Any time you thought L & H had a film stolen from them?

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Any time you thought L & H had a film stolen from them?

Postby Richard on Mon Jun 15, 2009 6:37 pm

I'm gonna regret asking this, aren't I? :lol:

Having now recently rewatched the lot I can't think of many instances where a guest star managed to upstage them. Finlayson's good, but he's a foil. Watching him I can see why he was never a big star in his own right but able support.

Charlie Hall cracks me up, maybe he does a fair bit of scene stealing here and there.

But what really made me think of this was watching Scram! It's the film before the two stars went on a two-month vacation, so they must have needed a break. And the stuff they do in that film is nothing really new to what they've done before. Then in the middle of all this comes Arthur Housman bringing his A Game, and I really think he might nab that one off them. Perhaps the only other instance I can think of is (in a completely different way) Dennis King in Fra Diavolo?


Obviously in this discussion I'm just counting the Roach stuff... in the Fox years they're both (understandably) phoning it in a lot of the time and so it can't be counted.

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Re: Any time you thought L & H had a film stolen from them?

Postby Mr. Hall on Mon Jun 15, 2009 10:43 pm

Richard wrote:Obviously in this discussion I'm just counting the Roach stuff... in the Fox years they're both (understandably) phoning it in a lot of the time and so it can't be counted.

Yeah, they weren't even allowed to finish some of their own pictures,
outside of throwaway gags (Great Guns, A-Haunting, Air Raid Wardens...)

But for the others, Dennis King's a good call. And, l think the
baby in the second half of Their First Mistake. For me, not
out of cuteness, but concern... l think Mae and Betty come
close in Sons of the Desert.... Miss Harlow was a natural at
taking a scene... and, Kennedy too, for that matter....

l love how they allowed others the relative freedom
to be creative and funny in their pictures....

How about Twice Two, Brats or Our Relations? Do they steal
it from themselves? :lol:
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Re: Any time you thought L & H had a film stolen from them?

Postby Find Hats Off on Mon Jun 15, 2009 11:39 pm

I think that someone stole the studio's copy of Hats Off, but I don't think that's what Mr. Hall was talking about. Yes, there are some scenes in their films where the costars give excellent performances which are just as memorable as Stan and Babe's own portrayals of their beloved characters. For example, Henry Armetta in Fra Diavolo is wonderful, and I wish that he had been in more films with the Boys. I wouldn't say that he stole the movie from them, since his part is small, but in those moments with them ("all night, I couldn't sleep! I try to do this! Now you want me to do that!") are priceless. Yes, Arthur Housman's drunk makes a perfect companion to Stan and Ollie. Also, that shot of Rychard Cramer stepping toward the camera is a classic moment.

There are many films where there are wonderful performances by co-stars, which stand out as great film comedy scenes. Here are a few off the top of my head:

1) Anita Garvin chasing that cherry around the table in From Soup To Nuts (1928). Stan himself did just about the same thing a few months before in The Second Hundred Years, but it seems to work at least a little better with Anita as Mrs. Culpepper, trying to keep up appearances as a sophisticated society lady, getting increasingly frustrated and angry with that elusive cherry. Also her brief scene in The Battle of the Century stands out (personally, I always get a laugh from that big tough guy in the dentist's chair getting the pie in his angry face.

2) James Finlayson in Big Business is a stand-out performance that everyone ought to see several times. I like where he's banging away at the last remaining pieces of Stan + Ollie's car with a hammer, and when the bystanders get too close, he scares them away.

3) Stanley "Tiny" Sandford in Big Business is also a wonderful performance, where he takes notes, partly because he can't believe what he's seeing. Then when Ollie hits him on the foot with the shovel, and he regains his composure with a look of massive indignation is a great moment. Also, when he goes back to his squadcar, crying with great sobs, only to look over and see Stan and Ollie laughing. He very quickly regains his composure again, throwing his wet handkerchief aside disgustedly as he prepares to chase the Boys into the film's fadeout.

4) Mae Busch in her arguement with Ollie in Sons of the Desert shows that she was a wonderful comic actress who "clicked" with Babe in his performance. They worked perfectly together.

5) Billy Gilbert in The Music Box is also a stand-out that no one can forget.

6) James Finlayson in Way Out West is absolutely wonderful. I just love those shots of him reacting when Stan and Ollie present the phony "Mary Roberts" with the deed to the gold mine, and then spend so much time trying to get that locket that Fin rubs the top of his head in circular motion, showing his increasing impatience with those "couple of desert rats".

7) Charles Middleton in Beau Hunks and The Flying Deuces as the Commandant is a great role that stands out.

Walter Long in Going Bye Bye is wonderful. His reaction when he sees the Boys through the hole in the trunk is as great as any look that James Finlayson could do.

9) Noah Young as the psycho in Do Detectives Think? is an unforgettable performance, too.

10) Daphne Pollard in Thicker Than Water maybe makes her the toughest Ollie wife of all. I like when she uses the chair as a platform from which to hit Ollie on the head with the skillet.

11) Of course, we can't forget Thelma Todd in Fra Diavolo, and as Ollie's suspicious wife in Chickens Come Home. She was wonderful, too.

12) Edgar Kennedy as the landlord in the Boys' final silent film, Angora Love, is probably one of the all-time best co-star perfomances. There are so many wonderful moments with him, when he wakes up the first time, then when the water streams down onto his face (while trying to sleep), that shot of him stomping up the stairs, and especially when Ollie shows Stan how to "excersise quietly", and finds himself face to face with a scowling Edgar. The faces of Ollie and Edgar constrast perfectly.
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Re: Any time you thought L & H had a film stolen from them?

Postby WalterPlinge on Mon Jun 15, 2009 11:42 pm

Charley Chase steals the convention scene in SONS OF THE DESERT.
He who filters your good name, steals trash.
Couldn't you see that he was annoyed?
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Re: Any time you thought L & H had a film stolen from them?

Postby Richard on Mon Jun 15, 2009 11:46 pm

WalterPlinge wrote:Charley Chase steals the convention scene in SONS OF THE DESERT.


Good call.

Actually, Find Hats Off's mention of Mae Busch made me realise... don't you sometimes forget these guys are acting? It's weird to think that when Mae is throwing down verbal violence on Ollie it's stuff they've had off a script and have rehearsed. It all seems so natural.


No call for Charlie Hall, Find Hats Off?

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Re: Any time you thought L & H had a film stolen from them?

Postby Find Hats Off on Tue Jun 16, 2009 1:12 am

Richard wrote:No call for Charlie Hall, Find Hats Off?

I'm sorry that I didn't mention him on that post. I typed it quickly and enthusiastically, but without any real prior thought about the subject. Of course, Charlie Hall is great, and I'm always glad to see him when he appears. In fact, my wife gets tired of me always saying "there's Charlie Hall!" whenever he shows up in a Laurel and Hardy film that we're watching, since he's in most of the Roach L&H-starring films. Here are some of my favorite Charlie Hall moments:

1) Leave 'Em Laughing (1928)- After his confrontation with Stan and Ollie, when Stan gives him a sock on the chin, he steps out into the hallway in a daze, waves good-bye to them, and then starts to walk backwards out of sight. That was a great touch.

2) Two Tars (1928)- Shopkeeper Hall has a fight with the Boys and their girlfriends. When they leave, he leans on a table covered with magazines (at least, that's what I think are on there), and the table flips under him, causing him to fall. He does this with perfect timing.

3) Double Whoopee (1929)- Taxi driver Charlie has some great closeups, especially when he's got his cap's bill pulled down under his chin.

4) Bacon Grabbers (1929)- A rare appearance where he's not grouchy. Truckdriver Charlie laughs at the Boys' situation and drives off.

5) Come Clean (1931)- As someone else has pointed out, he shouts "chocolate!" with particular venom.

6) Laughing Gravy (1931)- His performance as the landlord is great. "So help me, Bob!"

7) Them Thar Hills (1934)- This makes us wish that Charlie Hall had had more onscreen credits and larger roles.

Tit For Tat (1935)- Same as above.

9) Saps At Sea (1940)- His lighthearted sarcasm as the smart-aleck deskclerk is a nice farewell to the Boys.
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Re: Any time you thought L & H had a film stolen from them?

Postby Midnight Patrol on Tue Jun 16, 2009 1:26 am

I'm with Walter Plinge. Of all the co-stars, only Chase had the stature and genius to match The Boys in performance terms. He stole scenes[i][/i] in Sons of the Desert, but L & H rule the movie. Fin's fine talent and well-honed skills could easily have overshadowed our heroes, but I believe he played his roles to exactly the level for the demands of each movie. A true professional. I would place Mae Busch and Anita Garvin in the same category. Roach was astute enough to know who got the tills ringing in the box offices, and he wouldn't allow that to be diluted, only complemented.
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Re: Any time you thought L & H had a film stolen from them?

Postby olzielawzy on Tue Jun 16, 2009 4:56 pm

Only a Few Films are Stolen for Me...

Do Detectives Think and Sugar Daddies - Both By Noah Young
Leave Em laughing - By Charlie Hall
Swiss Miss - by Della Lind
Babes In Toyland - by Mr. Silas Barnaby - Henry Brandon

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Re: Any time you thought L & H had a film stolen from them?

Postby StanandOlliefan on Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:43 pm

They were quite generous at giving the supporting cast funny parts as well, it complements the films! this is something which is sadly missed in the later films. :(
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Re: Any time you thought L & H had a film stolen from them?

Postby Find Hats Off on Wed Jun 17, 2009 1:49 am

StanandOlliefan wrote:They were quite generous at giving the supporting cast funny parts as well, it complements the films! this is something which is sadly missed in the later films. :(
Laurel and Hardy were so great that they could be with the best of the best, and still hold their own ground in any film. You're right about them being generous- most comedians would have wanted to dominate every scene that they appeared in, but L&H didn't mind being with great talents like Anita Garvin, James Finlayson, Mae Busch, Charlie Hall, Billy Gilbert, Walter Long, Vivien Oakland, Rychard Cramer, Charles Middleton, Noah Young, Ben Turpin, Daphne Pollard, Arthur Housman, and don't forget Edgar Kennedy! Then there were memorable single appearances like Henry Armetta in Fra Diavolo and Henry Brandon in Babes In Toyland and the great comedian Charley Chase in Sons of the Desert. Too bad that they didn't do more work with Charley. I could imagine them being rookie detectives on a case with detective Chase, trying to catch a cat burglar in a mansion with rare art objects.
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Re: Any time you thought L & H had a film stolen from them?

Postby Texas97 on Wed Jun 17, 2009 4:44 am

Find Hats Off wrote:Then there were memorable single appearances like Henry Armetta in Fra Diavolo and Henry Brandon in Babes In Toyland and the great comedian Charley Chase in Sons of the Desert. Too bad that they didn't do more work with Charley. I could imagine them being rookie detectives on a case with detective Chase, trying to catch a cat burglar in a mansion with rare art objects.


In Hal Roach's original storyline for BABES IN TOYLAND, Charley Chase (and Spanky McFarland, Patsy Kelly, and others from the Roach lot) were supposedly given supporting roles in the film. While the final, Stan-approved version of TOYLAND is wonderful and tremendously charming, I wonder how Roach's vision would have looked like on film, with Charley, Spanky, et al, in the cast alongside the Boys. It really would have been an all-star extravaganza!
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Re: Any time you thought L & H had a film stolen from them?

Postby Midnight Patrol on Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:29 am

That would have been quite something! There is an interview with Henry Brandon in which he tells how much control Stan had over the creative process of Toyland, which is interesting. Chase was the only other star of the day with as much screen presence as L & H (and that's at 2 to 1!) and I suppose the only suitable role for him would have been the King. Can't see him as Silas Barnaby somehow.
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Re: Any time you thought L & H had a film stolen from them?

Postby Mr. Hall on Wed Jun 17, 2009 11:59 am

Babes in Toyland...
lt could've been great, but we wouldn't have the film we already love...
l presume the rest of you do... Would you trade for it?

How about from a different angle.... Even though we're talking about the
Roach films, weren't the Fox and MGM films stolen from them by the studio
system? (l think they stole a couple of them back). And, then Atoll K and
Boobs in the Woods, both stolen by health and mortality issues?
(Though l still believe a great little film lurks within Atoll K).
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Re: Any time you thought L & H had a film stolen from them?

Postby Find Hats Off on Thu Jun 18, 2009 2:49 am

Texas97 wrote:
Find Hats Off wrote:Then there were memorable single appearances like Henry Armetta in Fra Diavolo and Henry Brandon in Babes In Toyland and the great comedian Charley Chase in Sons of the Desert. Too bad that they didn't do more work with Charley. I could imagine them being rookie detectives on a case with detective Chase, trying to catch a cat burglar in a mansion with rare art objects.


In Hal Roach's original storyline for BABES IN TOYLAND, Charley Chase (and Spanky McFarland, Patsy Kelly, and others from the Roach lot) were supposedly given supporting roles in the film. While the final, Stan-approved version of TOYLAND is wonderful and tremendously charming, I wonder how Roach's vision would have looked like on film, with Charley, Spanky, et al, in the cast alongside the Boys. It really would have been an all-star extravaganza!
I wish that we had a magic "what if" machine, where we could look in and see the film made that way. I'd also like to see the original, uncut, feature-length Bank Night, which would have been a Chase-starring feature. Also, as much as I like Frank Morgan's portrayal of the Wizard of Oz, I would love to see how W.C. Fields would have done it. I can certainly see him in that first scene, where Dorothy goes to Professor Marvo (or whatever his name is), and the Professor "reads" her fortune in the crystal ball, while going through the items in her handbag, looking for clues about her. But back to Babes In Toyland, it's too bad that Stan and Hal had that falling out over the story. That was the beginning of the end with their working relationship, and it's a shame that they couldn't have worked out their differences better. I think that some of Hal Roach's ideas would have worked at least as well as what we see in the finished film.

The main reason why Charley Chase didn't appear in Babes In Toyland was a serious health problem that he had at the time. He had suffered a severe ulcer in 1929, and had to have an operation at the Mayo Clinic to remove part of his stomach. In 1934 Chase collapsed in the studio, and had to be taken to Good Samaritan Hospital in Hollywood, where he was put into intensive care and operated on to remove more of his stomach. Because of script delays on Babes In Toyland, Chase missed out on appearing in it, because of these health problems. I got this information from the Chase biography, Smile When the Raindrops Fall, by Brian Anthony and Andy Edwards (a great book that every L&H fan should read). It's too bad that Chase didn't appear together with Stan and Babe again (On the Wrong Trek hardly counts, since they don't actually appear in the same shot- it appears to be a shot that a separate unit filmed of L&H, and then edited it in with Charley's reaction).
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Re: Any time you thought L & H had a film stolen from them?

Postby Bruckman64 on Fri Jun 19, 2009 5:12 pm

For my money Anita Garvin steals every scene she appears in in BLOTTO. From playing solitaire (interspersed with increasingly irritated glances at Stan as the tomfoolery with the phone calls unrolls), in a scene which had to have inspired Herman Mankiewicz and Orson Welles' depiction of Charles Foster Kane's deteriorating marriage to his second wife (who puts together gigantic puzzles at a gigantic table in a gigantic house while shooting angry glances at Kane) to her knowing camera-look when she spies the bottle not-very-well hidden under Stan's vest, to her sweet-sarcastic "Goodbye, Stanley. Goodbye, Mr. Hardy", to the sneering "What's the joke?" close-up during the finale, she not only holds her own against Stan (no mean trick) but dominates these scenes cinematically. Although she's on record as saying that L&H "permitted" her these and other scenes, as, in her words, they could steal any scene not nailed down, I think she was at that late point in life being much too modest. Clearly Stan used her prominently because of her abilities to hold her own in such scenes. Even when she's in a film where she isn't given a lot to do, Anita could capture a single shot (e.g. THEIR PURPLE MOMENT, when she bats her eyes at Stan, and later when she pulls out the stiletto and gestures what she's planning to do to the next guy who walks out on her).

As noted by Find Hats Off, her role in FROM SOUP TO NUTS is one of those masterfully-played characterizations which adds so much nuance to an established gag. Or even falling on the pie - anyone can do a pratfall, but 82 years later this shot is still one of the best-known in the L&H canon, and it doesn't even feature Stan or Ollie.

I agrre Charlie Hall could steal a scene when he wanted, although he's more of an ensemble player - he could hold his own against Stan and Ollie, which I repeat is no small achievement for an actor - but in my mind he doesn't dominate the way Anita can and does. On the other hand, he CAN steal a scene from Charley Chase, as he often does, by a simple gesture or reaction.
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