Monday, May 4, 2015

SHORTS! blogathon: A Laurel and Hardy Double Bill


Your host for SHORTS! A Tiny Blogathon is the fabulous Fritzi of Movies Silently.  The blogathon dates are May 2, 3 and 4.  You won't want to miss a thing.

Beloved comic actors Laurel and Hardy became internationally successful and were, according to Stan Laurel, at their best in short films.  Working at Roach Studios, the films relied on the talents of the professionals under contract both behind the scene and onscreen.  The stock company of actors that would become familiar to audiences included James Finlayson, Edgar Kennedy, Billy Gilbert, Anita Garvin, Arthur Housman, Daphne Pollard, Ben Turpin, Charlie Hall and Mae Busch.  While many of these actors were featured repeatedly in the films, they played different characters, with one notable exception.  Today we will look at a rare occurrence, a sequel in the world of Laurel and Hardy shorts co-starring Mae Busch and Charlie Hall.  Charley Rogers directed both films with Stan Laurel and H.M. Walker credited for writing 1934s Them Thar Hills and Stan Laurel and Frank Tashlin for 1935s Tit for Tat



Poor Ollie is suffering!  He has the worst case of gout that Dr. Billy Gilbert has ever seen.  Lucky for Ollie he can rely on the solicitude of his good friend Stan.  Stan draws unnecessary baths and offers the most excellent advice that since gout is caused by high living that they should move to the basement.  Dr. Gilbert has a more useful prescription, get away to the mountains and drink plenty of that fresh mountain water.  Stan knows where they can rent a trailer for next to nothing, maybe less if they pay cash.

 Val-deri, Val-dera

The mountains are lovely this time of year, but unbeknownst to our travelers it can also be a place fraught with danger.  Ahead on the trail a pitched battle between revenuers and moonshiners is in full swing with the moonshiners getting the worst of it.  Frantically they dump as much of their product as they can down a well before being carted off to the pokey.


Ollie:  "It's supposed to taste that way.  It's the iron in it.  That's why the doctor said to drink plenty of it."

It is this garden spot that Stan and Ollie choose as a place to stop and enjoy nature's bounty.  The boys are a perfect picture of domesticity as they set about preparing a supper of beans and coffee.  Water for said coffee coming from the recently topped up well.  As many of us do when going about our kitchen duties, Ollie hums a tune.  In this case the tune is Billy Hill's (The Glory of Love, Wagon Wheels) The Old Spinning Wheel.  Stan's unsolicited accompaniment turns the tune into the Pom-Pom Song.  It is a delightful and fondly remembered bit.


Lost in the wilderness.

Who is this coming down the road?  Why, it's Mr. Hall and the Missus.  He's carrying a can and she is berating him for not listening to her about keeping their car filled up.  It's a long way back to the gas station, but luckily here are some folks in a camper who can help.  Even without the mellowing influence of the "coffee" Stan and Ollie would be only to pleased to help someone in need.  When the parched Mrs. Hall has a sip of water she decides to stay with the boys while hubby returns to the car.


Pom-Pom!

When Mr. Hall returns with his vehicle his ears are greeted with the braying sounds of a drunken orgy of off-key "singing" of The Old Spinning Wheel.  He is not impressed!  How dare these louts get his wife drunk!


!!??????!!

Charlie punches Ollie in the face and dares Stan to do something about it.  Now, Stan's mind tends toward bizarre little bits of business at the best of times.  Under the influence of the "coffee" his devilish side takes over.  Each time Charlie punches Ollie, Stan comes up with another oddball method of retaliation until butter, syrup, scissors, plungers and feathers leave Mr. Hall decimated.  The coupe de grace, however, goes to Charlie Hall whose application of gasoline and a match to Ollie's backside causes that worthy gentleman to jump in the well.  The film then comes to an explosive ending.


Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy, the screen creations, were characters fated to assiduously avoid success.  Many a time they set forth in the world hoping to achieve some of the ease and satisfaction they observe in others, only to have the world incomprehensibly keep them from even their tiniest aspirations.  However, this time as they are about to open their electrical supply shop (delayed by one day due to Stan's nervous breakdown), success is in the air.  Perhaps it is in the clean lines of the well-stocked store and the well-defined Art Deco signage.  Perhaps the good wishes of the cop on the beat.  This time - yes, this time good fortune will smile on the boys.


We'll Be Back Soon

Ollie decides it will be a good idea to get acquainted with their fellow shopkeepers on the street.  He and Stan place a "We'll Be Back Soon" sign next to the open door of the shop and head next door to Hall`s Groceries.  They briefly stop to acknowledge a little fellow who enters their shop.  They will see this fellow again.  Ollie is the soul of good will and bonhomie, yet the shopkeeper glares at him.  Stan suddenly remembers that fellow from the mountains.  And, brother, does Charlie remember them!  And does he tell them where to go!  Ollie is determined to be above it all.



Ollie:  "Oh, don't be like that. Let bygones be bygones. Let's help each other. You have a business, and we have a business. We'll send people to your store, and you send people to our store. What do you say?"


Ollie:  "I've never been in a position quite like that before."

You can well imagine what Charlie says, and he would say more.  You can see it in his face.  Mrs. Hall is willing to be friendly, but after all, she wasn't humiliated with features and whatnot.  Destiny turns on the foolish combination of Stan, the sidewalk delivery elevator, a ladder and some light bulbs.  Ollie is precariously placed on the ledge of the neighbouring building.  His only egress is through the bedroom window of the obliging Mrs. Hall.  It is a funny matter to Mae and Ollie.  Not so amusing to Charlie who denounces Olivier, cutting him to the quick.



Ollie:  "My reputation: It has been ruthlessly dragged through the mud and mire. Never let it be said that a Hardy's spotless reputation to be so maliciously tread upon."

Hall refuses to apologize and, of course you know, this means war.  Stan and Ollie, with a righteous lunacy awesome to behold, perform acts of anarchic vandalism on the premises and persons of Mr. Hall.  Mr. Hall retaliates in same at the business premises of Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy.  During these battle runs Stan and Ollie continually pass that little fellow entering and leaving their shop, but somehow ignore the fact that the stranger is carrying an armload of goods.  Eventually the brazen stranger starts using a convenient wheelbarrow for his forays into the shop.


What happened?

The campaign of destruction eventually comes to the notice of the local cop who attempts to sort things out.  One win for the boys is that the long arm of the law places the blame squarely on Mr. Hall who is forced to apologize to Oliver, and to the Missus.  The moral victory has gone to the fair name of Hardy.  The goods in the Laurel and Hardy Electrical Supply Shop go to the back of a truck driven by that little fellow.  It is the way of life.  The only thing Ollie knows for certain is that somehow it must be Stan's fault.

  

    

20 comments:

  1. I had to laugh at your concise analysis of Laurel and Hardy's on-screen business ventures: they were fated to avoid success. How true! I don't remember seeing "Them Thar Hills", and must look it up. (I recently bought a L&H DVD set for only $5.00!! Must see if this film is included.)

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    1. $5.00! I love a bargain, even when it isn't mine.

      Stan and Ollie make the sad times glad, and the good times better.

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  2. Great post - like a trip down memory lane (my dad introduced me to L&H at a young age). I'll have to watch both of these again, they are timeless. Sometimes, when things don't quite go to plan, I just take a deep breath and imagine I'm in an L&H sketch - and somehow it doesn't seem quite so bad!

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    1. I love your dad's parenting skills.

      It seems to me I spend a lot of time giving the world Ollie's "breaking the fourth wall" look. Ah, Fate!

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  3. Lovely take on two of my comedy heroes. Well done! (I say so because "He who filters your good name steals trash.")

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    1. Thanks. This makes the sixth time the boys have been featured on my blog. I think that's a record!

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  4. Lovely take on two of my comedy heroes. Well done! (I say so because "He who filters your good name steals trash.")

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  5. Thanks so much for joining in! This two-part bit of mayhem is so much fun to watch. I remember being so angry when I was a kid because my brothers went over to our uncle's house and saw Them Thar Hills without me. Then they regaled me with descriptions of how funny it was. It took me years (pre-internet) to finally see it and it did not disappoint. Loved your review, it brought back lots of memories.

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    1. It is a pleasure to participate in your wonderful blogathons, and this one especially. "Them Thar Hills" must have been all the sweeter for its time as a holy grail. I'll bet your brothers did a great job acting it out.

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  6. Them That Hills is a new one to me but I cannot resist any film that features a camping trailer. These were very entertaining reviews and I must agree with Stan....the duo were best in shorts. Although pants also suited them well.

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    1. Oooh. Great pun. Reminds me of "Putting Pants on Philip".

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  7. I am not surprised that you picked Stan & Ollie for the Shorts Blogathon! I also have not seen "Them Thar Hills", but I remember the very funny "Tit for Tat." You've reminded me that I need to revisit L&H soon.

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    1. My experience is backwards to you and Fritzi. I had seen "Them Thar Hills" many times before I first saw "Tit for Tat". Why does the universe try to keep us from the movies we love?

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  8. It's funny, just like girlsdofilm, L&H were among the earliest classics I saw, thanks to *my* dad! I need to revisit them sometime, it's been too long. Thanks for giving them such a spotlight.

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    1. My daughter had friends over and they commented on the dapper gentlemen in a framed photo next to "my" spot. Were they relatives? My daughter laughingly introduced her friends to her Uncle Stan and Uncle Ollie. They're a good group (animation students) and think that I'm "cool", not "crazy".

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  9. I also agree that Stan & Ollie were better in shorts (oh, how punny!). I saw Tit for Tat on TV a couple of years ago. It was a delight when a film by this duo was shown between two TV attractions!
    Don't forget to read my contribution to the blogathon! :)
    Kisses!
    Le
    http://www.criticaretro.blogspot.com.br/2015/05/12-curtas-metragens-mudos-para-alegrar.html

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    1. It was always a treat to see L&H on television, but something that happened regularly. Now it is still a treat, but more of a major event.

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  10. Excellent choice to review the two movies together, Caftan Woman. I always like Charlie Hall. He had such a strange variation of a British accent.

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    1. Thanks.

      My husband is a "Hall" and his family came from England. He also has an explosive personality. I like to point out Mr. Hall of the movies and suggest a relationship. I like to live dangerously! LOL

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