Tuesday, January 6, 2009


So, how about starting your new year off with a resolution to get more of the true classics for your kids to watch when it’s couch potato time? Here’s a good place to start: Laurel and Hardy.

There is so much to say about their movies that the best thing I can do is just advise you to grab one and go -- your kids will love it! These films have the physicality and charm of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd, but their naivety and bumbling lack of sophistication is especially appealing to kids.

I’ll list a few here that we’ve seen and tell you we’ve loved them all. K remembers The Music Box as being silent, but it’s not. It just was so well done, with very little dialogue, that his brain has simply filed it as a silent movie. It's brilliant! (Note: purists will say that pre-1940, Hal Roach L&H films are the best, that when the duo moved to Fox Films, all was lost. Great Guns and Bullfighters are the best of the later lot, and are quite entertaining, but other than those, stick to earlier works and especially the collections that have lots of shorts on them.)

Way Out West - Laurel and Hardy to the rescue of a young lady about to be ripped off by unsavory land grabbers

Flying Deuces - Our boys join the Foreign Legion

March of the Wooden Soldiers (aka Babes in Toyland) - A fantastic journey through Storybook Land

The Music Box - one of many shorts, where our fearless friends attempt to move a piano into a house that sits atop a long flight of stairs

Busy Bodies (short) - Mayhem in a lumber yard (contains some rather rough slapstick, hilarious and yet not very nice at the same time...)

The Bullfighters - It’s as if nobody warned Stan and Ollie that amateur bullfighting was not a good idea!

Blockheads - Oliver reads about his old war pal Stanley walking the trenches 20 years after WWI has ended, somehow not knowing the war is over. Ollie to the rescue!

I feel I must post a discouraging word about one film, A Haunting We Will Go (1942, one of the post-Hal Roach films). We rented it around Halloween, hoping to have a fun Halloween movie to tell you about, but this is a rather tedious exercise in senseless plot-convoluting and rather un-funny scriptwriting. And it doesn’t even fit in with the Halloween spirit, when you get down to it. A real miss, so don’t bother seeking it out.

I know I’m missing some other short films we’ve enjoyed here, but you’ll have fun exploring on your own.

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