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In 1980 I had the good fortune to be invited to the home of legendary
motion picture producer HAL E. ROACH. I was there to show him a few
films I made, hoping for some good advice. We talked about many things,
including Laurel & Hardy.
I then asked Mr. Roach what his all-time favorite Laurel & Hardy film was. After a thoughtful pause, he replied: "BEAU HUNKS."
In 1939 BEAU HUNKS was remade as FLYING DEUCES (not by Roach) during a temporary lapse in the boys' contracts. The story must have been a favorite of theirs as well.
BEAU HUNKS is an odd length (37 minutes), not too long and not too short. A classic which stands alone as one of Laurel & Hardy's most inspired films. No spoilers in this review, but if you are an L&H fan, seek out Hal Roach's personal favorite and you'll be glad you did!
Spurned by his beautiful fiancée, Oliver decides to take Stanley and join
the foreign legion. Once there he finds his fiancée has travelled more than
him and decides to leave, but it is too late. The pair go off on training
but then the siege of a nearby fort in the desert means they will see more
action than expected.
One of the best things about Christmas is that the TV channels need to fill the schedules with films etc that feel different from the usual daytime stuff they cram on. One of the ways they do this is mini-seasons of work from various people or themes etc. One such this year has been Laurel and Hardy films and I'm very glad. This film was one I hadn't seen before but it was very funny.
The film has really good set pieces but also a running gag that I didn't see coming so I won't spoil it for anyone else. I'm a big fan so I may be a little biased but I be surprised is anyone sat through this without laughing at least a few times. Both the leads are on top form and both have their little things that get me every time Oliver's looks to camera and Stan's double takes at innocent objects in the background.
Overall this is pure gold with hardly a slow moment, even the jokes that were signposted as coming (the spring in the chair) made me laugh out loud. Good for fans and non-fans alike.
Can you even call this a comedy short? The movie is nearly 40 minutes
long and it actually features a plot line. Anyway, short or long
feature, this movie is a well written and directing one which makes
this movie a very enjoyable and comical great movie.
After once again being letdown in love, Oliver Hardy signs up with the Foreign Legion to forget his problems. Of course he drags Stan Laurel along with him. Once joined, they get into the middle of a battle between the Foreign Legion troops and a tribe of Arabs. This plot line doesn't sound unfamiliar for the Laurel & Hardy fans, since this theme is used in a dozen of other Laurel & Hardy pictures. Still "Beau Hunks" is a original movie on its own, mainly because its a well written and directed one.
The movie has some really great and comical dialog. It doesn't rely so much on its slapstick humor but that doesn't mean this movie is any less fun than other Laurel & Hardy comedy shorts.
Also its action and scale is quite nice which helps to make this movie one of the most impressively good looking shorts.
The acting is great. Of course Laurel & Hardy are great as ever and so is the impressing Charles Middleton, who still is best known for playing Emperor Ming in the Flash Gordon movies from the '30's. Also fun was to see Jean Harlow as the woman in the picture, who is a important returning element in the movie. It's nice to see the boys paying homage to the then already famous Jean Harlow, with who they worked together in the silent comedy short "Double Whoopee". Director James W. Horne also plays a small part in the movie. The only Laurel & Hardy movie in which he appears as an actor. The movie is further more filled with a whole bunch of Laurel & Hardy regulars in bit parts such as Baldwin Cooke, Charlie Hall, Jack Hill, among others.
A very well made that also is fun to watch as well. Highly recommendable!
A LAUREL & HARDY Comedy Short.
Suffering from a failed love affair, Ollie drags Stan off to join the French Foreign Legion. Once in the desert, their merry mix ups cause much mayhem. The BEAU HUNKS are soon sent to relieve an isolated fort, but arrive just in time to endure a fierce Arab attack...
A bit longer & more elaborate than most of the Boys' short subjects. Stan & Ollie were excellent at this kind of farce; they provide lots of laughs as they try to act like competent Legionaries. As an added treat, Ollie gets to sing 'I Love You' in that wonderfully nostalgic high tenor voice of his.
Each short or longer Laurel & Hardy movie is a classic in my view. The
Laurel & Hardy tandem is unmatched in movie-history and in my opinion the
majority of today's movie makers and writers can learn lots from L & H.
don't have Charly Chaplin's brilliance, but they are good! And funny!
gags, faces, fights, accidents and disasters are hilarious and bring a
to my face each time I watch. This time Hardy drags Laurel into a Foreign
Legion adventure, because of a heartache and that gives plenty of room for
these two legendary comedians to move! My advice: don't underestimate L&H
If as another reviewer says that Beau Hunks was Hal Roach's personal
favorite of the many Laurel&Hardy shorts he produced, it certainly is a
very good choice. Roach must have liked it because he expanded it later
on in the decade to a full length feature film, Flying Deuces.
Poor Ollie is pining over his lost love because his Jeanie Weanie is getting married so to forget his troubles he joins the Foreign Legion, dragging along poor Stanley behind him. Of course as it turns out Jeanie Weanie is Jean Harlow who's sent these loving autographed pictures all over the world as we see when they settle into the barracks of the Foreign Legion.
The film is a satire of Beau Geste and of The Desert Song which only two years earlier had come to the screen. The enemy are the Riffraffs and a deadly bunch they are. Of course they haven't come up against Laurel and Hardy.
Two best bits in the film are the boys getting lost in a sand storm on the desert and then actually arriving at the fort ahead of the rest of the troop. Second is when Laurel the dunce is asked by Hardy why he's not carrying any equipment for the march and he innocently replies that he packed his stuff with Ollie's. This is Stanley's innocence at its finest.
One thing that is eerie about Beau Hunks is that the marriage Jean Harlow was to have the following year was to Paul Bern and we all know what a tragedy that turned out to be. She might have been better off marrying Ollie or one of the other Legionaires.
Beau Hunks is a choice sample of Stan and Ollie's comedy which is absolutely eternal.
Although "Beau Geste" had already been made
with Ronald Coleman in 1926, "Beau Hunks" is not just a funny play on words.
Unlike today, being called a hunk was not a compliment. In those days, "Hunk," "Hunky," or "Bohunk" was a pejorative term for an Eastern European --- (It's a conflation of "Bohemian" and "Hungarian.) The general connotation of the term was that of a stupid, not necessarily clean, undesirable immigrant. So to call someone a Bohunk was quite an insult.
It's a pity that the extremely stupid guidelines require ten lines of text, when I could have said everything in five. Are they perhaps taken from the IRS tech-writing standards for tax laws?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Okay, I know "tweener" isn't really a word, but it's the best way to
describe this film. Unlike most of the Laurel and Hardy comedies that
run from 18 to 20 minutes, this one is an odd-ball that is 37 minutes
long--in between the length of their shorts and the full-length films
they made. Now this COULD have been a problem, as in some of the longer
Laurel and Hardy films, greater length meant less laughs and a lot of
padding. However, this time it all worked out well and it's a very good
and worthwhile outing.
The film begins with Ollie pining over the loss of his girlfriend. He's so upset that he decides he AND Stanley should join the Foreign Legion in order to forget (something Stan usually has no trouble doing). Once there, Ollie finds that MOST of the men are there to forget,...the exact SAME girl!!! This quickly erases her from his mind, but for some odd reason the commandant doesn't understand and let them just go home (this is sarcasm, by the way). In fact, they are constantly in trouble because of their efforts to escape and only in the end do they redeem themselves.
By the way, if the film sounds a tad familiar, it's because the movie is a lot like their full-length film FLYING DEUCES. However, DEUCES is not a particularly well-made film and most of the jokes aren't that funny (particularly the reincarnation one at the end). Plus, DEUCES is about 20 minutes longer. Sometimes less IS more! Finally, if you look at the photo of Ollie's ex-sweetie, you might notice who this is. It's an early photo of Jean Harlow--they way she looked when she was under contract to Hal Roach and before her drastic makeover circa 1932.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Oliver Hardy was in love. Her name was Jean, or Jeanie Weenie. He told his friend, Stan Laurel, that they were to be married. Stan get's a lesson in leavity when he hears someone knocking on the phone. It was actually the door and it was a telegram for Ollie and it was from Jean! Stan read it to him. The telegram said that Jean had called it off between her and Ollie and she loved another. Ollie was distraught. He decided to go to the one place where he could forget: The Foreign Legion. He forces Stan to go too.
The boys soon arrive at their base in Africa and meet the commandant. They settle into the bunk room where Ollie finds that all the soldiers are gazing forlorn at autographed photos of Jeanie Weenie! Stan and Ollie then decide they've made a mistake and approach the commandant and request to leave. He tells them it was out of the question and told them to get back to the bunks, so after a hat mix-up, Stan and Ollie depart. The next day Captain Schultz takes the men on a long march through the desert. When they return, Ollie's feet were killing him. He bean massaging what he thought was his foot. It was really Stan's. Suddenly the commandant got word that the Riffs had Fort Arid under siege so he ordered Captain Schultz to move out with his men immediately. So the men, along with Stan and Ollie, march into the desert. Stan and Ollie lose them in a dust storm but soon make it to Fort Arid where they were short on men and the Riffs were planning an invasion. They soon break in. Stan and Ollie dispense grenades but the lead Riff, Adbul Kasim K'Horne chases them into the store room where Stan spills a barrel of nails on the floor and the Riffs, bare foot, step on them and get hurt. They then spread the nails all over the ground and let the Riffs in and they hop about. Stan and Ollie finally catch Abdul and strip him of his weapons as well as a photo of Jeanie Weenie!
Another great Laurel and Hardy short. The boys join the Foreign Legion over a girl again in 1939's The Flying Deuces! That's Jean Harlow as Jeanie Weenie, James Horne as Abdul Kasim K'Horne, also watch for cameos by Laurel and Hardy veterans like Charlie Hall, Tiny Sandford and Sam Lufkin! Anyway, if you're a fan of Laurel and Hardy then I strongly recommend Beau Hunks! If you can find it. It seems Laurel and Hardy features and shorts are becoming more and more rare. A cryin' shame!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Not quite a short and not quite a feature, still, whenever Laurel and
Hardy get together it will be a fun time. The last time I saw this
picture was probably over fifty years ago and it still seemed familiar.
I guess the boys have that kind of effect on their fans from the old
And to think, it was a picture of Jean Harlow that sent Stan and Ollie off to join the Foreign Legion. The forlorn Ollie will come to learn that she broke the hearts of nearly everyone else that wound up in the desert, while Stan remains clueless as ever through virtually every escapade.
But you know, I couldn't help thinking that the picture probably couldn't even be made today considering how militant the PC police have gotten. Early on, when Ollie is happily explaining to Stan that he's getting married, Stan's question about who it might be gets twisted and tangled and Ollie responds - "Did you ever hear of anybody marrying a man?" Well....
And then there's the entire business of the Foreign Legion fighting the Arab Riffraff (I know it was Riffians, but Riffraff sounds better); when the Arab leader invokes Mohammed one can only imagine modern day progressives decrying the racist element of the story line. I guess for all those folks, Ollie's sentiment that "This is no time for levity" would seem appropriate. For all the rest of us though, and I'll speak for all Laurel and Hardy fans here, this is exactly the time for levity.
Oh yeah, can't forget - this is the picture that revealed Oliver Hardy's middle name - it was Nobel!
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