So I think it’s interesting to note that this is the first time I’ve ever seen BEAU HUNKS. I say this is interesting because its remake, THE FLYING DEUCES, is the Laurel and Hardy film that I have seen the most, probably due to TCM’s tendency to play this film a lot. Personally, I do think that the remake is a little better than the original in that there was a longer running time, allowing for more focus on characters as well as more time for jokes. There are a few problems with it that I’ll probably discuss once we get to it, but overall I do consider it to be a pretty solid feature film. Despite this, BEAU HUNKS still has enough in it to make it stand out on its own.
The editing between Ollie’s song and Stan at the beginning sets the tone of the film pretty well. It is clear from the beginning that this is going to be slightly more serious than usual, though there still are plenty of laughs to be found throughout the film. I love the exchange at the beginning involving “Mr. Levity” as well as Hardy’s trouble with the spring. Laurel and Hardy rush into the whole Foreign Legion deal, something they kind of do in THE FLYING DEUCES as well, though there you can argue that they don’t know what they’re getting into, since they’re following someone else’s advice, whereas here Hardy is the one who suggests joining.
Once they’re at the main base, Laurel and Hardy begin to pull off probably the funniest part of this film: the recurring gag of seeing pictures of Jeannie-Weenie, who has “been all over the world.” The hat exchange in the office bit here moves at a better pace than in BACON GRABBERS, also featuring a brief bit with them walking into the wrong room.
After this, it begins to differ more from THE FLYING DEUCES in that the Foreign Legion actually goes out on an expedition to another fort. I really love Laurel and Hardy tumbling down the hill as well as their aimless wandering. They’re surprisingly the first ones to arrive at the fort and are assigned to take the places of two men who were killed as they arrived. The exchange with them getting their guns stuck is probably my least favorite bit throughout the entire film, though thankfully it doesn’t last that long.
The finale is interesting. While I do think that them being stuck in the plane in THE FLYING DEUCES makes for a much more thrilling finale, this one is still pretty funny on its own and it is nice to see Stan actually being able to stop the guy who was trying to stab Ollie; a rare moment of competence on Stan’s part. The ending does not feel entirely conclusive (I would have thought Laurel and Hardy would have received some type of honor or something for their solution), though the closing gag is still pretty funny.
BEAU HUNKS is Laurel and Hardy’s only four-reeler and as you can tell, I do think it partly suffers from this middle-ground running time between a short and a feature. Still, they were able to take advantage of their time limit and actually put out a pretty good effort.
9 out of 10