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Buster Keaton in Sherlock Jr., 1924

A Holiday to Matheran

As we left our holiday cottage, to return home in the city, my wife said, "Look over your shoulder before you leave so that we come back again." Read about our recent trip to Matheran, the forest on the head, and the smallest hill station in India, at B+ve.

December 25, 2012

FILM REVIEW

Chickens Come Home (1931)

If anything guarantees laughter, it’s Laurel & Hardy, and here’s one to ring in the Christmas season for Overlooked Films and Television at Todd Mason’s blog Sweet Freedom. 

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are rarely funny by themselves. They are funny when they are together, like Asterix and Obelix, Tintin and Haddock, Tom and Jerry, Calvin and Hobbes, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, Garfield and Odie, Abbott and Costello, and Mutt and Jeff, to name some of the greatest comedy couples ever in films and comics.

Of course, there’s Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Bill Murray and Dan Ackroyd, Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor and actors like Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short who have paired with one another, but their comedy is nowhere near as hilarious as that of the comic duos mentioned above.


I know you can’t put comic actors and comic-book characters in the same basket but when it comes to comedies and double acts I see no distinction between the two. Their comedy act, in film or print, with dialogues or speech bubbles, means the same to me.

And yet, no comedy pair is funnier than Laurel and Hardy. In fact, they are the masters of innocent comedy, even slapstick comedy.


In Chickens Come Home, written by Hal Roach and H.M. Walker and directed by James W. Horne, Laurel has a hard time keeping Hardy’s ex-flame (Mae Busch) from coming over to his best friend’s house and blackmailing him in front of his wife and their high-society friends. Hardy is running for mayor and the last thing he wants is his ex-girlfriend brandishing an old photograph in the middle of a party. If Hardy’s wife (Thelma Todd) is domineering and suspicious of her husband, Laurel’s wife (Norma Drew) is worse. She catches Laurel wrestling with the ex-flame in his desperate effort to keep her out of Hardy’s way and goes after him with an axe. 


Can you imagine anyone taking an axe to Laurel, of all the people in the world? The lengths Laurel goes to, to keep Hardy out of trouble, must make many a disgruntled spouse green with envy. For Laurel and Hardy are more than friends, they are like husband and wife, sticking up for each other more than they do for their wives, even when they are not married in their films. 


Laurel and Hardy’s innocent lives are filled with hardships but they wade through it all with optimism in their outlook, compassion in their hearts, and a smile on their faces.

The perfect Christmas movie…you can watch it below.



14 comments:

  1. As I've gotten older I've come to appreciate Laurel and Hardy quite a bit more. Particularly when they meet "scary" characters!

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    1. Charles, I have been watching Laurel & Hardy since childhood and even now the family often sits down together to watch reruns of their old movies. They do meet, rather unintentionally, a lot of "scary" characters including ghosts and scary butlers in haunted mansions.

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  2. Prashant: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the snowy cold of Saskatchewan.

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    1. Thank you, Bill, and I wish you and your family the same.

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  3. They were the best Prashant - great, great choice, thanks you. Merry Christmas chum. Sergio

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    1. Always a "great choice" for anybody, Sergio. They are so freakin' innocent that they would be misfits in the real world.

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  4. I have not seen a lot of Laurel and Hardy, but I enjoyed them in Hollywood Party, a film starring Jimmy Durante. We watch that film over and over.

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    1. Tracy, thanks for mentioning HOLLYWOOD PARTY. I seem to have missed it altogether. We watch most Laurel and Hardy over and over again.

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  5. Laurel and Hardy were head and shoulders above them all. Starting in the Silent Era may have a lot to do with their longevity. Yet they made the transition to Sound so wonderfully. What a surprise it must have been for fans to hear them speak for the first time. More fun even than Garbo.

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    1. You said it, Ron. I, for one, have always rated the pair above Buster Keaton, Chaplin, and Marx Brothers. I agree Laurel and Hardy took comedy to new heights with sound and they have been funnier since being able to mouth dialogues. I don't think I have seen more than one Garbo film I don't recall which one.

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  6. Of course, Greta Garbo was famous for not wanting to speak...I think I'll take early Ackroyd and Belushi, say, over Garfield and Odie, but I'll take the cartoon pets over Martin and Lewis...does "colorization" bother you the way it does many film buffs, Prashant?

    Happy new year (by one method of counting years)!

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    1. Todd, I forgot to mention James Belushi whose K-9 I quite liked though not ACCORDING TO JIM. Likewise, I have rarely enjoyed Bill Murray's over-the-top comedy although I thought he was good in STRIPES and GROUNDHOG DAY. Harold Ramis is a fine actor but a better director. I don't like the colourisation much in modern animation though animated movies like THE LION KING and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST were exceptional. I certainly don't like the colourisation of the new Tom & Jerry as opposed to the earlier ones. Ditto for the digital graphics that make the characters look little more than keyed up toys.

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  7. And, as sat down to collect myself after arising early in the morning to feed the cats, I idly flipped on the tv set...and a series called LAUREL AND HARDY WITH LEONARD MALTIN was playing on the MeTV network...can you guess which short film was the bulk of this episode, put together in 1988?

    Things haven't changed too much in H'wood or elsewhere...Thelma Todd is too pretty even for a wealthy Oliver Hardy, but his apparent wealth helps...

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    1. Todd, I am not familiar with L&H WITH LEONARD MALTIN who I know is a well-known critic. I'm guessing it was CHICKENS COME HOME! I once saw L&H's first public appearance on television long after their retirement from films: they barely spoke and were smiling throughout the episode!

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