Zenobia (1939)

Passed   |    |  Comedy, Drama, Romance

Zenobia (1939) Poster

A modest country doctor in the antebellum South has to contend with his daughter's upcoming marriage and an affectionate medicine show elephant.


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23 December 2008 | Michael_Elliott
Nice Laughs
Zenobia (1939)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Oliver Hardy plays a country doctor's whose life gets turned upside down when his daughter is about to marry into a rich family that doesn't want her. To make matters worse, the doctor is asked by a circus man (Harry Langdon) to look at his sick elephant. The doctor cures the creature but then the elephant refuses to leave his side. This was Hardy's first and only starring role without Stan Laurel but the screenplay really seems like it was originally meant for the two. Langdon, a silent screen star, fills in for Laurel and one can't help but think the duo could have made this film together but didn't for whatever reasons. The film takes place during the Old South and features a lot more than just laughs as the doctor always talks about he Declaration of Independence and how important that is to him. The battles between rich and poor as well as black and white are dealt with in a pretty honest manor considering the type of film this is. There's one sequence where a black boy asks Hardy if he'll ever be white so that he will be able to do more things. The response Hardy gives him makes for some good drama but it's also interesting in what's said. I was surprised at how honest they looked at the racial tensions but some of them are nearly thrown to the side with Step'n Fetchit playing his normal slow slave character. He's certainly very good at what he does but the performance does go against some of the speeches in the film. Hardy proves that he could carry a movie on his own and delivers many laughs including a very funny sequence where he tells Langdon that he isn't an elephant. Langdon's comeback is great and he also manages to do his part quite well and add plenty of laughs. I didn't care too much for any of the other supporting performances as I found them very annoying due to how they were written in the screenplay. This film certainly isn't a masterpiece or even a classic but it makes for a mildly entertaining 70-minutes.

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