Laurel and Hardy
Zenobia (1939), starring Oliver Hardy, Billie Burke, Harry Langdon
Like The Fighting Kentuckian, Zenobia is one of the few movies that Oliver Hardy made without his partner Stan Laurel after their partnership. Unlike The Fighting Kentuckian, however, in Zenobia Oliver Hardy is the star of the show, and he carries the comedy very well. The basic plot has a country doctor named Tibbett, played very well by Oliver Hardy, married to a scatterbrained wife (played wonderfully by Billie Burke). The movie begins with Oliver Hardy’s Dr. Tibbett delivering a baby boy … for a family that already has at least 5 daughters. Oliver Hardy tells the father, about his medical bill, “Don’t worry … this one’s on me.” In addition to being visually funny, it also sets a characteristic of Dr. Tibbett – that he’s a fine doctor, but a lousy businessman; this becomes important later on. (more…)
Laughing Gravy (1931) starring Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Charlie Hall
Laughing Graving is a short Laurel and Hardy film that deals with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy trying to hide the existence of their dog, (whose screen name was the same as his real name, Laughing Gravy – hence the name of the movie) – and failing miserably. The movie begins with Stan and Ollie in bed, when Stan’s snoring wakes up Ollie. Oliver, after suffering in silence for a few moments wakes up Stan.
Stan, in a very clownish way, drinks a glass of water and tries to go back to sleep. Only to wake up the dog, whose barking rouses their landlord, played by Roach Studios regular Charlie Hall. The landlord throws the dog out, and Stan decides that he’s going to rescue his dog. Ollie insists on doing it, however, since Stan will wake up the landlord. Ollie succeeds in finding Laughing Gravy, only to be locked out of the building. This basic scenario is repeated several times, resulting in Ollie falling into a frozen barrel of rainwater, locking himself out of the apartment window, climbing down (and destroying) the brick chimney, etc. (more…)
TCM Archives – The Laurel and Hardy Collection (The Devil’s Brother / Bonnie Scotland) (1933)
Laurel and Hardy star in two of their best films, Bonnie Scotland and The Devil’s Brother. Both movies are some of Stan and Ollie’s best work. They are both “talking” films as opposed to their earlier silent movies, both in black and white. The movies themselves are hilariously funny; one of the funniest moments in The Devil’s Brother is when Stan Laurel is being forced by the not-so-villainous Fra Diavolo to hang Ollie for the crime of impersonating Fra Diavolo. Ollie complains the whole while that Stan is hurting his neck.
In The Devil’s Brother, Stan Laurel is referred to as Stanlio, and Oliver Hardy is referred to as Ollio. These are the names that they are still known under in Italy. Bonnie Scotland is, perhaps, not quite as funny, but still quite good. I love the routine with Stan using snuff for the first time, and how poor Ollie ends up falling off the bridge because of it.
Many extras on the 2-DVD set add to the “bang for the buck”. These include commentaries on both movies by Laurel and Hardy fans Richard W. Bann and Leonard Maltin. It also includes a full-length documentary Added Attractions: The Hollywood Shorts Story, and excerpts of Laurel and Hardy routines from several otherwise ignorable films:
Bonnie Scotland (1935) starring Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, James Finlayson
Bonnie Scotland involves Laurel and Hardy heading to Scotland, where they hope to inherit “Stan MacLaurel’s” inheritance. We see the pair walking into town as a blacksmith’s anvil hammers out their signature tune. They check in at a local hotel, where the proprietor, Mrs. Bickerdike (Mary Gordon) tells the story of how Stan’s recently-deceased grandfather had his heart broken by Stan’s father, who had run away to America. Meanwhile, at the reading of the will, the romantic love interest of the movie is revealed, as Stan’s cousin (played by the beautiful June Lang) is going to inherit the bulk of the estate, and is forced to travel to India to be near her “guardian”. The lawyer’s clerk is in love with her, and is dismayed by the turn of events.
Be Big! (1931) – Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Anita Garvin, Charlie Hall
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy almost make it to Atlantic City for a weekend getaway with their wives, when Ollie gets a phone call from Cookie, a lodge buddy. Cookie tells Ollie that a stag party is being held at the lodge that night in their honor, and reveals tempting details of the event when Ollie says they won’t be able to attend. Cookie reminds him that “No man is bigger than the excuses he makes to his wife … so be big!” (more…)
Air Raid Wardens (1943) starring Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Edgar Kennedy
Synopsis of Laurel and Hardy’s Air Raid Wardens
Air Raid Wardens – Proving themselves inept in a series of failed businesses, shortly after opening a bicycle shop Laurel and Hardy go off to enlist, only to be turned down by every branch of the armed services. Returning home, the local newspaper publisher encourages them to do their patriotic duty in Civilian Defense. The boys do so, after agreeing to share their shop space with a radio shop, not realizing that the proprietor is a Nazi saboteur seeking to destroy the local magnesium plant. (more…)
Brats (1930) starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy
Laurel and Hardy‘s short film, Brats, has been often imitated, never duplicated, and extremely funny. The basic premise is that Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are staying at home, watching their sons while their wives are out. They also play the role of their sons, using, using over-sized furniture and split screen shots. The film begins with the fathers playing checkers, where the dimwitted Stan is easily beating Ollie – a very funny scene. The little boys seem to keep fighting, and interrupting the adults. Whether it’s fighting over blocks, who’s going to be “it”, or breaking a vase, the little boys are constantly getting into trouble until their fathers send them into bed. (more…)
movie review of Saps at Sea (1940) starring Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, James Finlayson, Richard Cramer
Synopsis of Laurel and Hardy’s Saps at Sea
In Saps at Sea, Oliver Hardy is suffering from “hornophobia” – the sound of a horn sends him into a maniacal rage, attacking anyone nearby. Dr. James Finlayson prescribes a quiet rest at sea, but Oliver doesn’t want to go sailing. Ollie’s friend Stan Laurel, however, makes the suggestion that they simply rent a boat and leave it tied to a dock, so Ollie can get the fresh sea air that he needs. This actually works, until their goat named Narcissus eats through the rope that holds the un-seaworthy boat to the dock, and off it floats … with an escaped criminal on board, as well! (more…)
Movie posters from Saps at Sea, starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy – where Oliver is suffering from “hornophobia” and needs complete rest – which he doesn’t find, when an escaped criminal stowaways on board Ollie’s boat. This was Laurel and Hardy‘s last movie for the Roach Studios, and some fans consider it to be the last “true” Laurel and Hardy film. (more…)
review of Laurel & Hardy DVD (1933) – DVD compilation of Laurel and Hardy’s best talking films – Sons of the Desert, The Music Box, Another Fine Mess, Busy Bodies, County Hospital
Editorial review of Laurel & Hardy DVD (1933) – courtesy of Amazon.com
For one-stop convenience, you can’t beat this handy compilation of Laurel and Hardy classics. Although it’s modestly priced and packaged, this DVD packs plenty of extras along with Stan & Ollie’s finest feature and several of the comedy duo’s best-loved “talkie” shorts. Sons of the Desert (1933) is the crown jewel in any Laurel and Hardy collection, and with Charley Chase as their stellar comedy costar, the boys reached the pinnacle of their unique partnership, playing a pair of Fez-wearing “Sons of the Desert” sneaking off to a convention in Chicago, but their wives discover the ruse with hilarious results. For Laurel and Hardy fans, it simply doesn’t get any better than this, although 1932’s “The Music Box” shares equal status – and a 1932 Oscar® for Best Comedy Short – in the Laurel and Hardy pantheon.
The remaining shorts on the disc (“Another Fine Mess,” “Busy Bodies,” and “County Hospital” ) were produced during the prime of Stan and Ollie sound-era success (1930-33), each boasting their own timeless bits and flawless routines. Abundant laughs are virtually guaranteed. (more…)