Sunday, January 9, 2011

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

It's our monthly presentation from the local tent of Sons of the Desert--the official Laurel and Hardy Film Appreciation Society. Today we celebrated the changes of new year by showing the changes from silent to sound. Early Laurel and Hardy and Our Gang talkies.

SMALL TALK (1929): The Our Gang kids are in an orphanage when little Wheezer is adopted by a high society lady. As nice as that is, he misses the gang, especially his sister Mary. He's so homesick he actually falls ill, so the gang tries to rescue him and they all end up getting adopted.

UNACCUSTOMED AS WE ARE (1929): Ollie brings Stan home for dinner, but Mrs. Hardy is upset he didn't ask her. So she leaves for her mother's place and leaves them to make their own dinner. Of course, they destroy everything and it only gets worse when Ollie's neighbor Mrs. Kennedy offers to help and ends up catching her dress on fire. So she's in Hardy's apartment in her underwear when Mr. Kennedy (Edgar Kennedy) comes home. More wackiness occurs. Of course, it all felt really familiar...because it was re-made as the second half of BLOCK-HEADS just 9 years later.

Then a quick intermission and the final two shorts

BOXING GLOVES (1929): Our Gang puts up a heavyweight boxing match between Chubby and Joe (the two big fat kids). They fight over a girl, and the clever kids convince them both to fight by telling each that the other will take a dive in the second round. When neither does, the fight gets pretty wild. There's also a bit of a mystery with the film, as most of the long shots of the boxing scene are silent (later versions dubbed in children's cheers). An official MGM press release claimed the children cheered so loudly that it blew out the tubes in the microphone. Whether that's true or just a clever cover story for a lost soundtrack, who can say?

THEY GO BOOM (1929): And finally, Laurel and Hardy try to have a quiet night's sleep, but Hardy has the sniffles and can't stop sneezing. Laurel's attempts to help him have predictably chaotic effects, ending with an angry landlord and a blown up room. Hilarious!

Total Running Time: 75 minutes
My Total Minutes: 219,268

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