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This is the Spanish language re-shoot of their February 1931 short Chickens Come Home- (1931). For this version Stan and Ollie speak phonetic Spanish (quite well) and interact with an entirely new Spanish speaking cast with some completely new scenes. The "Regurgitator" during the party scene, in particular is worth seeing. See more »
I saw this film once on the American Movie Classics Channel (about 1999).
Laurel & Hardy gained an international audience in the silent film period, mostly due to the physical nature of their comedy, but also because it being silent the dialog could be covered from one non-English speaking country to another with dialog cards that were in the language of that country. Along came the coming of sound and they faced the loss of most of their audience (the idea of dubbing had not taken root yet). So Hal Roach and the boys constructed a number of films in the period from 1930 to 1931 that were in German, Spanish, and French. Not all of these films have survived - one in particular is sorely missed: the French version of PARDON US, in which the villain played by Walter Long is played by an up-and-coming performer named Boris Karloff. It was Karloff's only appearance with Stan and Ollie, and only a single still photo (of him threatening them in the prison yard) still exists.
POLITIQUERIAS was the Spanish version of the short CHICKENS COME HOME, wherein Ollie is a successful businessman who is the reform candidate for Mayor. A shoe-in, he is unsettled by the discovery that a former girlfriend is threatening to reveal their relationship unless he pays her up. But she is trying to force him to see her that very night, when he is entertaining the reform leadership at his home. So he sends Stan to occupy her until he can visit himself. Naturally, Stan will screw up and she will show up at the Hardy mansion.
The English version, that most fans are aware of, is about twenty five minutes long. But the Spanish version was quite a bit longer - almost a mini-feature film. In the English version Hardy's dinner party is taken for granted - he is the host who is trying to keep a good face before his biggest supporters, and in the face of increasing heat from his suspicious wife. On top of that his butler, Jimmy Finlayson, is blackmailing him continuously (William Everson pointed out, in THE COMPLETE FILMS OF LAUREL & HARDY that while Finlayson is usually the social superior of the boys in their films, here, although he is a servant, he still getting the better of Ollie). Also, there are some cuts to Stanley's failure to control the other woman (Mae Busch, of course), and how a friend of Mrs. Hardy (a dried up old prude) follows Stan and acts as a vindictive bolt of lightning on the boys.
In this Spanish version Hardy's party takes center stage, with his hired entertainment acts being filler between the story line sequences. In particular there is the scenes with Hadji-Ali, the great regurgitator of the music halls and vaudeville houses of Europe and America. Oddly enough, a few years ago, in a special documentary about magicians and the like, the footage of Hadji-Ali from POLITIQUERIAS was used to demonstrate his remarkable act. He also teaches Jimmy Finlayson a lesson, when he uses him as an assistant in his act, and Jimmy gets soaked as a result.
That the sound of that Scottish voice and that Georgian voice are now struggling with phonetically written Spanish is not a negative. Both do well enough, and it does not harm an English speaking audience, who would recall the English version. The film remains funny for the boys work and Finlayson, and one gets a rare opportunity to see a one time headliner who astounded audiences with his curious magic act.
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