Tag Archives: Short film

Busy Bodies

Cover of "Laurel & Hardy (Sons of the Des...

Cover via Amazon

Directed by Lloyd French
Produced by Hal Roach
Starring Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Charlie Hall
Tiny Sandford
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date 7 October 1933

This is another fine Laurel & Hardy short film from the early 1930s. It features lots of funny slapstick and is perhaps one of their funniest movies. A lot of the film plays out like a silent film, despite being made in 1933, with Stan in particular showing off his pantomime skills. The film gave me a few good chuckles and doesn’t seem to have dated too badly.


On the Loose

Directed by Hal Roach
Produced by Hal Roach
Starring Zasu Pitts & Thelma Todd
Distributed by MGM
Release date 1931
Country  United States
Language English

This is an interesting short film from 1931 that features a cameo appearance from Laurel & Hardy. Of course the real stars of the film are Zasu Pitts and Thelma Todd.

The other day I was reading about the untimely death of Todd and the rumours surrounding it. Rumour has it that the gangster Lucky Luciano murdered her because she vocally opposed him setting up am illegal casino. The official line is that she committed suicide, but police bungled the investigation completely.

The other star of the picture, Zasu Pitts is also interesting. In the silent era she was a dramatic actress but was relegated to comedy roles in the talky era due to her highly distinctive voice. In fact Mae Questal modelled her characterisation of Olive Oyl on Zasu Pitts, and in watching this film you can see the origins of that.

Overall the film is quite amusing in that 1930s way an interesting to watch.


Tim Burton’s Hansel & Gretel

Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melb...

Image via Wikipedia

Written by The Brothers Grimm
Directed by Tim Burton
Produced by Julie Hickson & Rick Heinrichs
Original channel The Disney Channel
Original run October 31, 1983

This short early film by Tim Burton is being shown at ACMI as a part of the Tim Burton exhibition at Federation Square. I had never seen it before. It is a Burton-esque version of the Grimm’s fairy tale and has a few amusing moments. It runs for about 20 minutes and combines live-action with stop motion animation, although it is mostly live-action. Like most things Burton, it is slightly weird.


Sons Of The Desert

Directed by William A. Seiter
Produced by Hal Roach
Written by Frank Craven (story) & Byron Morgan
Starring Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Charley Chase
Mae Busch
Music by William Axt
George M. Cohan
Marvin Hatley
Paul Marquardt
O’Donnell-Heath
Leroy Shield
Frank Terry
Cinematography Kenneth Peach
Editing by Bert Jordan
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date December 29, 1933 (1933-12-29)
Running time 68 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Sons Of The Desert is the best known of Laurel & Hardy‘s comedy films of the 1930s. It ranks at number 96 on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 funniest films, which was compiled in 2000. This is the film where Stan and Ollie lie to their wives about Ollie needing to go to Honolulu so that he can recover from an illness (which he has faked),

Theatrical poster for the 1944 re-release of S...

Image via Wikipedia

but instead they head to Chicago for their Sons Of The Desert convention. Everything seems to go well until the ship that they were supposed to be on sinks.

There are a lot of funny scenes in the film but it is the personalities of Laurel & Hardy that makes this well worth watching. All of the mannerisms that we associate with the comedy duo are present in this film, from Ollie’s lying and telling the most preposterous story imaginable, to Stanley’s cry-baby routine when his wife finds him out. There is also quite a lot of funny slapstick along the way that makes this film very enjoyable.


Blockheads

Directed by John G. Blystone
Produced by Hal Roach Jr. & Hal Roach
Written by Felix Adler

Arnold Belgard

Harry Langdon
James Parrott
Charley Rogers
Starring Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Patricia Ellis

Minna Gombell

Billy Gilbert
Jimmy Finlayson
Music by Marvin Hatley
Cinematography Art Lloyd
Editing by Bert Jordan
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date August 19, 1938
Running time 57 min.
Language English

Universal Australia has just released a lot of Laurel & Hardy dvds onto the market. These are from the British DVD set which have been remastered. These dvds aren’t even available in America. These are currently selling in Big W for $8.80. While all of the disc in the set contain some fine Laurel & Hardy films the ones that are essential for any comedy lover are Volume 14 – A Job To Do/Classic Shorts, which features The Music Box (the short film where they try to deliver a piano up a flight of stairs), Volume 13 – Sons Of The Desert/Related Shorts, Volume 3 – Way Out West/Related Shorts, Sons Of The Desert and Way Out West being Laurel & Hardy’s best known feature films. Volume 16 – Maritime Adventures/Classic Shorts features another one of the duos best short films, Towed In A Hole, which is the film where they go fishing. Still as I said earlier all of the dvds are worth owning.

Blockheads was released in 1938. This is the film where after WWI Stan has been left behind in the trenches for twenty years not knowing that the war has finished. When he finally finds out he goes back to America where he is reunited with Ollie and chaos occurs. There are quite a few laugh out loud moments which is quite rare when watching movies over 70 years old.

I was reading the other day about why Laurel & Hardy have such a great appeal even now. They aren’t known for any violent slapstick like The Three Stooges, or any smartass one liners like Groucho Marx or W.C. Fields. The author of the book I was reading (whose title escapes me right now) said that basically Stan and Ollie are big babies and that it is this child-like quality that appeals to fans, especially children. I’m not so sure about that but I do know that they were very funny together.


Pardners

Directed by Norman Taurog
Produced by Paul Jones
Written by Mervin Houser & Jerry Davis
Starring Dean Martin
Jerry Lewis
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date July 25, 1956
Running time 91 minutes
Language English
This is the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis film where they play cowboys. I think this is one of the better Martin & Lewis comedies, perhaps because Jerry isn’t as annoying in this as he is in many of his other films (he is still annoying though!). This was of course a staple of Sunday afternoon TV back when I was a kid in the 80s thanks to Bill Collins, but I haven’t seen it for a long time.

Even though some of the songs are kinda annoying it is still a good way to waste 90 minutes.

This is the film where Dean and Jerry break the 4th wall at the end to reassure their fans that they were going to make films together for many more years. Things didn’t pan out that way of course as they would only make one more film together, Hollywood or Bust. By this time they were fighting and I guess that the public must have known about it, which is why they tried to reassure them. I do know that during Hollywood or Bust they weren’t on speaking terms.


The Music Box

Directed by James Parrott
Produced by Hal Roach
Written by H.M. Walker
Starring Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy
Music by Harry Graham, Marvin Hatley & Leroy Shield
Cinematography Len Powers & Walter Lundin
Editing by Richard C. Currier
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s) April 16, 1932 (1932-04-16)
Running time 30 minute

The Music Box is probably Laurel & Hardy‘s best known short film. This is the one where Stan and Ollie are moving guys who try to get a player piano up a set of stairs. After several painstaking attempts they finally get the piano into it’s new home, but not in one piece. There’s lots of clever slapstick and funny bits where you just have to wonder about the intelligence, or otherwise, of Stan & Ollie.

Like with a lot of Laurel & Hardy films many of the gags in this short film have been endlessly immitated, with mixed results, over the years, but this is where they all originated from.

It’s a shame that the wonderful fun of Laurel & Hardy seems to have gone out of favour in recent times. They don’t seem to have the same love these days as say the Three Stooges or the Marx Bros. I remember when Bill Collins (or was it Ivan Hutchinson) would show their feature films on a Sunday afternoon back in the 80s. It would be great to be able to see these films on TV again.