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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Laurel and Hardy Getting Used To Sound

Laurel and Hardy Get Some On-Set Coaching For Their Spanish Language Night Owls

Stan/Babe Reach Beyond Borders with Night Owls (1930)

A 60's fan wrote retired-to-the-Oceana Stan and reported purchase of "silent" Night Owls from Blackhawk Films. Laurel's reply counseled that it was a sound comedy, and should be seen that way. Maybe he was remembering the celebration of noise this early talker was. The team knew early on that laughs were sweetened by judicious use of sound over dialogue. Hold the talk, but clang the anvil. Night Owls has burglars Stan/Babe trying at very quiet entry to target house, failure a comedic consequence of tipped garbage pails, yowling cats, and fallen vases on ways in. Set outdoors, Night Owls was actually done on Roach stages, so each noise reverberates off walls, and that makes for nice confined effect. How many yoks could you get from Babe's coat/trousers being ripped? Plenty, as evidenced here. The best Laurel/Hardy comedies were the simplest; this pair needed plot contrivance least of any clowns. Night Owls was so basic as to last career's life for the team: they were still doing the break-in routine in Brit music halls during the 50's. Night Owls was also first to add foreign-language versions, spoken phonetically by Laurel and Hardy plus revolving support players versed in respective languages, in this case Spanish and Italian. Here was a doable task for L&H, as they needed not words to convey humor,  this surprisingly in a '30 marketplace newly drunk on dialogue, once-greats of the silent era Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton having woke with hangovers after initial try at talk.

2 Comments:

Blogger scott said...

This is why I never ordered a "silent" Blackhawk L&H that also had a sound version.

11:48 PM  
Blogger Scott MacGillivray said...

Most of Blackhawk's silent versions of L & H talkies had Blackhawk-manufactured title cards inserted to convey the dialogue. However, as Greenbriar readers know, in 1929 and 1930 the studios prepared silent versions of talkies for theaters, with title cards replacing the dialogue.

A few silent versions of Laurel & Hardy talkies were reprinted from these theatrical silent versions. One collector I know had an 8mm print of BRATS with the original Roach interior titles, and another had PERFECT DAY on 8mm the same way (from bootleg-budget Atlas Films).

9:05 AM  

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