12/3/18

'BE BIG'--A LAUREL AND HARDY MISSING SCENE





Having very much enjoyed 'Stan and Ollie', the Laurel and Hardy biopic, I've been immersed for the past few days in gathering up the shards of unseen L&H material that for some reason I've missed over the years. Mostly this consists of their silent films, which I never had any real interest in--what are L&H without their voices? Well, I was wrong. The silents are delightful and I'm plowing through them at a rapid rate. Then there are the lousy Fox films of the early-mid forties of which I've only seen two--'Jitterbugs' and 'The Bullfighters' and which, honestly, I feel it might be better off to avoid. L&H without Hal Roach simply were not themselves--I have a feeling that Stan would have resented hearing that, but Roach provided them with the freedom to work at their best and most comfortable level (and beside, he had that Marvin Hatley music). Then there are the multi language shorts which are interesting to behold, in a limited sort of way. Apparently, L&H shorts in the early 30s were often shot in several different languages simultaneously, with a translator on set to phoenetically teach the lines to Stan and Ollie. Thus there are German, Spanish and French versions of a number of the shorts, often featuring different actors of those nationalities replacing the supporting players in the American version.

But I'm not posting a foreign language version of an L&H film. The reason for all the above blather is to introduce a very cool piece of missing footage from the 1931 short 'Be Big'. The film is generally rated beneath their standards (by Everson, Barr et al) but I disagree. The virtually plotless situation comedy consists almost entirely of Ollie being unable to take off a boot that belongs to Stan which he's mistakenly put on. The relentless monotony of the predicament and lack of any plot beyond it is, for me, precisely what makes it so inanely (and truthfully) funny. Above I've posted the entire short, which is well worth twenty minutes of your day, as well as an excerpt of a very funny gag which was shot for the Spanish version of the film but not used in the American one. Since it contains no dialogue I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why it wouldn't have made it into the US release version unless it was simple sloppiness on the part of a tired editor who was ready to adjourn for the day to a Hal Roach Studios-adjacent watering hole...

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