Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Stirling Brown Family Film – British Legion Fête – Visit by Laurel and Hardy

Photo not from the movies shown. Laurel and Hardy, 1947 tour of Britain.

Duck Soup
(US 1927)
Fred Guiol; DCP, 21’
Musical interpretation: Stephen Horne, Frank Bockius

Stirling Brown Family Film – British Legion Fête – Visit by Laurel and Hardy
GB 1947
photog: Stirling Brown Family.
cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Ida Laurel, Lucille Hardy, Astrid Stirling Brown.
copia/copy: DCP, 3′ (da/from 16 mm); senza did./no titles.
fonte/source: BFI National Archive, London.
    Le Giornate del Cinema Muto (GCM), Pordenone.
    European Slapstick – Prog. 3: The Celluloid Music Hall.
    Teatro Verdi, 9 Oct 2019.

Glenn Mitchell (GCM): "This 16 mm home movie was unknown for more than 60 years until it was donated to the British Film Institute by Petra Laidlaw and Gudrun Fickling, whose grandmother, Astrid Stirling Brown, appears in it alongside Laurel & Hardy. It was screened at BFI Southbank in 2013 on a programme with the rediscovered extended cut of their final feature, Atoll K (Léo Joannon, 1951), and subsequently included as one of the bonus features in the BFI’s Blu-ray/DVD release. It dates from the team’s 1947 tour, which, although they had made personal appearances around Britain in a 1932 visit, marked Stan Laurel’s true return to the music-hall world of his youth. For Oliver Hardy it was his first proper introduction to that milieu, which more recently formed the backdrop of John S. Baird’s Laurel and Hardy biopic Stan & Ollie (2018). Accompanied by their wives Ida and Lucille, the two comedians are seen wearing tam-o’-shanters, and while on this occasion clad in their normal suits, they would often wear kilts when appearing in Scottish theatres, as for their engagement at the Glasgow Empire that same month. Although the footage is silent, one can recognize a gag they would often use in personal appearances: Stan Laurel would periodically interrupt Oliver Hardy’s speech to ask, “Can I say something?” Eventually Hardy would allow him to do so, only to be told, “You’re standing on my foot!” Glenn Mitchell (GCM)

AA: Funny home movie moments with Laurel and Hardy in Scotland. They are delighted to greet children.

Revisited Duck Soup (1927) which we saw last night. This time we saw it back to back after the Austrian film adaptation Cocl als Hausherr (1913), and the comparison between Cocl & Seff and Laurel & Hardy was merciless to the Austrians.

There was a loud, vigorous and energetic musical attack in today's musical interpretation.

I was contemplating the original Laurel & Hardy musical solution in their early sound shorts: the sound of Marvin Hatley and Leroy Shield. Hatley, who worked for Hal Roach from 1929 until 1940, was famous for the "Dance of the Cuckoos" theme tune for L&H. There was a lounge music approach, even a muzak approach in the original scores. The same records kept being played in many movies. The harmless, brainless music has no connection with the events on the screen and it does not accompany the carefully cultivated escalation of disasters. Never does the music try to emphasize or explain.

It was Peter von Bagh's firmly held belief that Laurel & Hardy silents are best screened silent because then the laughter itself becomes the soundtrack. And it is true: first there are random, incredulous fits of laughter, and they escalate until there is a thunder of laughter. The films are so good that they are not ruined even by a vigorous musical interpretation; in any case they are best seen with a big audience, not in the silence and solitude of one's home. But it would be a good idea to screen these classics without music in a cinema for a change.

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