Sunday, November 18, 2018

Laurel and Hardy: Comedy Angels

My early fascination with film comedy was roused by very specific moments in classic films.  Take for instance the gas lamp scene in Easy Street (1917). . .

. . . or the pipe maze scene in A Plumbing We Will Go (1940). 

These are bold and imaginative scenes.  But I remember being enchanted by a simple scene in Sons of the Desert (1933).  Stan is confused, as he usually is, and he manages to lock himself out of his home.  His best friend and neighbor, Ollie, comes to his friend's aide only to become locked out of his own home.  It is in no way a showy scene.  It is quiet and slow.  Ollie becomes exasperated, but he never shouts or fails his arms.  The two manage to make the scene funny just by repeatedly ringing doorbells to summon help.  Ollie's wife (Mae Busch) finally answers the door, annoyed by the doorbell ringing.  She snaps, "What do you think this is?  Halloween?" 


I found something magical about Laurel and Hardy in this scene.  I cannot explain it.  You will not find a comedy scene more beautifully timed or as well-acted.  But there's more to it than that.  It felt as if I was looking at angels.  I understand if you chose to dismiss that last statement as hyperbole or sentimentality.  But, I assure you, that's exactly how I remember it.  Laurel and Hardy were in my eyes, at that moment, angels.

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