Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Perfect Day to be Blotto

After Blogging my heart out on Hitchcock, a return to my roots is in order.  Turner Classic Movies is running Hal Roach movies and TV shows all this month.  Here are two Laurel and Hardy shorts that were on last week.

Perfect Day (1929) - Only Laurel and Hardy can turn a Sunday picnic into a disaster movie.  Uncle Edgar, played by Edgar Kennedy (1890 - 1948), is suffering from the gout in his foot, so it is well wrapped.  L&H start a ruckus in the house and Kennedy's foot keeps getting bumped.  Even the dog grabs it and won't let go.  After destroying all the sandwiches while packing the food, the boys and their wives, plus Uncle Edgar and the dog, all pile into the car.

Trouble with the car, including two flat tires with Stan trying to use a car jack, keeps them stuck.  Then there is an altercation with a neighbor and bricks start flying.  Back in the car, and it won't start.  Ollie is cranking and Stan flips the spark advance lever to cause a huge explosion.  Ollie tells Stan to throw out the clutch, so he rips out the pedal.  You get the picture.  When they finally get moving, there is a big puddle to drive through.  You can guess what happens.

Blotto (1930) - I hesitate to say this is one of my favorites because where will it end?  I have too many favorites as it is.  Stan and his wife, played by Anita Garvin (1906 - 1994) (whom I have had the pleasure to know personally), are at home.  Anita is playing solitaire and Stan wants to go out with his friend, Ollie.  She forbids it so the boys work up a scheme to go to the Rainbow Club.

Anita has a hidden bottle of liquor and the boys plot to take it with them.  She finds out and replaces the contents with cold tea and Tabasco.  At the club, the boys order their two cents plain and pour in the booze.  Amidst some wonderful entertainment at the club, they get blasted and have a great time.  Then they see Anita at another table, with her new double barrel shotgun.

Blotto includes Tiny Sanford (1894 - 1961) as one of the waiters, in a non-speaking role.  Tiny made over 130 films, and over 50 Hal Roach films, and can be seen in many of Charlie Chaplin's classics.  The singer at the club is played by Frank Holliday (1912 - 1948) who was also in It Happened One Night (1934) and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936).

The best part of Blotto is watching the emotional reaction of the boys to the booze, the singing, and finally the realization that they got blotto on cold tea.  Stan goes through crying fits and then laughing fits, and I dare you to keep a straight face whilst watching.
Copyright 1979 Allen Hefner

One other item to mention as you watch the Hal Roach movies this month.  Listen to the music.  Roach used the same music in many Our Gang, Laurel and Hardy, Charley Chase and other movies of the time.  Most of it was written by T. Marvin Hatley (1905 - 1986) and Leroy Shield (1893 - 1962).  My guess is that the same tunes made it less expensive to make so many movies, but there is also a continuity created.  You know you are watching a Hal Roach comedy.

There is still time to catch some of today's movies on TCM.  You can see some of the Thelma Todd (1906 - 1935) shorts this afternoon.  Todd had a tragically short life, but she did shine in her films.  Starting on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 8:00 p.m., make sure to catch the Hal Roach features, beginning with the best of the best, Sons of the Desert (1933) starring L&H.

Please respect the photographs I have taken.  If you want to use them, please ask first.  It's probably OK, I just want to know and maybe receive credit under the pic!


  1. Loved this post, Allen...your affection for L&H is powerful enough to be infectious. I love them, too, I don't see how anyone could resist them, really. Many comics of the '20s/'30s/'40s don't affect me, but L&H...well, I've watched their classics many times and still laugh out loud at their antics. So...tell me more about Anita Garvin...

  2. Thanks, Eve. You always have nice comments and compliments.

    Anita was a doll. We were at a banquet and a waiter dropped a tray somewhere in the room. Anita spoke, almost to herself, and said, "Now, wait for your laugh."

    She then told us about her silent days. When an actor dropped a tray or a dish or whatever, the director would prompt him to pause for the laugh before moving on with the scene.

    I still say that when we are out dining and something happens!

    See more about Anita at my earlier post -
    or click on the Anita Garvin link in my label list.


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