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"45 Minutes from Hollywood"
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Sound format: Silent
(Black and white - Short film)
A naive country boy (Glenn Tryon) arrives in Hollywood and gets mixed up in robbery and chaos at a posh hotel.
The first pairing of Laurel and Hardy in a Hal Roach comedy short, though neither of them appears in the same scene (Stan's footage has faded badly over the years). Top-billed Tryon does his best with the flimsy scenario, which substitutes frantic farce for genuine wit, as Our Hero is mistaken for a robber dressed in drag (yep, it's THAT kinda movie!) and chased hither and yon by house detective Ollie. The comedy is fast-paced and beautifully timed though not especially memorable, and the film survives as little more than a record of L&H's earliest pairing. Theda Bara and the Hal Roach Bathing Beauties make brief cameo appearances. Directed by Fred Guiol.
He's almost completely forgotten today, but for a couple of years in
the mid-1920s Glenn Tryon was one of several comedians Hal Roach signed
up and tried to boost to stardom, following the departure of Harold
Lloyd from his studio in 1923. Roach's would-be stars of the period
included Clyde Cook, Snub Pollard, Jimmy Finlayson, Tyler Brooke, Will
Rogers and Stan Laurel. Rogers wouldn't fully achieve movie stardom
until talkies came along, while Laurel, of course, wasn't a major star
until he teamed with Oliver Hardy in 1927. Meanwhile, however, there
was Glenn Tryon. I've watched three of the guy's comedies and frankly I
can see why he didn't exactly set the world on fire. He was handsome in
a fey sort of way, resembling Bob Cummings with a hint of Billy Haines.
In later years Tryon was a writer and director, and I don't know if he
contributed any ideas to the comedies he made at the Roach Studio, but
his material is distinctly weaker than the average Roach product from
the same period, more like imitation Mack Sennett than the
comparatively subtle, situation-based comedy we expect from this
studio. In two of the Tryon shorts I've seen, "Along Came Auntie" and
this one, the opening scenes are promising but comic invention soon
flags, at which point the plot is thrown out the window and the actors
just chase each other around and indulge in tiresome fist-fights. Tryon
seemed to have a penchant for dressing up in ladies' clothing but
wasn't especially funny when he did so, and his comedies also featured
risqué situations that could get pretty vulgar.
"45 Minutes from Hollywood" is better remembered than Tryon's other efforts not because it's good (it isn't) but because of the supporting cast. The opening sequence introduces our hero as a rural boy named Orville who is sent to Hollywood with his sister and Grandpa to make a mortgage payment on their property. Why Hollywood? Why not, say, Duluth? Because they don't have movie stars in Duluth! We're set up to expect a satire on the motion picture capital as Grandpa excitedly reads a movie magazine and anticipates meeting Gloria Swanson, Pola Negri, etc. The eager trio have some difficulty making their train on time, but then poor Grandpa is unceremoniously dumped from the train and left behind. When Orville and his sister arrive at their destination we are treated to a fascinating, action-packed, surreal image of "Hollywood -- A Quiet Morning" featuring a stunt man dangling from a plane while animated elephants and dinosaurs cavort in the background. The process work isn't very good, even for the period, but the bit is charming nonetheless and whets our appetite for more fun scenes. Next, Orville and his sister take a ride on a double-decker bus as the conductor points out various stars visible on the sidewalk: the Our Gang kids, the Hal Roach Bathing Beauties, and the one and only Theda Bara, seen in a brief snippet from her concurrent comedy "Madam Mystery."
Unfortunately, this is where the story takes a wrong turn and never recovers. Orville gets involved with some crooks who have robbed a bank and winds up at a nearby hotel with one of the hold-up men, who is inexplicably dressed in drag. The crook knocks Orville out and switches clothes with him, and upon awakening the bewigged Orville spends way too much time trying to elude a hotel detective, who is played by Oliver Hardy. Hardy manages to elicit more laughter with a couple of eloquent facial expressions than Tryon earns with all his mugging and dashing about, but it's a losing battle. The last portion of the film substitutes non-stop fighting for any real comedy, topped by a closing gag in very poor taste. It may as well have been set in Duluth after all. There's one more surprise, however: during the extended donnybrook at the finale some of the players tumble into a room inhabited by a mustachioed character identified as a "Starving Actor," sitting up in his bed. Underneath that mustache is Stan Laurel, and although he and Ollie have no scenes together this near-meeting marks their first appearance together at the Roach Studio, where they would soon produce their great comedies.
That's the one minor claim to fame held by this otherwise forgettable, disappointing little movie. As for Glenn Tryon . . . well, nice try.
Much of this two-reel comedy is rather unexceptional, but it does have
a couple of good sequences. Glenn Tryon and the rest of the cast add
some energy to the material, and part of it is mildly interesting as a
satire on the idol-worship of movie stars that was already so prevalent
even in its era. Otherwise, the movie doesn't really go anywhere, and
though it does have a lot of motion, only very occasionally is it funny
Tryon is part of a family of rural Californians who make a trip to Hollywood, ostensibly to pay a bill, with Tryon's character getting led astray by his inability to distinguish fantasy from reality. He also draws a detective played by Oliver Hardy into the mess he has created. Along the way, there are some occasional brief glimpses at a few of the stars of the era.
A couple of the sequences work rather well, but the rest of it is distinguished only by a brief scene in which Hardy and Stan Laurel, in a small role, appear on-screen together. It still works all right as light viewing for anyone who enjoys the silent comedies of the era, but otherwise it is only notable for this moment of significance in movie history.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'45 Minutes from Hollywood' is sometimes cited in filmographies as
Theda Bara's last movie. When her deadly-earnest vamp roles fell out of
fashion, Bara signed a multi-film contract with Hal Roach to guy her
previous screen image in lowbrow comedies ... but made only one film,
'Madame Mystery'. Since Bara didn't need the money, she gave quits
right there. Roach inserted a brief out-take from 'Madame Mystery' into
'45 Minutes', oddly showing Bara indoors during an exterior sequence.
There's also a clip of Our Gang from their recent 'Thundering Fleas'.
The title parodies "Forty-Five Minutes from Broadway", a 1906 musical (and song) by George M Cohan, and the premise of '45 Minutes from Hollywood' -- country boy goes to the city -- is arguably a reversal of Cohan's show.
Gormless hick Orville (Glenn Tryon) has to deliver a wad of cash to an office in the big city ... but that city is Hollywood, so Orville's elderly dad and his pretty sister want to tag along. As the sister, Molly O'Day gamely joins into the slapstick pratfalls.
In the big city, Orville gets mixed up with a woman bank thief ... but when I saw her running down an alley, I rumbled that she was no woman. Sure enough: this 'woman' (played by an unbilled male actor who's extremely credible in female guise) lures Orville into a hotel room, one jump ahead of the cops. For some reason, the faux female pretends to swoon into Orville's arms ... which ought to tip him off that this woman is heavy enough to be a man. Then 'she' knocks him out, intending to make a getaway in his clothes. The wad of banknotes in Orville's suit turns out to be a bonus. So far, so plausible: there are many real-life accounts of male bank robbers using female disguise. But for some stupid reason, the bank robber hangs about long enough to put his own female disguise (including cloche hat, earrings, stockings, undergarments and shoes) onto the unconscious Orville. When Orville wakes up, he discovers he's a wanted 'woman' ... and the cops don't believe him when he claims otherwise. This sort of comedy is just barely plausible in silent films, since the actor's unheard voice doesn't give away his gender. In a talkie, this wouldn't have worked at all. Earlier, there's a title card acknowledging that the 'female' bank robber sounds like a man.
For modern viewers, this film will be of greatest interest because of separate performances by Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, pre-team. Laurel briefly mugs as an unemployed actor. In a (literally) much larger role is burly Hardy as the apoplectic house detective, galumphing through the lobby in a towel. Hardy's good, but his big scene is an implausible sequence relying on very poor animation, when Hardy shares his towel with a (very obviously cartoon) mouse and cat.
Elsewhere, Hardy does one hugely impressive face-first pratfall -- nobody in this movie was stunt-doubled, so far as I could tell -- and there are some ludicrous gags involving a fire extinguisher. A photo caption expects us to believe that Vivien Oakland (a Hal Roach contract player) lives in a $250 million(!) mansion. Earlier, I was intrigued by a close shot played against a chequerwork tablecloth: interesting Pop Art effect in black and white. There's some funny stuff in '45 Minutes from Hollywood', but it's too bad they didn't credit that actor who portrayed the cross-dressing thief. My rating for this one: 5 out of 10.
This movie will always be remembered for having both Stan Laurel and
Oliver Hardy in it (even though they're never a the same scene
It basically is a movie with zero story and is only filled with some slapstick and comical moments. It has some incredible good timed moments which provides the movie with some hilarious sequences and moments. The movie also works pretty good as a satire on Hollywood.
Especially Stan Laurel shows his comical talent in a short scene. Also Oliver Hardy is good in a much bigger role. But real main character of the movie is played by Glenn Tryon who also really wasn't bad.
Not a brilliant highly memorable silent comedy but it's well constructed and good for some laughs. It certainly deserves more credit.
A kind of early version of the Beverly Hillbillies, this film stars
Glenn Tryon as a hick from the country who travels to Hollywood with a
bundle of Maw and Paw's cash to pay off the debt on their house. Almost
immediately upon his arrival in Tinseltown he mistakes a bank robber in
drag for an actress who he believes will get him into the pictures. The
'actress' hides out with our hayseed hero in a hotel room in which
house detective Oliver Hardy just happens to be taking a bath, and all
sorts of hilarity ensues.
Well, maybe hilarity is too strong a word: mild amusement tempered by an occasional bout of boredom is probably a better way to describe this one. I can't imagine why Glenn Tryon was a star back in the twenties; he lacked any kind of charisma, had no looks to speak of, and no discernible comic talent judging by his performance here. Hardy's OK, but Stan Laurel steals the entire film in the last couple of minutes as another hotel guest (complete with brush moustache) who finds a fight between Tryon and the thief taking place on the bed he's sleeping in.
This is definitely a "lesser known" comedy short from the 1920s. The
only reason I saw it was because it was on a DVD by Kino Films
featuring non-Laurel and Hardy shorts featuring Ollie. They are
interesting and historically important, but also generally average to
below average for the style film. Compared to shorts by Chaplin,
Keaton, Arbuckle and Lloyd, they are definitely a step below them in
quality and humor. Also, the accompanying music was pretty poor by the
standards of other silent DVDs. I ended up turning OFF the sound due to
the inappropriateness of the music to set the proper mood. But, despite
this, they are still worth seeing.
Interestingly enough, the Kino DVD box said that Stan Laurel played a robber who was in drag. This character was NOT Laurel, but he was the guy in the end of the film who was sleeping when everyone suddenly barged in and began hitting each other. And, unfortunately, this is about the tone of the whole film--people hitting each other. It's a good example of slapstick with no regard whatsoever for plot. Despite the direction the film INITIALLY TAKES (about a rip to Hollywood), this is quickly forgotten and it's just mindless slapping and pratfalls. You can certainly find better shorts from this era.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
They may not have had leading roles, but this film seems to be seen as a film starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, it is even included in their full film collection. Basically a California family receives a notice that they need to make an immediate payment or be forced out their home. So the Grandpa, young Orville (Glenn Tryon) and his sister (Molly O'Day, aka Sue O'Neil) all get on the one bike to get on the train for Hollywood to deal with it. The Grandpa falls off, they are left alone, and almost immediately Orville gets into a scrape looking like he has recently robbed a bank, and he is running away from the cops with a woman, who is actually a man in drag. In the hotel room they hide in, a Hotel Detective (Hardy) seems to be dressing up too, his wife Em (Edna Murphy) obviously isn't happy when she sees it. The bank robber soon shows up in the hotel, takes a knocked out Orville's clothes an dresses in female clothes to get away, and the Detective assumes he is the robber, and a chases leads them into the room of a Hotel Guest (Laurel, in what looks an added and pretty grainy scene), and ending with Orville having a spraying fire hose in his trousers. Also starring Charlotte Mineau as Mother and Rube Clifford as Father. It has some good comedic moments, and Laurel and Hardy, with the limited time they have on screen, do well in this silent film. Worth watching!
45 Minutes from Hollywood (1926)
** 1/2 (out of 4)
A country boy goes to Hollywood to pay a bill and gets caught up in what he thinks is a movie being made. What he doesn't know is that he's caught up in a real robbery. There are a few good gags here but the real highlight is Oliver Hardy playing the Hotel Detective. Stan Laurel has a brief role as well. This was the first Hal Roach film where the two were in the same movie, although they don't share any scenes here.
Duck Soup (1927)
** 1/2 (out of 4)
Laurel and Hardy, trying to get away from firemen wanting to recruit them, run and hide in a house but when someone shows up to rent it they must pretend to be the owner and maid. L&H went onto remake this with better results in Another Fine Mess but this short has a few funny moments but not enough to make it work throughout.
An average three reeler silent film with the 36 year old Stan Laurel appearing as a hotel guest. Not outstanding or significant by any means, but certainly not as terrible as his previous short films. By this stage in his career there were small steps of progress.
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