Gary Johnson wrote:You really want to keep picking at this scab? You know, I originally wrote in my first post that this subject always ends up veering from discussion to argument. It always did back in the good old bad days of the usenet newsgroups and it doesn't look like anything has changed since.
I'll try again but try to keep the condescension down to a low boil, I'm getting annoyed with you....
Yeah, ain't it annoyin' when somebody actually tries to make you think about what you are saying, maybe challenges you to look at your own beliefs? Oooh, better go back to Facebook where you can have your own little fiefdom where your virtual friends don't dare disagree with you lest they be "unfriended", that's everyone's safe little cocoon these days, where they can spout whatever nonsense they like without ever having to be informed by anyone that perhaps they don't have a clue.
Over her, it ain't like that kids, and if you're going to discuss things with me, just remember that I ain't virtual and I may or may not be your friend.
Now, I don't see how agreeing with you about keeping a comedians career into a historical context jibes with my feelings towards L&H's FOX films. In fact it fits in perfectly. L&H had a stellar career, but they did have career highs and lows. You do agree with that?
Absolutely, the question and the kicker being the level of those high and lows. Laurel and Hardy may have not had total control of what they were doing, but hey, they weren't workin at Monogram either, they were still top comedy stars making successful features for a studio that (at least in Fox's case) was not MGM but a studio that was trying to accommodate two stars who were working in a field in which that studio was not particularly versed in. Stan and Babe's Fox films are indeed "lesser works" than their Roach product, but at the same time, they are not on the level of say, Buster Keaton's MGM product, which has that whole problem MGM always had with comedians (and Laurel and Hardy's two MGM's forties features suffer the same problem).
At Fox, it's obvious that Fox knows there is a problem, and are trying to fix it as best they can within a rigid studio system, and their Laurel and Hardy films show improvement in that direction as they go along, the Mal St. Clair-directed films head the Boys back in the direction of their original characters and milieus, and the gags show more of Stan Laurel and some of his original gagmen's hand, the films get better and better. And at the same time Laurel and Hardy's stardom was not threatened, these films were all moneymakers and they could have continued to make them if Stan Laurel had wished (then again, Stan Laurel was also the guy who thought he could get better working conditions than he had at Hal Roach and would not renegotiate there either, so perhaps Stan was not really the best judge of how to handle his own career either).
And the post-Roach films are where their lows started for the simple reason that the creative heart and soul of the team was not allowed to collaborate like before and it shows. I grew up on these films, as I said before. One week FRA DIAVOLO would air, the next week THE BIG NOISE. For me it was night and day. (I know we are not supposed to compare and contrast films but you have so many rules about watching comedies that I can't keep up). I would still watch THE BIG NOISE every time it aired because it was L&H, but there was no joy in it for me. It became a chore.
Oh please, if THE BIG NOISE was such a "chore" for you to watch, you didn't have enough chores when you were a child, cause it's actually the best of the Fox L and H's in my book, Everson and those Medved idiots be damned. It has a genuine Laurel and Hardy feel to it, they are not treated like idiots by the rest of the cast (in fact, they may be the only sane ones in the household they are guarding), the Boy's performance energy and focus is good (I really like Hardy's reactions in the whole "food-pill" sequence) and there are some genuinely good gags in it, along with a charming ending which rivals any of Laurel and Hardy's endings in their films, Roach or otherwise.
And frankly, however great Laurel and Hardy's scenes in THE DEVILS BROTHER are, there's a decent amount of operatic tedium in it as well, I can't say it is my favorite of their Roach films.
Of course it is okay to compare and contrast Laurel and Hardy's work, I said that before if you hadn't noticed, but it is saner and wiser to compare them on a realistic basis than an overemotional and irrational one. Of course Laurel and Hardy's Forties films are not on the level of their best Hal Roach work, but they are not horrible traumas to be avoided at all costs either, they are not even on the level of what would be construed as other of their contemporaries worst work. And it is perfectly valid to say that they have gotten a unfair bad rep from some of the earlier historians and deserve a look and a reappraisal today, too many audiences without agendas have laughed at these films to take the word of some writer alone.
And when I hear you going on about how "tired and sad" the Boys and the films look, I know damn well you read the Everson book before you ever saw most of those films, c'mon, cop to it, you know it's true, we all did!
Hey, you're not even the worst case I've known, I know a guy who says he can't watch any of Stan and Babe's talkie work because it is not as brilliant as their silents, and they look to middle-aged and have slowed down their pace too much to be funny in talkies. How pathetic is that?
And to this day they still are. It's as simple as that. Those films produce a few smiles now and then for me. That's it. Sue me if I want to spend my time with the greatest comedy team receiving more than a few smiles. Now, have I said that no one else can watch these films? No I have not. Watch them to your hearts content. But I will keep them in the historical context of L&H's lesser films and not be a party to those who want to re-write history by elevating their stature as if they are the real reason we remember L&H to this day.
History gets re-wrote everyday, both for the good and bad, that's why it pays to not be so rigid in lieu of new information and opinions. If you never want to watch the Laurel and Hardy forties features, fine, we're not going to tie you down, staple your eyes open, and make you watch them, but you were the one who came over from the safety of your Facebook confines into the dangerous badlands of Silent Comedy Mafia to protesteth too much about not being drug into a discussion over the merits of these pictures when the word over here on them was headin' positive. What did you think you were gonna get, no "Like" buttons over here. This is the right room for an argument, and it's just discussin' comedy by old dead comedians so why get flustered by anything said here? Nothing here is all that serious.
RICHARD M ROBERTS