Monday, April 9, 2012

Jason goes to the Niles Film Museum for a Laurel and Hardy Easter afternoon

The second Sunday of every month is Laurel and Hardy talkies at Niles, and even if it's Easter they still do it, just with a slightly smaller crowd. But there was a still a good number of people there. I guess people like me who want to celebrate the holiday with a few good laughs (and there were some kids there that were really laughing hard, and that makes these shows even better.)

WILD POSES (1933): An Our Gang short (with a half-second Laurel and Hardy cameo) in which Spanky and his family go to a photographer named Otto Phocus to get their pictures taken. The other Our Gang kids mess around and sabotage the camera and film plates while Spanky just doesn't cooperate at all (even punching the photographer in the nose.) Of course, wacky hijinx ensue, and Otto Phocus' business is ruined. Hilarious.

HOG WILD (1930): Regarded as among the best of the Laurel and Hardy shorts, and I can't say I disagree. The simple task of attaching an aerial antenna to the roof (for their short wave radio) gets the best of the boys, as they spend more time falling off the roof than on it. And they manage to do a good job of destroying the house, too (which was a set built to be destroyed, not a real house that they accidentally destroyed, according to the possibly apocryphal story behind BIG BUSINESS (1929))

Then after a brief intermission, on to the rest of the show.

CAME THE BRAWN (1938): Another Our Gang short, this one a one-reeler so it's really quick with no wasted action. 'Wildcat' Alfalfa is set to prove his mettle in a highly touted wrestling match with the Masked Terror. Now all they need to do is find the wimpiest kid in town to don the mask. And they succeed, but then Butch steps in to take his place, giving Alfalfa a run for his money and little luck at winning the heart of Darla. Pretty darn funny.

And finally, the 'feature,' BEAU HUNKS (1931): It's actually somewhere between a short and a feature, running approximately forty minutes. It was originally meant to be a two-reel short but kept growing during production. That was bad financially for Hal Roach, who pre-sold distribution in order to finance his films, and pre-sold it at a two-reeler price. But his commitment to quality won out, and the longer running time is used well. Ollie is set to marry his sweetheart Jeannie-Weenie (Jean Harlow, seen in an old publicity photo only.) But when she jilts him via letter, he goes where all men go to forget--the French Foreign Legion. And of course Stan goes with him. And of course they find out that everyone is there to forget Jeannie-Weenie. While they're not suited for the hardships of the desert or discipline of the Foreign Legion, they aren't allowed to leave. But they do manage to get lost in a sandstorm and be the first to arrive at the besieged Fort Arid, where they become the unlikeliest heroes.

Total Running Time: 86 minutes
My Total Minutes: 276,653
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