Second-place winner in NUTS IN MAY: A LAUREL & HARDY BLOGATHON (WITH PRIZES!)

Liberty

from the blog Serendipitous Anachronisms

Hello, darling readers, today’s post is part of the Nuts in May Blogathon hosted by Movie Movie Blog Blog, a fantastic event dedicated to the comedy of Laurel and Hardy. I love Laurel and Hardy, so naturally, I had to sign up!

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Today, I share one of my favorite films of all times, Liberty, which stars Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. On top of being brilliant comedians, they were also excellent actors. And what makes Laurel and Hardy truly unique as comedy team is the genuine affection they have for one another, despite their ever-mounting frustration, they bicker like siblings, you know they will always support one another, no matter what.

It is this unique blend of affection that inspired Samuel Beckett’s classic play Waiting for Godot and Laurel and Hardy often influence the play’s production design.

I realize that many people consider silent films an acquired taste, but when people say they don’t like silent films, I say, “Watch Liberty,” because Liberty is awesome!

Our film opens with an overly stiff and stale salute to liberty, but don’t let this opening stop you, just sit through it, and buckle up, and get ready for the funniest silent film of all time.

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Stanley and Oliver are in yet “another fine mess,” this time they have broken out of prison! Their gang shows up in a getaway car, and they bring a change of clothing, and the trouble begins.

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In the rushed change, they accidentally trade pants.

At this point, they are dropped off from the getaway car and are on the run, when they notice they are wearing the wrongs pants. Stanley’s pants are ten sizes too big, and Ollies pants are ten sizes too small.

They decide to exchange pants, but where to go?

What follows is a hysterical sequence of increasing humiliation as the two men try to swap pants in the backs of alleys, and hidden behind corners…  Even a fish market, where Stanley accidentally picks up a crab in his trousers!

Now imagine, being on the run, trying to look inconspicuous and a crab pinches you. When you are on the run, fresh out of prison, the last thing you want is police attention. And the crab pinches Stanley again, and again and again!

The first thing anyone is going to want to do is to get those pants off, right? Back to square one, where does one take off one’s pants in the middle of downtown Los Angeles?

Finally, they find the perfect spot for the exchange, an elevator on a construction site.

And this is where Liberty transforms from amusing to horrifying, and we find Stanley, Oliver, and the very “pinchy” crab, together on a scaffolding, on top of a skyscraper.

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And in case you imagine that the shot above is some studio effect, it is not! Laurel and Hardy are on the roof of the Western Costume Building located at 939 South Broadway in downtown Los Angeles; the scaffolding is an actual three-story high set on the roof of that 150-foot building!

OH. MY. GOD!

What makes this scene even more terrifying is knowing that, like myself, poor Stan Laurel was afraid of heights. According to the Laurel and Hardy Museum blog, Stan began having a panic attack while shooting the scene. I totally understand I have panic attacks just watching the scene.

According to Wes Gehringer’s book Laurel & Hardy: Bio-bibliography:

“During the skyscraper production of Liberty (1929), Hardy attempted to relieve the high-rise anxiety of Laurel by demonstrating the effectiveness of the safety platform some fifteen-twenty feet below their scaffold set. He jumped down to the platform– which he crashed through, falling an additional twenty feet to the ground. Somehow he escaped serious injury. Though the film was eventually finished, Hardy’s good deed could not have been much comfort to Laurel” (Gehringer 230).

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The stomach dropping stunts from ladders to beams, elevate our heroes to abject terror as they struggle with a fear of heights, a frightening landscape, and a less than friendly crab, oh yes, and evading the police.

So if you are going to watch only one silent film in your lifetime, please promise me, dear readers you will watch Liberty

My understanding is there will be prizes, including my favorite Laurel and Hardy dolls! Good luck to all my fellow bloggers, and thanks to Steve from Movie Movie Blog Blog for hosting this event!

Ciao for now, dearies!

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The winners of NUTS IN MAY: A LAUREL & HARDY BLOGATHON (WITH PRIZES!)

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First, let me thank all five participants in this blogathon. All of these entries are delightful to read, and they really capture the cheery, blithe spirit of Laurel & Hardy’s comedy.

I promised that I would post the first- , second- , and third-place winners’ entries here at my blog, and I will do so later today. In the meantime, here is a listing of all of the winners, as well as links to their blog entries. Click on each movie title to read each blogger’s entry.

If you are one of the winners, please email me at socialmediaspecialist61@gmail.com. (If you’re having trouble reading that, put these altogether as one word: social media specialist @ gmail.com) In your email, please include both the name of your blog, and the name and street address where you would like your prize to be sent.

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Fifth place –

Prize: A copy of John McCabe’s 1975 coffee-table book Laurel & Hardy

Awarded to: Realweegiemidget Reviews

Blog entry: A Chump at Oxford (1940)

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Fourth place –

Prize: A copy of Glenn Mitchell’s 1995 paperback book The Laurel & Hardy Encyclopedia

Awarded to: thoughtsallsorts

Blog entry: The Live Ghost (1934)

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Third place –

Prize: The Kino Video/Lobster Films 2004 DVD of Laurel & Hardy’s 1939 film The Flying Deuces

Awarded to: The Movie Rat

Blog entry: The Music Box (1932)

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Second place –

Prize: “70th anniversary” Laurel & Hardy dolls

Awarded to: Serendipitous Anachronisms

Blog entry:  Liberty (1929)

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First place –

Prize: A copy of Randy Skretvedt’s hardbound book Laurel & Hardy: The Magic Behind the Movies – The Ultimate Edition

Awarded to: Caftan Woman

Blog entry: Me and My Pal (1933)

 

Again, thanks to all participants, and please email me the requested info ASAP. I’ll do my best to get my prizes out to you in the next few days.

IN LIKE A LION, OUT LIKE A LAMB BLOGATHON – Day 1 Recap

We’ve uncovered quite a few bloggers who had misgivings about certain films that they ended up loving! Thankfully, we got them to share their stories with us in

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If you’ve missed any of these enjoyable film memories, click on the appropriate blog name below to link to the blog and read the blogathon entry.

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BNoirDetour came to realize that Bogie and Bacall really did have it all in The Big Sleep.

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Moon in Gemini was transformed from film snob to movie populist, courtesy of James Cameron’s The Terminator.

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Love Letters to Old Hollywood decided she wanted to have what Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal were having in When Harry Met Sally.

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Serendipitous Anachronisms anticipated a snark-fest and got an engrossing thriller when she watched Richard Boone in the otherworldly I Bury the Living.

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And yours truly got a pleasant surprise in black comedy when I partook of future big-name stars Denis Leary’s and Kevin Spacey’s early career work in The Ref.

We still have two more days to go in our blogathon, so keep us bookmarked for more terrific turnaround stories in cinema!

THE UNTAMABLE WHISKERS (1904) – George Melies, master of disguise

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The following is my entry in the France on Film Blogathon, being hosted Jan. 8-9, 2016 by the blog Serendipitous Anachronisms. Click on the banner above, and read bloggers’ critiques of both movies from France and French-inspired cinema!

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I condescendingly pity anyone who cannot “get into” silent film. Besides witnessing its blossoming as a fresh art form, much of the joy of silent movies is watching supposedly mature adults having fun playing with every aspect of a movie camera — Buster Keaton in Sherlock Jr., Charlie Chaplin in practically all of his early work…and Georges Melies.

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Melies pulled every trick he could think of to create elaborate cinematic otherworlds — building eye-popping sets and costumes, hand-painting his movies frame-by-frame, making objects disappear and reappear via stop-motion photography. The movie most associated with Melies, of course, is A Trip to the Moon (1902), a wild elaboration of the titular journey. But the Melies movie that delights me the most is far less epic in scope, yet just as joyful: The Untamable Whiskers.

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The premise is simplicity itself. Melies appears on camera and pulls out a huge blackboard, on which he draws a face with some affectation — a beard, or clown make-up. Then Melies pushes the blackboard away, stands still, and quickly dabs at his face with his palm, as if to say, “Abracadabra.” And what do you know — Melies’ face transforms into the face he had drawn on the blackboard!

Melies does this a half-dozen times over the course of the film’s two-and-three-quarter minutes. It’s nothing that was going to change the course of cinema. And yet, I’m sure I’ve never seen a live magician who enjoyed performing his act as much as Melies does here.

The Untamable Whiskers is a microcosm of Melies’ movie career, a full display of Melies’ delight at fiddling with just a few earthly details and taking you into his fantasy vision. As cinema’s “vocabulary” expanded, Melies’ work started to look dated, and much of his work was lost or destroyed — less than half of his short films still exist today. Yet moviegoers have hardly lost their taste for traveling to other places (as the Star Wars series continues to prove). Georges Melies paved the way to galaxies far, far away just over a century ago.