Archive for Charley Hall

Cant Sleep: Bed’s on Fire

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on February 28, 2019 by dcairns

Our next podcast will be about Arthur Stanley Jefferson and Oliver Norval Hardy, with special guest Stephen C. Horne joining the discussion. So we’ve been looking at lots of the Hal Roach shorts.

THEY GO BOOM is positively Lynchian, especially when, at the climax, the boys’ bed is overinflated with domestic gas and rises like an impossible cake, bearing its occupants ceilingwards with an ominous HISSSSSS.

Nightmarish. We anticipate some comic invention will introduce a spark and cause the dirigible to explode and, for once, fulfill the title, but it’s not as logical as all that. Ollie sneezes and that alone is enough to ignite the holocaust.

Also good to see diminutive Mancunian Brummie Charley Hall as the landlord, anticipating his identical role in the classic LAUGHING GRAVY. While Edgar Kennedy and James Finlayson are excellent foils, making the “normal” people the boys interact with seem as daft as the central duo, Hall is genuinely a force of evil — he could surely have portrayed a convincing psychopath. His shortness ought to give him a Yosemite Sam absurdity, unlike the more imposing Walter Lang, who always brought the fear of actual mayhem with him, but in fact Hall is even scarier than Lang. He is simply malign.

There’s something slightly off about this one, though, since the major plotline, Ollie having a cold, makes him TOO pitiful. His natural dominance and self-importance need to be in play to make his awful mishaps truly funny. He can’t be merely a victim, he has to be somewhat full of himself. Here he’s just full of phlegm.

Fat Head

Posted in FILM, Painting with tags , , , , on January 16, 2019 by dcairns

 

Current mood.

Watching actual Laurel & Hardy after watching STAN & OLLIE is a revelation, even if one knows exactly what kind of revelation to expect. “So THIS is what laughing until you can’t breathe feels like!”

(None of the endless succession of guffawing extras in STAN & OLLIE evokes the painful hysteria a good L&H routine can produce under halfway favourable circumstances.)

Of course, as in TIT FOR TAT here, the hilarity comes with a measure of discomfort. As a child, Fiona feared for Charley Hall’s life when the boys embed his head in a huge tub of Rex’s Pure Lard (no impure or half-hearted lard would do). A friend reports still feeling greasy after watching this a week ago. Hall, clawing a face-hole for himself in his new, literal fat-head is both funny and horrible, as is the moment when he wrenches the entire disgusting mass from his cranium and hurls it splat on the floor, and the later moment when he scrapes fistfuls of clinging fat from the back of his neck. Ugh!

His cash register being filled with syrup gives me a distressing sticky-fingered feeling too. It’s like Salvador Dali’s Atmospheric Chair, which no-one could look at without feeling great anxiety.