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Laurel & Hardy [2 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Special Features

  • Digitally mastered
  • Interactive menus
  • Chapter selections

Synopsis

Kid Speed
White-faced comedian Larry Semon produced, co-directed, and starred in this two-reel farce, filmed at breakneck speed at the Charles Ray studios and the Santa Monica Auto Race Course. Avery DuPays (Frank "Fatty" Alexander), the city's wealthiest man, has promised his daughter Lou's hand in marriage to whomever wins the Big Auto Race. Both Dangerous Dan McGrew (Oliver Hardy) and The Speed Kid (Semon) love Lou (Dorothy Dwan), but she seems to prefer the latter. Avery, of course, favors the richer McGrew, who, unbeknownst to the Kid and his mechanic (Spencer Bell), removes the brakes from Larry's race car. Despite this handicap -- or perhaps because of it -- the Kid wins both the race and the girl. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

The Lucky Dog
In this two-reeler, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy appear together for the very first time. However, they're a long way from their famous Laurel and Hardy characters (that pairing wasn't to come until 1927). Laurel, after an up-and-down career in Vaudeville, had just begun acting in films, while Hardy was heavily established in movies already (both literally and figuratively). Laurel is the lead in this film, nevertheless, as an unfortunate who, after being evicted, winds up befriending a stray dog. He stuffs the dog in a decrepit suitcase, but it sticks its legs through the bag's holes and runs away. While Laurel is chasing after the suitcase, he bumps into a hold-up man (Hardy). A chase leaves the big man behind when he gets stuck trying to crawl through a hole in a fence. Hardy also appears later on in the film. Laurel and his dog have made the acquaintance of a pretty girl and her poodle, and her jealous boyfriend enlists Hardy's help to get rid of Laurel. But the dog saves the day by chasing the villains off with a stick of dynamite that was originally meant for Laurel. The film was made in 1919 but not released until 1922. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

Hop to It!
Bobby Ray and Oliver Hardy are rival bellboys at the Hotel Bilkmore in this two-reel farce, one of four "Mirthquake Comedies" the team would make for low-budget Cumberland Productions. The guest in room nine (Frank "Fatty" Alexander) is carrying a large bankroll, which both Ray and Hardy plan to help him spend. The Bilkmore, however, is rather ramshackle and a loose nail causes room number nine to appear as number six, causing Ray to repeatedly give the wrong guest a bath. Hardy, meanwhile starts a fire to divert attention from his plans to steal the bankroll, but he is caught by Ray and the inevitable chase is on. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

West of Hot Dog
Before teaming up with Oliver Hardy, comedian Stan Laurel starred in a number of very funny parodies. He burlesqued Rudolph Valentino's Blood and Sand with Mud and Sand and Monsieur Beaucaire with Monsieur Don't Care. Here the Western West of the Pecos undergoes a comic transformation. Stan plays an eastern wimp who is headed West to claim an inheritance. But the stagecoach he is on gets held up and his silly behavior in front of the bandits does not impress the girl (Julie Leonard) who is also a passenger. When he arrives in town to hear the reading of the will, he discovers that the other heirs happen to be the bandits, who will get full possession of the estate in the event of Stan's unfortunate demise. Of course the bad guys try to make sure this happens as quickly as possible. Stan leaves town to save his life, but his hiding spot is invaded by the bandits, who have just robbed the saloon. Somehow -- more through the villains' ineptitude than from any bravery on Stan's part -- he rounds up the bad guys before the posse arrives. The girl from the stagecoach turns out to be the sheriff's daughter, but now that she is willing to be Stan's girl, her father wants nothing more to do with her. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

The Sawmill
Comedians Larry Semon and Oliver Hardy battle over Kathleen O'Connor, the belle of the logging camp, in this 2-reel farce co-directed by Semon and Norman Taurog. The always extravagant Semon went too far making this film on location at Sequoia National Forest, where he made the Vitagraph Company build a permanent logging camp. According to the company's owner, Albert J. Smith, the film could just as easily have been produced at the studio back lot in Los Angeles. As a result, Semon's new contract made him his own producer and he was henceforth obliged to pay the cast, crew, and various other production expenses out of his own pocket. Years before he found world wide fame opposite Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy honed his comedic skills playing a menace opposite the white-faced Semon. They worked well together and remained personal friends until Semon's early death from pneumonia in 1928. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Utopia
In their very last feature film, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy travel to London so that Stan can claim his uncle's inheritance. All of the cash has been eaten up by taxes, but at least Stan is able to claim a tax-free island and yacht that his uncle has left him. Boarding the yacht (actually a run-down tub) in Marseilles, Stan and Ollie set sail for their island in the company of stateless refugee Max Elloy, who signs on as a cook, and Italian bricklayer Adriano Rimoldi, a stowaway. The little party is nearly torn to bits by a storm at sea, but the yacht runs safely aground on a newly formed atoll. Its population is increased to five when nightclub singer Suzy Delair, fleeing her domineering naval-officer fiancé Luigi Tosi, takes refuge with the other castaways. Laurel & Hardy and their friends live an idyllic, Robinson Crusoe-like existence until Delair's fiancé shows up. He announces he hasn't come to claim her, but to investigate reports that the atoll is rich with uranium. Indeed it is, and soon every nation in the world is clamoring to claim the island's radioactive deposits. Laurel and Hardy take quick action, declaring sovereignty over "Crusoeland." They then devise an anarchic government over which Ollie presides. Stan is relegated to the position of "The People." Comical chaos reigns when their "no laws, no taxes" policies attract the attention of various unsavory types, including rabble-rouser Michael Dalmatoff. Filmed over a period of 12 months, this expensive Franco-Italian co-production suffers from a too-complex plot, lazy direction, poor voice-over dubbing of the largely European supporting cast, and especially the horrible physical condition of Laurel, who was suffering from several life-threatening illnesses during filming. Fortunately, he regained his health after the production wrapped, as proven by his hale-and-hearty appearance on a 1954 installment of TV's This Is Your Life. Though some disciples of Laurel and Hardy will have a great deal of difficulty sitting through Atoll K, it does contain a few isolated moments of pantomimic brilliance and first-rate sight gags. Originally running 98 minutes, Atoll K was judiciously pruned down to 82 minutes for its English-language release. In Great Britain, the film was titled Robinson Crusoeland, while it was released as Utopia in America. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Stolen Jools
Tree in a Test Tube
This short educational film, produced by the United States Department of Agriculture, offers a look at just how many products are made from wood, and stresses the consequential importance of forest cultivation. The film is best remembered today for a cameo appearance by Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, in which the comic team show off a number of wood-based items; it was the first and only time Stan and Ollie appeared in a full-color film. Pete Smith, who was best known for his short comedies for MGM, serves as narrator. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Stick Around
Diminutive Bobby Ray and portly Oliver Hardy play employees of the Blatz and Blatz Interior Design company, hired to wallpaper Dr. Brown's sanatarium. When an inmate accidentally drops alcohol into the hospital's water supply, the two drunken wallpaperers go at their work with a vengeance. A now-forgotten comic, Ray looked enough like Stan Laurel for this inexpensive two-reel comedy to be advertised as a Laurel and Hardy offering when released to the home movie market in the early '60s. Hardy himself later acknowledged that his character in this film resembled the Ollie of later fame, with a condescending attitude toward his less-brainy partner, dainty hand gestures and all. Produced by comedian Billy West and released as a "Mirthquake comedy," Stick Around also featured Hazel Newman as a nurse and Harry McCoy as the owner of the sanitarium. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Yes, Yes, Nanette
This two-reel Hal Roach comedy was not one of James Finlayson's best starring efforts, but it's notable because it's the first film in which Stan Laurel directed his future comic partner, Oliver Hardy. Hardy just has a bit part, and according to Rob Stone's excellent book, Laurel or Hardy, he only received 12.50 for a day's work -- an extra's pay -- instead of his usual 250 dollars per week. Nanette (Lyle Tayo) informs her family that she has married the perfect man, but when she arrives home with hubby Hillory (Finlayson), no one is terribly impressed. In fact, Nanette's family does everything they can to make the wimpy Hillory miserable, especially when it comes to his cheap toupee. Even Nanette's former suitor (Hardy) comes around to give the hapless new husband a hard time -- until Hillory finally rounds up enough courage to get rid of the ex-boyfriend and assert himself. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

The Flying Deuces
In their first starring feature away from the Hal Roach studios, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy play a couple of fish peddlers from Des Moines on a Cook's Tour of Paris. While stopping over at quaint suburban inn, Ollie falls in love with innkeeper's daughter Georgette (Jean Parker). At Stan's prodding, Ollie pops the question to Georgette, who gently refuses because there is Someone Else. Disconsolately, Ollie decides to commit suicide by jumping into the Seine, insisting that Stan join him in his plunge to oblivion. The boys are halted from this drastic action by the timely arrival of Francois (Reginald Gardiner), an officer in the French Foreign Legion. Francois convinces Stan and Ollie that they'll forget all about Ollie's lost love if they join the Legion, and within a few days our heroes are in uniform at an outpost in French Morocco, where they are promptly assigned to laundry detail. Alas, try as he might, Ollie can't forget his beloved Georgette-until Stan suggests that he pretend to forget so that they can get back in their own clothes and head home. This Ollie does, but not before accidentally setting fire to a mountain of laundry. After leaving behind a rather nasty letter of resignation for their scowling commandant (Charles Middleton), Stan and Ollie pack their bags and head for the airport-where Ollie is reunited with Georgette, who turns out to be the wife of their commanding officer Francois! Sentenced to death for desertion, the boys tunnel their way out of their jail cell and hide out in an airplane, which Stan accidentally sends into flight. After a wild and noisy ride, the plane crashes, leading to the flm's hilarious-and somehow touching--"freak" ending. Officially a remake of Les Aviateurs, a French vehicle for Fernandel and Toto, The Flying Deuces also owes a lot to the earlier Laurel & Hardy Foreign Legion farce Beau Hunks. Highlights include Stan and Ollie's impromptu soft-shoe rendition of "Shine on Harvest Moon", and Stan's lunatic excursion into Harpo Marx territory as he plays a bed-spring "harp". Produced by Boris Morros and released by RKO Radio, Flying Deuces is unquestionably the best of Laurel & Hardy's non-Hal Roach vehicles. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Oranges and Lemons
During his early days working for the Hal Roach studios, the plots to Stan Laurel's comedies were as interchangeable as their titles -- Pick and Shovel, Collars and Cuffs, Gas and Air, and this one, Oranges and Lemons. They all seem to involve Laurel as a laborer who spends more time flirting with a pretty girl (usually Katherine Grant, who plays Little Valencia here) instead of working, and who constantly annoys the foreman (this time around it's Eddie Baker, going by the unlikely name of Orange Blossom). Laurel's character here is known as Sunkist and, as might be guessed by both the characters' names and the film's title, he works in a citrus grove. The foreman, fed up with Sunkist's behavior, chases him into the packing plant, where much mayhem ensues. There's some funny business on a conveyor belt before Sunkist traps his antagonists (the number has grown as he has wreaked havoc) and breaks for lunch. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

Wandering Papas
This was one of Clyde Cook's better comedies for Hal Roach, perhaps due in part to the excellent direction of Stan Laurel, who at the time preferred working behind the camera (that would change a little later on when he teamed up with Oliver Hardy, who also has a small role here). Living up to his name, Clyde is a cook, working for an engineering camp that is being threatened by a local hermit (Adolph Milar). The hermit vows to blow up the whole camp if any of its members get involved with his daughter (Sue "Bugs" O'Neill). The daughter, meanwhile, makes arrangements to run off with the bridge engineer (Tyler Brooke). Her father discovers the plan, but believes the lucky man is Cook. In attempt to do away with him, the hermit puts explosives in the pancake batter, and his plot is almost successful because the pancakes blow up in the faces of everyone served (Hardy has an especially large stack explode) and they all come after the cook. Cook, the eloping couple, and the father all wind up on the same train. The couple falls off it, and it heads towards the edge of a cliff and stops. Cook and the hermit find themselves about to go over the cliff. After a number of tense but hilarious stunts, the hermit falls into the river below, and Cook jumps in when he sees a bear. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

Mud and Sand
This slapstick parody of Rudolph Valentino's Blood and Sand really put Stan Laurel on the map as a film comedian. While no Valentino, Stan is quite handsome as aspiring toreador Rhubarb Vaselino. When he enters a bullfight and lays three bulls to waste, his reputation is made. He weds his childhood sweetheart Caramel (Julie Leonard) and at the height of his career he is paired with the greatest bull in all Spain. But before the fight he ruins his marriage by his involvement with a wicked vamp. He goes on to defeat the bull but he is felled at the height of his victory when he's hit by one of the hats thrown into the arena -- a spurned young lovely has put a brick in it. Obviously the plot wasn't much to speak of, and the gags were the thing, along with Stan's inimitable timing. This was one of a series of comedies he made for producer Gilbert M. "Bronco Billy" Anderson -- in 1923, the comedian would move over to Hal Roach's studio where, after a few years, he would team up with another comic actor by the name of Oliver Hardy. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

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