Thursday, May 16, 2013

Jason goes to the Niles Film Museum for a Laurel and Hardy (and Our Gang) Mother's Day...er...Train Show.

The second Sunday of every month is Laurel and Hardy day at the Niles Film Museum, even if it's Mother's Day. But they didn't actually do a mothers themed show (for one thing, while Our Gang had a lot of motherly influence, Laurel and Hardy almost never referenced their mothers in their movies). Instead, since it's the only time this year (other than the train of lights in December) that the Niles Canyon Railway was running a train on the second Sunday of the month (they've cut back to only the first and third weekends every month), they did a train-based show instead.

CHOO-CHOO (1932): Our Gang wants to take a train ride. So they trade places with a group of orphans. And wacky hijinx ensue as Dell Henderson (the adult in charge of the orphans) tries in vain to regain some control. Very funny.

BERTH MARKS (1929): Laurel and Hardy as traveling musicians attempting to get to a show. They have trouble meeting in the station, lose their sheet music, nearly lose their cello (which Hardy calls a "big fiddle,") barely make the train, and then cause a bit of havoc before attempting to get into their sleeping berth. By the end the entire train is in disarray and they're just about ready for a nap when they pull into their station. Hilarious stuff.

Then, after a brief intermission...

RAILROADIN' (1929): Our Gang learns the dangers of playing around on a train without supervision when Joe Cobb learns how to make the train go but not how to stop. More of a train thrill picture than a real comedy, but it's pretty well done at that (the scene where Farina has a foot stuck in the tracks and the train goes right over him repeatedly is pretty amazing.) Of course, it's all trick photography, no one would put those kids in actual danger just to make a movie...right? (Answer: Yes. Of course, don't be crazy!)

GOING BYE-BYE (1934): So Laurel and Hardy didn't really make any train movie other than BERTH MARKS, so this is kind of a stretch. They're preparing for a trip. They're preparing because they just gave the evidence to put the vicious Butch (Walter Long) away for good. But he escapes (in keeping with the theme, he escapes from the train that is taking him to prison). So they have to be smart, quick, and strong to avoid his vengeance. Spoiler alert: they're not smart, quick, nor strong. But they are funny.

Total Running Time: 78 minutes
My Total Minutes: 327,810

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