TWICE TWO (1933) – Two Laurels and Hardys, but not twice the fun

twicetwo

The gimmick in Twice Two — and a very gimmicky gimmick it is — is that Laurel & Hardy play not only Stan and Ollie, but also their own sisters, each of whom is married to the other’s friend. (Considering the exasperation that Stan continually brings to Ollie, one wonders why either he would want to marry Stan’s sister or Ollie’s sister would want to marry Stan, but let it pass.)

The split-screen effects (by Roy Seawright, Hal Roach’s F/X man) are seamless. But the novelty of, essentially, two Stans and two Ollies wears thin very quickly. Whereas in Brats and Our Relations, Laurel and Hardy’s dual roles are more enjoyable due to superior characterization and gags, here L&H are content to play broadly female versions of their usual personas.

Naturally, the “women’s” voices are dubbed, too: Carol Tevis for Mrs. Hardy, and May Wallace for Mrs. Laurel. Wallace sounds plausibly like Ollie raised a few octaves, but Tevis’ voice just gets on the nerves. After a while, one identifies with Mrs. Laurel’s fervent desire to smack Mrs. Hardy upside the head.

The movie’s funniest moments owe nothing to the double-gimmickry. Stan steals the show just by bollixing up a simple ice-cream order, or trying to tuck a napkin under his chin while his wife (Hardy) glowers at him.

Probably due to the necessary dubbing, the movie feels less improvised and more earthbound than L&H’s usual lot. Despite its comedic intent, Twice Two fails to double one’s pleasure simply by “doubling” its cast.

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