Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy Classics, Vol. 2 [DVD]

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The Hobo
Considering that Billy West was the premier impersonator of Charles Chaplin's tramp character, it's no surprise that he'd wind up in a film called The Hobo. The plot to this particular two-reel offering is especially Chaplinesque. Hobo Billy rides the rails and when he lands in the yard, he is chased away. Dolly, a pretty girl (Virginia Clark), catches his eye and it turns out that she is the stationmaster's daughter. Billy is hired as the station manager's assistant and he tries to steal Dolly's attention away from her sweetheart, Harold (Oliver Hardy). Mr. Fox, a car thief (Leo White), tricks Billy by exchanging a stolen auto for a couple of tickets out of town. Instead of taking the stolen car, however, Billy accidentally winds up with Harold's new car. Harold and the cops pursue Billy, who has gone for a ride with Dolly. Fox misses his train and he tries to steal Harold's car. This gets him captured and Billy gets the reward. Dolly, nevertheless, returns to Harold, so Billy gives them the money and leaves town. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

Should Sailors Marry?
This two-reel comedy-thriller was the second picture that Clyde Cook made for the Hal Roach studios. When a couple divorces, the wife (Fay Holderness) finds herself in the unusual situation of having to pay alimony to her ex-husband (Noah Young), a wrestler. The wife goes through some hard financial times and finds it difficult to make the payments. Subsequently her ex-husband ends up living with her. Her answer to the problem is to run an ad in the matrimonial section of the newspaper. The man who replies is a sailor (Cook) who joined the Navy to see the world -- and spent four years in a submarine. His luck doesn't improve any after he marries the wife. The sailor has no clue that the ex-husband is actually part of the household, and it only is revealed to him bit by bit. Eventually he is forced to share a room with the ex and, worse yet, has to go to work. The sailor's efforts to escape take him up to the steel beams of a half-built skyscraper, with funny, and frightening, results. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

Thundering Fleas
Easily one of the fastest and funniest of the silent Our Gang comedies, Thundering Fleas is set in motion with a sidewalk performance of Professor Clements' Trained Flea and Insect Circus. When the Professor's star attraction, Garfield the flea (depicted via animation) escapes, Clements offers to pay the Our Gang kids a dollar if they can locate the wayward insect. Alas, all of the fleas manage to get away thanks to the gang's "assistance," and pretty soon the entire city is scratching and writhing. The limit comes when the kids -- and the fleas -- attend the fancy wedding reception of Mary Kornman's older sister. Comedy buffs will be amused by the presence of three major Hal Roach stars in minor roles: Oliver Hardy as a pants-less policeman, Charley Chase (hidden behind a huge walrus moustache) as a twitching wedding guest, and a moustache-less James Finlayson -- of the raised eyebrow and the spectacular double take -- as the justice of the peace. Originally released on July 18, 1926, Thundering Fleas is also available in a shortened, TV version retitled The Flea Circus. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Comedian Larry Semon borrows heavily from two of his prior films, Between the Acts and The Stage Hand, for this mediocre comedy. Semon, the prop man for a high-class variety theater, has a crush on the leading lady (Lucille Carlisle who, in real life, was Semon's fiancée). The show involves a number of impressive acts, but one audience member derides the magician's performance. A rooster, part of the magician's show, goes after the guy and Larry has to catch the unruly bird. Meanwhile, the stage manager (Oliver Hardy) plans to steal some jewelry belonging to the leading lady. He's interrupted, however, when a barrel of black powder gets blown into the audience. When the leading lady comes out to see what is going on, the stage manager uses the opportunity to take the jewelry. The performers chase after him, and Larry is the one who retrieves the jewels. Before he can revel in his victory for too long, Larry wakes up to discover it was all a dream. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

The Soilers
This two-reel travesty of Rex Beach's oft-filmed story The Spoilers was not appreciated in its day -- several critics noted that it was one of Stan Laurel's weaker films for Hal Roach. Modern-day audiences find it funnier, perhaps because a later sound version of The Spoilers starring John Wayne and Randolph Scott is more accessible than some of the other silent pictures he lampooned. In any case, Laurel plays the Roy Glennister character as Bob Canister. Canister has a gold mine that is wanted by his rival, I. Smacknamara (James Finlayson as a comic version of Alex McNamara). Things come to a head when Canister blows up Smacknamara's mine. Finally, in a climatic ending, the two men come to blows. In The Spoilers, this was a show-stopping moment, and all action in the town halts as everyone watches the two men brutally duke it out. In The Soilers, nobody cares -- the guys beat each other to a pulp and the townsfolk are completely oblivious...except for one particular cowboy. When Canister emerges victorious, the cowboy sighs effeminately and announces that Bob is his hero. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

White Wings
This one-reel comedy was one of Stan Laurel's early films for the Hal Roach studios (it would be nearly four years before Laurel teamed up with fellow Hal Roach actor Oliver Hardy). Laurel plays a street sweeper who finds himself in deep trouble when he neglectfully grabs a baby stroller instead of his cart. A cop (Marvin Loback) mistakes him for a kidnapper and gives chase. After running himself ragged all over town, the street sweeper finally manages to escape the cop and hides by taking the place of a traveling dentist. He performs a number of successful extractions by knocking the patients out with a hammer at the beginning of the operation (two of his victims happen to be James Finlayson and Mark Jones). But then the cop shows up with a toothache and finds him. It's the street sweeper who gets the hammer this time around, and he's carted off unconscious. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

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