Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Celebrate Pi Day by attending World Premieres of Laurel & Hardy restorations on April Fool's weekend!
It's March 14 and that means happy 3.14159265359 day. At Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog, we consider Pi Day as good an excuse as any to watch movies in which pies are thrown.
As fate would have it, the film featuring the pie fight to end all pie fights shall be among new restorations of Laurel & Hardy comedies which shall premiere, rather appropriately on April Fool's weekend.
Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy will get their due on both coasts, with shows in Los Angeles (American Cinematheque) and New York City (Film Forum). Archivist and filmmaker Jeff Joseph will introduce the shows at Santa Monica's Aero Theatre and the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. It begins March 30 at the American Cinematheque, which presented the previous group of UCLA Film & Television Archive's restorations in May 2016. This is excellent and timely, as UCLA's Restore Laurel and Hardy! fundraiser is ongoing and extends to April 14th.
The Los Angeles screenings start at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 30th at the Aero Theatre on 1328 Montana Avenue in Santa Monica.
Kicking off the program will be the new UCLA/SabuCat restoration of the silent comedy cornerstone The Battle Of The Century.
The famed L&H pie-throwing epic, about half of which was in the "lost film" category until a complete print was found in the collection of the late archivist Gordon Berkow, will be accompanied by a new score by Donald Sosin.
The Battle Of The Century will be followed by the 1929 early talkie Berth Marks, now with the original Vitaphone soundtrack heard by moviegoers when it was originally released theatrically on June 1, 1929.
The feature for the Friday night Aero Theatre program will be Way Out West (1937), restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding provided by The Film Foundation.
Laurel and Hardy co-star with perennial nemesis Jimmie Finlayson, Rosina Lawrence and, as the femme fatale, Sharon Lynne, known by movie musical fans for her spunky delivery of Turn On The Heat, the memorable production number from the 1929 Fox feature Sunnyside Up.
The Saturday night show at the Aero Theatre includes the two short subjects The Chimp and The Music Box and the 1939 feature The Flying Deuces, which was produced by Boris Morros for RKO with much of the Hal Roach Studios crew and stock company.
Regarding the new restorations, the American Cinematheque program notes elaborate:
“The Chimp” (1932, 25 min.) When the circus where they work goes out of business, Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy are left with a flea circus and a chimp named Ethel - which, as bad luck would have it, is also the name of their landlord’s wife.“
"The Music Box” (1932, 29 min. Dir. James Parrott) In this Best Comedy Short Oscar winner, the Laurel & Hardy Moving Co. struggle mightily to push a piano up a huge flight of stairs. Photochemically preserved and restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive.
The Flying Deuces (1939, 70 min, USA, Dir: A. Edward Sutherland). Following in the footsteps of their earlier short “Beau Hunks,” the boys get into another nice mess when Ollie’s heart is broken by a Paris innkeeper’s daughter. To forget her, he and Stan join the French Foreign Legion, where the two tackle a mountain of dirty laundry, soft-shoe through “Shine On, Harvest Moon” and commandeer an airplane. Among Laurel and Hardy’s most enjoyable features, and now fully restored from 35mm elements.
The 5:00 p.m. Sunday show at the Egyptian Theatre, on 6712 Hollywood Boulevard, shall present the 1933 L&H feature Sons Of The Desert, directed by the ubiquitous William A. Seiter and co-starring Charley Chase and Dorothy Christy.
Among the Laurel & Hardy feature films, Sons Of The Desert, featuring a hilarious turn by fellow Hal Roach Studios star Chase as an obnoxious practical joker conventioneer, is certainly up there (with Way Out West and Blockheads) in the top two or three.
Sons Of The Desert will be preceded by the World Premiere of brand new restorations of Brats and Hog Wild (both 1930), two of the funniest of the Laurel & Hardy short subjects.
Brats now includes its original Vitaphone soundtrack; the existing prints tend to have the soundtrack used for the 1938 reissue.
Hog Wild, one of this blogger's favorite Laurel & Hardy 2-reelers, has been restored to its original Vitaphone aspect ratio.
Last, but not least, the East Coast part of the L&H weekend will be an April Fool's Day program at New York City's Film Forum. The Laurel & Hardy matinee show starts at 11:00 a.m. and includes Brats , Hog Wild, The Chimp and Berth Marks.
We extend kudos, bravos, huzzahs and respectful tips of the brown derbies to the UCLA Film & Television Archive, Jeff Joseph, American Cinematheque, Film Forum,The Film Foundation, Laurel & Hardy: The Official Website and, for many of the frame grabs seen in this post, Dave Lord Heath of the Another Nice Mess: The Films Of Laurel & Hardy website.