Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I give you this Laurel and Hardy handshake.

There's a new 10-disc boxset of Laurel and Hardy shorts that's just been released. It was thoughtfully reviewed in today's "New York Times." You can read the review here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/06/movies/homevideo/new-dvds-laurel-and-hardy-the-essential-collection.html?src=dayp

When I was a kid, local TV stations played a lot of Laurel and Hardy on after-school kiddie shows. They helped me survive and laugh through a pretty sordid childhood.

Laurel and Hardy are rarities now. They're not played on TV, and unless you live in an area that has a movie house that plays revivals, you're not likely to see them screened. As David Kehr the reviewer for the Times points out, "And then there is the matter of pace. These are, for the most part, magisterially slow films, comedies in which an individual sight gag — Ollie falling into a water fountain, for example — is only the point of departure for a series of slow-burn reactions: Ollie’s baleful look directly into the camera, in which he seems to be soliciting the viewer’s sympathy, punctuated with a barely audible sigh of resignation; Stan’s gradations of surprise, incomprehension (was he really responsible for that?) and withdrawal into a state of blank-eyed obliviousness, as if the world and all its troubles had suddenly become too much for him, and he’s regressed into a perfectly serene, fetal state."

In other words, these comedies are hardly frenetic as seems the pace of so much today.

The clip I've pasted above is from a short called "Brats." My mother used to pretend she was a Russian peasant and sing me the song Oliver sings to put his children to bed.


Tim said...

Love these guys! And the older I get, the better they become. They're the closest Hollywood ever got to Kabuki.

Todd said...

Thanks for the Laurel and Hardy. True geniuses. And it brightened up an otherwise blue day.

Now if you could play a clip from Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein...