Stan Laurel Birthday Celebration At The Mayflower Club
To celebrate Stan Laurel's upcoming 121st birthday, on the evening of Tuesday, June 14th we will screen Laurel & Hardy's Be Big, Laughing Gravy, and Sons of the Desert. During our second break, we will sing Happy Birthday to Stan and serve cake in his honor. Also, we have invited several people to tell us their stories about meeting Stan Laurel.
Our first two films of the evening will be Be Big (1931) and Laughing Gravy (1931). In Be Big, Ollie, Stan, and their wives (Isabelle Keith and Anita Garvin) are about to leave for the train to Atlantic City, when Ollie receives a phone call. It seems that Ollie and Stan are the honorees at that night's stag party at their lodge. Not wanting to tell their wives and miss a great night at their lodge, Ollie quickly pretends—with Stan's help—that he is too sick to travel to Atlantic City. He and Stan also convince their wives that Stan must stay behind to care for Ollie, and that they will join their wives in Atlantic City the next day. With that setup, what could possibly go wrong? In Laughing Gravy, on a cold and snowy night Stan and Ollie try to keep their pet dog (named Laughing Gravy) in their room for the night. Their suspicious and cranky landlord (Charlie Hall) doesn't allow dogs in his boardinghouse. Guess how that works out.
To explain why we are screening Be Big and Laughing Gravy back to back, let me give you some background information. In the early 30's, the Roach Studios often made different versions of Laurel & Hardy films where Laurel & Hardy and everyone else in the film spoke either Spanish, French, German, or sometimes Italian. Stan and Babe learned to speak their foreign dialogue phonetically, often not knowing exactly what they were saying. The other actors in the foreign version films were usually actors that spoke perfect Spanish, French, German or Italian. To foreign audiences, Stan and Babe's constant mispronouncing of words made their films even funnier. The foreign versions were very popular, but also very expensive, considering that instead of filming just a single film as many as four additional versions had to be made. But since the Roach Studios could charge much more for a feature (five reels or more) than for a short (two or three reels), combining shorts together to make a single feature paid off for the Roach Studios, and increased Laurel and Hardy's popularity around the world.
For the Spanish L&H film Los Calaveras and the French L&H film Les Carottiers, Be Big and Laughing Gravy were combined into a single feature film. Since both shorts were filmed within months of each other, Stan and Babe looked exactly the same in each short. Also, where the Stan and Ollie characters ended up in Be Big left an easy opening for their characters to begin the story of Laughing Gravy. When you see both films back to back, see how well they fit together. What other shorts do you think could fit together to make a Laurel & Hardy feature?
Our last film for the evening will be Laurel & Hardy's classic Sons of the Desert (1933). You all know the plot of the film, so I won't bother to repeat it. Just watch the film closely and enjoy Stan and Babe at their best. Watch the great performances of Mae Busch (Ollie's wife) and Dorothy Christy (Stan's wife). See where the Founders of the Sons of the Desert got their idea for our club. See that they hum (and don't sing la la la or da da da) in the Sons of the Desert Song and check out the "wave motion" they do along with the hum. See why our first International Convention was in Chicago. Look for the wax apple. Check out Charley Chase's great cameo appearance. Look for "Two Peas in a Pod." But most of all, enjoy!
The Mayflower Club is located at 11110 Victory Boulevard in North Hollywood. Doors open at 6:30PM. Our meeting starts at 7:15PM. Fisher Franks (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 be served during our second break. Don't miss a great night of films and fun. See you June 14th!
International S.O.D. Convention Next Year
It seems like we just went to Sacramento a couple of months ago, but in reality it has almost been a year ago. Our next International Sons of the Desert Convention (our 18th) will be held in Manchester, New Hampshire from July 19th to July 22nd 2012. If you register for the convention by July 31, 2011, you will receive a $50 discount off the regular registration fee of $375. For more information about the Convention go to: http://2012.looserthanloose.com
2nd Collection For UCLA L&H Preservation Fund
At our April 26th meeting, we collected just under $300 for UCLA's Laurel & Hardy Preservation Fund. Thank you for your generosity. For anyone who missed donating at our April meeting or for anyone who wants to donate more money, as we announced in April, we will again collect money at our June 14th meeting. After we total the donations from our June 14th meeting and our April 26th meeting, we will match that total amount with money from our club treasury. All the money will then be donated to the Laurel & Hardy Preservation Fund at UCLA, in the name of the Way Out West Tent Los Angeles.
We will report the total amount of money donated in our next newsletter. For information about the fund and UCLA's great preservation work on Laurel & Hardy's Roach films go to: www.cinema.ucla.edu/support/laurel-and-hardy
Notes From Our April Meeting
After we opened our April 26th meeting with our toasts and the singing of the Sons of the Desert Song, we screened Hog Wild, in honor of Dorothy Barnhart. Dorothy passed away in March and Hog Wild was one of Dorothy's favorite Laurel & Hardy films.
We then screened The Music Box and Way Out West. With our screenings of Big Business at our last December meeting, The Music Box and Way Out West at our April meeting, and by screening Sons of the Desert at our June meeting, our members have been able to see the two L&H films already on the National Film Registry List (Big Business and The Music Box) and the two L&H films closest to being selected next for the List (Way Out West and Sons of the Desert). To vote the films that you feel are the most deserving to be included in this year's selections to the National Film Registry go to: http://www.loc.gov/film/index.html
At our April meeting, we had a great turnout for three great films, a very enthusiastic audience, and as always we had a lot of fun. Thanks to Curtis Armstrong, film and TV star, for joining us at our meeting. Come back soon Curtis. Thanks also to Stan Taffel, Rita Crandall, Dave Griem, Melanie Thompson, Curtis Armstrong, Jayne Barnhart, Victor D'Agostino, and Bob Duncan for helping me with the toasts.