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Tuesday, 15 December 2009

A HAUNTING WE WILL GO

1942
This later period Laurel and Hardy movie has a bad reputation and whilst not up to the standards of their Hal Roach movies, it's certainly not a bad movie. Some of the gags work well, the Indian rope trick, the double exposures with the vanishing cabinet, Stan's frolics with his umbrella. There is one gag performed by Oliver which would have been better suited to Stan's character - that of him raising his left hand instead of his right and Stan correcting him. It sticks out in the picture.

Brian J. Robb in his excellent Laurel and Hardy pocket essential tells us that Stan and Ollie were allowed little input into their Fox films which explains why the film feels a little flat. Though the studio hiring the genius comedy duo and then not allowing them to improvise on set, stifling their true genius, reeks of idiocy. Mr Robb goes on to to rate the film 1/5 which I think is rather harsh. It's certainly the equal of many of the studio comedies being made at the time. Sure it's poor when placed in comparison to the boy's masterpieces but then most comedy is. I'd give it a three out of a possible five, myself. It's not essential and on times feels more Abbot and Costello than Laurel and Hardy but there are still some great comic moments and lines from the best comedy team cinema has ever produced.

Elisha Cook JR who had been superb in The Maltese Falcon plays a similar type of gangster character here and remains straight lipped throughout the manic comedy. But at the end of the day even a great supporting cast including real life magician Dante can't quite save this one from mediocrity.
The DVD print is fine and at a budget price it's well worth picking up but should not be treated as representative of Laurel and Hardy at their best.

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