Oliver Hardy

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When you think of a comedy duo the first pair that comes to mind is Laurel $ Hardy, they were and still are ,without a shadow of a doubt the most successful comedy double act of all time.

However these 2 were not always a duo, they both had long established careers before they teamed up together. On the 127th birthday of Oliver Hardy it is a good opportunity to look back at some of his work as a ‘solo’ act.

Ollie started in dozens of movies prior to his Laurel & Hardy year .His first movie was  a 1914  short movie called “Outwitting Dad”

In 1915-1916 he made films for the Vim Comedy Company in Jacksonville, for the Vim Comedy Company.He was billed as ‘Babe’ Hardy.

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In 1917, he moved to L.A. working as a freelancer for several Hollywood studios, and he made more than 40 films for Vitagraph between 1918 and 1923, mostly playing the “heavy” for Larry Semon.

Strangely enough he did team up for a movie with Stan Laurel before they became the legendary duo.. The movie was the 1921 short film “The Lucky Dog”

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During his time as part of Laurel & Hardy he did make a few movies without his comedic partner.

In 1949 he teamed up with another and even bigger Hollywood legend.No other then Marion Robert Morrison aka John Wayne was the acting partner of Oliver Hardy in the lighthearted Western

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A biopic about Oliver Hardy and Laurel Hardy is currently showing in cinema’s worldwide. Stan & Ollie a heart-warming story of what would become the pair’s triumphant farewell tour. Both men truly deserve the title Legend because they just don’t come any bigger that them.

Happy Birthday Mr Hardy

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Daffy the Commando-Looney Tunes WW2 Propaganda.

Daffy

Mel Brooks once said about Hitler

“I was never crazy about Hitler. If you stand on a soapbox and trade rhetoric with a dictator, you never win. That’s what they do so well: they seduce people. But if you ridicule them, bring them down with laughter, they can’t win. You show how crazy they are.”

The one thing all dictators have in common they have no sense of humor and they tend to believe their own hype. Ridiculing them and what they stand for can be a powerful propaganda weapon.

Hollywood understood this and produced a series of propaganda movies ,live action movies as well as cartoons, like in this case the Looney Tunes cartoon “Daffy – The Commando”  featuring Daffy Duck. Especially the Looney Tunes cartoons must have outraged Hitler because they were directed by Fritz Freleng and produced by Leon Schlesinger both men were Jewish.

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Daffy the Commando was released on November 20th 1943.

Commando Daffy Duck goes behind enemy lines and causes huge problems  for a Nazi German officer,  Von Vultur, and his troops.

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Von Vultur receives  a telegram from the “Gestinko Gestapo”, threatening him with his ‘ka-rear’ if he lets ‘vun’ more ‘kommando’ through (the letter is signed “The Apes Of Wrath” and shows three apes’ heads; which are caricatures of Hitler, Hirohito and Mussolini, the last of whom is crossed out – reflecting the failure of Mussolini to keep Italy in the war with the axis power.

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At the end of the movie Daffy hits Hitler on the head with a massive hammer even making his mustache disappear.

The very realistic animated image of Adolf Hitler was rotoscoped. Rotoscoping is an animation technique used by animators  to trace over motion picture footage, frame by frame, to produce realistic action.

The voice of Daffy Duck was done by Mel Blanc another Jew, so technically in the cartoon Hitler gets hammered by a Jew. How much I would give to see Hitler’s face when he saw the cartoon , but Goebbels probably made sure Hitler never saw it.

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Below is the short movie -“Daffy the Commando”.

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Looney Tunes Fandom

Wikipedia

 

Cairbre aka Slats- A Real Dubliner

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Born on March 20 1919, Cairbre is probably one of the most famous Dubliners to have ever lived, but yet hardly anyone knows him.

Maybe it’s because he was renamed to Slats?

As so many stars, Cairbre came from humble beginnings. There was no crib or hostel for him when he was born, there may have been a stable. He was born in Dublin Zoo.

When MGM opened their studio they needed a mascot, Not just any mascot but one with a bite and a roar. So they bought Cairbre the Lion from Dublin Zoo and shipped him over to Hollywood, where they changes his name to Slats.

This of course did not please Cairbre one bit, when he was asked to roar he just refused. Being from Dublin he was just not going to do as he was told especially not after they  changed  his  name.

MGM did stick with him though as the first logo from 1924 to 1928 as their now so famous MGM Lion, there have been 6 after him, but the Dubliner Caitbre aka Slats remains the first MGM Lion.

slats

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James Stewart and Walter Matthau in 453rd Bombardment Group.

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The title is not a tagline for a Hollywood blockbuster, although it should have been. I am sure it would have made a great movie.

James Stewart and Walter Matthau did serve together in the 453rd Bombardment Group during WWII.

WALTER

Prior to becoming a Hollywood icon,Walter Matthau was a radioman-gunner in the U.S. Army Air Forces with the Eighth Air Force in the United Kingdom, crewing a Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber. He was assigned to the same 453rd Bombardment Group as James Stewart. When he was  based in England at RAF Old Buckenham, in Norfolk he partook in several  missions across  Europe during the Battle of the Bulge. He ended the war with the rank of Staff Sergeant. He served with Jimmy Stewart, who was an operations officer giving mission briefings to the group.

Jimmy

When it comes to Hollywood greats, they don’t get any bigger than James Stewart, the list of iconic movies he made is endless. Prior to the war he already made a number of classic movies”Mr Smith goes to Washington” being one of them.

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Having learned to fly in 1935, he was drafted into the United States Army in 1940 as a private (after twice failing the medical for being underweight). During the course of World War II he was promoted  to the rank of Colonel in March 1945, first as an instructor at home in the United States, and later on combat missions in Europe.

On March 30, 1944, he was sent to RAF Old Buckenham in a function as group operations officer of the 453rd Bombardment Group, a new B-24 unit that had just lost both its commander and operations officer on missions. Leading as an example, he flew as command pilot in the lead B-24 on several missions deep into Nazi-occupied Europe.

B 24

Two heroes, who not only fought for freedom, they also entertained us and still do .

 

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I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Together we Serve

The special effects in Laurel & Hardy movies.

Brats L & H

Ever since I was a kid I loved watching Laurel & Hardy movies and I believe I have them all in my collection.

The humour in their films has remained fresh till today and they never dated. But it is only since recently I started to appreciate that some of their movies had very advanced special effects for their time, and those effect have also stood the test of time for more then 80 years.

Below are just a few examples.

Brats

In the movie Brat Stan and Ollie play themselves but also their sons and in several scenes the four are seen together.

Brats 2

Babes in Toyland aka March of the Wooden Soldiers

That whole movie is filled with special effects. Recently it has become a bit controversial because some people had called some scenes and especially the march of the wooden soldiers anti-Semitic, I have watched this movie hundreds of times and I could not see it, if at all it is more of a warning of things to come.

march

The Flying Deuces

Nowadays having it seem like an animal is talking is not anyone gets excited about, it is even used in TV ads. However in 1939 having a horse mimicking Ollie and telling Stan “That’s another fine pickle you got me in” was a technical masterpiece.

Flying Deuces

Ending with one of my favourite scenes from ‘Way out West’

 

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The Wilhelm Scream

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What do the movies. Star Wars-The Empire Strikes Back,Toy Story 3,Juno,Where Eagles Dare and Distant Drums(and a few hundred more) have in common?

It’s not the cast or screenplay or even the studio but there are 2 seconds in all these movies which are identical. Those 2 seconds are called “The Wilhelm Scream” which is a sound effect.

The likelihood is great that you’ve heard the Wilhelm Scream at some point when watching a movie or TV show. The sound effect originated in the 1951 Gary Cooper film Distant Drums, and has become a Hollywood sound effects staple for more than 60 years.

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At one point in the film ,Distant Drum , some soldiers are slowly walking through a dark swamp when one of them is fatally attacked by an alligator. At the moment when the alligator  surprises him and drags him underwater, the soldier lets out the first known instance of the iconic scream.

The scream is often used when someone is shot, falls from a great height, or is thrown from an explosion. It  has been used in 382 + movies and countless television shows.

However the name wasn’t used until 1953  In the movie ‘Charge at Feather River’, a character named Private Wilhelm gets shot in the leg with an arrow. He screams as he falls off his horse. Filmmakers used the Wilhelm Scream twice more in that movie as a stock effect to save money.

Private-Wilhelm

The famous scream was made mainstream by the Star Wars franchise. One of Star Wars sound designers named Ben Burtt was busy creating the sound palette for George Lucas’ Star Wars: A New Hope. He came across the Wilhelm scream and realized that a great number of  filmmakers had used it since the 1950s, he decided to pay homage to the sound effect by incorporating it into the  sci-fi classic. The scream can be heard in the  famous scene in which Luke Skywalker shoots a Storm trooper aboard the Death Star and the unfortunate trooper falls off a ledge. In fact the scream is used in all Star Wars movies.

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Research by Burtt suggests that Sheb Wooley, best known for his novelty song “The Purple People Eater” in 1958 and as scout Pete Nolan on the television series Rawhide, is likely to have been the voice actor who originally performed the scream.

Sheb Wooley

On a different not but yet slightly related another used soundbite that has made it into many Movies/TV Shows and even Heavy Metal albums is the line “Dr. Davis, telephone please. Dr. Blair, Dr. Blair. Dr. J. Hamilton, Dr. J. Hamilton”

I heard it on the classic Queensryche album ‘Operation Mindcrime’ and it was bugging me for I knew I heard it before, and then I heard in an episode of the Cosby show and several other shows and movies.

In case you are wondering about the connection of the painting ‘the Scream’ (at the start of the blog)and ‘the Wilhelm Scream’ there is none, other then the actual word scream. I was looking for a picture of a scream and that was the best one.

Ending the blog with a compilation of ‘the Wilhelm Scream’

 

 

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They went on to do bigger things.

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Over the decades there have been so many iconic movies and TV shows which spawned many big actors and actresses.But it didn’t always happen over night, sometimes these stars started off in big shows or movies with minor obscure rolls, or even in music videos.

Below are just a few examples.

Before Dirty Dancing.

Dirty

The biggest star to come out of the movie Dirty Dancing is without a doubt Patrick Swayze,although I didn’t like the movie I have to admit it became one id the most iconic movies of the 80s.

However before Patrick Swayze made it big, he appeared in an episode of MASH. Where he played a character who catches Leukemia at a young age.

mash

Before Magnum P.I.

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When you think Magnum P.I. you just couldn’t imagine else playing that role then Tom Selleck. Tom went on to do other iconic movies such as ‘Three men and a baby’ and stars currently in the hugely popular ‘Blue Bloods’

But before all this he had an obscure role in the medical thriller ‘Coma’ as an injured football player.

coma

Before Million Dollar Baby

Million Dollar Bbay

Million Dollar Baby is still one of the finest movies ever made. It gave Hilary Swank the chance to shine and show how good an actress she is.Deservedly she won the Oscar for her role. But before she was boxing, she was being harassed by vampires in the movie “Buffy the Vampire slayer”

Buffy

Before Blade

Blade

Staying with vampire slayers, although Wesley Snipes has played in many big budget action movies, his most iconic role is that of ‘Blade’ half vampire,half human vampire slayer.

But it was Michael Jackson who chose Wesley for hos other talents, his dancing skills in the music video for ‘Bad’Bad

Before Speed

Speed

Sandra Bullock has done so many great movies in a variety of genres from comedy to science fiction but her breakthrough movie is without a doubt “Speed”

However before she drove buses at a speed of over 50 M/PH she was a bit of a Bionic woman in “Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman (1989 TV Movie)”

bionic

 

Before Man on the Moon

Moon

I good picked a number of movies when it comes to Jim Carrey, -the Grinch,Mask,Dumb and Dumber- the list goes on. But I picked ‘Man on the Moon’ because I think that was his best performance to date, and he should have got the Oscar for that.

He did have a part though in another iconic movie “The Dead pool” the last of the Dirty Harry movies, where he played a rock star, basically based on Axl Rose.

Dirty Harru

They all went on to do greater things.

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I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Your job in Germany and Our Job in Japan.

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Cat in the hat;How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and It’s a Wonderful Life are not stories you would associate with WWII or propaganda, and yet they have a distinct ,albeit indirect link to WWII propaganda movies.

The name Theodor Seuss Geisel will mean little to many people,although there is a hint in his name which gives away the name he is known by to most. He is better known as Dr. Seuss.

Seuss

In 1943, he joined the Army as a Captain and was commander of the Animation Department of the First Motion Picture Unit of the United States Army Air Forces. Where he got to work with Frank Capra, the director of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’.

Initially they worked together on a series of black-and-white American instructional,  cartoons, of a character created by Capra called ‘Private Snafu’,that were produced between 1943 and 1945

Private_SNAFU

The cartoons were humorous very much like the Looney toons. The short movies were directed by famous  directors like Chuck Jones and Fritz Freleng.

In one episode of the series ‘Three Brothers’ released on December 4, 1944 a certain Bugs Bunny made an appearance.

Frank Capra and Dr Seuss worked on 2 hard hitting propaganda films ,shortly after WWII in 1945.

Your Job in Germany

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The film would probably be called racist and non political correct nowadays but in the context of the time it was accepted and also understandable.This training film was made for U.S. Army occupation forces in Germany following World War II.

It  tells how Germany has always been evil and when given a the chance again they would start another war with another leader like Hitler.

In the films the troops are urged not to become friends with the Germans, for the Nazi mentality is still prevalent in the German psyche, and probably always will be.

intro

Jack Warner, of Warner Brothers,  secured the rights to ‘Your Job in Germany’ and turned it into a short documentary entitled Hitler Lives?, directed by Don Siegel. It was released commercially on December 29, 1945 and won the 1946 Academy Award  for Documentary Short Subject.

Our Job in Japan

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Our Job in Japan was a United States military training film made in 1945. Equally to ‘Your Job in Germany’ this movie would now be perceived as racist and totally not political correct.But similarly in the context of the aftermath of WWII and the brutality the Japanese army had displayed during the war it was understandable and probably warranted to portray the Japanese people in the way they did.

The film was aimed at American troops heading to Japan to occupy the country in 1945  It presented the problem of turning the militarist state into a peaceful democracy.

It starts off showing Japan surrendering  , followed by the depiction of bad things that they did during the war, and also how the Japanese always followed a backward quasi religious philosophy. The  narrator explains that although the war is over the Japanese brains still need to adapt to a more modern society based on common sense and not by worshiping the old ways.

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Our Job in Japan was also used as a  basis for a longer, commercially released film, with the title ‘Design for Death’  in 1947 directed by Richard Fleischer. It won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

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Sources

National Archives

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How Peter Falk cheated the system to serve in WWII-Columbo’s 1st case

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I have always been a great fan of the cop show Columbo with Peter Falk in the title role. However I did not know that Peter Falk and I had a few things in common.

Born in New York City, Falk was the son of Michael Peter Falk , owner of a clothing and dry goods store, and his wife, Madeline (née Hochhauser) an accountant and buyer. Both of his parents were Jewish,coming from Poland and Russia on his father’s side,and from Hungary and Labowa, Nowy Sacz, Poland, on his mother’s side. Falk grew up in Ossining, New York.

When Peter was 3  he lost his right due to a tumor. This is where one similarity comes in, although I did not lose my right eye, I did nearly lose my left eye when I was 3. Due to an accident my eye was pulled out of its socket. I have  had a very bad vision in that eye ever since, well until recently, I’ll come back to that later.

He used a prosthetic  eye throughout his life, which makes his War contribution evene more remarkable.adafruit_products_IMG_5242

Always embracing challenges, he tried to join the Marines, and even got as far as passing his first eye test, using “creativity.”, by memorizing the eye test chart. This is something I also did when I was called up for military service. A second round rousted Peter Falk out though. Undaunted, several months later he joined the Merchant Navy as a cook. He also tried to join the Israeli Irgun and the CIA, both turned him down. The CIA however did not turn him down because of his eye but according to Peter Falk in a Guardian interview “I’d joined the union of cooks and stewards at sea. And because I’d attended a liberal college and been in Yugoslavia.”

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As I mentioned earlier I would come back about my eye. Ironically,although I had always fears of losing my left eye.In 2011 I ended up losing my right eye, well partially, because of a failed operation the wall of my left eye caved in, making it shrink and resulting in loss of vision.I now also wear a prosthetic eye, not a full one as Peter Falk though.

Peter Falk is one of my heroes, despite some set backs in his life he didn’t give up on his dreams.Such was the charisma of the man that when one thinks of Columbo one automatically thinks of Peter Falk, not realizing he was actually the 2nd actor to play the slightly confused but highly intelligent Lt Columbo.

The first actor who played Columbo was Bert Freed  in an episode of “The Chevy Mystery Show” called “Enough Rope”

enough rope

Bert Freed had served in the US Army during WWII in the European theatre.

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I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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I pronounce you Mr and Mrs Dougherty-a slightly different WWII story.

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A young couple in love,neighborhood sweethearts getting married. It was just like a fairy tale, what could possibly go wrong.

Well WWII for one, but not in the usual World War 2 drama sense, but  there were more reasons. one being fame.

They began dating in January 1942 and were married in June of that year, just 18 days after she  celebrated her 16th birthday.The she was Norma Jeane Baker.On June 19, 1942, she got married to James Dougherty, a 20 year old Los Angeles police officer .The wedding was officiated by a minister, Norma Jean wore an embroidered lace wedding dress with long sleeves and veil.

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James’ family lived next door to Grace Goddard, a friend of Norma Jean’s mother, Gladys, who was frequently in psychiatric hospitals. After living in a handful of foster homes, Norma Jeane was taken in by Grace and her husband, who wanted to move across the country and couldn’t take her with them. To prevent Norma Jean from having to go back into the foster care system, Grace suggested that James marry the teenager.

Norma Jeane and her Jimmie had a near idyllic first one or two years as a married couple and seemed destined to spend their lives together in marital bliss.

But after Jimmie enlisted in the Merchant Marines in 1943, things were to change.Monroe_and_James_Dougherty (6)

He was soon called up for overseas duty. Norma Jeane would dutifully write her husband letters several times a week, but soon she became bored without him. She got a job at the Radioplane factory, inspecting parachutes and preparing planes for flight. Photos of the pretty brunette taken at work landed her modeling gigs around LA, and it wasn’t long before she caught the fame bug.Norma Jeane

While James was still stationed overseas in September 1946, Norma Jean filed for divorce.“I was on a ship in the Yangtze River getting ready to go into Shanghai when I was served with divorce papers,” James said in a 2002 interview. They divorced in 1946.

Norma Jeane Baker of course went on to become Marilyn Monroe, one of the most iconic figures of the 20th century.

How things could have been for these tow if it hadn’t been for WWII, we will never know.

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Rare historical photos