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Another Nice Member

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  • Another Nice Member

    Hi. Whilst I have a big interest (and collection of) British movies, my main interest is Laurel and Hardy, validated by the fact that Stan was born in England and Hardy's family originated in Yorkshire. A good number of the supporting players were also British. I've made a DVD of British documentaries, newsreels, interviews etc. and my free e-book was produced in Britain - http://norvell-hardy.co.uk/
    I'm also a big fan of Alastair Sim and all his movies, plus others of that era and earlier.. I'm a subscriber to Renown Films so I keep topped up with movies, and I check the Hollywood Reporter every day to try and keep up with developments in the industry. I have all the Richard Hearne films that are available and he has a special place in my affection as a childhood hero.
    I hope I can contribute something here and it's obvious I will learn a lot, but if anyone wants to discuss Laurel and Hardy, bring it on!
    Starts
    8th August 2017
    Ends
    9th August 2017

  • #2
    Welcome to the site. What was the name of the Laurel & Hardy film where they knock on James Finlayson's door and they get into a series of insults, where they repeatedly knock on the door to hurl further insults, physical assaults, which quickly escalates to them literally demolishing his house? IIRC a gang of onlookers and then the police also get involved. A classic that had me howling when I saw it. Once I have the name I'm going to buy it.

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  • #3
    It's Big Business, agutterfan.

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    • #4
      Yes that's correct. Don't believe either of the myths that surround this film. It was shot just before Christmas 1928 (not in the sunmer) which is why they are wearing winter overcoats, and it was NOT the "wrong house". Roach did a deal with film editor William Terhune, who worked with Stan a lot and they were friends. Terhune and his family would take a paid winter vacation and the house (10281 Dunleer Drive) would be doctored with props, and used for the movie. Any damage would be more than put right and he got some new windows and doors out of it. Most of the wreckage was prop material. Stan said that far from taking a vacation, Terhune was on the scene most days (who wouldn't be?) to see how it was going, along with all the neighbours. The irate householder in the movie was James Finlayson, a Scottish thespian, who appeared on the Edinburgh stages before venturing across the Atlantic with his brother Robert and Alec Lauder, brother of Harry, with a production of Bunty Pulls The Strings by Graham Moffat (no, not that one). But therein lies another tale, Big Business was a classic "reciprocal destruction" movie in the manner of Battle of the Century and You're Darn Tootiin'. Hope that helps.
      Last edited by Judge Foozle; 8th August 2017, 10:10 PM.

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      • #5
        James Finlayson's house in Big Business I think is one of the locations shown on the Laurel & Hardy tours, along with the steps in The Music Box, and the building used for the beginning of County Hospital. Many others as well - that's assuming these tours still take place.

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        • #6
          Pretty sure they do...or Bob Satterfield will have too much time on his hands. The pie-shop from Battle of the Century is still there too. Plenty of others.

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          • #7
            I'm fairly sure I've seen all their full-length feature films - with one exception.....Atoll K (sometimes known as Utopia - 1951) which was their very last film from what I gather. I've heard mixed comments about this film, some say it's actually not as bad as some reviewers have claimed. I know they were both quite old by this time and Stan in particular looked ill quite frankly. I've only ever seen what I think were publicity shots taken from the film.

            The 20-volume DVD set which I bought a while ago is excellent, and I have yet to watch some of their silent films included on this set. It even includes some foreign language versions of their most famous films, such as Below Zero, however I don't really know why they had to include colourised versions of some of their shorts.

            The films they made for Fox are a worthy addition, if only to compare them with the Hal Roach films from earlier years.
            Last edited by Carl V; 9th August 2017, 12:19 AM.

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            • #8
              Yes, I'd say it's a good approach to be comparative but for me the Fox and later films don't come anywhere near the best Roach offerings. You'd have to see Atoll K (if you can bear it) to judge for yourself, but you're right about illness - Stan was hospitalised for an emergency operation in the middle of it. Babe was at 31 stone (190Kg or so) and though some of the scenes squeeze out a little of the old magic, it's a painful experience. They renamed it Robinson Crusoeland and Utopia with re-releases to try and disguise it from the notoriety but any "low budget" film that takes 12 months to make in the South of France (Cap Roux) was doomed to failure.The location is now a nudist resort. The Universal box-set is far from complete and some of the other feature films are missing - Bonnie Scotland, Babes In Toyland, Fra Diavolo etc.- but the restoration work which was done in preparation has been very beneficial. The inclusion of colourised versions was simply to increase sales amongst younger buyers, who associate b & w with poor quality, and a lot of investment went into this project. But they do give you the option of watching in either format, so it's your choice The "bonus" disc 21 has an affectionate documentary but it's full of mistakes, and of course the celebrated "original" version of Brats, which is a bit longer than most versions is on the same disc.There are now reports that some of the discs are de-laminating, a phenomenon known as "disc rot" so it's worth checking, but there's not much you can do about it.The only post-Roach movie I rate at all is Jitterbugs, but a lot of fans rate The Bullfighters for reasons I don't get.

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              • #9
                I totally agree with you. The Fox films, while not total disasters, are certainly nowhere near the Hal Roach films. I think Stan had some input into several of the Roach films, however at Fox I get the impression Stan and Ollie were basically just learning their lines and nothing else.

                I never understood why the Universal set had the films you mentioned missing from the collection. I remember mentioning on another thread about Babes In Toyland not being included, but you are right about Bonnie Scotland and Fra Diavolo too - they were Roach films after all. I'd rather the set included these films instead of the colourised films, even though as you say, you do have the choice of colour or B&W. The only foreign language version (Spanish) I watched on the set was Chickens Come Home which was basically an extended version of the US release, but not essential viewing in my opinion, and again you can choose which version to watch.

                It's interesting you mention about some of the discs de-laminating. I checked mine and so far they're OK, but this reminds me of several years ago when The Silence Of The Lambs and The Terminator were released back in around the year 2000 by MGM - both titles had exactly the same problem. Granted, the discs were exchanged but it appeared MGM had problems with their discs as it was reported that several more of their titles were showing the same problems.

                Going back to L&H, a non-Roach film I did like was The Flying Deuces, and even had James Finlayson and Charles Middleton in it. A nice moment at the end where Ollie comes back as a horse.....complete with hat and moustache. Jitterbugs wasn't too bad, but The Dancing Masters......well, possibly the worst of the Fox films I'd say.
                Last edited by Carl V; 9th August 2017, 10:10 AM.

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                • #10
                  Seems we're in happy agreement throughout. I'd say the very worst of their films was Nothing But Trouble, perhaps vying with Great Guns or The Big Noise, although the latter reworks quite a few gags from the old shorts. Yes, even Robert Mitchum couldn't save The Dancing Masters, and so it goes on. It's worth adding that almost ALL the Roach films were either originated or scripted by Stan, and on most of them he was also the unofficial Director. Not to mention film editing in the evenings, making the final adjustments to the filmed gags. The silent Duck Soup, that became Unaccustomed As We Are as a talkie, was Stan's adaptation of his father's successful stage play Home From The Honeymoon, and a lot of other shorts were either Stan's idea or his father's. There#s a good case for suggesting that Sons Of The Desert was Babe Hardy's idea, from his background and golfing partners, but that's another story. As for The Flying Deuces, at least it's accessible, not being bound by the absurd copyright restrictions, and it's a totally acceptable Laurel and Hardy film. A frequent comment from American viewers is mystification about the French Foreign Legion, not an everyday topic of conversation in the USA. As for foreign language versions, you should also have in your boxset Murder Case in Spanish (extended somewhat), Laughing Gravy in French, Below Zero, Night Owls, Blotto and Be Big in Spanish and Pardon Us in German. All good fun, whatever the lingo.

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                  • #11
                    Thank you for your information. I had no idea Stan was so involved behind the scenes, although I do now recall seeing on the opening credits of some of their feature films "A Stan Laurel Production" - Way Out West springs to mind, but I'm sure there are others.

                    Sons Of The Desert is brilliant. I'm certain I've seen it referred to as "Fraternally Yours" as an alternate name - I'm assuming the latter could be the US name for it......but couldn't swear on it.

                    Yes, there are a number of foreign language versions of their shorts, but I have only seen "Politiquerias" which is the Spanish version of Chickens Come Home - another brilliant short. There's "Les Carottiers" which is Laughing Gravy in French as you rightly pointed out. Other Spanish titles include "Tiembla Y Titubea" for Below Zero, "Ladrones" for Night Owls, "La Vida Nocturna" for Blotto, "Los Calaveras" for Be Big, and "Noche De Duendes" for L&H Murder Case which I understand combines this with bits from another film.

                    Beau Hunks was about the Foreign Legion too, alongside The Flying Deuces. I can't recall which of the two films it is, but there's a scene where all the soldiers are lined up and individually giving their identity numbers. Ollie gives his number, and Stan is there looking confused. Charles Middleton asks him for his number and Stan comes out with his telephone number instead. I'm sure it's the same film where they both admit they joined the Legion to forget, but couldn't remember what they came here to forget, much to the frustration of Charles Middleton. Superb comedy.
                    Last edited by Carl V; 9th August 2017, 11:39 PM.

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                    • #12
                      We're entering some very deep water here, and considering this is a British movie site, I'll leave it up to the gods regarding how far I'm allowed to go. As most people know, Roach was a shrewd businessman and saw that by maintaining separate contracts with Stan and Babe, he could avoid being pressured by "Laurel and Hardy" ending their contracts together and leaving him high and dry. One could leave and be replaced (eg Zenobia, Hardy and Langdon). But Stan was always paid about twice Hardy's salary precisely because he originated most of the L & H material (and gags and routines for other Roach movies). He also brought the films to perfection, as he saw it, in the editing suite, along with William Terhune and Richard Currier. Script men, directors and cutting editors were almost superfluous when Stan was around. Hardy never had any problem with that. He saw himself as a jobbing comedy actor, going to work, getting drenched, bashed and messed up, then going for a couple of rounds on the golf course, a homely meal and a good night's sleep. It's no secret that Stan and Roach didn't get along too well, particularly after Babes in Toyland. When Stan was at the height of his marital difficulties, Roach tried to impose a "morality"clause into Stan's contract, which of course was disputed. Stan Laurel Productions was formed to sever Stan from Roach, leaving Stan free to produce whatever he wanted, even for Roach if agreed. A big star of the day was Fred Scott, "The Singing Cowboy" and in 1938 Stan Laurel Productions made 3 movies with him - Songs and Bullets, Knight of the Plains and The Rangers' Round-Up. As a sub-contractor to Roach he produced Way Out West and Our Relations. There was also an attempt to create Laurel and Hardy Feature Productions which never really came to anything. As for alternative titles, there were about 30 translations of variations on "Off To Honolulu"and other phrases suggested by the story. For the USA, the big problem was that Sons of the Desert is a registered title of The Shriners. This is a long-established Freemasonry spin-off charity organisation (Harold Lloyd was the Grand Master for a time) and anyone joining and waiting for ceremonial initiation is called a Son of the Desert, even if female. So Fraternally Yours overcame that problem. Anyone wanting to know more about Hardy's association with the Shriners is referred to http://norvell-hardy.co.uk/ and of course he became a very senior Freemason in later life.

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                      • #13
                        Originally posted by Judge Foozle View Post
                        We're entering some very deep water here, and considering this is a British movie site, I'll leave it up to the gods regarding how far I'm allowed to go.
                        Well yes, Laurel & Hardy films may be American but Stan Laurel was British, so we're 50% OK.

                        I have to take my hat off to you for your knowledge about L&H. As a fan of their films, I'm familiar with the films they made together, but other than that I don't really have any knowledge about what went on behind the scenes, so many thanks for your posts.

                        Interesting you mention about Hardy playing golf. I don't know which film they were making at the time, but the story goes that Hardy was getting annoyed because Laurel wanted to re-shoot some scenes, and all Ollie wanted to do was to have a game of golf after a days filming.

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                        • #14
                          Well, if you factor in Charlie Hall, who came from Birmingham, James Finlayson, who came from Falkirk. Jack Barty, who came from London, Peter Cushing etc. etc. your percentage increases somewhat. Yes, Hardy was a renowned golfer, but there's no information about how he became interested. His big sporting love was baseball, but somehow he found the fairway. The story about Stan waiting until Hardy was thinking about golf to get that exasperated look is just fanciful. Hardy was a good enough actor to find that expression at any time of day, and anyone who knows about setting up shots will know that waiting for time to pass is a no-no. For me the interesting thing is that Hardy was one of a "foursome" of golf as organised by the Lakeside Country Club, the other three being Guy Kibbee, Adolf Menjou and Bill Seiter. Hardy's friendship with Seiter came in handy when Roach needed a director for Sons of the Desert, often regarded as Hardy's movie idea. Makes sense in all directions. Another aside is that Roach could never see the attraction of golf but after Sons, he and Seiter became friends and Roach became a familiar figure on the golf course. The only Laurel and Hardy movie to figure golf to any extent is Should Married Men Go Home? (ah, they don't write titles like that any more....) from 1928.

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                          • #15
                            From memory, the dialogue in the parade ground in Beau Hunks always gives me a chuckle and goes something like this:

                            CHARLES MIDDLETON: "Tell me...whatever possessed you to join the Foreign Legion?"

                            STAN LAUREL (pointing at Ollie): "I joined to help him forget".

                            CHARLES: "Forget? Forget what?"

                            STAN: "I forgot!"

                            CHARLES; "What? You forgot what you came here to forget? Well, we'll make sure you don't forget what you're here for!"

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