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Author Topic: The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (1930) - Laurel and Hardy  (Read 3462 times)

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Offline metaldams

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The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
« on: September 27, 2015, 07:54:25 PM »
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  • http://www.lordheath.com/index.php?p=1_103_The-Laurel-Hardy-Murder-Case
    http://www.laurelandhardycentral.com/lhmurder.html
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0021054

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x26gcpa_the-laurel-hardy-murder-case-b-w-1930-laurel-hardy_shortfilms

    Watch THE LAUREL-HARDY MURDER CASE in the link above

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x26ghqz_noche-de-duendes-b-w-1930-laurel-hardy_shortfilms

    Watch NOCHE DE DUENDES in the link above



          The Laurel and Hardy version of IF A BODY MEETS A BODY, fifteen years earlier.  Fred Kelsey even plays the detective in both, and Dell Henderson also appears in both films.  Stan Laurel, like Curly, has a long lost uncle who passed away leaving a fortune in a spooky house.  A bunch of relatives show, a murder is suspected, Fred Kelsey makes everybody stay, and scare gags take place.  The trap door behind the telephone gag even shows up in both.  These are similar films.  While neither film is great, I give the edge to Laurel and Hardy due to the lack of sick Curly factor. 

          While THE LAUREL-HARDY MURDER CASE is not great, it is at least good for a few reasons, mainly Stan and Ollie.  The first five minutes when they are fishing are fine.  I love the joke about the death of Stan's uncle (which I won't give away for those who have not seen this), and just the interplay between the two.  Ollie wiping his grimy fish gunked hands on Stan's clothes, the little interview about Stan's family and birth, it's all very pleasant.  I also enjoy the relationship exploring about Stan not wanting to share half the fortune with Ollie and Ollie being hurt by it.  Again, this personal, human dynamic is something you rarely see with other major comedy teams.  Whether that's a good or bad thing depends on your taste, but I like this about Stan and Ollie.  This is also the first time Ollie utters, "Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into."  An iconic line to be sure.  Also the rainy, thunder sound and spooky atmosphere are great.

          The weak stuff is there is not one great gag to be found and the supporting cast overplays, and not in a fun way.  This was early sound horror acting before Lugosi, Karloff, Frye, and James Whale showed the world how it's done.  Stan and Ollie are good with bad material, just imagine two weak comedians in their place handling the bat under the sheets as a ghost scare gag.  (Shudders). The Spanish version is nothing to write home about, extended because we get the dreaded upper bunk scene from BERTH MARKS added in!  (Shudders some more)

    7/10



    Offline Tony Bensley

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    Re: The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #1 on: September 27, 2015, 11:35:07 PM »
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  • Before I offer my observations and opinions regarding this short, I feel it's important I note that Laurel & Hardy are my all time favorite comedy team.

    That said, THE LAUREL-HARDY MURDER CASE (The title itself was inspired by the real life Hall-Mills murder of 1922, and its subsequent 1926 trial!) is among my least favorite of their Hal Roach sound shorts, not least due to its ending!  The upper berth scene in the Spanish version also features some really lousy dubbing, which may have unwittingly hailed the beginning of the end for the brief era of phonetically spoken/multiple filmed versions of the same (More or less!) screenplay!

    Nevertheless, likely owing at least somewhat to the comedy duo's instant name recognition within the title of this, their first Three Reeler, THE LAUREL-HARDY MURDER CASE would be their all time highest grossing short subject!

    One upshot is Fred Kelsey's iconic performance as the Detective, which was subsequently often imitated!  I do look forward to eventually viewing his performance in A BODY MEETS A BODY, as I've been watching The Three Stooges shorts in their original release order on the excellent Sony DVD collection.

    5.5/10 (Just about as bad as it gets with Stan & Ollie's sound shorts, in my opinion!)

    CHEERS!  :)

    Offline metaldams

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    Re: The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #2 on: September 28, 2015, 06:38:00 PM »
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  • Before I offer my observations and opinions regarding this short, I feel it's important I note that Laurel & Hardy are my all time favorite comedy team.

    That said, THE LAUREL-HARDY MURDER CASE (The title itself was inspired by the real life Hall-Mills murder of 1922, and its subsequent 1926 trial!) is among my least favorite of their Hal Roach sound shorts, not least due to its ending!  The upper berth scene in the Spanish version also features some really lousy dubbing, which may have unwittingly hailed the beginning of the end for the brief era of phonetically spoken/multiple filmed versions of the same (More or less!) screenplay!

    Nevertheless, likely owing at least somewhat to the comedy duo's instant name recognition within the title of this, their first Three Reeler, THE LAUREL-HARDY MURDER CASE would be their all time highest grossing short subject!

    One upshot is Fred Kelsey's iconic performance as the Detective, which was subsequently often imitated!  I do look forward to eventually viewing his performance in A BODY MEETS A BODY, as I've been watching The Three Stooges shorts in their original release order on the excellent Sony DVD collection.

    5.5/10 (Just about as bad as it gets with Stan & Ollie's sound shorts, in my opinion!)

    CHEERS!  :)

    I wouldn't call this my least favorite of the Laurel and Hardy talking shorts, though it probably makes the bottom 5.  The atmosphere and the main actors themselves lift a mostly dreadful script.  Still, I can understand this being someone's least favorite.  As for mine, if you need a clue, look at a very low rated Shemp short I just reviewed recently, think of a Laurel and Hardy short with a similar idea, and you'd guess correctly.

    ....and yes, this is Laurel and Hardy's highest grossing short.  Wasn't SIDEWALKS OF NEW YORK Keaton's highest grossing film?  Well, it was up there, anyway.  Never trust the public.

    Offline Tony Bensley

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    Re: The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #3 on: September 28, 2015, 07:17:09 PM »
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  • I wouldn't call this my least favorite of the Laurel and Hardy talking shorts, though it probably makes the bottom 5.  The atmosphere and the main actors themselves lift a mostly dreadful script.  Still, I can understand this being someone's least favorite.  As for mine, if you need a clue, look at a very low rated Shemp short I just reviewed recently, think of a Laurel and Hardy short with a similar idea, and you'd guess correctly.

    ....and yes, this is Laurel and Hardy's highest grossing short.  Wasn't SIDEWALKS OF NEW YORK Keaton's highest grossing film?  Well, it was up there, anyway.  Never trust the public.
    Having found the low rated Shemp short SELF MADE MAIDS (1950), and without looking at the corresponding Laurel & Hardy talking short, my guess for your least favorite is TWICE TWO (1933).  Not one of my favorites either, though there's at least one I'd rate lower, even than THE LAUREL-HARDY MURDER CASE!

    Hint:  Some stubborn Footwear is involved.

    Yes, Buster Keaton's early MGM sound Features were among his highest grossing, though I suspect this had more to do with the MGM owned Loew's Theater Chain, and the dubious systems that were in place, rather than a duped public, per se!  It was also within this same Theater Chain that Laurel & Hardy's wartime MGM release, NOTHING BUT TROUBLE (1944) became their all time highest grossing Feature Length Film!  :P

    CHEERS! :)

    Offline GreenCanaries

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    Re: The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #4 on: September 28, 2015, 09:28:25 PM »
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  • Hint:  Some stubborn Footwear is involved.
    I honestly haven't watched TOO much L&H*, but as a fellow regular poster on the VoyForum for Dave Lord Heath's "Another Nice Mess" website, I don't have to do any digging (or pulling ;)) at all to know which one...

    * (the sound doesn't work for me on DailyMotion after I downloaded a new Flash Plug-In; I promise though, I'll remedy the L&H situation soon!)

    EDIT: 100th post!
    "With oranges, it's much harder..."

    Offline Tony Bensley

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    Re: The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #5 on: September 28, 2015, 09:46:05 PM »
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  • I honestly haven't watched TOO much L&H*, but as a fellow regular poster on the VoyForum for Dave Lord Heath's "Another Nice Mess" website, I don't have to do any digging (or pulling ;)) at all to know which one...

    * (the sound doesn't work for me on DailyMotion after I downloaded a new Flash Plug-In; I promise though, I'll remedy the L&H situation soon!)

    EDIT: 100th post!
    Sorry to hear that you're having trouble with the sound.  For me, I noticed that the video playback is very jerky.  Thankfully, I have all of Laurel & Hardy's sound shorts on the excellent "Essential Collection" 10 DVD set!

    Insofar as my least favorite L&H sound short, while the boys' specialize in milking a scene and do it amazingly well most of the time, in my opinion, the 13 minutes and 22 seconds devoted to repeated attempts to remove Ollie's Boot is several minutes too long!  :P

    Getting back to THE LAUREL-HARDY MURDER CASE, the background music that can be heard at the beginning of the opening scene at the Dockyard, has also been used in countless Laurel & Hardy silents!

    Congratulations on your 100th post!  :)

    CHEERS!  :)

    Offline Signor Spumoni

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    Re: The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #6 on: September 30, 2015, 09:42:11 PM »
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  • I had high expectations for this short, but they were not fulfilled.  It seems to be a case where the concept exceeded the execution.  A synopsis of the short certainly sounds funny...but it fails.

    Again, this is a short where much, or even most, of it was really a silent movie with sound effects.  The dialogue could really have been put onto title cards without much loss. 

    I like the "Bat!  Bat!"  scene, but probably because it wasn't another parrot in a sheet, as in the Stooges.  Fred Kelsey is the best part of the movie, but it's a disappointment overall.

    Tony, I didn't know this title was inspired by the Hall-Mills murder case.  I love little bits of knowledge such as that - - thanks.

    Offline Tony Bensley

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    Re: The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #7 on: October 01, 2015, 12:45:56 AM »
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  • I had high expectations for this short, but they were not fulfilled.  It seems to be a case where the concept exceeded the execution.  A synopsis of the short certainly sounds funny...but it fails.

    I agree with your above assessment.  The atmosphere for this three reeler was certainly there, also!

    What really sinks this short for me, is the plot device that was used for the ending.  In my opinion, it not only rendered the story line a complete waste, but the way in which it was executed didn't even make any sense, and I honestly can't explain just how without a spoiler!

    Again, this is a short where much, or even most, of it was really a silent movie with sound effects.  The dialogue could really have been put onto title cards without much loss.

    Considering that some of the background score for this short has actually been used in many Laurel & Hardy silents that have been released on Home Video, this seems apropos.

    I like the "Bat!  Bat!"  scene, but probably because it wasn't another parrot in a sheet, as in the Stooges.  Fred Kelsey is the best part of the movie, but it's a disappointment overall.

    This is one of my favorite parts, as well.  For me, it's the one part of the film which has an atmosphere not unlike that of their 1928 silent, HABEAS CORPUS, and I could see this scene play really well with some spooky sounding organ music!

    Tony, I didn't know this title was inspired by the Hall-Mills murder case.  I love little bits of knowledge such as that - - thanks.

    I believe that this was actually mentioned on one of the LAUREL & HARDY: THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION commentary tracks for their subsequent three reel comedy, ANOTHER FINE MESS (1930), which made references to THE LAUREL-HARDY MURDER CASE.

    Regarding the Hall-Mills Murder case, I've recently read some of the information relating to it, that's available online, and I do find it rather intriguing.  I would actually like to read some of the books that relate to the case, and those who were involved.

    CHEERS! :)

    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #8 on: October 01, 2015, 06:51:21 PM »
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  • Been going through a rough patch lately... hopefully in the next few weeks I will be able to play catch-up here.
    #1 fire kibitzer

    Offline metaldams

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    Re: The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #9 on: October 01, 2015, 07:09:40 PM »
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  • Been going through a rough patch lately... hopefully in the next few weeks I will be able to play catch-up here.

    Hope everything's OK.  Look forward to hearing your opinions, especially on HOG WILD.

    Thanks to everybody who's contributing to these, you guys are making some great insights and lending some cool facts.  I used to view the Laurel and Hardy reviews as my solo album for creative stimulation to keep my main band/Three Stooges reviews fresh, but the Laurel and Hardy reviews are almost as popular.  I'm pleasantly surprised.

    Offline metaldams

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    Re: The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #10 on: October 01, 2015, 09:15:24 PM »
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  • I just realized I forgot to post the Spanish link, so I edited it in above.

    Offline metaldams

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    Re: The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #11 on: October 02, 2015, 06:03:48 PM »
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  • Having found the low rated Shemp short SELF MADE MAIDS (1950), and without looking at the corresponding Laurel & Hardy talking short, my guess for your least favorite is TWICE TWO (1933).  Not one of my favorites either, though there's at least one I'd rate lower, even than THE LAUREL-HARDY MURDER CASE!

    Hint:  Some stubborn Footwear is involved.

    Yes, Buster Keaton's early MGM sound Features were among his highest grossing, though I suspect this had more to do with the MGM owned Loew's Theater Chain, and the dubious systems that were in place, rather than a duped public, per se!  It was also within this same Theater Chain that Laurel & Hardy's wartime MGM release, NOTHING BUT TROUBLE (1944) became their all time highest grossing Feature Length Film!  :P

    CHEERS! :)

    By the way, I forgot to comment on this. NOTHING BUT TROUBLE is the highest grossing Laurel and Hardy film?  I double checked because I could not believe it, yet you are right.  I'm starting to think if MGM filmed El Brendel reading the phone book, it would gross higher than SONS OF THE DESERT.

    Offline Tony Bensley

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    Re: The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #12 on: October 03, 2015, 06:11:26 PM »
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  • By the way, I forgot to comment on this. NOTHING BUT TROUBLE is the highest grossing Laurel and Hardy film?  I double checked because I could not believe it, yet you are right.  I'm starting to think if MGM filmed El Brendel reading the phone book, it would gross higher than SONS OF THE DESERT.
    In my opinion, based on MGM's owning the largest U.S. based Theater Chain, that's not at all unlikely!  However, at the non Theater owned Columbia Pictures, it would have tanked! ;)

    Hmmmm, El Brendel reading the phone book in his fake Swedish accent?  Not the worst idea I've heard, actually.  Just add fake Shemp dialing the numbers, reaching some "interesting" parties!

    OK, back to THE LAUREL-HARDY MURDER CASE!  Wasn't Del Henderson a scream dressed in drag?

    CHEERS! :)

    Offline stoogerascalfan62

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    Re: The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #13 on: October 05, 2015, 01:48:14 PM »
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  • Stanley Blystone is also in this film. I wonder if he and Kelsey have any scenes together.

    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #14 on: November 22, 2015, 06:58:29 PM »
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  • Stanley Blystone is also in this film. I wonder if he and Kelsey have any scenes together.

    They do indeed around 6-9 minutes into the short!
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    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #15 on: February 28, 2016, 04:08:18 PM »
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  • This was time in my life I will never get back.  Not very funny... in fact, unlike the Stooge version, here we see most every person, except two officers (who left for help), the two villains, and Stan and Ollie, get murdered... for THAT CRAP!  The first 15 minutes were bland and lifeless.  They had an interesting short comedic horror film going until that dumb ending!

    That's 30 minutes of my life I can NEVER get back!

    5/10 for a crappy ending!  7/10 otherwise!
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    Offline metaldams

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    Re: The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #16 on: February 28, 2016, 08:15:25 PM »
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  • This was time in my life I will never get back.  Not very funny... in fact, unlike the Stooge version, here we see most every person, except two officers (who left for help), the two villains, and Stan and Ollie, get murdered... for THAT CRAP!  The first 15 minutes were bland and lifeless.  They had an interesting short comedic horror film going until that dumb ending!

    That's 30 minutes of my life I can NEVER get back!

    5/10 for a crappy ending!  7/10 otherwise!

    Absolutely right about the lame ass ending.  Nice to see you reviewing these.  One thing that struck me about these Laurel and Hardy films is they never got on a consistent run like The Stooges did for a few years in the late thirties and early forties.  Still, when Stan and Ollie were on, gut busting hysterical.  If you want to watch a feature, check out BLOCK-HEADS.

    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #17 on: February 29, 2016, 04:59:03 AM »
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  • Absolutely right about the lame ass ending.  Nice to see you reviewing these.  One thing that struck me about these Laurel and Hardy films is they never got on a consistent run like The Stooges did for a few years in the late thirties and early forties.  Still, when Stan and Ollie were on, gut busting hysterical.  If you want to watch a feature, check out BLOCK-HEADS.

    Nope.  I'm going to play by the rules on this and catch up on the reviewed shorts I haven't watched yet.  You've been asking "Why don't you do something to help me?!" with the reviews, and someone's helping now :)
    #1 fire kibitzer

    Offline metaldams

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    Re: The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #18 on: February 29, 2016, 05:43:08 PM »
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  • Nope.  I'm going to play by the rules on this and catch up on the reviewed shorts I haven't watched yet.  You've been asking "Why don't you do something to help me?!" with the reviews, and someone's helping now :)

    Looking forward to your take on THE MUSIC BOX.  That short getting no response is a crime.

    Offline Umbrella Sam

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    Re: The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #19 on: December 08, 2017, 02:39:51 PM »
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  • Honestly, I do think that this is a very good premise for a comedy, but unfortunately neither Laurel and Hardy or The Three Stooges were able to execute it as well as they should have, in the Stooges’ case because of Curly’s stroke and in Laurel and Hardy’s case probably because of the loss of Stan’s infant son. MURDER CASE is definitely the better of the two versions, though, and is still alright. If anything it’s just kind of underwhelming.

    Yes, as metaldams mentioned, there is no standout gag in this, but it’s not entirely lifeless either. Some of the scare gags got some laughs out of me, like Laurel and Hardy running from the bat or when Hardy freaks out after seeing Laurel’s hand. Nothing great, but there is enough in there to say that it wasn’t a complete waste of time. In addition, we do get some nice performances from the detectives, especially Fred Kelsey.

    Still, the short isn’t without its problems either. Frank Austin as the butler tries to be comedic and creepy at the same time, but ends up coming off as neither. I’m sure this guy has been good in other stuff, but here, he really felt out of his element. That weird smile he does after checking on Laurel and Hardy comes off as just that: weird. Additionally, the other suspects barely get to do anything in this film, and, yes, that ending was pretty stupid as well. Personally, I think that the ending of the three-reel version of LAUGHING GRAVY would have been pretty fitting here story-wise, since this already deals with a Laurel family member, even though LAUGHING GRAVY as a whole is a better film. Overall, I wouldn’t consider this the worst Laurel and Hardy film, but not much about it stands out and it’s a kind of comedy that’s been done better by others, notably Abbott and Costello. Part of me does wonder, though if this may have been better as a feature, since there would have been more opportunity to develop the characters of the other suspects...

    Well, funny I should mention that, because the Spanish version, NOCHE DE DUENDES, is a feature film. Yes, this film is over forty minutes, so it technically qualifies as Laurel and Hardy’s first feature. Who knows? Maybe it could be even better than the English version...

    So the film starts off basically the same as the English version, with Laurel and Hardy fishing at the dock. No major differences between the two versions at this point. So, after that, they...no. They can’t. No! Please! Anything but that! ANYTHING BUT THAT!

    (sigh) Yes, it’s...the train sequences from BERTH MARKS.



    This was such a pain to sit through again. Not only do they take out the opening at the station, which was the only part in the original I thought was decent, but I’m pretty sure that this is even longer than the train sequences in BERTH MARKS. I ranted enough about that short in that thread, so I’ll just add one more observation: I don’t remember if this was the case in the original or not (and I most certainly will not go back and check), but there are a lot of uncomfortable shots of Laurel and Hardy sticking their bottoms up close to the camera in this version.

    After the train sequences finally end, the film pretty much plays out like MURDER CASE again. Rather than retaining Kelsey, this version instead retains Frank Austin. We see the exact same gags play out that were somewhat funny in the original, and play out pretty much the same here. Nothing more to add here: an already somewhat weaker entry is made almost unwatchable by using the abominable BERTH MARKS as filler. Definitely not a good feature film debut.

    English Version: 6 out of 10
    Spanish Version: 3 out of 10