roof so their radio can get better reception. Stan drops by to "help".  Several attempts at this simple task only result in Ollie falling off the roof. Stan inadvertently starts the car that is being used to extend the ladder while Ollie is climbing it. The car takes off down the street with Ollie on the top of the ladder, and Stan trying to steady the ladder to keep Ollie from falling while at the same time steering the speeding car through traffic.


STAY OFF OF MY HOUSE!
The biggest problem of filming a slapstick comedy that almost entirely takes place on a roof of a house was not the chance cast members would fall off, but finding someone willing to have a slapstick comedy filmed on their roof. When location scouts couldn't find anyone willing to lease their roof, the only solution was to find a vacant lot and build a roof. It was basically the outside of a house, with a lot of support beams inside, and a roof that sloped less than a normal roof, to cut down on the threat of cast, crew or the camera taking an unscheduled fall. The outside was dressed to look like a normal house and included a driveway and decorative lily pond for falling in.  It also had a breakaway prop chimney, and a specially built ledge just below the edge so that Laurel and Hardy didn't actually have to fall all the way to the ground. The structure was built somewhere on Madison Ave. in Culver City and was apparently dismantled shortly after shooting ended.

FINE TUNING
Fitting that a short about radio should be the first Laurel and Hardy short to have continuous music throughout the short. Previous L&H shorts had music for the opening credits, but no music for the rest of the film, which was jarring to the audiences of that period  as they had just come out the silent era where musicians ( at least a pianist ) played during the entire film. Even early sound films shown today seem weird due to the lack of a music track. Previously studios didn't worry about music as the theaters provided their own musicians. But once the sound era began, most theaters fired their musicians, mostly to pay for the costly conversation into a sound theater. Studios soon realized they needed music. Stan Laurel preferred having music, which he felt helped liven up the gags. ( NOTE: Re-releases of the earlier L&H films had music added. )


LET'S GO FOR A DRIVE
Hog Wild was the last of the Laurel and Hardy films to have an actual action scene with stunts. As if having a plot where Laurel and Hardy keep falling off a roof wasn't dangerous enough, they decided to end the film with a manic driving scene.  To extend the ladder to the roof, Ollie has put it on the back seat of a car. Stan follows him up the ladder, but then accidentally steps on the gas pedal and the car takes of, with Stan desperately holding the steering wheel in one hand, and trying to hold the ladder with the other hand. As the car speeds down the street, Ollie tries to keep from falling off the top of the ladder, while Stan has several near misses with other cars. At one point Stan drives underneath a train overpass and Ollie's ladder dips just low enough to miss it.  While there is little doubt most of the scene used stunt doubles, close-ups required Laurel or Hardy to be doing at least part of the stunt. Definitely the part where Ollie is lying in the street, and gets up just in time to roll out of the way of a bus, didn't use stunt doubles. Laurel and Hardy would have action scenes after this, but from County Hospital onward the action scenes would all be done on a set in front of a back projection screen. A combination of cost cutting, and investors nervous about the studio's biggest stars put in unnecessary danger.


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #83 on: August 25, 2019, 08:05:36 AM »
#9
Blotto ( 1930 )
48 points, 3 lists, #5 Darth Geek

"Oxford-0614"

Stan makes plans with Ollie to sneak out on his wife by saying he needs to go back to work, but instead spend the evening at a nightclub by.  Also, since the nightclub can't serve liquor, Stan plans to steal the bottle he and his wife had been saving for a special occasion, and if she asks, blame it on the iceman.  However, Stan's wife has been eavesdropping  on the phone's extension the whole time,  and in a fit of rage, empties the liquor bottle into the sink and replaces the contents with tea, flavored with Tabasco sauce and other spices. At the nightclub, Ollie and Stan secretly drink from the bottle, and convinced it is booze, gradually become obnoxious drunks.

DECIPHERING AN OLD MOVIE
There is a lot here that can confuse modern audiences. Phones didn't yet have either keypads or dials. If you wanted to call someone you picked up the receiver and the operator was contacted immediately. You would then give the operator the phone number you wanted and she would connect a wire between the plug to your phone, and the plug of the person you were calling.  The phone number was the number above the plug. When Ollie says "Oxford - 0614", Oxford is similar to an area code. It basically means the letter "O". Using a word instead of a letter keeps the operator from mishearing the letter. Electronics replaced this with mechanical switches that responded to the clicks in the dial, and eventually electronic switches that responded to the tones of each number. But 1n the 1930s you still had to have a human operator connect you to whoever you were calling. Stan sends himself a telegram. In the 30s long distance calling on telephones was a bit complicated, requiring an operator in one zone to call an operator in another zone, and perhaps even involving a third operator. This is why long distance calls were more expensive. But it also meant you had to wait to get a line to another zone. And there was always the possibility the person you were calling was currently using his phone and couldn't be called. If someone had an important message it was simpler to send a telegram which was guaranteed to get there as fast as the telegram messenger could deliver it.  Once again ,once the bugs in telephones were worked out with mechanical and electronic switches, telegrams became thing of the past. ( Actually, they still exist, but mostly because people still wire money. ) Stan wants to bring a bottle with him to the club. There was something back then called the Prohibition, where an actual amendment to the constitution made selling and transporting alcohol illegal. In other words, alcohol was as illegal as cocaine. This would last until another amendment in the mid 1930s repealed the previous amendment. During the prohibition clubs didn't serve alcohol. So some people brought along their own alcohol from their own private stash. Finally, Stan tells Ollie that if his wife asks what happened to the Alcohol they kept stashed, he will blame it's disappearance on the iceman. Basically that meant he would blame it on Val Kilmer's character from Top Gun.  Eh, just joking. Kitchen refrigerators hadn't been invented yet. What you had in your kitchen was called an Ice Box, an invention that had been around since the 1800s. It looked the same as a refrigerator, but instead of compressed gas to keep your food cold, you put a giant block of ice in it. After about a day your ice would melt to a useless size, so a new block of ice had to be delivered every day by an iceman who carried the heavy block into your kitchen, removed the useless melted chard of ice, and put the new block into your ice box. Even after refrigerators were invented, they were so expensive that most working people continued to own ice boxes. The Honeymooners had an icebox.

STAN'S PHONE NUMBER
An urban legend about this film claims that the phone number Ollie keeps asking the operator for, "Oxford-0641", was Stan Laurel's real phone number. I guess they didn't think anyone would memorize the number and try calling it later. Even if it wasn't Stan's number, whoever was unlucky enough to have that number must have received thousands of phone calls. Hollywood eventually realized moviegoers were calling the numbers their characters used in movies. The eventual solution came with the arrival of the  555 prefix which telephone companies used internally, which meant any fake number in a movie beginning with 555 wasn't someone's real phone number, and calling it would only connect you to the phone company, usually to their directory assistance operators. Of course Tommy Tutone didn't get the memo when he wrote his hit song Jenny along with her number 867-5309, leading to a lot of pissed off residents and companies across the United States, in every area code, getting booty calls for Jenny. BTW, Stan Laurel actually didn't bother to unregister his phone number, and it once could be found in any phone book. He regularly got calls from his fans.

LAUGHING DEBUT
This was the first film Laurel and Hardy used their celebrated laughing gag, where both men start with the giggles, then gradually become hysterical. It would be used again in Fra Diavolo. Although not exactly the same, because there was no gradual buildup, they were hysterically laughing in Leave Em' Laughing after inhaling a full tank of laughing gas.

THE CURSE OF AN ACHING HEART
One of the highlights of this film is when Frank Holiday sings The Curse of an Aching Heart which causes Stan to break down and cry. The song is from 1913, written by Henry Fink and Al Piantadosi. The original sheet music for it describes it as "The Moral Song With A Blessing".  I have no f#@king idea what that means. But apparently it is a standard. Enough so that Frank Sinatra recorded his own version of it in 1961. I myself have never heard this song outside of Blotto, and until I looked it up this week, assumed it was an original song written for that film. Blotto is another one of the L&H films to have been edited for the re-release, and now only the re-release version is known to exist. Something in the original theatrical edit and now missing was Stan and Ollie deciding to sing The Curse of an Aching Heart themselves, only going into a drunken rambling version of it.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2019, 08:07:27 AM by stethacantus »


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #84 on: August 25, 2019, 08:38:49 AM »
#8
Another Fine Mess ( 1930 )
52 points, 3 lists, #3 C Jones

"Plumtree! Plumtree! Lord Leopold Plumtree! Accent on the lum. My card."

On the run from a police officer Stan accidentally called "Ma'am", he and Ollie hide out in what they believe is an abandoned mansion. Actually, the owner, who left to go on a safari, asked his servants to stay behind and lease the mansion while he is gone. But instead they leave town themselves. When a newlywed couple shows up to rent the place, Ollie is forced to impersonate the owner while Stan impersonates both the butler and maid.

THOSE CRANE GIRLS
With the arrival of sound film, there was no longer a need for dialogue cards in the middle of the film. Which could have saved Hal Roach money if not for him needing to keep the staff in the titles department on salary to write the opening credits.  Roach saw a solution. Have someone read the opening credits, then you don't need any text on the film at all other than the film title, the studio and distribution company ( for copyright purposes ). His solution was to hire identical twins Beverly and Betty Mae Crane.  They were both born on April 11, 1917 in Salt Lake City, Utah. By the age of 9 they had developed a popular novelty dance act for Vaudeville. Soon after arriving at Hollywood in 1930, they were hired by Roach Studios to read opening titles. Those included the Charlie Chase shorts Girl Shock, Dollar Dizzy, Looser Than Loose, High Cs and Thundering Tenors. The Our Gang shorts Teacher's Pet, School's Out and Love Business. And the Our Gang spin-off series The Boy Friends which featured members of the original silent era cast who had aged into teenagers. The Boy Friends shorts the Crane twins introduced were the first in the series Doctors Orders, followed by Bigger and Better, Blood and Thunder and Love Fever. They only managed to introduce one Laurel and Hardy short, Another Fine Mess. Supposedly they also filmed the introduction for Laurel and Hardy's first feature film Their First Mistake, but soon after the studio decided to retitle the film Pardon Us.  The title Their First Mistake was used for a L&H short a year later. But if Beverly and Betty had shot talking titles, it couldn't be reused on the short due to it having a different director.  Roach realized the talking titles wasn't working and abandoned the concept. The twins had uncredited bit parts in a few other films, but eventually gave up on Hollywood, and eventually retired their act to raise families. Betty died on April 15, 1983. Beverly on December 9, 2006.

THE MISQUOTE OF THE CENTURY
One of Hollywood's most misquoted lines is "Well, here's another fine mess you've gotten me into". However, the line Hardy has said in so many L&H films was actually "Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into."  ( First used in The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case. ) And the reason for this misquote can be blamed on this film.  Speculation is that a mistake was made while filming the talking title.  Very likely this was due to the studio shooting most if not all of the talking titles on the same day to be edited into the films as they were completed. Had the mistake been made on a text title, it was easy enough to rewrite the title card. But with the talking titles Roach would need to recall the twins and rebuild their set. It was easier to ignore the mistake.

ANOTHER MISQUOTE?
Apparently there was some sort of confusion over Lord Plumtree's name. While shooting the film Thelma Todd called her husband Leopold in some scenes, and Ambrose in others. Apparently this was due to the original script calling the husband Leopold, but when HM Walker wrote the dialogue script he changed the name to Ambrose. Director James Parrott finally caught the mistake when most of the short had been filmed.  To rectify the mistake without having to reshoot Todd's scenes,  when she calls for her husband she calls out the name "Leopold Ambrose".


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #85 on: August 25, 2019, 10:10:58 AM »
#7
County Hospital ( 1932 )
55 points, 3 lists, #4 Darth Geek + C Jones

"Most embarrasing"

With nothing better to do that day, Stan decides to visit his friend Ollie in the hospital, where he is recuperating from a broken leg. Ollie is looking forward to a long stay where he will get a lot of rest, but those plans are dashed when Stan nearly kills Ollie's doctor, getting them both thrown out of the hospital. While Ollie is packing his belongings, Stan accidentally sits on a syringe full of a sedative.  It finally kicks in while Stan is driving Ollie home, causing him to drive all over the street, constantly just missing other vehicles.

THE NOT SO THRILLING CONCLUSION
The film ends with a scene where a near comatose Stan is driving all over the street, nearly running into other vehicles and pedestrians.  If this sounds thrilling then you haven't seen this film, which has Laurel and Hardy sitting in a car in a studio with an obvious back screen projection in front of the car. The footage used for the projection isn't even believable, obviously made by a Roach staffer who tied a camera to the hood of his car, set it to film at slow speed,  set the lense for close up to make the other vehicles look closer, and then zigzagged down a busy street. One obvious problem, whenever Stan and Ollie get close to another vehicle, it appears twice as large, and giant during the near misses. Stan and his gagmen scripted a much more thrilling ending with him and Hardy in a real car, just missing real vehicles and stuntmen, and at one point driving backwards down a steep hill. At one point Stan was to drive into a fire hydrant, the gusher from it sending Ollie flying into the sky and landing in the gutter. And the ending was to have the car drive into a steamroller.  New executives at Roach Studios opted for an ending that could not only be shot cheaper, but would keep the cast safe. In an earlier scene where Stan causes the doctor, played by Billy Gilbert, to hang by a cable from a window, it is mostly done with back screen projection. The exception a couple of shots of Gilbert's stunt double hanging from a real window. Had County Hospital been filmed just a few years earlier, the effect would have been achieved by building a window set next to a real cliff and hanging Gilbert out there for real. Roach Studio would no longer put their players at risk. And to think, this was the studio that made Safety Last only ten years earlier.

NOT SO KIND TO CARS
While the ending may have been compromised by sloppy back projection, it did include one of the studio's signature car wreck gags. Stan finally wrecks the car ( the actual crash happening off screen so they never needed to film it, ) so that it is bent into a U shape. A police officer orders him to drive the car off the road, but all Stan can get it to do is drive in circles. The gag is reminiscent of another auto wreck in Hog Wild, where a car Stan and Ollie are in stalls on some trolly tracks and ends up crushed like an accordion between two streetcars with the passenger seats pushed up ten feet. Some of the other memorable car mutilations in the Laurel and Hardy films include the sawing in half of their vehicle in Busy Bodies, and cars designed to suddenly fall into pieces as seen in One Good Turn and Stolen Jools. The ultimate L&H film for car mutilation has to be Two Tars, which ends with a parade of mangled vehicles Stan and Ollie either damage or caused to be damaged during a traffic jam riot.

REISSUE BLUES
County Hospital is one of a number of Hal Roach shorts no longer available as their pre-code edit. After Roach stopped producing new shorts, the old ones were rereleased, but with the original credits replaced, and with some edits. And, of course, music added. With County Hospital it was music lifted from the Our Relations soundtrack. The original soundtrack of County Hospital wouldn't have any music other than during the credits. And it originally had some sort of gag opening titles that were removed on reissue. Currently the oldest print available is the 1930s reissue print. This is the same for so many L&H films, many which had footage edited out for censorship or because of negative damage, had the original titles changes, and had the soundtrack changed. A lot of the Laurel and Hardy shorts are incomplete. County Hospital may be largely complete, but the blaring music from Our Relations is such a constant reminder that this is an altered print, that it has become the poster child for re-issued L&H shorts.


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #86 on: August 25, 2019, 12:16:44 PM »
#6
Them Thar Hills ( 1934 )
56 points, 4 lists, #2 C Jones

"It's the iron in it. That's how all mountain water tastes."

To cure his gout, a doctor prescribes that Ollie take a relaxing vacation in the mountains.  So they rent a trailer, driving it next to an abandoned cabin, not realizing that bootleggers have dumped their moonshine into the well. When Stan points out the water has a funny color and taste, Ollie explains that it is the natural iron in the mountain water. Meanwhile, a married couple have run out of gas and are hiking to the nearest gas station. The husband asks Ollie for some spare gas, and then if his wife can wait with them while he walks back to their car.  He returns to find his wife drunk, and in a fit of rage, begins a reciprocal-destruction fight with Stan and Ollie.

THE RETURN OF BILLY GILBERT
Billy Gilbert contract with the studio had expired two months earlier. But Laurel insisted he needed him for a minor scene where he played a doctor, so Roach hired him back on a one picture deal. Laurel would bring him back again for Block-Heads

THE GREAT FOG
Them Thar Hills was scheduled as a six day shoot, but wound up lasting nine days, not to mention the budget ballooned. The problem was the location. A rustic cabin in the Santa Ynez Canyon park was chosen for exterior shots, including the dumping of the moonshine into the well, the arrival of Stan and Ollie in their car, the well explosion, and the arrivals and departures of the Halls. After about a days shooting heavy fog rolled in. The crew attempted to wait it out, but a weather report confirmed that the fog would last for days. So the entire cast and crew packed up, and very carefully drove back to the studio. After all, the fog was so thick that they couldn't see their hands in front of their faces, and they had to drive out on a road that twisted and turned next to the canyon cliffs. Once safely back at Roach, the director had the crew build an exact replica of the cabin location on a soundstage, and the rest of the scenes were shot inside a studio.

THE OLD SPINNING WHEEL
While they don't sing the lyrics. Hal Roach needed to license the music for The Old Spinning Wheel, the song Hardy hums while he and Stan prepare dinner.  It was written by songwriter Billy Hill, a follow up to his first hit song The Last Roundup. The first group to release it as a single was The Four Voices, but it was typical in those days that when a song became a hit that multiple recording artists would release their own versions, and no one artist was associated with it. Sheet music of The Old Spinning Wheel from that era went through several printings, each with the same background art, but a picture of a different recording artist on the front who covered the song.  Needless to say that there was no way to edit the improvised song out of the movie, so Roach had little choice but to pay a licensing fee for what was then the equivalent to a top 40 hit. This, combined with Stan's insistence that Billy Gilbert be rehired for a very minor role, insisting on a location shoot, then demanding the location be rebuilt on the soundstage suggested that he was deliberately trying to run up the budget.  At the time he and Roach were pissed off at each other over  the production of Babes in Toyland, so it is likely he took his frustrations out by running up the bill on one of the shorts.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2019, 12:20:19 PM by stethacantus »


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #87 on: August 25, 2019, 12:50:55 PM »
BIBLIOGRAPHY

For further reading about Laurel and Hardy that isn't Wikipedia, the following books are recommended. 

Mr Laurel and Mr Hardy: An Affectionate Biography by John McCabe was the first book written about the duo. The author became good friends with Stan Laurel in his final years, making this book the closest thing anyone will get to an autobiography. McCabe went on to write two additional volumes, The Comedy World of Stan Laurel and Babe: The Life of Oliver Hardy. In addition, he collaborated with Al Kilgore for the book Laurel and Hardy, which was basically a coffee table size filmography book.

The Films of Laurel and Hardy by William K Everson was the original filmography book, helping set the standard for Citadel Press' line of film books. The book is full of factual mistakes ( mostly the result of the facts obtained from old studio publicity ), questionable omissions, and doesn't bother to give a synopsis for their final five films because he didn't like them, devoting the single paragraph he gives to each final film to how the film was worse than the last, and how their careers were rapidly going downhill. Meanwhile entries  for the Roach films could go on for pages, even for the shorts. You would think there was room for improvement when a second edition called The Complete Films of Laurel and Hardy was released, but the only change was on the synopsis for the entries for two recently rediscovered lost films. Yet, as out of data as the book is, no Laurel and Hardy fan's bookshelf would be complete without it.

Laurel and Hardy: The Magic Behind the Movies by Randy Skretvet is a must read. Not only does he talk about everything single film L&H did, including films they only had brief cameos in, but he devoted a lot of time researching, resulting in digging up facts the other books missed. If you want to know every known behind the scenes detail on every one of their movies, then this book is the Bible. And Skretvet is always updating the book with new editions each time he finds new facts, or lost L&H footage resurfaces.

The Laurel and Hardy Encyclopedia is by Glenn Mitchell, another movie historian who has intensively researched L&H. The book is exactly what it says it is, an encyclopedia of Laurel and Hardy and everyone they worked with. There are entries on several topics. For example, the armed service topic lists and discusses every single film, both as a team and solo, that Laurel and or Hardy played a soldier, naval sailor, or were in any other armed service. A very handy book when looking up specific topics. And it is another book that is frequently updated with new editions.

Laurel and Hardy: From the Forties Forward by Scott MacGilliray is an extensive history of the films most Laurel and Hardy fans would like to forget, and most books short change. And it is frequently updated as more facts come to light.


These books were a great help for plagiarizing writing this LoC.


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #88 on: August 25, 2019, 12:59:44 PM »
#5
Brats ( 1930 )
4 lists, 59 points, #6 Darth Geek

"If you must make a noise, make it quietly"

With the wives out, Stan and Ollie are stuck babysitting their sons Stanley and Oliver, both who bare an uncanny resemblance to their fathers. When the children make too much noise playing, Ollie orders them both to go to bed. But they end up causing even more of a ruckus trying to go to sleep.

SPECIAL EFFECTS
In order to play their own children, two identical sets were built. The set Laurel and Hardy used when playing their children was built at three times the scale of the adult set. Split screen showing both parents and children in the same shot is only used twice. A planned scene where Laurel and Hardy discipline their children was cut for being too complicated. It would have required the adult characters to pick up and hold the children characters.  Test footage for Brats featuring Laurel and Hardy as babies sitting in oversized furniture was later used for the Our Gang short Wild Poses ( 1933 ).

DUAL ROLES
Brats had Laurel and Hardy playing the duel role of both themselves and their children. The idea of duel roles would be revisited two years later in the less successful short Twice Two where Laurel and Hardy played themselves as well as their own sisters Sandy and Fanny. The idea was visited again for their feature film Our Relations where they played their own twin brothers Alf and Bert, and in their final FOX film The Bullfighters where Stan played himself and his doppelganger, a matador  named Don Sebastian. Of course by then FOX was fully capable of using effects to have two Laurel's on screen at the same time. They already did it in the film A Haunting We Will Go where a magic trick puts multiple Laurels and Hardy's on screen at the same time.

CONTROVERSY
Critics began accusing the film of being kinky because it appeared as if the children both lived in the same house, meaning Laurel, Hardy and their two wives all lived together. Other critics went further to suggest the two children had the same mother, meaning both Laurel and Hardy must have had sexual relations with the same woman. But the original script makes it clear that Laurel and his son are visiting, and both kids have separate mothers.

REDISCOVERY
Most of the Laurel and Hardy shorts were made in the pre-code era. When they were re-released, content that violated the code was cut, or perhaps even new scenes shot. Title cards deemed offensive were removed. But the biggest alteration was adding music that wasn't previously there. If reissued by another distributor, all MGM logos were removed. This included the opening titles which had the MGM logo and copyright.  I most cases only the reissue prints are known to exist. However, recently a pre-code print of Brats was discovered with the original titles and music.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2019, 01:03:29 PM by stethacantus »


Offline stethacantus

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Re: List of Crap #118: The 50 Best Laurel and Hardy Films
« Reply #89 on: August 25, 2019, 01:45:52 PM »
#4
Busy Bodies ( 1933 )
64 points, 3 lists, #2 Stethacantus

"Would you mind opening the window"

Stan and Ollie get a job at a lumber mill building windows. Which is exactly the worst job you could possibly hire them for.


THEY ALMOST DIED FOR REAL
In his now long out of print 1968 book Laurel & Hardy, author Charles Barr wrote of a near death experience. At the end of the film, Stan and Ollie have once again caused some sort of mass destruction, this time involving the demolition of the foreman's hut with the foreman still inside. Before he can get his hands on them, Stan and Ollie make a run for their car and attempt to drive off. But instead they drive into a band saw which cuts the car in half from the hood to the trunk, causing it to fall in half with Stan falling one way and Ollie falling another. According to Barr, during the first attempt at the gag something went wrong and Laurel and Hardy were nearly killed on the set. For a while this story became part of Laurel and Hardy lore. However, years later in an interview with the studio's special effects man Roy Seawright claimed that they were never in any danger, and were never near any saw. Said Seawright: "That gag was a collaboration between Fred Knoth's mechanical department and my photographic department. It was done with a traveling matte... a traveling split screen. We had one half go through first then we introduced the other half. So ultimately, it was accomplished on an optical printer."


DAM IT!
When unable to remove Ollie from the window frame he had accidentally trapped him in, Stan consults blueprints, which turn out to be little help because they are for the Boulder Dam.  Contemporary viewers may not get the joke as there is no longer a Boulder Dam. But in 1933 the Boulder Dam was one of the greatest man made structures in the world. Built between 1931 and 1936, it consisted of over 3,250,000 cubic yards of concrete, rising to a height of 726 feet above the Colorado River, and spanning 1,244 feet between the canyon walls. Originally intended to be built in the Boulder Canyon, it's location was shifted to Black Canyon, about 100 miles downstream of the Grand Canyon, over worries the original canyon was unstable. An entire city, Boulder City, Nevada, was built just to accommodate the workers, of which 122 were killed during construction. The purpose for the dam was not just to control flooding on the Colorado, but to provide hydroelectric power for most of the West, and to create the massive reservoir Lake Meade, the largest in the United States, which provided water for the surrounding states. Las Vegas could not exist if not for the dam, which provided the desert town with enough electricity and water to expand into the grand gambling metropolis it is today. So why is there no longer a Boulder Dam? In 1933 a joint resolution of Congress ordered the dam renamed The Hoover Dam after sitting president Herbert Hoover. The renaming was controversial. Naming structures after presidents had always happened long after they left office, and usually because they had just died. On top of that, thanks to the Great Depression, Hover was very unpopular, and was just about to be voted out of office. After he left office there was attempt by congressmen to change the name back, and the next president, FDR,  called it the Boulder Dam at it's opening ceremony. But the official name remained Hoover Dam, and the name Boulder Dam was soon forgotten.

WHAT'S ON THE RADIO
one memorable gag from this film that doesn't involve a workplace accident has Stan and Ollie in their car, listening to what we are lead to believe is music on a radio. The music abruptly stops, and Ollie stops the car as well. Stan opens the hood to reveal a record player instead of a radio, and a shelf with records. Stan removes the finished record, picks out a different one, and puts it on the turntable. They continue to drive, and the exact same music, only in a slightly different arrangement, starts playing. Apparently Stan's record collection is nothing but the same song. Fans of Hal Roach films may find the tune familiar as the music is used in a lot of the studio's early 30s shorts. The song is called Smile When The Raindrops Fall and was written by Alice Keating Howlett and Will Livernash. And yes, I did say 'song', as it has lyrics:

Smile when the raindrops fall dear,
Smile til the clouds roll by.
Just remember that I love you,
'tho dark is the blue, blue sky.
Dark clouds will fade away, dear
Soon pass beyond recall.
So smile at those skies
with those big smiling eyes.
Just smile when the raindrops fall
.

The song made it's debut in 1930 on the Charley Chase short Whispering Whoopee where Charley himself can be heard singing it during the opening credits. From there Marvin Hatley recorded an instrumental version which was used as  background music on countless Roach shorts. There was actually a reason for this. Roach saw commercial possibilities in having the song in a lot of shorts. Specifically selling the sheet music....
.....but also getting musicians to record the song on their albums. In other words, he was trying to turn it into a hit. Although as far as I can tell, neither the Charley Chase nor Marvin Hatley versions were ever released on records. More recently a biography of Charley Chase used Smile When The Raindrops Fall as it's title.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2019, 01:51:37 PM by stethacantus »