Archive for Laurel & Hardy

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.

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Creature with the Atom Brain

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on October 13, 2018 by dcairns

I’m sometimes credited with an ability to draw surprising connections, but I think it’s life that does that. Here’s a copy of Atom Egoyan’s Martin-and-Lewis inspired erotic thriller WHERE THE TRUTH LIES, with a sticker marking it as the former property of Larbert Library. Larbert was the birthplace of Laurel & Hardy co-star/nemesis James Finlayson. Factor in Jerry Lewis’s oft-stated and demonstrated admiration for Stan Laurel and we might have the beginnings of a blog post, if I weren’t so thick with the cold (and I mean THICK).

I enjoyed some early-ish Atom Egoyan but I worry about this one. It makes me morbidly curious, of course. And I know Colin Farrell Firth and Kevin Bacon aren’t literally playing Martin & Lewis. That would be crazy. But then again, Jeremy Northam once played Dino in a TV biopic of the duo, and that’s every bit as insane. (Very good actor but, you know, no goombah.)

Has anybody seen this Egoyan and would I be wasting my time totally?

Mini-Thems

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on February 28, 2018 by dcairns

I had fond memories of Laurel & Hardy’s BRATS, but I also remembered Leslie Halliwell saying it was disappointing, arguing that because L&H are so much like big kids, seeing them as little kids removes the amusement of inappropriateness. But Leslie Halliwell was dependably wrong on every point of opinion, criticism and analysis that ever came his way, just as he was dependably right on facts. BRATS, after all, gives us the familiar life-sized Stan and Ollie, in addition to the kiddie versions, so you’re not being deprived of anything. In fact, the irony of big men with childish minds is pointed up even more, since we can see how the boys have not progressed from their infantile selves.

Actually, we don’t quite get the familiar Ollie, because he’s had to shave his moustache to play his diminutive self, Ollie Jr. So adult Ollie is wearing a fake ‘tache that looks like it was drawn on with magic marker. Its sharp definition makes it look more than usually Hitlerian, or like the improbably square blot on the window in Father Ted.

Apart from a surprising animated mouse, there are only a couple of special effects shots, but these combine with the shot-reverse-shot schema in which both sets of the boys cut together using the Famous Kuleshov Effect to convince us they’re in the same space, looking at each other, when in fact the child versions are performing on impressively scaled-up sets. The effect is to make the kiddie duo uncannily small, TOO small. Because they have adult proportions, they don’t seem quite like real children, more like the victims of Dr Cyclops.

Because of the immature (or MORE immature) variant boys on display, this one’s even more violent than usual, with little Stan consistently getting the best of it. Most wince-inducing moment is Ollie getting the metal rod of a door-knob in the eye. Even more distressing to see this happen to a “child”. Ollie checks, gingerly, to see if his eye is still there.

Little Stan also delivers a wholly deliberate eye-poke, and right at the start of the film Big Ollie accidentally pokes his OWN eye. Is this an Oedipal theme or something?

Ollie’s self-inflicted injury reminds me of a Blake Edwards quote. Attempting to explain his sometimes grisly sense of humour (who else would attempt to raise laughs from a man stabbing himself in the side with a letter-opener?), Edwards described the funniest thing he ever saw: he was sitting in a restaurant when Curt Jurgens walked in, saw him, and waved — “Hiya, Blake!” and with the same movement, stuck his thumb squarely in his eye.

It’s funny because it’s Curt Jurgens.