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The Laurel and Hardy Collection, Vol. 1: The Big Noise/Great Guns/Jitterbugs [3 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Special Features

  • Documentary: "The Revenge of the Sons of the Desert"
  • Closed Captioned

Synopsis

The Big Noise
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy play janitors for a detective agency who pose as super-sleuths when they're hired to protect inventor Alva P. Hartley (Arthur Space). Moving bag and baggage into Hartley's gadget-laden house, Stan and Ollie must first contend with the inventor's bratty son Egbert (Bobby Blake, aka Robert Blake) and much-married Aunt Sophie (Esther Howard). More problems ensue when Hartley's next door neighbors Charlton (Frank Fenton), Hartman (James Bush), Dutchy (Phil Van Zandt) and Mayme (Veda Ann Borg) reveal themselves as the crooks they really are. Entrusted with Hartley's latest invention, super-bomb called "The Big Noise", Stan and Ollie skeedaddle to Washington, just one step ahead of the criminals. Escaping the villains, the boys take flight in a balky airplane, only to find that they're the targets for Army gunnery practice. Our heroes save themselves-and the day-when they use the bomb to destroy a Japanese submarine. Long regarded as the worst of Laurel & Hardy's feature films, The Big Noise has in recent years been championed by several of the team's fans, not least because the admittedly patchy storyline incorporates several of their classic routines from such earlier 2-reelers as Habeas Corpus, Wrong Again and Berth Marks. Arguably the film's best scene finds Stan and Ollie trying to gorge themselves on a "banquet" consisting of dehydrated food capsules. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Great Guns
In their first 20th Century-Fox vehicle, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are cast respectively as the butler and chauffeur of wealthy young Dan Forrester (Dick Nelson). Tired of being pampered and coddled by his overprotective aunts (Mae Marsh, Ethel Gryffies), Dan is delighted when he is drafted into the Army. To make certain that no harm will befall their "frail" master, Stan and Ollie also don uniform and accompany Dan to US Cavalry training camp. While the boys get mixed up in one disaster after another-at one point, they find themselves behind a moving target on the rifle range-Dan pursues a romance with photo-shop proprietor Ginger Hammond (Sheila Ryan), much to the consternation of Ginger's erstwhile beau Sergeant Hippo (Edmund MacDonald). Convinced that Ginger is a gold-digger, Stan and Ollie try to break up the romance, to no avail. All plotlines are resolved during a climactic "sham battle", wherein Dan proves his courage and grit while Laurel & Hardy end up captured by the "enemy". Obviously inspired by the success of Abbott & Costello's Buck Privates (it's even more obvious in the earlier drafts of the script), Great Guns is a major letdown from Laurel & Hardy's previous starring features at Hal Roach Studios, with Stan and Ollie looking most uncomfortable as they mouth the inanities written for them by Lou Breslow. Still, a few good bits emerge, including a surrealistic routine with a faulty light bulb and an amusing bridge-building sequence. Watch for Alan Ladd in a jaunty bit role as a camera-store customer. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Jitterbugs
If Jitterbugs is, as has often been claimed, the best of Laurel & Hardy's 20th Century-Fox films (an otherwise fair-to-mediocre lot), it is because the studio was using the picture as a showcase for their newest singing discovery Vivian Blaine. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy play a couple of travelling "zoot suit" musicians who innocently team up with likable con man Chester Wright (Bob Bailey). In the course of their travels, Chester and the boys meet small-town girl Susan Cowan (Blaine), whose mother has been victimized by real-estate swindlers Corcoran (Robert Emmett Keane) and Bennett (Douglas Fowley). Reasoning that it takes a crook to catch a crook, Chester masterminds a complicated "sting" to recover Mrs. Cowan's money. Chester's scheme requires Hardy to disguise himself as amorous Southern colonel Wattison Bixby, and obliges Laurel to don women's clothing as Susan's Aunt Emily. Alas, the boys aren't quite up to the rigors of the confidence racket, and as result they end up the prisoners of Bennett's partner, gangster Tony Queen (Noel Madison). In escaping their captors, Laurel and Hardy utilize Chester's phony "gas pills", which when swallowed cause the bad guys to float to the ceiling! The film concludes with a wild runaway-showboat sequence, consisting largely of stock footage from the 1938 Fox musical Sally, Irene and Mary. A reworking of Arizona to Broadway (1933), Jitterbugs is hardly a classic, but Laurel & Hardy-and Vivian Blaine-are in fine form. Worth the admission price in itself is the romantic rendezvous between Oliver Hardy and phony Southern belle Lee Patrick. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Oliver Hardy
    Oliver Hardy - Oliver
  • Doris Merrick
    Doris Merrick - Evelyn
  • Stan Laurel
    Stan Laurel - Stanley
  • Arthur Space
    Arthur Space - Alva P. Hartley
  • Veda Ann Borg
    Veda Ann Borg - Mayme
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