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 »
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. Not knowing her true identity, Oliver, with the help of "Uncle" Stanley, raises the girl as his own. Years later, Arline, still unaware of her noble birth, is caught trespassing on the Count's grounds and is thrown into the dungeon. Meanwhile, Stanley and Oliver pass the time playing "fingers" and bumblingly ply their trade picking pockets. Finally, just when Oliver needs his help to rescue Arline, Stanley gets drunk while siphoning wine into bottles. Written by
Paul Penna <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The film ends with the kind of grotesque gag (Stan is squashed in a press, and Olilie is stretched on a rack) Stan liked and producer Hal Roach hated. See more »
[to waiter while tapping a cane on table that Laurel & Hardy gypsied off a guy]
Come, come, my man!
[suddenly the top of the cane pops off and about two dozen gold coins spill out onto the table]
[Laurel & Hardy double take on this]
Its a good thing we got his cane.
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What a good thing it is that Laurel and Hardy movies are not open to great critical debate. That way, you don't have to worry that The Bohemian Girl isn't one of their better efforts. We don't have to argue that, as with the fitfully amusing Swiss Miss, the operatic elements fail to gel and should have been removed. Yes, as a music-free short this would have been vastly superior, but so what? Laurel and Hardy aren't satirists; they don't indulge in Freudian critiques or social commentary, and all the better for it.
Their brand of simple, slapstick fun is submerged, but if you can wade through the irrelevant gypsy sequences then it's there, just as funny as ever. Just the simple things, like Ollie smacking himself in the face with a potato, or Stan asking a town crier ("Nine o'clock and all's well") "Say, could you tell us the time?" then following it up by nicking his bell.
An unusually portly Stan here gets to do something I've never seen him do before break the fourth wall with an Ollie-style double take to camera. Look at the scene where Stan steals a wallet, backflips it to Ollie with not a single look back, and Hardy catches it in his hat and curves it back onto his head all in one fluid motion. This is the first Laurel & Hardy film I'd seen since the apocryphal Bronson Pinchot/Gailard Sartain version, For Love Or Mummy. This only serves to heighten appreciation of how good the real duo's timing was.
It is weird seeing the two as conmen, but they're still as likeable as ever. Stan even gets to do the "floating finger" routine. Other elements quite racy for 1936 include adultery and child abduction. Yet great visual gags abound "Give me part of the banana" orders a bossy Hardy before Stan hands him the skin. There's even some surreal stuff, like Stan's female/deep singing voices and his stretchy ear. Okay, both of those are throwbacks to Way Out West, but if they work, why not use em? A classic four-minute scene has Laurel getting inadvertently drunk while trying to fill bottles of wine.
The somewhat overbearing opera fixations are even punctured by a Stan who eats Ollie's breakfast because he doesn't know how long a song will take to finish. There's even room for James Finlayson to get in on the act.
Yes, The Bohemian Girl isn't Laurel and Hardy at their best. Yet when even their average films are this funny, then who cares?
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