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 »
Heading for a newly inherited island, the boys are shipwrecked and marooned on an atoll which has just emerged from the sea. Along with their cook, a stowaway and a girl who is fleeing her ... See full summary »
All the great movie comics made poor comedies in comparison to their best ones. For every THE BANK DICK and IT'S A GIFT, W.C.Fields did a MRS. WIGGS OF CABBAGE PATCH or ALICE IN WONDERLAND. For every DUCK SOUP and A NIGHT AT THE OPERA, the Marx Brothers did a LOVE HAPPY or a STORY OF MANKIND. Chaplin's MODERN TIMES and MONSIEUR VERDOUX is "balanced" by A KING IN NEW YORK and A COUNTESS FROM HONG KONG. Keaton's THE GENERAL and SHERLOCK JR. have the negatives of WHAT, NO BEER or BOOM IN THE MOON. For all of Abbott and Costello's THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES or BUCK PRIVATES, one has to look at DANCE WITH ME HENRY.
The same with Laurel & Hardy. Their last ten films, for M.G.M. and 20th Century Fox are dismissed. I think the reason is that these films lack the atmosphere built up by Hal Roach and his production staff. But what is forgotten is how often Roach and Laurel (the real creative half of the team) failed to agree on film production. SWISS MISS appears to have been butchered, in part, by Roach. There are probably other examples, particularly as Laurel wanted more expensive budgets on his films (such as the nightclub in OUR RELATIONS) while Roach constantly tried to clamp down on expenses.
When they joined MGM Laurel & Hardy were still quite popular, but the leading comic team of that moment (1941) was Universal's Abbott & Costello. Though similar in physical juxtaposition (thin Stan and Bud v. fat Ollie and Lou) the personalities were widely different. Stan was not a wise guy like Bud Abbott, and Ollie had more misplaced self-confidence than timid Lou Costello). But the films that were given to them were somewhat like those of Abbott & Costello. The latter's BUCK PRIVATES is mirrored in L & H's GREAT GUNS. It was like the MGM studio did not really know what to do with them - and probably that is true. Don't forget how Louis B. Mayer had little sympathy with comedians - witness his actions against the Marx Brothers and Buster Keaton. Why should Laurel & Hardy get any better treatment? The last ten films then have to be judged by this background of neglect. As such, one looks for whatever is positive in them. Sometimes it is surprising.
SPOILERS COMING UP The best moments in NOTHING BUT TROUBLE deal with Stan and Ollie trying to cook and serve their employers (Henry O'Neill and Mary Boland), and the conclusion with Philip Merivale's poisoning plot against his nephew. The business with Stan offering a saw to cut the piece of purloined steak is wonderful. But the business with Merivale is quite unique.
It is similar to the situation in the Marx Brothers' THE BIG STORE, where in the concluding chase in the store Douglas Dumbrille, the film's villain, starts taking over the comic punctuation of the sequence, and carries them off quite well (in fact, he takes over the film). Here Merivale does, in particular when the poisoned canapé is mixed up so thoroughly by the boys that Merivale does not know which important social/political/financial figure at the party is going to eat the poisoned piece. Momentarily he thinks it is Mary Boland, but it just appears she swallowed the wrong way. But Merivale goes through the tortures of the damned until the end of the sequence. And, as it turns out, there is a neat wrap up to the matter just before the film concludes.
It is sort of symptomatic to the trouble of Mayer's lack of concern approach with his pure humorist - he so did not care about the actual finished product, that he was willing to let the film's villains take over the comedy. It makes one appreciate Merrivale more, just like THE BIG STORE makes one regard Dumbrille more highly. But it really does not add much luster to L & H anymore than the other added to the reputations of the Marx Brothers.
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