The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case Jan 21, 2015 13:50:25 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Jan 21, 2015 13:50:25 GMT -5
The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (1930)
Directed by: James Parrott
Directed by: James Parrott
Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel.
The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case is another subversive Laurel and Hardy short because it takes the principles of horror and etches them into the structure and formula of comedy, using two of the biggest comedy stars at the time and giving them a truly unique piece of work to play with. The short opens with Laurel and Hardy sitting dockside, unemployed and waywardly fishing, when Hardy notices in the paper a man by the name of "Ebeneezer Laurel" has died and left a $3 million fortune to his heir. Despite Laurel not being able to recall any of his family members (or birthplace for that matter), the two venture to the late Laurel's mansion to hopefully claim such a lofty fortune that would result in the two never having to work again.
At that point, the brazen comedy of the Laurel and Hardy short is just about over, with only sporadic one-liners interjecting themselves in to break the tension of the short. When Laurel and Hardy arrive at the mansion, they discover Laurel was murdered and that the entire family is reuniting to try and pinpoint who committed the crime. In the meantime, the mansion's eerie butler (Frank Austin) forces them to spend the night, where Laurel and Hardy are kept awake by frightening houseguests and startling portraits and statues plastered all over the home.
Consider the scene where the mansion's butler informs Laurel and Hardy they'll be spending the night; notice the way he careens over edge of the door, with his elongated hand grabbing the side of the door panel while staring at both Laurel and Hardy. Before disappearing behind the wall, the man looks as if his teeth are escaping outside of his mouth, with the boys looking at the man in an understandably fearful way before he just leaves the frame entirely. It is one of the creepiest, most unsettling scenes in a black and white film that I have ever seen, especially in a comedy.
Director James Parrott and writer H.M. Walker create an atmosphere for The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case, taking a lofty idea, filling it with dread and unpredictable circumstances, and splicing the tension with pleasant diversions in the form of comic genius from two men capable of delivering it and then some. The film works wonderfully on both horror and comedic levels, and provides for one of the most unique additions to the shorts of the 1930's that I have yet to see.
Starring: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, and Frank Austin. Directed by: James Parrott.