Turned down when they try to enlist, the boys do the next best thing and become air raid wardens. They uncover and foil a Nazi plot to sabotage a magnesium plant.Written by
Herman Seifer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In 1976 Fairchild issued an MGM "Film Classic" puzzle series that included this film. The photo used for the 250-piece puzzle is obviously a publicity still (#1287) and not an actual scene, as it depicts in color Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy seated in a demolished antique car that is up against a tree. The car has no tires, only rims, although one back tire is shown lying on the ground in the rear. See more »
Don't worry, Mr. Norton, now. We'll have you out in a jiffy!
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Too Bad This Film Wasn't Produced on the Hal Roach Lot
Frustrated by their lack of artistic freedom at 20th Century Fox, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy hoped that MGM would provide them with more leeway. Superficially, their situation improved. Charlie Rogers and Jack Jevne, who had worked with Stan and Ollie during their glory days at Hal Roach, helped work on the script for the MGM production. The director, Edward Sedgwick, had a knack for slapstick and had worked with the Boys on the Roach film PICK A STAR. The scenario depicted Laurel and Hardy as sympathetic innocents instead of the obnoxious boneheads at Fox.
The result, AIR RAID WARDENS, is an improvement over their last Fox picture A-HAUNTING WE WILL GO, but not a significant one. As the title suggests, the Boys are air raid wardens on the home front during World War II. This situation has considerable comedic potential and indeed the film does generate some laughs, particularly a scene where the Boys unsuccessfully try to control a dog at a town meeting. But many promising gags are marred by sluggish pacing. The lack of background music, a hallmark in the Hal Roach films, further hampers the gags.
As in A-HAUNTING WE WILL GO, the villains, a group of Nazi spies, are too serious to effectively serve as antagonists for the slapsticky characters of Stan and Ollie. It is actually disturbing to view such sinister, humorless characters threaten the Boys. MGM should have followed the example of the Columbia short subjects department which pitted the Three Stooges against Keystone Cop-like Nazis in such wartime films like THEY STOOGE TO CONGA and HIGHER THAN A KITE.
Even more distressing is the studio's misguided attempts to generate audience sympathy for Laurel and Hardy. When Stan and Ollie are at their lowest ebb, they wallow in humorless self-pity. In the classic Hal Roach films, no matter how badly things were, Laurel and Hardy never felt sorry for themselves and this was part of their popular appeal. In this film when the Boys say lines like "I guess we're not smart like other people." it isn't moving, just depressing.
Those who haven't seen the team's Hal Roach films will probably find AIR RAID WARDENS satisfying. But those who have enjoyed such classics like SONS OF THE DESERT and WAY OUT WEST will find this film a letdown.
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