THE LAUREL & HARDY BLOGATHON – The End

This is the first blogathon we’ve ever held where all of the entrants submitted their entries on the first day! (Of course, it helps if you have only six entrants.) Therefore, it is with a mixture of pride and regret that we are already presenting



Click on each of the blogs’ names below to link to their individual blogathon entries. Great tributes to Laurel & Hardy by all!

The Laurel & Hardy Blog tips its hat to a couple of L&H silent short subjects, Early to Bed and You’re Darn Tootin’.

Another Laurel & Hardy Blog interviews L&H superfan Chris Seguin about his spirited defense of L&H’s final theatrical film, Atoll K.

Caftan Woman takes a loving look at Hog Wild, in which The Boys attempt to install a radio antenna on Mr. Hardy’s roof.

Movies Silently takes a look at Laurel & Hardy in the unusual roles of a Scottish visitor and his harried uncle, in Putting Pants on Philip.

The Scribe Files gives a listen to some rare but well-worth-seeking-out CDs of Laurel & Hardy’s stage appearances in America and overseas.

Queerly Different reviews cinema’s most recent look at Laurel & Hardy, the touching bio-film Stan & Ollie.

And finally, your faithful correspondent offers his take on Laurel & Hardy’s surprise 1954 appearance on the live TV show “This Is Your Life.”

Lastly, we promised to have a drawing for the blogathon’s participants, the winner receiving a copy of Charles Barr’s enjoyable 1967 study of Laurel & Hardy’s movies. And the winner of that book is the Laurel & Hardy Blog (the one in the Netherlands), to whom we have sent that book today.

Even more lastly, your faithful correspondent (hereafter known as me) cannot resist one final plug of my exhaustive L&H podcast, Hard-Boiled Eggs and Nuts — 68 episodes in which I review their movies and anything else L&H-related that I could think of. Click on the above image to link to the podcast.

Thanks to all of our wonderful blogathon participants and readers. We hope you’ll bookmark this blog, as there will be other wonderful things coming from it in the months to come!

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Laurel & Hardy on NBC’s “This Is Your Life” (Dec. 1, 1954)

The following is my entry in The Laurel & Hardy Blogathon, being hosted at this blog from March 1-3, 2019. Click on the image above, and read bloggers’ takes on some of the wonderful film comedies from these two terrific comics!

thisisyourlife

Like nearly everything Laurel & Hardy did on film, their 1954 live appearance on Ralph Edwards’ NBC celebrity-bio series “This Is Your Life” is worth seeing at least once — but in this case, probably not much more than once. Even their final Hollywood films offered L&H more to do than sit like stooges in somebody else’s scheme, which is pretty much what “This Is Your Life” did.

For those unfamiliar with this sentimental hooey, “This Is Your Life’s” premise was that each week, some unsuspecting celebrity would be dragged onto live TV and have his or her life story condescendingly recalled to him by host Ralph Edwards, who would also parade the celebrity’s friends or associates on stage to briefly regale the audience with all-too-well rehearsed anecdotes. (Buster Keaton was another comedy legend subjected to this process at one point.) The “TIYL” format is shown in full, naked flower here, as director Leo McCarey stammeringly tried to tell how L&H were made a team, and one-time co-star Vivian Blaine told a story that had nothing to do with her co-starring role in L&H’s Jitterbugs.

Stan Laurel later recounted his disgust with the whole enterprise, and it shows on camera — while always smiling and polite, he never utters one word more than he has to. By contrast, the show reunited Oliver Hardy with his childhood sweetheart, and Hardy is shown trying to have a private conversation with his old acquaintance, oblivious of Edwards’ rush to continue the show (which was running late due to Stan’s reluctance to show up at all, causing Edwards to ad-lib uncomfortably for the first few minutes of the broadcast).

The L&H segment of “This Is Your Life” stands, like their final big-studio films, as another prime example of Hollywood’s willingness to capitalize on The Boys’ famous personas without any concern as to whether L&H were shown in their best light.

If you dare to watch the segment, it’s embedded below:

THE LAUREL & HARDY BLOGATHON is here!

It’s time for another nice blogathon mess! Join us this weekend as we celebrate the wonderful work of these two timeless movie comics.

If you are one of the ‘thon participants, please leave your blog’s name and the URL of your ‘thon entry in the “Comments” section below, and I will provide a link to it here ASAP. If you’re simply here for some fun reading, the entry list (below) will be updated regularly throughout the ‘thon. I will also provide daily updates to same on my blog. Enjoy, all!

(To all blogathon entrants: At blogathon’s end, I will put all of your names into a hat [no, scratch that, a Laurel & Hardy-like derby]. The winning name will receive a slightly used copy of English professor Charles Barr’s 1967 book Laurel & Hardy [cover shown above], an academic study of their movie work that ranks as one of my favorite Laurel & Hardy biographies. (If you’re not familiar with the book, I have reviewed it here at my previous blog.)

(NOTE: This offer applies only to entrants who reside within the United States. Seriously. Nothing xenophobic intended, I just don’t have the money for transcontinental postage.)

Here is the list of participants. Click on the individual movie names to link to the blogathon entries. 

Movie Movie Blog Blog II – Laurel & Hardy’s appearance on NBC’s “This Is Your Life”

Laurel & Hardy Blog – Atoll K

The Laurel & Hardy Blog – Early to Bed and You’re Darn Tootin’

Caftan Woman – Hog Wild

The Scribe Files – Audio Laurel & Hardy

Movies Silently – Putting Pants on Philip

Queerly Different – Stan & Ollie (2018)

POSTSCRIPT: While I have your attention, please allow me a couple of shameless personal plugs.

First off, this blog is a “sequel” because I got locked out of my first blog. Nevertheless, it is still available for reading, and it has reviews of all of Laurel & Hardy’s “team” movies. Just go to the white-boxed search engine in the upper right side of your screen, type in the title of a L&H movie, and read the review! My first blog is at:

https://moviemovieblogblog.wordpress.com/

Secondly, last year, I created a podcast which also offers my reviews of L&H’s movies as well as sundry other L&H-related minutia. Click on the banner below to visit it, and listen away!

Only one week until THE LAUREL & HARDY BLOGATHON!

It’s only one week until our Laurel & Hardy Blogathon! If you are a fan of Stan and Ollie and want to pay tribute to them, you’ll never get a better chance than this one. When the blogathon is finished, we’ll conduct a random drawing of all the blogathon’s contestants, and the winner will receive* a free copy of Charles Barr’s terrific 1967 study of their work, the insightful book Laurel & Hardy. Click here to find out the rules for the blogathon.

*When you go to the hyperlink above, be sure to read the special notes about the blogathon’s prize winner.

Buster Keaton and Lucille Ball – Together on TV in 1965

The following is my second of two contributions to The Fifth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon, being hosted by the lovely Lea at Silent-ology on Feb. 18 & 19, 2019. Click on the above image, and read bloggers’ takes on the life and career of this silent-film comedy master!

(Above is one of several lovely paintings that artist Julia Hutchinson has contributed to this blogathon. Check out more of her colorful artwork at www.juliahut.com.)

As is well-documented elsewhere, Buster Keaton, who had been a huge money-maker for M-G-M studios in the early 1930’s, had his personal life upended through various circumstances. By the 1940’s, he was back at M-G-M, but only as a generic gag writer at $100 a week.

Between gag-writing calls, Keaton holed up in the office of Edward Sedgwick (above, far right), Keaton’s former M-G-M director who was now similarly regarded as “incurably old-fashioned.” Joining them was supporting actress and ingenue Lucille Ball, whom the studio regarded as “washed up” at the time.

Under Keaton’s mechanical guidance, the trio created elaborate, Rube Goldberg-like contraptions to perform simple activities. Their most notorious creation was a machine to raise the window blinds in Sedgwick’s office. Not only did it raise the blinds, but at the end of its mission, it played “Hail to the Chief” while a photo of M-G-M head Louis B. Mayer shot up from behind the sofa. The humorless Mayer finally came to see the machine in action and then ordered it dismantled the next day.

Two decades later, things had changed immensely. By then, Ball had achieved TV immortality with “I Love Lucy” and was in the midst of starring in its top-10-rated follow-up, “The Lucy Show.” Sedgwick had died in 1953 after only a few sparse directorial jobs (one of them being an episode of “I Love Lucy” shortly before his passing). But by this time, Keaton’s career had a memorable third act; he had found voluminous TV and movie work, and his silent film classics had been reissued, to the joy of a new generation of fans.

When Keaton’s friend and comedy peer Stan Laurel died in February of 1965, another friend of Laurel’s, a professional photographer named Gene Lester, got the idea of presenting a TV tribute to Laurel. When Dick Van Dyke — yet another friend of Laurel’s who, like Ball, was currently starring in a legendary sitcom — agreed to host the show, the idea took off — and then eventually crashed, for all of America to see.

CBS aired “A Salute to Stan Laurel” on Nov. 23, 1965. Unfortunately, by the time it got to the airwaves, Lester’s modestly intended tribute to Laurel & Hardy fans had transmogrified to an all-star variety special that had slightly less to do with Stan Laurel than I did. A great number of celebrities were commandeered into performing on the show (much to the later regret of many of them). Two of those stars were Buster Keaton and Lucille Ball.

The entire special is available for viewing elsewhere on the Internet, but if you can make it through the whole thing, you have a stronger constitution than I have. Happily, Keaton and Ball’s sketch, on its own terms, is an enjoyable little gem of pantomime.

The sketch appears to be a version of a routine that Buster performed with his wife Eleanor on previous TV appearances. (Brief clips of Eleanor doing the sketch with Buster can be found in the marvelous documentary Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow.)

Some other trivia regarding the sketch: Harvey Korman, famed second banana for Danny Kaye, Carol Burnett, and Mel Brooks, plays the irate cop. And the unfolding-newspaper gag is taken from the first solo movie that Keaton ever filmed, The High Sign (1921).

Here is the sketch for you to enjoy (introduced by Van Dyke).

Sources:

Keaton (book), Rudi Blesh. 1967, Secker & Warburg, London.

News from ME (blog), Mark Evanier. 2017, https://www.newsfromme.com/2017/06/26/todays-video-link-2510/

(If you enjoyed this blogathon entry, click here to read my first entry, my review of Keaton’s feature film Seven Chances.)

Announcing THE LAUREL & HARDY BLOGATHON!

Welcome to the first week of my new blog! What better way to christen it than with a blogathon?

The classic film comedy team of Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy are much in the news lately, thanks to the recent bio-flick Stan & Ollie (which I was happy to critique at my previous blog — click here for my review). So, as much as I adore Laurel & Hardy, I thought I’d bring them with me to my new blog!

Rules for the Blogathon

  1. Your entry can be about anything specifically related to Laurel & Hardy as a team. The obvious choice is to review one or more of their movies (or your own review of the Stan & Ollie movie), which would be fine. I would also welcome reviews of L&H biographies, or essays about their careers.
  2. If you can come up with a variant not listed above, let me know and I’ll accept it if it fits. Please do not write an entry such as “The first time I saw a Laurel & Hardy movie.” I would like your ‘thon entry to be somewhat educational about the team — an attempt to, as Ollie might say, promote blogathon readers to higher endeavors!
  3. I will allow no more than one duplicate entry on the same subject. (For example, if you want to review the Stan & Ollie movie, and only one other person has already claimed that subject, you may do so as well.) Please review the entry list below (which will be updated regularly) to ensure that your choice isn’t already taken.

How Do I Join the Blogathon?

In the “Comments” section at the bottom of this blog, please leave your name, the URL of your blog, and the movie you are choosing to blog about. At the end of this blog entry are banners for the ‘thon. Grab a banner, display it on your blog, and link it back to this blog.

The blogathon will take place from Friday, Mar. 1 through Sunday, Mar. 3, 2019. (This is to provide some Stanley-like symmetry, with our blogathon coming in like a lamb and going out like a lion.)

When the opening date of the blogathon arrives, leave a comment here with a link to your post, and I will display it in the list of entries (which I will continually update up to the beginning of the ‘thon, so keep checking back!).

I will not be assigning particular dates to any blog posts. As long as you get your entry in by the end of the day on March 3, I will be satisfied. (That said, the earlier the better!)

Prize

At blogathon’s end, I will put all of the entrants’ name into a hat (no, scratch that, a Laurel & Hardy-like derby). The winning name will receive a slightly used copy of English professor Charles Barr’s 1967 book Laurel & Hardy (cover shown below), an academic study of their movie work that ranks as one of my favorite Laurel & Hardy biographies. (Again, if you’re not familiar with it, I have reviewed it here at my previous blog.)

(NOTE: This offer applies only to entrants who reside within the United States. Seriously. Nothing xenophobic intended, I just don’t have the money for transcontinental postage.)

Again, be sure to leave a comment below and grab a banner, and have fun with your blog entry! Here’s the line-up so far:

Movie Movie Blog Blog II – Laurel & Hardy’s appearance on NBC’s “This Is Your Life”

Laurel & Hardy Blog – Atoll K

The Laurel & Hardy Blog – Early to Bed and You’re Darn Tootin’

Caftan Woman – Hog Wild

The Scribe Files – Audio Laurel & Hardy

Movies Silently – Putting Pants on Philip

Queerly Different – Stan & Ollie (2018)