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Author Topic: Pardon Us (1931) - Laurel and Hardy  (Read 1968 times)

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Offline metaldams

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Pardon Us (1931) - Laurel and Hardy
« on: November 08, 2015, 09:12:25 PM »
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  • http://www.lordheath.com/index.php?p=1_238_Pardon-Us
    http://www.laurelandhardycentral.com/pardonus.html
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0022251/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x27c6rx_laurel-hardy-pardon-us-b-w_shortfilms

    Watch PARDON US in the link above



          Originally scheduled to be another two reeler, PARDON US, due to simple inspiration, got extended out enough to become Laurel and Hardy's first feature film.  The same thing happened with Harold Lloyd's first feature film, A SAILOR MADE MAN, which just goes to show sometimes in life you can't force progression, it just happens naturally, and boy did it happen naturally for Laurel and Hardy.  They had the unusual circumstance of making both shorts and features for years until financial circumstances, in other words, the natural, pretty much forced them exclusively into features.

          One of these reviews where the guys at Laurel and Hardy Central did an absolutely fantastic job.  Very detailed and thoughtful reviews, so check them out. My overall opinion on PARDON US?  A good, entertaining film for an accidental first feature.  It is not perfect, as there are a few scenes I can either do without or at least find less entertaining than the rest of the film.  I'll get to this stuff first then talk of the good.

          The less entertaining stuff?  Well, the scene where the prisoners are doing a capella crooning songs about their country home in Michigan, or whatever the heck it is, is the biggest time waster in the film, though admittedly interesting as a historical artifact.  Compare that kind of fantasy depiction of prison life to what would be shown today.  Use your imagination (you see, I'm maturing, the old me would spell it out), when you watch an episode of Oz, you'll say to yourself, "Toto, I don't think we're at Hal Roach anymore."  So yeah, even this scene has some use, kind of, sort of.

          The ending scene just seems to have been thrown together at the last minute, not having much dramatic build up to it.  This lends support to the theory PARDON US is very episodic in nature, and it certainly is compared to a thoughtful, masterful feature like SONS OF THE DESERT.  Lots of guys running around, the girl in the burning building (played by June Marlowe!), gag has never been a great comic device to me, too much danger towards an innocent to allow for laughs.  A great gag sequence or chase would have been more to my liking.

          As for the blackface scene, I'll be brief.  At least it makes sense plot wise for Stan and Ollie to wear blackface.  They escaped from prison, they need a disguise, bingo.  Some modern audiences will be offended by this thing, not to mention all the cotton picking and spiritual singing, but I'll leave that for you to decide, I am not here to preach.  Oliver's song is great in this scene as is Stan's stupid little dance, but overall, not quite as comic as other scenes in this film for my taste.

          Stan's whistling tooth gag where he has to put a finger of his cheek to prevent the whistle when he finishes a sentence is used for the majority of the film and it's amazing the way it works, actually leading to various confrontations and plot advancements for so long.  A simple idea milked brilliantly throughout a feature.  Compare this to the headstanding gag in BABY SITTERS JITTERS, a simple idea done to death in a short. 

          The classroom scene is awesome.  A tribute to Our Gang, think SCHOOL'S OUT, they even blatantly play this up by inserting the Our Gang theme music in the beginning of the scene.  As wonderful as the questions and answers are, as wonderful as the slingshot stuff is, as bizarrely funny as that stupid song they all have to sing s, it is the reactions of James Finlayson as the teacher that make this scene.  He's in full on Homer Simpson mode here, a true pleasure to watch.  Extra points to those who tell me the historical significance of this scene as linked to The Three Stooges.

          The rest of the film, all good stuff.  The dentist skit from LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING that also shows up in I CAN HARDLY WAIT, the brilliant solitary confinement scene, the boys meeting Walter Long in prison, all fine stuff.  The solitary confinement scene is Stan and Ollie for a few minutes, locked behind a door and off camera, camera completely still, having a simple conversation.  Their voices alone carry this scene, and while they are capable of having a signature stamp through silent pantomime, they show they are also capable of displaying signature characters without their bodies, using only their voices.  I really don't feel anything missing here, a really nice little bit.

          I can't decide between an 8 or a 9, so I'm giving this an....


    8.5/10

    Offline GreenCanaries

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    Re: Pardon Us (1931) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #1 on: November 08, 2015, 11:35:55 PM »
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  •       The classroom scene is awesome.  A tribute to Our Gang, think SCHOOL'S OUT, they even blatantly play this up by inserting the Our Gang theme music in the beginning of the scene.  As wonderful as the questions and answers are, as wonderful as the slingshot stuff is, as bizarrely funny as that stupid song they all have to sing s, it is the reactions of James Finlayson as the teacher that make this scene.  He's in full on Homer Simpson mode here, a true pleasure to watch.  Extra points to those who tell me the historical significance of this scene as linked to The Three Stooges.
    I'll take 'em: I believe 'twas s'posed to be repurposed for BEER BARREL POLECATS. But after the Bruckman/Lloyd/Columbia lawsuit finagle, it was removed from Gil Pratt's script (maybe along with other repurposed scenes -- hence the disjointed stock footage that permeates POLECATS).
    "With oranges, it's much harder..."

    Offline metaldams

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    Re: Pardon Us (1931) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #2 on: November 09, 2015, 05:54:54 AM »
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  • I'll take 'em: I believe 'twas s'posed to be repurposed for BEER BARREL POLECATS. But after the Bruckman/Lloyd/Columbia lawsuit finagle, it was removed from Gil Pratt's script (maybe along with other repurposed scenes -- hence the disjointed stock footage that permeates POLECATS).

    Give this man a cigar, we have a winner.

    Offline Big Chief Apumtagribonitz

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    Re: Pardon Us (1931) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #3 on: November 21, 2015, 09:13:25 PM »
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  • Man, there's some deep knowledge.

    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: Pardon Us (1931) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #4 on: May 04, 2016, 03:41:40 PM »
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  • Jeepers, creepers, what a night!  OK, I watched this this morning, but still...

    This, while not perfect, captures the essence of a good comedy movie.  We have an ordinary progression of circumstances that, through comedy, is livened up.  We have Stan's tooth (and later the dentist), the first prison scenes, Stan and Ollie during the riot, etc. not mentioning the great acting that made this all work!  The best actor in this is either James Finlayson or Wilfred Lucas, as both are outstanding in their own ways.  Hal Roach makes his only appearance in an L&H film :P

    There are many good scenes-- the beer recipe, the booking, meeting The Tiger, the classroom, solitary confinement, the dentist, splutting Walter Long in the dirt, the riot-- that made this very pleasant; the bad-- every singing scene (about 10-12 minutes of film in total!), the girl in the burning house, as prison warden's don't typically live their with their families to my knowledge.

    The riot scene, while more dramatic, had a nice application of comedic effect, including an eye gouge, but I would imagine many folks don't like this scene for the fact that it is dramatic, just as the folks at Lord Heath dismiss BEAU HUNKS.

    I'm done rambling.

    9/10
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    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: Pardon Us (1931) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #5 on: May 11, 2016, 08:21:47 AM »
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  • Since this is the appropriate spot...

    Yesterday, in the van on a long car ride, my younger brother dropped his pencil under the seat (he's 9 years old).  I just look at him and say nothing.  For the next 2-3 minutes, it's me silently (aside from noises I incidentally make) struggling to get this bloody pencil from under the seat.  He kept sticking his hands in, and I kept shoving him away.  I was thinking: "Well, here's another fine mess you've gotten me into!  Look what you've done!"  It was very L&Hardy-esque, especially with the faces we were making toward each other.

    And he's never even watched Laurel & Hardy!  It just goes to show how good Stan and Ollie were at being overgrown manchildren.
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    Offline metaldams

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    Re: Pardon Us (1931) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #6 on: May 12, 2016, 05:00:30 PM »
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  • Since this is the appropriate spot...

    Yesterday, in the van on a long car ride, my younger brother dropped his pencil under the seat (he's 9 years old).  I just look at him and say nothing.  For the next 2-3 minutes, it's me silently (aside from noises I incidentally make) struggling to get this bloody pencil from under the seat.  He kept sticking his hands in, and I kept shoving him away.  I was thinking: "Well, here's another fine mess you've gotten me into!  Look what you've done!"  It was very L&Hardy-esque, especially with the faces we were making toward each other.

    And he's never even watched Laurel & Hardy!  It just goes to show how good Stan and Ollie were at being overgrown manchildren.

    Great story, and a 9 nine year old brother, that's young.  My nephew will be 8 soon!

    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: Pardon Us (1931) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #7 on: May 13, 2016, 04:42:54 AM »
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  • Great story, and a 9 nine year old brother, that's young.  My nephew will be 8 soon!

    Especially since I'm 22!
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    Offline Signor Spumoni

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    Re: Pardon Us (1931) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #8 on: May 14, 2016, 02:26:05 PM »
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  • Since this is the appropriate spot...

    Yesterday, in the van on a long car ride, my younger brother dropped his pencil under the seat (he's 9 years old).  I just look at him and say nothing.  For the next 2-3 minutes, it's me silently (aside from noises I incidentally make) struggling to get this bloody pencil from under the seat.  He kept sticking his hands in, and I kept shoving him away.  I was thinking: "Well, here's another fine mess you've gotten me into!  Look what you've done!"  It was very L&Hardy-esque, especially with the faces we were making toward each other.

    And he's never even watched Laurel & Hardy!  It just goes to show how good Stan and Ollie were at being overgrown manchildren.

    Not only a fun story, but it's funny that you specified that he's your "younger" brother.  I might have thought you were an extraordinary prodigy, otherwise.   ;)

    Is Brother a Stooges fan, too?

    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: Pardon Us (1931) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #9 on: May 14, 2016, 06:21:19 PM »
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  • Is Brother a Stooges fan, too?

    We keep him from such things at this point because his personality type is of the kind that is liable to get himself in trouble by doing the wrong thing at the wrong place/time.
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    Offline Signor Spumoni

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    Re: Pardon Us (1931) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #10 on: May 15, 2016, 11:38:31 PM »
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  • We keep him from such things at this point because his personality type is of the kind that is liable to get himself in trouble by doing the wrong thing at the wrong place/time.

    Whether he realizes it or not at his age, he is lucky to have you folks to understand him and to protect him.  Good for you.

    Offline Umbrella Sam

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    Re: Pardon Us (1931) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #11 on: December 27, 2017, 12:16:04 PM »
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  • The biggest problem with PARDON US is that it is an accidental feature and exactly comes across that way in its pacing. It is very episodic in nature, which would be fine except for the fact that it does often feel like they are trying to shove in some dramatic moments randomly that feel very out of place in this kind of feature. The song sequences are a huge example; they are done well, but these feel like they should have been done in something like BEAU HUNKS, not this. As a result, these feel entirely pointless and drag on. There are other examples of this, such as Laurel and Hardy in solitary confinement, a scene that plays out both dramatically and comedically, but feels a bit too out of place in this kind of feature.

    I don’t find the blackface scenes here nearly as bad as many other blackface scenes made during this time. Unlike a lot of others who would be in this situation, Laurel and Hardy at least don’t try to put on a sterotypical voice and much of the comedy here comes from Laurel and Hardy’s own ineptitude. Still, the whole cotton picking thing is just a bit too uncomforting for my tastes.

    The film’s strength, though, is with many of the prison scenes. Lots of great gags are thrown in here that still make the film worth watching even if it is not a particularly compelling feature. One of the biggest highlights is the classroom scene. A great mixture of verbal and visual gags as well as the performance of James Finlayson make this a must watch scene for any Laurel and Hardy fan. It’s one of the best comedy scenes I have seen in any of these Laurel and Hardy films.

    We also get a semi-remake of LEAVE ‘EM LAUGHING in the dentist subplot, but here it benefits from the much stronger relationship between Laurel and Hardy at this time. Seeing Laurel’s mood change from so scared to happy when he sees Hardy has snuck in to be with him is just so sweet that I can’t help but enjoy it and unlike the more dramatic scenes throughout the rest of the film, this fits simply due to the characterization that we have grown to love.

    The supporting cast does well in their roles. Tiny Sanford, of course, plays one of the prison guards and Walter Long is a fitting choice for the role of the Tiger. June Marlowe’s role is pretty small, but she does well with what she has to work with and probably would of fit well in a less episodic feature than this.

    The climax, though very scattered in nature, does work for this kind of plot. Hardy’s scream when he sees the gun in Laurel’s hands was pretty funny and them using the machine guns on accident was a pretty good solution, though I felt it was done just a few too many times. The girl in the building on fire is once again one of those scenes that feels pretty unfitting in an episodic comedy like this, though I still do like Laurel and Hardy’s problems with the ladder.

    Overall, PARDON US is perfectly acceptable entertainment and I did find myself enjoying a lot of it, though it feels a bit too unbalanced at times for its own good. Still, PARDON US is entertaining enough that I think that it is worth recommending to watch at least once.

    8 out of 10

    Offline Tony Bensley

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    Re: Pardon Us (1931) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #12 on: December 27, 2017, 12:51:00 PM »
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  • It may be worth noting that the PARDON US (1931) edits that are most widely available today are not the edit that was originally presented in Theaters (Beyond the initial preview, after which scenes that didn't play well with the audience were cut!), which ran a tighter 56 minutes.  To my knowledge, there are two existing DVD Editions with the post 1931 additional scenes removed, although one of them is said to be a shoddy reconstruction that includes some sequences with rerecorded background music by the Beau Hunks Orchestra.  The other 1931 release edit (The only true one, really!) is said to be somewhat sub-par visually.  Both of these were only released in Europe.

    The now included fire sequence is from the Spanish Language version (LOS PRESIDARIOS, though extant today under its DE BOTE EN BOTE Film Classics retitling!) with dubbed in English for the Prison Warden's daughter.  I don't recall whether the "dubbed" voice was June Marlowe's, which presumably would have been a preview edition leftover, although I suspect that it was.

    CHEERS! :)

    Offline Umbrella Sam

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    Re: Pardon Us (1931) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #13 on: December 27, 2017, 03:03:45 PM »
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  • It may be worth noting that the PARDON US (1931) edits that are most widely available today are not the edit that was originally presented in Theaters (Beyond the initial preview, after which scenes that didn't play well with the audience were cut!), which ran a tighter 56 minutes.  To my knowledge, there are two existing DVD Editions with the post 1931 additional scenes removed, although one of them is said to be a shoddy reconstruction that includes some sequences with rerecorded background music by the Beau Hunks Orchestra.  The other 1931 release edit (The only true one, really!) is said to be somewhat sub-par visually.  Both of these were only released in Europe.

    The now included fire sequence is from the Spanish Language version (LOS PRESIDARIOS, though extant today under its DE BOTE EN BOTE Film Classics retitling!) with dubbed in English for the Prison Warden's daughter.  I don't recall whether the "dubbed" voice was June Marlowe's, which presumably would have been a preview edition leftover, although I suspect that it was.

    CHEERS! :)

    I did remember hearing that there were several other versions. This also explains the somewhat fragmented ending; not only does it cut immediately from Hardy carrying Marlowe to them back with the other prisoners, but the warden doesn't even mention the fact that they saved his daughter's life when pardoning them.

    Offline Tony Bensley

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    Re: Pardon Us (1931) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #14 on: December 27, 2017, 04:33:37 PM »
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  • I did remember hearing that there were several other versions. This also explains the somewhat fragmented ending; not only does it cut immediately from Hardy carrying Marlowe to them back with the other prisoners, but the warden doesn't even mention the fact that they saved his daughter's life when pardoning them.
    As welcome as the extra footage generally is, the added fire sequence creates some glaring inconsistencies, with another being Walter Long's reappearing in the originally included Prison riot footage immediately after falling into the huge pit (Created by Ollie's fall!) in the reinserted sequence.

    CHEERS!  [pie]