Behold: The Laurel & Hardy Blogathon!

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It’s here! We wish all the best to today’s annual Oliver Hardy Festival in Harlem, GA (which, we hasten to add, this Blogathon is not in any way connected to or endorsed by). But if you can’t make it to Harlem today, sit back and pay tribute to Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy by reading some wonderful blogs about some of their classic movies!

Here’s the line-up — just click on each blog’s name to go to their Laurel & Hardy review. (Many thanks to the participants!)

THE LUCKY DOG – Silent-ology

FROM SOUP TO NUTS – Way Too Damn Lazy to Write a Blog

THE LAUREL-HARDY MURDER CASE – Once Upon a Screen

HELPMATES – MovieMovieBlogBlog (that’s us!)

WAY OUT WEST – Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

When you’re done reading these fine reviews, feel free to peruse the rest of each participant’s blog for more great movie writing. And by all means, leave a comment below if you’ve enjoyed reading these wonderful tributes to Stan and Ollie. Enjoy!!

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Laurel & Hardy in HELPMATES (1932) – The ultimate answer to Ollie’s “Why don’t you do something to help me?”

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The following is my entry in MovieMovieBlogBlog’s Laurel & Hardy Blogathon. Visit the Blogathon at https://moviemovieblogblog.wordpress.com, and read what many fine bloggers have to say about some classic Laurel & Hardy comedies!

HelpmatesTitle

(WARNINGMajor spoilers abound!)

(Also, the blogger hereby acknowledges that several of the stills in this blog entry were taken from an invaluable Laurel & Hardy-based website titled Another Fine Mess. Please visit this lavishly detailed site and enjoy all manner of information about L&H films and other Hal Roach-produced comedies.)

Most movie comedians, past and present, are eager to present themselves as wisecrackers with a joke for every occasion. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy’s modus operandi is the exact opposite — that the cosmos is continually playing a huge prank on two poor souls who never get the joke.

That, no doubt, is an inherent part of their appeal. Eddie Cantor, a wisecracker if ever there was one, once remarked about Laurel and Hardy’s seriousness — that they played every situation as gravely as if they were in Hamlet. Nowhere is this more evident than in their short subject Helpmates, hailed by L&H enthusiasts everywhere in terms such as “the finest short film the team ever did” (L&H biographer Randy Skretvedt) and “an irreducible masterpiece” (British L&H author Charles Barr).

The movie begins simply enough, with one of title-writer H.M. “Beanie” Walker’s insightful prologues —

Title

— followed by a glorious pan across the aftermath of a messy house party, as Leroy Shield’s mournful music editorializes on the soundtrack. The screen then fills with a straight-to-the-camera close-up of Oliver Hardy, chastizing the perpetrator of this indulgent bacchanal. The camera pulls back to reveal Ollie talking to himself in a bathroom mirror, giving the lie to the real Mr. Hardy’s assessment of the Ollie character as “the smart, smart guy who’s dumber than the dumb guy only he doesn’t know it.” Every so often, even Ollie is aware of his excesses.

OllieMirror

Ollie is lulled out of his stupor by the continual ringing of his doorbell by a telegram messenger, who nonchalantly leans on the bell until Ollie slaps him to the ground. Ollie signs for the telegram with his usual flourish, wondering who could have sent the message. In a masterpiece of exposition, the messenger boy tells Ollie that it’s from his wife, who will be returning from a train trip at noon that day. With that cheery bit of news, the boy happily waves goodbye, leaving Ollie to stew in his hangover. In an apparent effort to make matters worse, Ollie phones Stan for help.

StanPhone

At this point, Stan Laurel the writer-director-editor milks two minutes of film comedy out of practically nothing, as Stanley mistakes his ringing phone for an alarm clock, a clanging bedpan, and everything but the telephone. Another two minutes of comedy comes from Stan and Ollie’s phone conversation (practically a precursor to similar phone conversations decades later by Bob Newhart, a confessed fan of The Boys), as Stan emphatically tell Ollie that a dog “b-i-it me…bit me!” and presses the phone receiver to his wound to show Ollie where he was bitten.

Ollie begs Stan to come over — which he does, seconds later, fully dressed, to Ollie’s astonishment. This seemingly simple gag is a subtle statement of the movie’s theme (as once expressed by Randy Skretvedt to this blogger): Separately, The Boys work wonders; together, they constitute a recipe for disaster.

Door

Ollie quickly tells Stan of his dire situation, causing Stan to wonder why Ollie’s wife would be upset. Ollie points to his wedding picture, showing Blanche Payson in best Amazonian scowl. “Isn’t she sweet?” says Stan, the poster boy for “Ignorance Is Bliss.” Ollie appeals to Stan’s scruples (and outright ignorance), stating that he’d help Stan out in a similar jam. Stan argues that Ollie wouldn’t help him; Ollie argues why; Stan says, “Because I’m not going to get married.” Cut to a delightful close-up of Stan, giggling in a rare moment of self-awareness.

Having triumphed with his wit, Stan agrees to help Ollie, who mixes metaphors in his eager gratitude — followed by a slip, a fall, and a glance upward to Stan, as if to say, “Is the rest of our day going to be like this?” Why, soi-tainly.

Fade in on Ollie putting the final touches on his Sunday best and Stan actually accomplishing his goal of cleaning all the kitchen dishes. Of course, this can’t last. Ollie slips on a discarded rug vacuum, flies into the kitchen, and destroys the crockery. At this point, Stan does the only thing to be done: He picks himself up and unwraps a cake of butter. (Only a character as dim-witted as Stan could get away with such an obvious sight-gag set-up.) Ollie reaches for something to clean himself up, knocks open an loose chimney tube, and gets covered in soot. He asks Stan for some soap, and Stan gives him…well, you know. A few more bumps on the head from some wayword kitchen utensils, and Ollie seems ready to call it a day.

OllieBlackface

Through another set of disasters too painful(ly funny) to describe, Ollie is reduced to lighting a gas stove to dry his last good suit, unaware that Stan has already been running the gas for a few minutes hence. Comedy biographer Joe Adamson once went to great pains to describe how 1930’s comedy used “punctuation” for some of its best laughs. What is punctuation? Ollie strikes a match in the kitchen. Cut to the room next door, which rocks in explosion as Ollie is ejected from the kitchen. Ollie crawls out from behind the couch, sees the telltale match in his hand, and flicks it away in resignation. That’s punctuation — a comedic moment I can’t explain, but which makes me laugh helplessly every time I see it.

OllieMatch

Ollie gets a phone call from the Mrs., emphatically requesting his presence at the train station, where she has now arrived. Ollie pleads for his suit, which Stan provides — in a number of pieces, having been denuded in the explosion. Ollie initially panics, then comes up with his version of a brilliant idea. He tells Stan to clean up quickly.

OllieSuit

Cut to Stan miraculously having cleaned the room in record time (let me reiterate: He did it alone), followed by Ollie’s final suit: a Napoleonic horse-riding costume, complete with sword. After a great double-take, Stan gravely informs Ollie that he can’t wear that suit to meet his wife, for the obvious reason that “You haven’t got a horse!” Ollie hurries out the door, asking Stan to leave as soon as he’s done cleaning up.

StanFire

Before he leaves, Stan decides to light a cozy fire for the Hardys. But lighting a fire is a Herculean task compared to cleaning up a room destroyed by a wild party and a gas explosion; the fire just won’t take. So Stan douses the single log with a liberal dose of gasoline (accidentally knocking over the gas can for good measure); he strikes the match, and before we can contemplate the ensuing horror, the film fades out.

A title then informs us:

Title2

Ollie kindly stops in front of the camera to let us contemplate his black eye and his twisted sword. It appears that Mrs. Hardy will soon be appearing on “Divorce Court,” showing Helpmates as evidence.

OllieBlackEye

Cut to Ollie’s house, which has been reduced to smoldering ashes from Stan’s goodwill fire-lighting. Stan helpfully holds a sputtering water hose on the remains. Ollie is so lost in his own troubles that he doesn’t realize what’s happened until he stumbles on the doorway that’s no longer there.

OllieEnd

Ollie does the mother of all double-takes and asks Stan what happened; of course, he might as well be asking Stan for the meaning of life. Stan blubbers out an explanation and piteously understates, “The house burned down and I couldn’t help it!”, followed by the patented Stanley cry.

Ollie knows when to leave disastrous enough alone; he waves Stan away, asking Stan to close the non-existent door on his way out because “I’d like to be alone.” Of course, the cosmos isn’t about to leave Ollie alone; a commentary cloudburst ensues. Ollie sheepishly hides his face as if prepping himself for the press photographers at “Divorce Court.” He notices an errant piece of lint on his horse suit and picks it away. For some reason, this gesture affords him little dignity as the movie fades out.

Besides being two reels of superb ’30s comedy, Helpmates provided a pointed argument on the debits of colorization. In the 1980’s, Hal Roach Studios (a movie studio in corporate name only) picked this movie as one of the first to serve as an example of their watercolor washouts.

Another nice colorized mess.

Another nice colorized mess.

First, HRS didn’t even restore the movie’s original titles; instead, they pulled out the generations-removed Film Classics version of the movie and removed even their truncated titles. Then, they colorized as little of the movie as they could get away with; look at the scene in Stan’s apartment, where Stan’s red hair, and little else, is colorized. Finally, in order to be able to copyright the colorized version as a new entity, HRS removed the majority of Stan and Ollie’s delightful phone conversation, as well as an extended sight-gag in Ollie’s bedroom. The Studios’ colorizers, it appears, are direct descendants of the corporate suits at Twentieth Century-Fox who hired Laurel & Hardy to appear in Fox films in the 1940’s and then proceeded to drain most of the comedy from their work. It’s an ongoing lesson that’s yet to be learned: Hollywood suits need to stick to contracts, and leave the comedy to the experts.

TheEnd

Last chance to enter: Laurel & Hardy Blogathon, here on Sat., Oct. 4!

This is it, folks — only one more week until our Laurel & Hardy Blogathon! If you have (a) a blog and (b) unabashed affection for Laurel and Hardy, I’d love to have you participate! Because what else are you gonna do on a Saturday, anyway?

FINAL

MovieMovieBlogBlog is proud to announce the 1st Annual Laurel & Hardy Blogathon!

When: Sat., Oct. 4, 2014.

Where: Right here, at moviemovieblogblog.wordpress.com. (If you have never participated in a blogathon before, click here for an excellent explanation of the procedure, from a fellow movie blogger.)

FINAL

How: To sign up, leave me a comment on this blog, or IM me at my Facebook page. (I don’t check my email frequently, so it is best that you contact me through one of these venues.) I will be keeping a roster of all the participants and will frequently update it at this blog.  I have banners at the bottom of this post that you can put on your sites.  During the blogathon itself, when your post is ready to go, simply leave me a comment with your link, or send a message. Please be sure to email me the title and URL of the blog where you will be posting your entry!

Also, I ask that you have your entry posted at least by 12:01 a.m. on Oct. 4, if not sooner. I have previously participated in a blogathon where many of the advertised blogs were not posted by the date of the blogathon, which makes things confusing for anyone who wants to stop by and read people’s entries.

What to submit:

I am looking for posts that review/critique any movie that stars or co-stars Stan Laurel and/or Oliver Hardy. Let me make this clear. You can blog about:

* any of the Laurel & Hardy silent and sound short subjects and feature films

* any movie in which Laurel & Hardy made “guest appearances” (e.g., Hollywood Party)

* any short subject or feature film that stars or co-stars Stan Laurel or Oliver Hardy solo (without their partner)

* also, there are a few documentaries about the team — Cuckoo, Laurel & Hardy: A Tribute to the Boys, and Laurel & Hardy: Their Lives and Magic. I welcome any blog about any of these as well.

If you try to blog about this, we will track you down and pie you.

If you try to blog about this, we will track you down and pie you.

What not to submit:

* Please, no general reminiscences about how you “came across” Laurel & Hardy. I would like your blog to be related to a movie that fits one of the above categories.

* Please please, no reviews of:  any theatrical cartoons with L&H caricatures; any made-for-TV Laurel & Hardy cartoons; or that feature-film abomination, The New Adventures of Laurel & Hardy: For Love or Mummy.

Other rules:

* As I said, I will keep a running tally at this blog of which movies have been chosen for blogging. If you let me know what movie you want to blog, and I inform you that it’s already taken and you’ll need to choose a different movie, please don’t take it personally. The key words here are variety and fun.

* Please blog only text and/or photos. Do not include any links to online Laurel & Hardy movies, videos, or clips from YouTube or any other Internet media. I would like this blogathon to be seen by as many people as possible, and some sites will not link to blogs with L&H vids due to copyright issues.

* Keep your blog in the bounds of good taste. Stan and Babe are watching from above.

* Blogs can be positive or negative. If you want to express your love for your favorite L&H film, by all means, do so. Conversely, if you think a particular L&H film is overrated and you want to say why, go for it. All I ask is that you couch your comments in thought-out critical terms, as opposed to “Laurel and Hardy suck.”

Roster: Here is the roster of movies and bloggers as of Sept. 26:

THE LUCKY DOG – Silent-ology

FROM SOUP TO NUTS – Way Too Damn Lazy to Write a Blog

THE LAUREL-HARDY MURDER CASE – Once Upon a Screen

HELPMATES – MovieMovieBlogBlog (that’s me!) (unless someone else would like to use this movie as their entree to the Blogathon)

WAY OUT WEST – Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

Let’s make this blogathon as big of an online success as the live Oliver Hardy Festival!

Disclaimer: This blogathon is not in any way related to or endorsed by The Oliver Hardy Festival of Harlem, GA.

Banners:

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Another shameless plug for my Laurel & Hardy Blogathon

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MovieMovieBlogBlog is proud to announce the 1st Annual Laurel & Hardy Blogathon!

Capture

When: Sat., Oct. 4, 2014.

Where: Right here, at moviemovieblogblog.wordpress.com. (If you have never participated in a blogathon before, click here for an excellent explanation of the procedure, from a fellow movie blogger.)

Capture

How: To sign up, leave me a comment on this blog, or IM me at my Facebook page. (I don’t check my email frequently, so it is best that you contact me through one of these venues.) I will be keeping a roster of all the participants and will frequently update it at this blog.  I have banners at the bottom of this post that you can put on your sites.  During the blogathon itself, when your post is ready to go, simply leave me a comment with your link, or send a message. Please be sure to email me the title and URL of the blog where you will be posting your entry!

Also, I ask that you have your entry posted at least by 12:01 a.m. on Oct. 4, if not sooner. I have previously participated in a blogathon where many of the advertised blogs were not posted by the date of the blogathon, which makes things confusing for anyone who wants to stop by and read people’s entries.

 

What to submit:

I am looking for posts that review/critique any movie that stars or co-stars Stan Laurel and/or Oliver Hardy. Let me make this clear. You can blog about:

* any of the Laurel & Hardy silent and sound short subjects and feature films

* any movie in which Laurel & Hardy made “guest appearances” (e.g., Hollywood Party)

* any short subject or feature film that stars or co-stars Stan Laurel or Oliver Hardy solo (without their partner)

* also, there are a few documentaries about the team — Cuckoo, Laurel & Hardy: A Tribute to the Boys, and Laurel & Hardy: Their Lives and Magic. I welcome any blog about any of these as well.

 

What not to submit:

* Please, no general reminiscences about how you “came across” Laurel & Hardy. I would like your blog to be related to a movie that fits one of the above categories.

* Please please, no reviews of:  any theatrical cartoons with L&H caricatures; any made-for-TV Laurel & Hardy cartoons; or that feature-film abomination, The New Adventures of Laurel & Hardy: For Love or Mummy.

 

Other rules:

* As I said, I will keep a running tally at this blog of which movies have been chosen for blogging. If you let me know what movie you want to blog, and I inform you that it’s already taken and you’ll need to choose a different movie, please don’t take it personally. The key words here are variety and fun.

* Please blog only text and/or photos. Do not include any links to online Laurel & Hardy movies, videos, or clips from YouTube or any other Internet media. I would like this blogathon to be seen by as many people as possible, and some sites will not link to blogs with L&H vids due to copyright issues.

* Keep your blog in the bounds of good taste. Stan and Babe are watching from above.

* Blogs can be positive or negative. If you want to express your love for your favorite L&H film, by all means, do so. Conversely, if you think a particular L&H film is overrated and you want to say why, go for it. All I ask is that you couch your comments in thought-out critical terms, as opposed to “Laurel and Hardy suck.”

 

Roster: Here is the roster of movies and bloggers as of Sept. 20.

THE LUCKY DOG – Silent-ology

FROM SOUP TO NUTS – Way Too Damn Lazy to Write a Blog

THE LAUREL-HARDY MURDER CASE – Once Upon a Screen

WAY OUT WEST – Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

 

Let’s make this blogathon as big of an online success as the live Oliver Hardy Festival!

 

Disclaimer: This blogathon is not in any way related to or endorsed by The Oliver Hardy Festival of Harlem, GA.

 

Banners:

1LH2LH3LH4LH5LH6LH7

The Laurel & Hardy Blogathon – Here, on Sat., Oct. 4, 2014!

Every year in the first weekend of October, The Oliver Hardy Festival is held as a tribute to Mr. Hardy in Harlem, GA., Oliver Hardy’s birthplace. This year’s Festival will be held on Sat., Oct. 4.

Don’t you wish you could show your affection for Mr. Hardy and his partner, Mr. Laurel? Well, if you can’t make it to Harlem this year, here’s how you can do it from the comfort of your keyboard!

MovieMovieBlogBlog is proud to announce the 1st Annual Laurel & Hardy Blogathon!

When: Sat., Oct. 4, 2014.

Where: Right here, at moviemovieblogblog.wordpress.com. (If you have never participated in a blogathon before, click here for an excellent explanation of the procedure, from a fellow movie blogger.)

How: To sign up, leave me a comment on this blog, or IM me at my Facebook page. (I don’t check my email frequently, so it is best that you contact me through one of these venues.) I will be keeping a roster of all the participants and will frequently update it at this blog.  I have banners at the bottom of this post that you can put on your sites.  During the blogathon itself, when your post is ready to go, simply leave me a comment with your link, or send a message. Please be sure to email me the title and URL of the blog where you will be posting your entry!

Also, I ask that you have your entry posted at least by 12:01 a.m. on Oct. 4, if not sooner. I have previously participated in a blogathon where many of the advertised blogs were not posted by the date of the blogathon, which makes things confusing for anyone who wants to stop by and read people’s entries.

 

What to submit:

I am looking for posts that review/critique any movie that stars or co-stars Stan Laurel and/or Oliver Hardy. Let me make this clear. You can blog about:

* any of the Laurel & Hardy silent and sound short subjects and feature films

* any movie in which Laurel & Hardy made “guest appearances” (e.g., Hollywood Party)

* any short subject or feature film that stars or co-stars Stan Laurel or Oliver Hardy solo (without their partner)

* also, there are a few documentaries about the team — Cuckoo, Laurel & Hardy: A Tribute to the Boys, and Laurel & Hardy: Their Lives and Magic. I welcome any blog about any of these as well.

 

What not to submit:

* Please, no general reminiscences about how you “came across” Laurel & Hardy. I would like your blog to be related to a movie that fits one of the above categories.

* Please please, no reviews of:  any theatrical cartoons with L&H caricatures; any made-for-TV Laurel & Hardy cartoons; or that feature-film abomination, The New Adventures of Laurel & Hardy: For Love or Mummy.

 

Other rules:

* As I said, I will keep a running tally at this blog of which movies have been chosen for blogging. If you let me know what movie you want to blog, and I inform you that it’s already taken and you’ll need to choose a different movie, please don’t take it personally. The key words here are variety and fun.

* Please blog only text and/or photos. Do not include any links to online Laurel & Hardy movies, videos, or clips from YouTube or any other Internet media. I would like this blogathon to be seen by as many people as possible, and some sites will not link to blogs with L&H vids due to copyright issues.

* Keep your blog in the bounds of good taste. Stan and Babe are watching from above.

* Blogs can be positive or negative. If you want to express your love for your favorite L&H film, by all means, do so. Conversely, if you think a particular L&H film is overrated and you want to say why, go for it. All I ask is that you couch your comments in thought-out critical terms, as opposed to “Laurel and Hardy suck.”

 

Roster: Here is the roster of movies and bloggers as of Sunday morning, Sept. 14-

THE LUCKY DOG – Silent-ology

FROM SOUP TO NUTS – Way Too Damn Lazy to Write a Blog

THE LAUREL-HARDY MURDER CASE – Once Upon a Screen

WAY OUT WEST – Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

Let’s make this blogathon as big of an online success as the live Oliver Hardy Festival!

 

Disclaimer: This blogathon is not in any way related to or endorsed by The Oliver Hardy Festival of Harlem, GA.

 

Banners:

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