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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As Blockheads opens, World War I is raging, and Stan and Ollie are in
the trenches. As the troops prepare to go over the top, Stan is ordered
to guard the post. As a flashy montage brings us to 1938, Stan is still
at his post, unaware that the war is over. In a great shot, he tosses a
can of beans onto a mountain of cans that has been accumulating for 20
Meanwhile, marital bliss has finally come to Oliver Hardy. Dressed in an apron, he cooks breakfast for Mrs. Hardy (Minna Gombell). He's a total wimp, completely dominated by his wife (she even gives him an allowance!). Yet when Mrs. Hardy tries to get him to realize that today is their anniversary, he isn't even close. "Was that the day I fell off the bicycle and skinned my knee?" When he finds out what day it is, he talks about whispering "sweet nothings" in his wife's ear. As he tells her that he's going to be gone for an hour, Mrs. Hardy says, "And make that hour short!"
When Ollie leaves, presumably to buy his wife a present, he hears about a soldier who stayed in the trenches for 20 years and didn't know the war was over. "I can't imagine anybody being that dumb." As he looks at Stan's picture in the paper, he quickly changes his mind. "OH YES I CAN!"
Ollie goes to the soldier's home to see Stan. Stan decides that sitting in a wheelchair with a pillow on it is more comfortable than a park bench. The chair, however, was designed for an amputee, and in order to sit in it, Stan tucks one of his legs under him. Ollie of course thinks that Stan has only one leg. There is one goof in this part of the film. As Ollie goes to get some water for Stan, Stan turns on the water, soaking him. Yet as Ollie walks over to him, his suit is totally dry! Soon a soldier comes by demanding the chair, so Ollie has to carry Stan. It's only when they both fall out of Ollie's car that he realizes that Stan does have both legs.
Of course, this only a prelude to a series of disasters, including Stan dumping sand on Ollie's car, then destroying the car as he tries the automatic garage door opener, and helping Ollie to blow up Mrs. Hardy's kitchen. In the features, Stan is often given magical powers. He can make a fist, fill it with tobacco, light it, and smoke (real smoke comes out of his mouth). Walking up the stairs, he pulls down the shadow of a blind. Later, after running up and down thirteen flights, he takes a glass of water out of his pocket. Ollie is full of disdain. "Why don't you put some ice in it?" Naturally, Stan removes two cubes from his other pocket.
Billy Gilbert returns, with the same thick German accent and short fuse he displayed in The Music Box. Only this time he's a big game hunter. After the explosion in the kitchen, Mrs. Gilbert (Patricia Ellis), locked out of her apartment, goes across the hall and is shocked by what she sees. The only thing standing in the kitchen is a large bowl of punch, which Ollie brings in to serve. Of course, he trips and the entire contents of the bowl land on Mrs. Gilbert. The only thing she can find to wear is a pair of Ollie's pajamas. Things get quite hilarious as Stan and Ollie have to hide Mrs. Gilbert, first from Mrs. Hardy and later from the extremely jealous Mr. Gilbert.
One of Lauel and Hardy's most entertaining and fun features.
BLOCK-HEADS is set up with an idea which must have seemed totally
ridiculous in 1938 but when you stop to consider that Japanese soldiers
were being found on remote Pacific islands 30 years after the second
world war ended the idea stops being ridiculous and becomes shockingly
This is possibly the last of the great L&H movies ( FLYING DUECES being the only other contender ) , after this the comedy duo started appearing in studio features that didn't seem to show much respect to their genius , made them slightly off centre and stretched stories out for almost 90 minutes when a 60 page script would have worked much better
This means that BLOCK-HEADS suffers from the mild irritation of so many other Stan and Ollie star vehicles - It's rather episodic . But seeing as it's so funny what have we got to complain about ? Listen out for Stan's tagline " Is there gonna be a fight ? " which is repeated several times and the surreal sequence of closing the blinds on the stairway . Strange when people discuss the films of these two comedy gods they always think of slapstick but forget they were also masters of surrealist visualism too . The funniest moment is probably the final scene in Ollie's apartment involving the married couple from next door
I still think THE LAUREL AND MURDER HARDY CASE is the best of their vehicles but BLOCK-HEADS deserves its own mention as being one of the very last superb Stan and Ollie comedies
It's the year 1938 and the war has been over for twenty years. But Stan is still patrolling in the trenches without knowing that the war is over.Stan's good buddy Oliver sees his friend's picture in the paper and goes to the veterans' home to get his buddy. Block-Heads is a hilarious Laurel and Hardy comedy.The movie offers you lots of laughs with the boys.Who could forget the scene where Ollie carries Stannie because he thinks Stan has lost his leg in the war.But Stan has the leg underneath him in the wheelchair.And the scene in the stairs.Block-Heads is one of the best Laurel and Hardy movies.Just watch the movie and it's non-stop laughing from the beginning to the end.
"Block-Heads" begins in WWI, where Stan and Ollie are in a platoon fighting in Europe. While Ollie and the rest of the group go into battle, Stan has to guard the post. You can tell that he's doing his job, because he continues doing it for twenty years after the war ends. After he returns to America, he and Ollie meet up again, and from there, they do their usual stuff. Probably the best scene was the football scene (I won't spoil it). But the wheelchair, temptress, garage door and kitchen all provide some laughs. They may play blockheads in the movie, but believe you me, Laurel and Hardy were comic geniuses. Gilligan and the Skipper were sort of a later version of them, and Chris Farley and David Spade were an even later version.
Two War buddies - BLOCK-HEADS both - create complete chaos
in & around a fancy apartment building.
Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy are once again up to their usual high jinks, dealing with frightful wives, dangerous neighbors and the homicidal tendencies of nearly every inanimate object with which they come into contact. At this point in their partnership the Boys' were firmly established as screen legends; they worked together like well-oiled machinery, producing one laugh after another.
Billy Gilbert & James Finlayson - the Boys' greatest nemesis - are on hand and in very fine form as Ollie's highly belligerent neighbors. Gilbert's Great White Hunter (`I don't bring em back alive. I bring em back dead. I come back alive.') is especially funny. Patricia Ellis as Mrs. Gilbert & Minna Gombell as Mrs. Hardy add to the merriment.
Movie mavens will recognize OUR GANGer Tommy Bond as the mean kid with the football.
The film's opening sequence, with newsreel footage of World War One battles, is unexpectedly grim for a comedy. Fortunately, the laughs start quickly. Best bit - Ollie, thinking Stan has lost his right leg, insists on carrying him everywhere. Stan lets him.
The last genuine, hilarious Laurel and Hardy comedy has no plot at all!! Just a series of hilarious gags that come thick and fast.. I would rate this feature(their last for Roach / MGM) as possibly their very best, only Way Out West comes near!! It's such a pity that after this film the decline really set in.. I would recommend Block-Heads to any Laurel and Hardy fan.. that said it is not going to change your mind if you don't like L&H as the boys are wonderfully true to type.. the ending is a reworking of Unaccustomed As We Are (their first sound movie) and in my opinion is much better here.. Don't miss the scene with the great James Finlayson!! If you get the chance to see it.. DON'T MISS IT!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I hope that when you see this great Laurel & Hardy feature film the
print has the actual concluding joke - a bit macabre but fitting as it
is. As the film is usually shown today, the joke may be briefly
glimpsed (in some prints) before the film ends. More about that later.
BLOCK-HEADS has some claim to being the best of the final Laurel & Hardy / Hal Roach feature films (A CHUMP AT OXFORD is it's closest competitor). In it Stan and Ollie begin in 1918, as the men are about to go over the top from a trench in the last battle of the war. But Stan is ordered by the Captain to guard the trench, so Ollie goes out alone. We watch a brief, spartan montage showing 20 years passed and Stan is still in the trench. He has survived on cooked canned beans - and there is a mountain of cans on the side of the trench. As he is about to eat he hears a plane's motor approaching, and starts machine gunning the plane. The plane lands, and the aviator comes over angrily demanding what Stan is doing. When Stan explains he is fighting the war, the aviator laughs and tells him the war's been over for 20 years. Despite some questions about the truth of this ("It better be true, or someone will get in trouble!", says Stan) he leaves the trench.
Ollie has become a henpecked husband to Minna Gombell, and they are planning to have their first wedding anniversary, when Ollie learns that Stan is still alive. He goes out to the old soldier's home where Stan currently is, and sees his friend sitting in a wheel chair, apparently with one leg. In one of the most touching moments of their joint film careers Ollie's facial expression is deeply saddened by his friend's loss. He sits down and chats with Stan (who is glad to see him), and he starts wheeling him to his car - he'll take Stan home for dinner. Stan tells him "I'm better now!", and Ollie smilingly accepts this. But then another man comes and takes the wheelchair back (over Ollie's temporary objections). A minute later, while carrying Stan he momentarily has to put Stan down. Stan manages to stand up - he has both legs after all - and Ollie suddenly realizes this when Stan is back in his arms. Ollie drops Stan. A moment later, in Ollie's car, he says with great frustration, "You're Better Now!!"
BLOCK-HEADS has been called the ultimate expanding disaster film of Laurel & Hardy - a type of expanded version of their sound short HELPMATES from a few years earlier, where Stan is supposed to get Ollie's house ready after a wild party before Mrs. Hardy comes home. Instead he ruins Ollie's wardrobe (Ollie ends up dressed up in a costume like a 19th Century Admiral) and Stan cleans up the house - but burns it down accidentally. In BLOCK-HEADS Ollie lives in an apartment house, and Stan manages to wreck Ollie's car (actually it's Minna Gombell's car) and blows up Ollie's kitchen. He also smashes the marriage (or appears to - Gombell is last seen headed for the old soldier's home to have them take Stan back). Stan is also responsible in part for a near confrontation between Ollie and his neighbor James Finleyson (which almost ends up in a fist fight - but Jimmy still manages to clock Ollie in the end).
But finally there is the problem of the Gilberts. Patricia Ellis and Billy Gilbert are the Gilberts, the next door neighbors of the Hardys. Billy Gilbert (who had frequently popped up in Laurel & Hardy shorts like THE CHIMP, TOWED IN THE HOLE, and COUNTY HOSPITAL) is a big game hunter who has just returned home. Gilbert is very jealous of his pretty wife, and she manages to get into the Hardy apartment innocently enough to help them clean up, but her clothes get ruined. They lend her some of Hardy's overly large pajamas, but Mrs. Hardy is in the apartment, and they have to sneak her out in a trunk. But Mr. Gilbert returns, and he starts sneering at Stan as a home wrecker. But shortly after he realizes there is a woman in the trunk, and he starts calling Ollie an "old dog" for putting one over his old lady - and then starts mentioning his own extra-marital activities. Mrs. Gilbert, hearing this, rises out of the suitcase and confronts her husband.
But Billy is soon chasing Ollie and Stan with a shotgun. And he is firing it every now and then. Soon they are in the courtyard of the apartment house complex and he fires, and dozens of men jump out of the windows of the apartments! Today that is the point the film ends. Most people do not mind, but there is a better end that exists. The last shot was to show Billy Gilbert sitting and reading in his parlor. We see stuffed animals all over the place - and finally Stan and Ollie's on the wall. Ollie's head turns towards Stan's and says "Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into.", and Stan starts to cry. Interesting actual ending of a first rate comedy.
The first half of BLOCK-HEADS contains the most amusing skits in the
feature that runs just a little short of one hour and seems like a
series of farcical sketches that become a little too hectic toward the
last twenty minutes. But fans of LAUREL & HARDY probably won't really
mind since it's good slapstick fun.
The most amusing idea has STAN LAUREL still keeping watch in the trenches during World War I and shooting at a German plane until the pilot (who lands safely nearby) explains to him that the war has been over since 1918. When Stan is reunited with his friend OLIVER HARDY at a veteran's home, he's sitting in an unoccupied wheelchair and Oliver thinks he's a vet with a missing leg. It's one of the funniest sections of the film, that has Oliver carrying him, getting dumped on by a dumpster, and taking all sorts of pratfalls as the routine winds on.
Later, at Hardy's home, the slapstick gets even wilder but not necessarily funnier. Too many staged arguments with his wife (MINNA GOMBELL) lead to the sort of shouting matches that can become tiresome after awhile. But through it all, STAN LAUREL has some good comic moments as friend Oliver gets in trouble with the lady next door and her jealous husband (BILLY GILBERT).
The gags are fast and furious in typical slapstick tradition and it's a fast-moving comedy that should satisfy fans of the duo. Gilbert is a joy to watch as the jealous hubby, easily stealing scenes with his caricature of the man across the hall from Hardy.
Summing up: Delightful mixture of gags and slapstick situations in the Hal Roach tradition.
This is the "boys" - Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy - it what many
consider their last good comedy feature film, doing what they do best:
short slapstick routines. It's almost a compilation of them, a series
of routines more than a story with a plot. Stan and Ollie, between 45
and 50 years old when they made this film, were Hollywood veterans by
Frankly, the comedy might be considered a little too corny for today's crowd but, hey, the movie is 70 years old. If you're a fan of these two comedians you should enjoy this film. Anyway, when anyone provides a lot of gags in just under one hour, you'll hit and miss a lot....but some things will always be funny. Some are still clever, too, such as the bit with the window shade being a shadow.
You can always count on Ollie being henpecked and Stan being an airhead (he's a WWI soldier who marched in a trench for 20 years not realizing the war is long over). Of course, if you think about it, that premise has more holes in it than the proverbial swiss cheese, but who cares? A good portion of this film involves the simple fact of Ollie and Stan just trying to walk 13 flights up the stairs to Ollie's apartment, and the adventures that happen to them along the way.
After watching just 57 minutes of these guys pratfalls and slapstick routines, you'll be exhausted!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The year is 1917 and the place is France: it's the midst of World War
I. Private Stan Laurel is told to stay behind and guard the trench
while the others went off to fight. Stan's buddy Oliver Hardy went with
them but they swore they would meet again. One year later, 1918, the
war was over! We won! Twenty years later- Stan is still guarding the
trenches and has made a mountain out of the bean cans he's emptied. He
suddenly spots a plane overhead. He shoots it down, thinking it was an
enemy. Fortunately the pilot was not hurt. He informs Stan that the war
has been over for 20 years. Stan had no idea; In America, Oliver Hardy
has settled down in a fancy apartment house and has married a lovely
wife with a vicious temper. Today was their anniversary and as Ollie
steps out to buy her a gift, he hears the news that someone was just
discovered who didn't know the war had been over for 20 years. Ollie
says he can't imagine anyone that dumb. Upon closer inspection of the
person in question, he admits he can. Ollie swings by the soldiers home
to see Stan, who was sitting in a wheel chair. Not that he needed it,
he just wanted to sit down.
Ollie thought Stan was crippled so he carried him to his shiny new car. It was actually Mrs. Hardy's. Well after a run-in with a dump truck, they arrive at the apartment house. Ollie shows Stan the automatic garage door opener. Stan wanted to try it out, so he drove the car towards the door, missing the door activator pedal entirely and destroying the garage door and the car; the elevator is out of order so Stan and Ollie have to trek up 13 flights of stairs to the apartment. First they have a run-in with a stuck up man on the stairs who calls Ollie an over-stuffed polliwog, so they go all the way back downstairs for a fight. When the "fight" is over, Stan and Ollie trudge back downstairs and after being forced to fetch a football, they arrive at Ollie's apartment. When Mrs. Hardy meets Stan, she takes an immediate dislike to him and she and Ollie begin fighting. Finally, Mrs. Hardy decides to go home to mother, leaving Ollie alone with Stan.
Ollie tries cooking, but it resulted in the kitchen blowing up. Just then, Mrs. Gilbert, wife of Bill Gilbert who was away on a hunting trip, stopped by because she had locked herself out of her apartment. Ollie let her borrow his pajamas when suddenly they saw Mrs. Hardy coming up the stairs! They quickly hide. Ollie disguises Mrs. Gilbert as a chair. When Mrs. Hardy returns, she and Ollie start fighting while Stan tries to sit in the new chair that kept throwing him off. The fighting caught the attention of Mr. Gilbert who had just returned home from his hunting trip and came over to see what the fuss was about. By then, Stan and Ollie had hidden Mrs. Gilbert in a trunk and just as they were carrying her out, Mr. Gilbert stopped by. He soon discovered where his wife was and was enraged. He grabbed his hunting rifle and chased Stan and Ollie down the stairs.
I'd have to say 'Block-Heads' is one of Laurel and Hardy's best features. It was one of their last with Hal Roach Studios due to contract disputes between Hal Roach and Stan Laurel, so after this feature came Flying Deuces, A Chump at Oxford and Saps at Sea and that was it with L&H at Hal Roach. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, two of the best comedians in history, are here. Billy Gilbert is here too. Patricia Ellis (who was 22 at the time) plays Mrs. Gilbert, and Minna Gombell is Mrs. Hardy. So anyway, to all Laurel and Hardy fans, I recommend Block-Heads. It was just released on DVD along with Way Out West and Chickens Come Home. See Block-Heads today! One of the boys' finest.
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