8 February 2008 | redryan64
Bidding a fond farewell to the Silent Era with Beautiful Gags, Beautiful Sets and Beautiful Jean Harlowe in Truly Beautiful Looking Black & White 2 Reeler!
The Sound Era was fast, crashing down on the movie industry in when DOUBLE WHOOPEE (Hal Roach/MGM, 1929) was released on May 18th of that year. The Laurel & Hardy show had just about hit its pinnacle; following years of trial and error after their accidental pairing in 1926. The two distinguished members of the Hal Roach All-Stars, Stan & "Babe", had truly found their destinies for immortality together.
Stan's penchant for slowly and meticulously working out gags, slowing down the pacing in order to milk all of the situations of their maximum laugh potential. Working closely with the Boss Man, Hal Roach and Writer/Director and later Supervising Director, Leo McCarey and his principle of "Reciprocal Destruction", the Laurel & Hardy style was established and known. Now, polished both on the surface and on the inside, the Team was ready to conquer other worlds. But first, they had to complete the last of their Silent Shorts.
..DOUBLE WHOOPEE begins with a double case of mistaken identity. With the Hotel's receiving word of the anticipated arrival of the 'Prince' and his Prime Minister, Stan & Ollie are falsely believed to be them. Every courtesy is extended to them; up to the point of being overly obsequious.
The Hotel Manager (William Gillespie) was right on hand to supervise the Front Desk Clerk (Rolf Sedan) in his registering the visiting "Royalty." The first extended gag of the picture occurs here as Ollie insists on the proper etiquette of having his hat removed while signing the register. The team s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s out the whole bit with Hardy's unsuccessful attempts to get Laurel to do the same.
Eventually the Royal Party does arrive, with the Prince (Hans Joby), an Eric Von Stroheim look-alike and Prime Minister (Charley Rogers). At that time the boys present a letter from their employment agency concerning the pair's limited abilities and competence as the Hotel's new Doorman (Babe) and Coachman (Stan).
The bulk of the film was occupied with the boys having troubles with the Prince and the Elevator, their interplay with a couple of Cabbies (Charlie Hall, Ham Kinsey) and their confrontation with the Cop pounding' the Beat (Stanley J. 'Tiny' Sandford). As Doorman, Ollie has a brief encounter with a lovely Blonde Bombshell (Jean Harlowe). Arriving by way of another Taxicab, the lovely Miss Harlowe (Woo, woo, woo, woo!) is greeted by 'Babe'with the line: "Might I presume that you would condescend to accept my escortage?" Then, offering his arm to her, he walks her to the revolving door, while catching the train of her dress in the Cab's door! DOUBLE WHOOPEE was one film that was even a little slower than most other L&H's, but by the same token, it was an excellent example of the Roach/McCarey/Laurel brand of slow moving, carefully designed and meticulously fashioned laugh schtick! And it appears to have been filmed at nighttime, after dark in and about areal, fancy old Hotel.
Along with BIG BUSINESS (Hal Roach/MGM, also 1929) gave the Laurel & Hardy silents a great send-off, with top notch, out door and beautiful looking shorts. They had successfully developed their style, routines and could practically "hear" the characters. Now that sound had arrived and other actors struggled with their real vocal gyrations; the danger being that the voice wasn't fit for the sound screen. Of course that was no problem for "the Boys" as their voices fit their screen persona perfectly.
After a few slow starts in sound, Stanley & Oliver regained their stride and never looked back. They would shortly conquer the new medium. They were then and now tops in the field! POODLE SCHNITZ!!