Laurel and Hardy Annotated: BACON GRABBERS

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Laurel and Hardy Annotated: BACON GRABBERS

Postby Bruckman64 on Sat Jan 24, 2009 8:07 pm

Bacon Grabbers

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Bacon Grabbers, Laurel and Hardy's next-to-last silent short, was filmed in February 1929 and held out of release for eight months after its filming had been completed while the team's first five talking shorts were put into circulation. (Had it been released in order of its shooting schedule, it would have gone to theaters probably around June of 1929).

00:37 title: Bacon Grabbers: John McCabe notes in Laurel and Hardy that "attachment men" were known as "bacon grabbers" in 1920s slang, a back formation from the expression "bringing home the bacon", i.e. working to accumulate money or assets. The "bacon grabber" would be in other words retaking the "bacon" or assets from the person who had neglected to earn them rightfully.

01:14 sheriff: Played by Eddie Baker (1897-1968), a comedy supporting actor (notably in Chaplin's City Lights where he referees the prizefight between Chaplin and Hank Mann), who became a detective and bodyguard later in life.

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01:47 Stan's foot in Ollie's coat pocket: This entanglement foreshadows an extended routine in the team's second talking short, Berth Marks, filmed two months later, in April 1929.

02:00: An extended routine wherein Stan and Ollie repeatedly try to exit the room, forget their hats, go through the wrong door, and misplace the attachment papers. Reworked and enlarged in the four-reeler Beau Hunks, 1931. The misplacement of the attachment papers is repeated throughout this short.

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03:35 exterior set, Sheriff's Office building: Filmed on the New York street section of the Roach back lot. This same block can be seen in Liberty, in the scene where a sidewalk elevator piled with crates descends, revealing Stan and Ollie changing their pants.

03:55 light globe: The number of the Sheriff's Office is 214 as seen on the globe before it shatters. Ollie frequently receives light globes of this kind on the head in L&H's silent shorts: see also, for example, Two Tars.

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04:05 badge: Oddly, Stan seems the only one to be equipped with a badge, which he flashes periodically throughout the short, usually when his authority needs to be emphasized, as here. He is also "planting" the gag where the badge will be revealed to Kennedy later in the film.

04:11 Model T Ford: One of many which the team drove throughout its cinematic history. The Model T was introduced by Henry Ford in 1909 and by the time production of the model had ceased in 1927 over 15,000,000 had been built. This one likely dates from the late 'teens or early Twenties and is a four-door touring car model.

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04:29 music track: "Little Egypt": The music associated with the "shimmy" or "belly dance" popularized by two female dancers, the more famous of whom, Fatima (stage name of Farida Mazar Spyropoulos), performed at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, and popularized this form of dance. The music appropriately accompanies the shimmying movements of Laurel and Hardy's Model T.

05:22 "...you might 'a been driving an automobile": Model T's were often the butt of jokes; in the 1920s entire books of Ford jokes were published. Here the truck driver is implying the Model T doesn't have the weight or power of a real automobile, thus couldn't cause any damage to the rear of the truck. (In a scene cut from the final release print, the truck driver then assists Stan and Ollie in repairing the damage to the radiator by instructing them to pour rice into the radiator. Although this gag was deleted from Bacon Grabbers, Stan reused it for the finale to The Hoose Gow later in the year).

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05:54: Ollie uses his handkerchief, in a shot that may have been added after the rice scene was deleted, to plug the hole in the radiator.

06:45 music track: "Mademoiselle from Armentieres": As Stan and Ollie drive down the road, the soundtrack utilizes this marching song popularized during World War I, though the tune is said to date back at least to the 1830s. The part heard in the film corresponds to the last four lines of the refrain.

07:01 location: street corner: Laurel and Hardy's car, traveling southwest down Venice Boulevard, turns the corner past 9345 Venice onto Bagley Avenue, proceeding northwest on Bagley. The building at 9345 Venice was built in 1922 and is still standing. This shot seems to suggest that the earlier scene of Laurel and Hardy in their car discussing directions to Kennedy's house was filmed along Venice Boulevard, but it's difficult to tell. This location is only a few blocks from the Hal Roach Studios. As the team takes the corner, a pedestrian can be seen under the awning of the building, on the Venice Boulevard part of the sidewalk, clearly staring at the comedians as if in bafflement.

07:06 location: house: The house where the remainder of the short takes place is located at 10341 Bannockburn in the Cheviot Hills section of Los Angeles. Constructed in 1928, the house has contains 2049 square feet and is situated on a 6281 square foot lot, and is still standing today, little changed. The small sapling seen in many of the shots at the front of the house, near the gable end where Stan and Ollie attempt to enter the second floor window, is now a mature tree as tall as the house and a low hedge now encloses the front yard. It's probable the house, having been recently built at the time of Bacon Grabbers, was unoccupied at the time the film was shot and was rented by the studio for the making of the film.

As it appears today.
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07:10 title: "Mr. Kennedy hadn't paid an instalment on his radio since 1921--": Regular radio broadcasts in the U.S. began in 1920, suggesting that Mr. Kennedy was not only an early radio enthusiast, but a delinquent one.

07:15 location: street and empty lots: As Stan and Ollie halt on Bannockburn, the empty lots containing realtors' signs at 10340 and 10346 Bannockburn can be seen behind them. These lots were not developed until the mid-Thirties.

07:26 title: "He mustn't suspicion....: The title is lettered in a smaller font than normal, to visualize Ollie's words as spoken in an undertone.

07:39 Ollie's self-important gesture of "me first" is one of the team's trademarks.

08:02 title: "Are you Collis P. Kennedy?": Kennedy ironically shares his first name and middle initial with Collis P. Huntington (1821-1900), the wealthy financier who made his fortune in California at the time of the 1849 Gold Rush and later invested in railroads, being one of the three founders of the Central Pacific Railroad and assisting in establishing the Southern Pacific Railroad, which linked southern California with New Orleans and points to the southeast in the U.S. The irony is that Huntington, a millionaire, could establish important transportation networks and be responsible for California attaining a position of prominence as a state, whereas Kennedy is so improvident he cannot pay for a radio over a period of eight years.

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08:52 toy dog: Also seen in the 1926 short Along Came Auntie which starred Oliver Hardy, Glenn Tryon, and Vivien Oakland.

09:00 music track: "The Whistler and His Dog": By Arthur Pryor, published in 1905. Underscores the scenes with the Great Dane. It is reprised at 09:39 of the short, after the dog has dragged Ollie back across Bannockburn.

09:36 : As Ollie is dragged across the street (it appears a dummy was used to stand in for Ollie for this shot) he is nearly hit by a car, a gag which recurs in several Laurel and Hardy films when Ollie inadvertently ends up in the middle of a street (qv. You're Darn Tootin', Perfect Day, and Any Old Port).

09:52 : Ollie can be clearly lip-read repeating "Vicious!" with a sardonic expression.

10:13 title: "The paper!....": A larger than normal font is used for the title lettering to emphasize Stan's desperation.

10:23: Kennedy manages to disarm Stan by clasping Stan's hands together behind his own back in a hammer lock.



11:06 Stan's watch: Shown in a close-up, the watch is missing its minute hand and the hour hand is halfway between four and five, suggesting it's 4:30 P.M., a perfectly reasonable time for Stan to take his lunch break. It's possible the gag is that the watch is four hours fast, a situation analogous to that which figures in the Easter Sunday section of William Faulkner's 1929 novel The Sound and the Fury, where the Compson's kitchen clock is significantly fast, several hours ahead of "real" time. (The Sound and the Fury was not published until October of 1929, meaning the filmmakers could not have been influenced by it, but it's significant that modernism in film and literature often emphasizes just such time discrepancies, here implying Stan, like the Compson family, is behind the times. Faulkner's novel also contains a scene in the June 2, 1910 section of the novel wherein Quentin Compson destroys the watch his father has given him by breaking off the hands and shattering the crystal, although the watch continues to "keep" time, just as Stan's watch does, and is referred to by Quentin at several points during his section of the novel). Stan's watch is a repeater, indicated by the smaller dial set within the face marked with the days of the week.

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12:30: Stan can be lip-read saying "I'll give him the paper? I got it.", followed by a nod of affirmation.

13:01 title: "Well boys, that's service--": Laurel and Hardy have successfully presented Kennedy with the attachment papers legalizing repossession of the radio.

13:40 title: "That hot Corsican blood of yours is always gettin' us in trouble!": Probably a reference to the 1845 novel The Corsican Brothers by Alexandre Dumas fils, wherein one of two twin brothers born on Corsica is murdered, resulting in a vendetta against the murderers by the surviving brother, but possibly a reference to the birth on Corsica of Napoleon Bonaparte. In either case, we are led to believe Ollie's words are hyperbole and not a statement of fact that Stan is of Corsican descent.

14:02 location: house under construction: Stan and Ollie borrow a ladder from a home under construction, resulting in an unfortunate workman played by Bobby Dunn missing the ladder and falling into a vat of whitewash or plaster. This is an actual house and can be seen in other shots in the film, notably when the policeman is drenched by water from the hydrant. I believe it is the two-story house located at 3063 Patricia, a block south of Bannockburn, on the south side of Patricia, which has as its construction date 1929. The numerous projecting ells of the present house seem to match up with the framing as seen in the film.

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14:13 location: side yard of 10341 Bannockburn and street: The street in the background of several shots in this portion of the film is Haddington Drive, running slightly uphill to an intersection with Dunleer Drive. At the time Bacon Grabbers was filmed, none of the houses between 10341 and Haddington on the north side of Bannockburn had been constructed. There are now three houses between 10341 and the oblique corner Bannockburn forms with Haddington so that Haddington can no longer be seen from 10341 Bannockburn.

14:40 ladder sequence: The stunt doubles for Stan and Ollie, Ham Kinsey and Cy Slocum, appear in the more physically demanding long shots in much of the following sequence except as noted.



15:16 Stan on ladder: The ladder is positioned by Ollie vertically, so that it resembles a set of stilts. In May, 1912, Stan, as part of a comedy troupe known as "The Eight Comicques", performed in an act on stilts in Liege, Belgium. As Stan later told the story to John McCabe, he was so weak with hunger and exhaustion during this act that he collapsed, falling from his stilts and knocking the other seven stilt-walking members of the company down like ninepins. (Simon Louvish, Stan and Ollie: The Roots of Comedy, p. 80, and McCabe, The Comedy World of Stan Laurel, passim.)

15:22 Stan falls on Ollie: As noted above at 14:40, but here this is clearly Stan taking a hard fall off the ladder onto Ollie's shoulder and hitting the ground, an example showing the team wasn't afraid of doing its own difficult physical challenges at times.

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15:50 doubles: As the ladder is hoisted, Laurel and Hardy have been replaced by their doubles.

16:34: Ollie can be lip-read saying "Go ahead!" to Stan.

16:48 prop: broom: This appears to be a common chimney-sweeping broom similar to that used by the team in their 1933 short Dirty Work, but smaller.

17:13 dog: This dog is Buddy, who also works with the team in Perfect Day. He tugs on Ollie's broken suspenders, distracting Ollie from keeping the ladder straight as Stan dodges the broom thrust at him by Kennedy.

18:03 music track: "Go In and Out the Window": By Lew Pollack, who later wrote the music for Laurel and Hardy's 1943 feature Jitterbugs. This children's standard has lyrics "Go in and out the window/Go in and out the window/Go in and out the window/As we have done before" and runs through the shots where Stan avoids Kennedy's gun. The last line of the stanza comes as the window sash falls and the gun is fired.

18:17 music track: "Pomp and Circumstance": By Sir Edward Elgar. Specifically, the composition heard here is the March Number One in D, composed in 1901. It plays as the hydrant sprays water over the policeman.

18:17 prop: hydrant: This seems to be an artificial hydrant created by the Hal Roach Studios properties department, since extant photos of this side of Bannockburn show no hydrant located in this vicinity. There is a small hydrant on the Bannockburn side of 2980 Haddington, but this cannot be the one seen in the film, since 2980 Haddington does not appear in the shot. It's possible, however, the hydrant was moved some time after 1929 when homes were constructed on the south side of Bannockburn. The house under construction at 3036 Patricia can be seen distantly in the background.

19:33 wind: This day of shooting was evidently breezy, noted by the fact Stan's hat is almost blown off (he has to hold it in place with one hand) and the breeze is strong enough to ripple his and Ollie's clothing and disarrange Jean Harlow's hair at 19:44.

19:37 title: "...Try an' get Havana!": Radio enthusiasts of the 1920s often competed amongst themselves to see what distant AM stations could be received. Havana, at over 3000 miles from Los Angeles, would be difficult to receive except by the most persevering, but it was a favorite city to tune in to by East Coast radio fans, for its lively broadcasts of Latin music. Distant radio reception also figures as a plot point in Hog Wild(1930).

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19:44 Mrs. Kennedy: Played by Jean Harlow (nee Harlean Carpenter, 1911-1937). Although she's portraying the wife of Edgar Kennedy, Jean would have been only seventeen at the time of the filming of Bacon Grabbers and thus underage for marriage in the state of California.

This photo is not related to this film
other than it's of a young Ms. Harlow.

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20:11 location: street and house: The house at 2980 Haddington, on the corner of Bannockburn, can be seen to the right of its garage. A discrepancy: at 19:40 when the steamroller is shown approaching the boys' Model T in the middle of Bannockburn, the garage doors are closed, but when we are shown the flattened remains of the Model T, the doors are raised. Evidently the steamroller didn't actually flatten the car; while the real Model T was moved and the Roach studio grips arranged numerous car parts to appear in the form of a flattened car, the homeowner at 2980 Haddington opened his garage door. This home, constructed in 1927, is still standing, as is the fluted light pole at the intersection of Haddington and Bannockburn.

Reel one...
Last edited by Bruckman64 on Sun Jan 25, 2009 12:43 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Laurel and Hardy Annotated: BACON GRABBERS

Postby Neil on Sat Jan 24, 2009 8:31 pm

Masterfully Done , keep up the good work :D
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Re: Laurel and Hardy Annotated: BACON GRABBERS

Postby Find Hats Off on Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:23 pm

Neil wrote:Masterfully Done , keep up the good work :D

I couldn't have said it any better myself, so I quoted Neil instead. I always liked whenever Ollie would sarcastically repeat something that Stan said. My grandfather sometimes did that. It's interesting to see Babe do this in a silent film (when he repeats the boy's description of the dog as "vicious!"). It just goes to show how many elements of the Boys' characters were developed so early in their teaming- Bacon Grabbers was filmed less than 2 years after Laurel and Hardy became a team.
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Re: Laurel and Hardy Annotated: BACON GRABBERS

Postby Bruckman64 on Sun Jan 25, 2009 12:55 am

Mr. Hall has kindly put in the frame captures and other photos found with the text. My thanks to him.

Additionally, I have corrected one item, concerning the street corner L&H turn on their way to Kennedy's house. Earlier I'd guessed it was Motor and Woodbine since this was a familiar location for the Our Gang unit to shoot at. Doing some hard research through the various photos in the Locations section of this forum helped me pin down the exact location. Although a street number shows in the film (it's painted on the curb, a common practice in LA of 80 years ago), it's blurred by the camera panning with Laurel and Hardy when they take the corner and I'd guessed it was 33?? something when in fact the first 3 was a 9. It's fun to think that to shoot this one scene Babe and Stan actually drove a Model T out from the studio and spun it around a few blocks while the crew, including George Stevens, parked in the intersection of Venice and Bagley to photograph the action. There's very little traffic evident in the film and Venice was even then a major artery in this area of Los Angeles so they probably shot it early in the day, possibly on a Saturday or Sunday, which given BACON GRABBERS' shooting schedule would be February 23 or 24, 1929.

It just shows that no matter how obscure, precise information for many aspects of Laurel and Hardy's films is on this site somewhere.
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Re: Laurel and Hardy Annotated: BACON GRABBERS

Postby JDV on Sun Jan 25, 2009 9:28 am

Another great review. Thanks for posting.

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Re: Laurel and Hardy Annotated: BACON GRABBERS

Postby Ross on Sun Jan 25, 2009 10:53 am

Great work again Mr B. You've gone to a lot of trouble and it pays off... and thanks for helping out with the images Bill (Mr Hall). I'll 'sticky' these reviews.
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Re: Laurel and Hardy Annotated: BACON GRABBERS

Postby HarrySmith on Sat Feb 14, 2009 5:02 am

Another terrific companion piece to a terrific Laurel & Hardy short. Thank you, Bruckman!

By the way, I read somewhere that the lone organ accompaniment to BACON GRABBERS (which supplanted the syncronized band music of prior late silents for budgetary reasons) was played by none other than Leroy Shield, who would make his mark on L&H music shortly.

Thanks again.

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Re: Laurel and Hardy Annotated: BACON GRABBERS

Postby BirdOfaFeather on Sat May 02, 2009 6:16 pm

This is my first time looking at any of the "Annotated" entries. Very nicely done. I wonder if Stan and Babe ever expected their little movies to be so thoroughly scrutinized?
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Re: Laurel and Hardy Annotated: BACON GRABBERS

Postby WalterPlinge on Mon Jun 15, 2009 11:49 pm

This was practically a "lost" film for awhile. It never made the Youngson compilations, and there was only one still in the L&H Bible. It was offered by Blackhawk for many years (my copy is on late '50s Kodak stock), but I only got a copy about 10 years ago. Definitely one of their best silents.
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