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Sidewalks of New York (1931)
A comedy with Keaton, but not a Keaton comedy
I have great respect for the early movie comedians like Keaton, Chaplin, Laurel and others who created a character and developed situations and gags that fit the character's personality. They all had great autonomy within their own smaller companies, but found free reign disappear when they moved to the majors. "Sidewalks" is an MGM comedy with Buster Keaton; it's not a Buster Keaton comedy. It isn't bad, but other, even lesser comedians could have done as well because the "Buster" character doesn't appear here. Although some of the dialog is good and Keaton delivers it well, there's too much; he has an inner city gym for physical gags, but there's too little. The big studios never understood that comedians like Keaton, and later Laurel and Hardy, were their own writers, directors, and gag men. "Sidewalks" has much to recommend it, including some good support, but if you're looking for "Buster", or even "Elmer", look elsewhere.
A Pair of Tights (1929)
Not Stan and Ollie - Peanuts and Anita
I realize this very funny picture was produced by Hal Roach and starred a comedy team, but I don't see how anyone can believe that Kennedy and Erwin played roles intended for Laurel and Hardy. The two men do little more than drive around the block for more than half the picture while Peanuts Byron gets all the gags. If anything, Stan and Ollie would have played the girls' parts and would have been more of a team than Peanuts and Anita were. The ice cream routines with Spec O'Donnell are highlights, as is the final "reciprocal destruction" scene, but it's unfair to compare this delightful short with a true Laurel and Hardy picture. Forget The Boys, watch The Girls; they're funny, too.
Swiss Miss (1938)
Better than it gets credit for
I think this picture gets bashed undeservedly. By 1938 Hal Roach was branching out into other movie genres, and he liked adding music to comedy and comedy to adventure. Laurel and Hardy had been successful in "The Devil's Brother" and "Babes in Toyland", and this film was not a stretch from those. He added good sets, a better than usual supporting cast, and popular music to this picture. Stan, for his part, created gags that were unusual for the team, such as the St. Bernard scene, the piano-bridge scene, and the organ scene. Both men were in the 40's; Stan had been ill and Oliver was really adding weight, and they were less than believable doing banana peel slide routines any more. They all tried mightily to produce a pleasant hybrid movie, but because it wasn't traditional L&H picture they got resentment instead. The light was visible at the end of the tunnel for Stan and Ollie by this time, and they attempted a direction change they hoped would retain their place as major stars.