I received the Editions Filmmuseum "Hal Roach Female Comedy Teams" set just before the holidays, but so far have only made it through disc one (If I live to be 100, I'll never watch all the DVDs I've acquired...). This set is a real treat, and certainly sets the bar for the upcoming Max Davidson collection; after all, Max's films are a lot more obscure than the Todd-Pitts-Kelly two-reelers.
Of the three Garvin-Byron films; A PAIR OF TIGHTS is complete in a fairly nice print, FEED 'EM & WEEP is a decent reconstruction with a couple of stills and explanatory titles holding things together, and GOING GA GA is presented as two short excerpts totalling about 5 minutes.
There's no escaping that Garvin and Byron ARE Ollie & Stan with estrogen, and it's pretty remarkable how reliant these films are on past Laurel & Hardy gags. FEED 'EM & WEEP is pretty much FROM SOUP TO NUTS in a train station, right down to Marion Byron serving food in her underwear (and before anybody gets too worked up over that, the first two films seem bound and determined to make Marion Byron as unsexy as possible; picture a petite Marie Dressler from TILLIE'S PUNCTURED ROMANCE, with Harry Langdon's face). GOING GA GA does a variation on the central gag from SUGAR DADDIES, but it's still hilarious to watch. And, of course, A PAIR OF TIGHTS is classic Laurel & Hardy-esque reciprocal destruction -- with a little course-correcting in presenting Marion as a cute-sexy-flapper type. If they'd done that from the beginning, the series might have been a success!
(It's also interesting that the script pages from FEED 'EM AND WEEP included on the DVD-ROM refer to Anita and Marion as "Nita" and "Peanuts".)
As for the Todd-Pitts-Kelly shorts, they're always a mixed bag...but it strikes me that Thelma's a lot more fun when she's flirting with Charley Chase or Groucho than when she's being the "responsible one" matched with ZaSu or Patsy. It's like those Tom & Jerry cartoons when little Nibbles shows up...all of the sudden, Jerry gets all "tut tut" and "tsk tsk".
Anyway, upshot is, if you haven't ordered this set yet, you should! :)
- Peanuts & Nita in FEED 'EM & WEEP
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