Party at the Mayflower Club For Stan Laurel's 126th Birthday June 14th
It only seems like a few months have passed since we celebrated Stan's 125th birthday, but yes, that was a year ago. How time flies! Of course, Stan and Babe always co-stared in their films, but in some films Stan's performance was a little more important to the story than Babe's (and vice versa). Since we're celebrating Stan's birthday at our next meaning, I've planned a film program that highlights Stan's performances.
Our first film for the evening will be That's My Wife (1929). In this silent short, Ollie's wife (Vivien Oakland) has just had enough of Stan. Stan is Ollie's freeloader friend, who also lives with them. She is so upset, in fact, that at the beginning of the film she packs up and leaves Ollie. Just after she leaves, Ollie hears that his rich uncle is about to visit Ollie and his wife, who his uncle has never met. Ollie knows that his morally strict uncle will disinherit him, if he doesn't find a happily married Ollie when he arrives. So what does Ollie do? He asks Stan to dress up as a woman and pose as his wife. Can the Boys fool Ollie's uncle?
Stan and Ollie are hungry and out of work in their short, One Good Turn (1931). When the Boys find a kind old lady (Mary Carr) who will give them lunch in turn for doing work for her, they think that their lives are starting to change for the better. While eating their lunches, they overhear a man (James Finlayson) telling the kind old lady that unless she comes up with her payment on his deed, he will have her evicted from her home. Of course the Boys throw Fin out the door and don't stay around long enough to find out that Fin and the kind old lady are just rehearsing for a play. How far will Stan and Ollie go to help their new friend?
In their three reeler Blotto (1930), Stan tells his wife (Anita Garvin) that he and Ollie both have to go out for an "important" business meeting at night. When Ollie telephones Stan to find out if Stan's wife buys the story, Stan's wife listens in on the Boys' conversation. She quickly learns that they're really just going out to a nightclub to drink and party (during Prohibition). Stan's wife then decides to teach both of them a lesson. She empties their bottle of booze that they plan to take to the nightclub and refills the bottle with cold tea, pepper, and mustard. Does lying to your wife ever work out well?
Our film program for the evening will close with one of Laurel & Hardy's most popular features, Block-Heads (1938). In the film, Stan and Ollie are in the Army, in France during WWI. When Stan's platoon pulls out of their trenches for battle, they leave Stan behind to guard their position. They never return. Years later, Ollie reads about a man, now famous, who stayed at his post in the French countryside for twenty years, never knowing that the war was over. Ollie puts "two and two together" and soon realizes that that man has to be his long lost friend Stan. Ollie finds Stan in an old soldiers home and invites Stan to meet Ollie's wife (Minna Gombell) and have dinner with them. Will Babe's wife like Stan? Billy Gilbert, James Finlayson, and Patricia Ellis (playing Billy Gilbert's wife) are also in the film.
"Fisher Franks" (quarter pound 100% beef hot dogs) with your choice of chips will be sold at The Mayflower Club Kitchen. Refreshments will be sold at The Mayflower Club Bar. Free birthday cake will served during our second break. The Mayflower Club is located at 11110 Victory Boulevard in North Hollywood. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Our meeting starts at 7:15 p.m. Don't miss the party and a lot of fun, see you June 14th!
Randy Skretvedt's New L&H Book
Randy Skretvedt's Special Edition of his classic book, Laurel & Hardy: The Magic Behind the Movies, has now been published and is available for sale. Randy has accepted my invitation to join us at our June 14th meeting, where he will sell and autograph copies of his book for our members.
I've had my hardcopy of the book for a few weeks now. In a two word review, IT'S GREAT. The Magic Behind the Movies - Special Edition is 630 glossy pages long, that includes a detailed index, and many, many pictures that I've never seen. It really has everything you ever wanted to know about Laurel and Hardy and their films. It's a beautiful book! A paperback version of the book will come later this year.
Stan Laurel's Grandson Passes Away
I'm sad to report that Stan Laurel's grandson Arlington Rand "Randy" Brooks III, age 66, died in a motorcycle accident on May 7th in Acton, California. Randy was a devoted father and grandfather, and a caring friend to many people. He will be missed. Our best wishes go out to his mother Lois Laurel Hawes and the rest of his family.
Notes From Our April Meeting
We had four special guests during the evening. First Jeff Joseph told us all about the upcoming American Cinematheque programs in May. Incidentally, if you don't know, Jeff jump started the UCLA Laurel & Hardy Preservation Fund with his very generous donation a few years ago. After our first break, founding Way Out West Tent member, comedy writer, voice over artist, and standup comic, Jim MacGeorge entertained us with jokes from his comedy act. Jim was a delight and, as always, he got a standing ovation. Our last two guests, Sharon Evans and Rick Rogers did a coupe of western songs during our second break. As they have been for all the years they have entertained Way Out West, they were great.
We had a good crowd for the meeting, sold out all our hot dogs, and had a lot of laughs. Thanks to Dave Greim, J.T. Tropper, Bob Schilling, Jayne Barnhart, Bob Brauer, and Bob Duncan for helping me with the toasts and song. Finally, thanks to our member, Frank Salzberg, for his generous donation of postage stamps to use on our newsletters.
From The Grand Sheik
I hope that all of you got to go to at least one of the American Cinematheque programs over the weekend of May 6th through May 8th. From what I've heard, all of the programs were big hits. Kudos to Jeff Joseph, who did an awful lot of work to organize the weekend. Kris and I went to the May 7th matinee at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. It was a packed house. We had a little trouble finding a parking space, and we talked a little longer than we planned with Randy Skretvedt and Rob Ray, and of course Jeff Joseph. To make a long story short, we ended up sitting in the second row from the screen, but dead center. The first presentation was Busy Bodies. The picture was so clear that I saw backgrounds that I've never noticed before. The sound was so clear that I heard sounds that I've never heard before. Kris and I were very impressed with UCLA's restoration work. The audience was great all afternoon, and there were so many younger people there. The high point of the afternoon for me, though, was hearing a young girl, maybe five or six, during Busy Bodies, yell out to her mom or dad or maybe just to the whole audience, about Laurel & Hardy, "They're funny!" On that we all agree!
L&H Film Festival At Old Town Music Hall
On the weekend of June 24th, 25th, and 26th, the Old Town Music Hall will once again do a special all Laurel & Hall film program. The Old Town Music Hall is located at 140 Richmond Street, El Segundo (310-322-2592). Their evening programs will begin at 8:15 on Friday and Saturday. Their matinee programs will begin at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Admission to the theater is $10 per person or $8 for people 62 or older. Each program begins with a Wurlitzer Theater Pipe Organ audience sing-along. For information about other film programs at the Old Town Music Hall, go to: oldtownmusichall.org/films.htm