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The Devil's Brother (1933)

Passed | | Comedy, Musical | 5 May 1933 (USA)
Two wannabe bandits join the service of a dashing nobleman, who secretly masquerades as Fra Diavolo, a notorious outlaw.

Directors:

, (as Charles Rogers)

Writer:

(adaptation)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Lady Pamela
...
Lord Rocburg
...
Zerlina
Arthur Pierson ...
Lorenzo
...
Matteo
Matt McHugh ...
Francesco
...
Lieutenant
...
Rita (as Nena Quartaro)
...
Alessandro
James C. Morton ...
Woodchopper
...
...
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Storyline

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 <tterrace@wco.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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.

Genres:

Comedy | Musical

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

5 May 1933 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bogus Bandits  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"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 »

Goofs

Position of the noose during the hanging sequence. See more »

Quotes

Ollio: [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 - -!
Stanlio: [sleepily swivels the table halfway around in a circle, with the legs still pointing towards the sky]
Ollio: [exasperated] No - - turn it AR-OWWND!
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »

Connections

Featured in Sodankylä ikuisesti: Valon draama (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Ku-Ku
(1928) (uncredited)
Music by Marvin Hatley
In the score often for Laurel and Hardy's antics
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Stanlio and Ollio and "the Marquis of San Marco"
12 August 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

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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