Welcome to this week’s installment of our journey through the Slapstick Encyclopedia! Today’s post covers Volume 7, which appears on the set’s fourth disc and contains four segments.
Laurel and Hardy Laughtoons
Starring: Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy
Run time: 21 minutes
This is a collection of excerpts from Laurel and Hardy’s work at the Hal Roach Studio in the late 1920s. This particular Laughtoon is copyright 1978. Though I’ve seen quite a bit of Laurel and Hardy I know very little about the Laughtoons, and the introduction to this segment didn’t provide much information — one of the only introductory let-downs of the set so far! The clips are a lot of fun to watch, though, and they would make a great introduction for people who haven’t seen much of but are interested in exploring Laurel and Hardy’s work.
Dogs of War (1923)
Directed by: Robert F. McGowan
Starring: Hal Roach’s Rascals
Run time: 24 minutes
Dogs of War matches ‘Our Gang’ up with Harold Lloyd. Lloyd appears as himself, in progress of filming his feature Why Worry?, while the Gang gets in the way of production. I shamefully have not seen much of Roach’s silent Rascals in the past — just a clip here and there, never even a full film — so I was very excited to watch this. Lloyd’s involvement only heightened my anticipation. Watching Dogs of War definitely made me want to seek out more films featuring the Gang. It’s a fun watch, and reminded me of my childhood spent playing outside and inventing games with my sister. It’s a story about kids being kids, and that’s what makes the Gang’s films so timeless. (Luckily, we were never quite as destructive as these kids.) And as predicted, Lloyd is a delightful addition to the film.
Fluttering Hearts (1927)
Directed by: James Parrott
Starring: Charley Chase, Martha Sleeper and Oliver Hardy
Run time: 23 minutes
There’s a lot going on in this little film and as a result it feels a bit disjointed. You’ve got the wild daughter who refuses to listen to her father’s advice, crazed people fighting over sale items, the daughter’s attempts to get on the good side of a cop, the father’s own predicament concerning a lost letter… a plethora of little stories mixed into one. Plenty of laughs come from this jumbled mix, though, and the film is enjoyable despite the fact that it doesn’t always feel cohesive. There’s a really great routine involving a mannequin that made the film for me, kind of like Jan’s fake George Glass in A Very Brady Sequel.
It’s a Gift (1923)
Directed by: Hugh Fay
Starring: Harry “Snub Pollard” Frazer and Marie Mosquini
Run time: 10 minutes
According to the DVD’s introduction, this is the most popular and well-known of Snub Pollard’s films. Pollard, an Australian actor whose real name was Harry Frazer, started his Roach Studios career by working with Harold Lloyd — not a shabby way to get started! As Lloyd’s style of comedy evolved, Roach decided to give Pollard his own series, and this is one of those films. I’d never heard of Snub Pollard prior to watching this one. I wouldn’t put him on par with his former co-star Harold Lloyd (few people match Lloyd in my book), but this is a great film. It’s full of wonderful sight gags — complex inventions used to complete simple tasks like getting dressed, folding up a Murphy bed and polishing shoes; a magnet used to power a little vehicle by following other cars. It’s a Gift is a gem, and my favorite part of this volume of the set.