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Les carottiers (1931)

6.4
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Stan & Ollie (speaking phonetic French!), having been kicked out by their wives on a wintry night, attempt to smuggle their little dog into an apartment house where dogs are not allowed.

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
...
Anita Garvin ...
Mme. Laurel
Germaine De Neel ...
Mme. Hardy
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jean De Briac ...
Cookie
Charles Dorety ...
Drunk
Charlie Hall ...
Bellboy / Landlord
Luis Llaneza ...
Dress extra
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Storyline

This film combines the French language versions of two Laurel & Hardy short films, Be Big and Laughing Gravy, into a pseudo-feature in which the actors speak phonetic French. Commencing with Be Big: the boys fail to join their wives for a weekend in Atlantic City because they've been invited to a stag meeting of their lodge...but they never make it to their lodge, either, because Ollie gets his feet stuck in Stan's too-small boots. A title card explains that the boys have subsequently been kicked out by their wives, and are left with only their little dog, at which point begins Laughing Gravy: on a wintry night in an apartment house where pets are forbidden, the boys attempt to hide their dog, Laughing Gravy, from the landlord, but are threatened with expulsion. However [in a plot twist not found in the original English language version], Stan then receives a letter saying that he will inherit a fortune from his uncle if he leaves Ollie forever; the uncle blames Ollie for Stan's low ... Written by wmorrow59

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy

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Details

Country:

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Release Date:

18 January 2000 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

I klironomia  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This French language film was produced simultaneously with the filming of the two English language Laurel and Hardy shorts Be Big! (1931) and Laughing Gravy (1931). The two shorts were edited together into one continuous film. Laurel and Hardy read their lines from cue cards on which French was written phonetically. At the time of early talkies, dubbing was not yet perfected. The same was done for a Spanish language version, Los calaveras (1931). See more »

Goofs

The vibrating reducing machine with a single belt--which Stanley clowns with while Ollie dons his boots--has somehow acquired a second belt, when shown in the background in subsequent shots. See more »

Connections

Alternate-language version of Be Big! (1931) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Monsieur Laurel et Monsieur Hardy par-lee voo Fran-say
15 March 2003 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

Back when I was collecting Super-8mm prints of old movies about twenty years ago, a friend of mine who'd been traveling in Europe returned with a real find: an early talkie in which Stan and Ollie speak French! Their phonetic French sounds as awkward as you'd imagine, but the novelty sure does boost the viewing experience. I screened LES CAROTTIERS several times for friends, and on one occasion when native speakers of French were present the movie scored a huge hit. I was told afterward that Laurel & Hardy recited their lines like kids in a school play, which neatly suits their characters. This fascinating oddity is quite funny and well worth seeing but remains a rarity. Unless someone puts out a DVD collection of Laurel & Hardy's foreign language releases-- and I hope someone will --these films are hard to find. Meanwhile, the background on the circumstances under which they were made is rather interesting.

In the early talkie days, before dubbing or subtitling had been perfected, some of the Hollywood studios experimented with shooting alternate versions of certain features and shorts in various European languages. This could mean bringing in an entirely new group of actors (as with the Spanish-speaking Dracula Carlos Villarias and his co-stars) or simply utilizing the foreign language skills of such stars as Greta Garbo, who played Anna Christie in both English and German. A third possibility was to have the actors memorize their lines phonetically, assisted by off-camera chalkboards. This method would have made serious drama laughable, but comedies were enhanced by the stars' struggles with unfamiliar tongues. LES CAROTTIERS (loosely, "The Chiselers") is a pseudo-feature that consists of two short films, BE BIG and LAUGHING GRAVY, spliced into a somewhat disjointed whole linked by a single silent film-style intertitle which ties the stories together. Anita Garvin repeats her role as Mrs. Laurel from the English language version of BE BIG, but the French Mrs. Hardy is a different actress. Charlie Hall repeats his roles from the English versions of both films: he's a delivery boy in the first half and, more prominently, the dog-hating landlord in Part Two. As the clean-shaven delivery boy Hall recites his lines phonetically, but in his second role he simply mimes his part while a gruff-voiced French actor delivers his lines off-camera, an approach made possible by the bushy mustache Hall wears that obscures his mouth.

So much for background. How does this oddity hold up today? Well, the second half is quite funny if you last that long. The first half BE BIG is frustratingly unfunny in any language, and serves as a kind of litmus test of the viewer's tolerance for Laurel & Hardy's style of comedy. Most of the action consists of Ollie laboring to yank off a pair of too-tight boots, and even the novelty value of French dialog fades fast, as so much of it consists of grunts and yowls. But stick around and you'll be able to enjoy the team's most successful variant on a favorite motif: the struggle to keep a pet in lodgings where animals are not welcome. In ANGORA LOVE the boys were stuck with a fragrant goat, and in the featurette THE CHIMP they were the reluctant keepers of a circus gorilla, but in both of those stories the animals were unpleasant and unwanted in the first place. Here the animal in question is a sweet, scruffy little dog, so the struggle to protect him from eviction engages our sympathy more than in the other films. It's winter, it's cold outside, and the mean-spirited landlord wants to pitch their adorable pooch out into the snow.

As in the English language version much of the humor is essentially silent, and what dialog there is in LES CAROTTIERS can be pretty easily followed whether you speak French or not, at least until the final sequence. Happily, LeRoy Shields' delightful background music was retained, including the melancholy "Dog Song." The biggest change from the familiar version of LAUGHING GRAVY to be found here is the radically different ending --which, I gather, follows the script originally intended for the English language version. Instead of the smallpox quarantine and landlord Hall's abrupt off-screen suicide (!!?!) LES CAROTTIERS veers into something completely unexpected: Stan receives word that his rich uncle has died and left him a fortune with the stipulation that he parts with Ollie, whom the uncle blames for Stan's lowly status. After his initial shock passes, Ollie sadly urges Stan to accept the terms and go, but insists on keeping the dog. Stan tears up his uncle's letter and check and elects to stay . . . but only for the sake of Laughing Gravy.

This last portion of the film is quite talk-y, and struggling with all that complicated dialog must have been a real chore for Stan and Babe, funny as it is to hear them now. Beyond that, the last-minute inheritance twist is out of keeping with the tone of the rest of LAUGHING GRAVY, which mostly consists of slapstick sequences: hurling tubs full of water, falling off the roof into a rain barrel, etc. During this final sequence we suddenly seem to be in a different kind of movie, and it's not a very satisfying pay-off; perhaps that's why it was cut from the English language version. Oh well. Whatever the case, this film is a fascinating thing to see. Now why can't more people see it? Who holds the rights to these things?

P.S. Early 2007: I'm pleased to report that this film has been included in the 21-disc Laurel & Hardy box set available in the U.K., along with several of the boys' other foreign language releases.


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