Stan Laurel-18 June 1890-23 February 1965.

Stan

There are very few people who can make you laugh just by looking at their face, but such was the genius of Stan Laurel, his expressions were enough to get you in a burst of laughter.

Of course there was much more to his comic genius than just his face. One of my all time favourite quotes comes from the Laurel & Hardy movie Brats. ” You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be lead”

so much has already been written about Stan Laurel, that’s why I am fouussing on his last few moments on this earthly soil.

A few moments before he died , on February 23,1965, he told his nurse ” I would like to go skiing” The nurse said “I didn’t know you were a skier” . he replied ” I am not, but I’D rather to that than this”

He also had said ” If anyone cries at my funeral, I will never speak to them again” Until his last breath he remained a funny man.

Dear Stan Laurel on this your 55th anniversary, I salute you and thank you for the many laughs you have given me, and indeed still do.

This is footage taken at his funeral.

 

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.

baba

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”

dog

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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Sources

IMDb

 

Brats-Laurel and Hardy were so ahead of their time.

brats

I know I have written about Laurel and Hardy before but now with the biopic of their lives in cinemas across the world, I was reminded how brilliant they were.

Unlike their contemporaries like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy’s humor stayed fresh and still appeals to audiences nowadays.

Perhaps this is because they were so ahead of their time. Not only in cinematographic technical aspects but also in modern social settings. Nothing illustrates this more then the movie Brats.

The short movie is about 2 dads playing  checkers and snooker, minding their children, while the wife are out on the town.Just think about that for a minute,today that would not be a big deal, but in 1930 it most definitely was.

Even when you look at the special effects, Laurel and Hardy not only play the dads but also the boys they are minding. Using  over-sized props to give the impression of kids into everything from a bathtub to a wooden chest of drawers. Each room of the house was re-created on a  large scale to achieve the effect of both duos being in the same house.

The movie is only 23 minutes long but it has so many hilarious scenes. I must have seen it 100s of times but it never bores me.

Ending up with my favourite line from the movie” You can lead a horse to water but a pencil must be led”

 

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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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Nazis and cinema

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Ever since its inception , the media of  film has been a perfect tool to inform the masses be it in an entertaining way or in a more sinister manner.

It was and still is the perfect way to distribute propaganda material en mass, although in more recent  years social media has taken over that reign.

Don’t get me wrong I love movies I sill see that they do a lot more good then harm, it is a great way just to escape the daily strife for an hour or two. However it doesn’t take away the fact that they have been used to promote evil causes.

No matter what you think of the Nazis, they were masters of propaganda and were able to use it in the most efficient way possible. They understood the power of cinema/ At relatively ‘low’ costs they were able to distribute their warped ideology on a large scale by using propaganda movies.

Marika Rökk

They varied from short documentaries to massive cinematic productions that rivaled Hollywood in many ways.

Hitler was a big movie fan,prior to the war he spent night after night watching feature films and newsreels. He sometimes watched two, even three films, either at his mountain residence in the Bavarian Alps, the Berghof, or in Berlin at the Reich Chancellery.

Not only German films, but also American,French, and British films, in the original language.Although  Hitler only spoke German he would rely on synopses given by his aides about the movies he was about to watch.

He was a great Walt Disney fan but also loved Laurel and Hardy movies. Ironically the movie “Swiss Miss” which featured Grete Natzler(aka Della Lind) an Austrian Jewish actress  who had fled Germany in 1933, was one of his favourite movies.

Swissmisscard

Short movies like “Erbkrank” -“”The Hereditary Defective” were made  yo gain public support for the T-4 Euthanasia program. the euthanasia of mentally disbled . This film, as  others, were made with actual footage of patients in German psychiatric hospitals.

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Goebbels, the self appointed “Patron of the German film”, thought, cirrectly that a national cinema which was entertaining and put glamour on the government would be a more effective propaganda instrument than a national cinema where the NSDAP and their policy would have been ubiquitous. Goebbels wanted  to end the ‘moral’ corruption that he thought could be found in the former movie industry. The main goal of the Nazi film policy was to promote escapism, which was designed to distract the population and to keep everybody in good spirits.

Aside from the glamorous movies and the short documentaries promoting T4, a great number of big budget open propaganda movies were made. Documentaries like Der Sieg des Glaubens( The Victory of Faith) and Triumph des Willens(Triumph of the Will),  which were records of the Nuremberg rallies, and newsreels.

Directors like Herbert Gerdes and Leni Riefenstahl were pivotal in the production of these movies.Leni Riefenstahl’s career was not damaged by her involvement the Nazi party and her closeness to Adolf Hitler, after the war she still made several award winning documentaries.

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The humour of Laurel and Hardy

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Today is the 53 rd anniversary of the passing away of Stan Laurel, time to look back at some of the wonderful and funny moments he and his ‘Partner in Crime’ delivered for our entertainment.

The power of the humour of Laurel and Hardy is that it did not date, it is still as fresh today as it was then.

Here are just some of their classic lines, very dry but very funny.

From ‘Another Fine Mess’

Ollie “Call me a Cab” Stan “Huh” Ollie “Call me a Cab” Stan “You’re a Cab”

L&H portrait 1929 Derby Pose

From Sons of the Desert

Ollie: You’d better take my temperature….. get that thermometer.
Stan: The what?
Ollie: Thermometer! You’ll find it on the shelf.
(Stan places the thermometer into Ollie’s mouth and starts to take his pulse)
Ollie: What does it say?
Stan: Wet and windy.

sonsofthedesert

From Way out West.

Lady “What did he die off” Stan ” I think he died of a Tuesday”

Capture stan

From Brats

Stan “You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be led.”

brats

 

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The WWII efforts of Laurel and Hardy

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I grew up watching Laurel and Hardy movies, and to this day I still watch them. Where the comedy of some of the other 1920/30s comedians dated, the comedy of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy stayed fresh.

What many people don’t know is that during WWII,Laurel and Hardy did contribute to the WWII efforts.

In 1942 the comic duo starred in a short film commissioned by the  U. S. Department of Agriculture and distributed by the U.S. Forest Service, featuring Laurel and Hardy, with narration read by MGM announcer and producer Pete Smith.

The film was called “The Tree in a Test tube”

The movie was made to raise awareness to  preserve and use domestic wood sparingly to help in the war efforts.

wood

They were a;so part of the Hollywood Victory caravan a two-week cross-country railroad journey in 1942 that brought together two dozen film stars to raise money for the Army and Navy Relief Society.

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The Hollywood Victory Caravan show was partially inspired by an all-star war bond show at Madison Square Garden on March 10, 1942 which was done for Navy Relief and organized by Walter Winchell. Plans were then made for a nationwide tour by Hollywood stars. The Santa Fe Railroad donated the use of a special train and this had up to fourteen railroad cars which had facilities for rehearsals on board with two portable dance floors, two pianos and ten musicians. Setting off from Los Angeles on April 26, 1942, it traveled to Washington DC where the stars went to a White House Tea Party at the invitation of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt on April 30 before opening their musical revue extravaganza that night at 8:30 p.m. at Loew’s Capitol. The total “on stage” troupe for opening night consisted of 75 people.

Hollywood-Victory-Caravan

They may not have fired guns but with their own theater shows and movies they brought laughter in a very bleak era.

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