A band of Gypsies are camped outside the walls of Count Arnheim's palace. Oliver's wife kidnaps the Count's daughter Arline, then leaves the child and runs off with her lover, Devilshoof. ... See full summary »
The boys' Army buddy, Eddie Smith, is killed in the trenches in France, leaving his baby girl an orphan. Back home after Armistice, they try to find Eddie's father and turn the child over ... See full summary »
Unbeknownst to Stanley and Oliver, their long-lost twin brothers, sailors Alfie and Bert are in town on shore leave carrying a valuable pearl ring entrusted to them by their ship's captain.... See full summary »
It's 1938, but Stan doesn't know the war is over; he's still patrolling the trenches in France, and shoots down a French aviator. Oliver sees his old chum's picture in the paper and goes to... See full summary »
Stanley and Oliver are mousetrap salesmen hoping to strike it rich in Switzerland, but get swindled out of all their money by a cheesemaker. While working off their hotel debt, Oliver falls... See full summary »
Oliver is heartbroken when he finds that Georgette, the inkeeper's daughter he's fallen in love with, is already married to dashing Foreign Legion officer Francois. To forget her, he joins ... See full summary »
Stan and Ollie are charged with delivering the deed to a valuable gold mine to the daughter of a dead prospector. However they reckon without the machinations of her evil guardian Mickey ... See full summary »
At Stanlio's urging, Ollio foists himself off as the dread singing bandit Fra Diavolo and unknowingly attempts to rob the notorious brigand himself. As punishment, Diavolo orders Stanlio to hang Ollio, but gives them a second chance when Stanlio bungles the job. Taking them on as his retainers, Diavolo travels to the Tavern de Cucu in his guise as the foppish Marquis de San Marco to rob the rich, aged Lord Rocburg and woo beauteous Lady Pamela. Stanlio drives Ollio and the innkeeper to distraction by playing "earsie kneesie nosie" and "finger wiggle," and gets drunk helping Ollio fill tankards of wine, sending him into an uncontrollable laughing fit. The boys plot to capture Diavolo but wind up with him in front of a firing squad. Written by
Paul Penna <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the early eighteenth century, Northern Italy was terrorized by bandits. Boldest among the robber-chieftains was Fra Diavolo (The Devil's Brother), who masqueraded as the elegant Marquis de San Marco in order to mingle with the rich. Great lords lost their gold to him-great ladies their hearts.
"Fra Diavolo" represented a dream project for Hal Roach, who had seen the play as a boy. The fact that the play's rights were in public domain was an added incentive to the producer. See more »
Position of the noose during the hanging sequence. See more »
[seeing that the uppermost table in the "tower" is positioned "legs-upwards", and so it will not properly "stack" with the next table below it]
Turn it a-ROUND - -!
[sleepily swivels the table halfway around in a circle, with the legs still pointing towards the sky]
No - - turn it AR-OWWND!
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The credits are listed on a scroll at the beginning of the movie. All the performers appear to have signed their own names to the list. See more »
Laurel & Hardy could very easily have slid into musical comedies, as could the Marx Brothers. Hardy had a tenor voice, put to good use in WAY OUT WEST, and Stan (while he was not as good a singer) could talk sing quite nicely (and was prepared to do comic singing - his change of voice in singing "In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia" in WAY OUT WEST is an example). As a result a musical number will frequently pop up in their movies. In SONS OF THE DESERT it's the HONALULU, BABY! number. In SWISS MISS there were several (even a ditty, supposedly composed by Walter Woolf King, entitled "Crick, crick, crick goes the cricket"). Even in their earliest features numbers appear (in PARDON US we hear "MICHIGAN"). So it was not unexpected that Hal Roach and Stan Laurel would do full scale musicals. They turned to operettas (or spoofs of operas like FRA DIAVOLO) because the costumes and settings gave opportunities for Stan to come up with new pieces of business for himself and Babe Hardy.
The actual opera by Auber is more dramatic than this comedy. Fra Diavola dies at the end (he is, after all, a villain). But here there is a light hearted element that overcomes the original. Stan and Ollie (or Stanlio and Ollio) are robbed by brigands on the road and decide to turn brigand themselves. Naturally, Ollie decides that he will protect them from discovery by claiming to be the infamous Fra Diavalo. Their initial attempt at theft is hardly successful. They confront a man with a hard luck story, and end up giving him money. Then they seem to be more successful confronting a younger man, until Ollie brags that he is Fra Diavolo. The younger man demands proof. Diavolo always sings a theme song, and everyone knows his voice. Ollie starts singing the tune, and the man (you've guessed it - it's Dennis King) continues singing it. They almost get hanged for that, but King decides to use them as minions in a plot to rob an English mi-lord and his wife (James Finlayson and Thelma Todd*).
(*Finlayson's name, as a joke, is Lord Rocburg. In reality, the character in the opera was Lord Cockburn.)
The bulk of the film deals with King and the boys in the inn run by Henry Armetta, where Finlayson and Todd are residing on their trip. King is romancing the frivolous and bored Todd, and hoping to get her jewelry. Finlayson is suspicious of her activities, but is not swift enough to catch King in action (at one point, he is mistaken for King by Ollie and Stan, who lock him up after beating him, and start telling him off - they think of course he's King, who listens to them annoyed but amused).
The music is actually not overdone, and King (who had a fine trained voice) gets several opportunities to sing. He was not the first major Broadway star to work with the boys (Lawrence Tibbett had in ROGUE SONG) nor the last headliner to do so (Dante the Magician would in A-HAUNTING WE WILL GO). But he seems to work quite nicely with them, sharing screen time, and even showing elements of comic timing and reactions. In one song number, he even shudders and turns away from an ugly woman while addressing a romantic passage in the tune.
For an early example of their use of operetta, THE DEVIL'S BROTHER is (as Stan Laurel said) one of their best films. Of course, to most people, it will always be recalled as the film where Stan drives both Ollie and Henry Armetta to distraction with his "finger wiggle" and his "earsie - eyesie - nosie" games that he can handle with ease but the other two can't quite coordinate. It is fun to watch here, and would later be subject to a rare repeat comment: in BABES IN TOYLAND, when Ollie insists that anything Stan can do Ollie can, Stan smiles and shakes his head. He then does "earsie - eyesie - nosie", much to Ollie's annoyance.
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