Month: July 2016

Rhubarb Vaselino rides again!

A little while back, I posted about the discovery, in November last year, of the lost Stan Laurel solo film ‘MONSIEUR DON’T CARE’, or 7 minutes of it, at least.

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The film revisits Stan’s parody of Rudolph Valentino in his earlier classic ‘MUD AND SAND. Stan’s version of the great lover -‘Rhubarb Vaselino’ – gives him lots of opportunity for the silly parody that the British sense of humour does so well. Here, he parodies another Valentino film, ‘MONSIEUR BEAUCAIRE’, in which the Latin lover portrayed a favourite courtier of Louis XIV, forced to flee to England and pose as a barber.

So, why am I returning to this? Well, 2 minutes of the rediscovered footage has been posted on YouTube, and it provides some interesting talking points. It’s a brief scene of Stan parodying Valentino’s reputation as a vainglorious ladies’ man, flirting with another man’s wife, and attempting to escort her into a taxi.

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The footage, jumpy though it is, has some great moments. There’s a healthy dose of the comic anachronism that makes Laurel’s other parodies, like ‘WHEN KNIGHTS WERE COLD’, such a delight, as New York yellow cabs roam the streets of 17th Century France. Most interestingly, at the end of the scene, there’s a forerunner of the legendary Hal Roach bottomless mudhole™ that enlivened so many Laurel & Hardy films. Stan is attempting to escort the lady across a puddle in the street, and lays down his coat, Walter Raleigh style, on top of the puddle. Stepping on it, Stan and escort disappear beneath the water. Sound familiar? With the coat replaced by a kilt, the scene is reworked as a running gag in the seminal L & H film, ‘PUTTING PANTS ON PHILIP’. Considering this, and the atypical role of Stan as woman chaser in that film, and it turns out a big chunk of ‘PHILIP’ was quite possibly inspired by ‘MONSIEUR DON’T CARE’. Who knew?

The scene in ‘MONSIEUR’ also has  a great punchline: as Stan resurfaces from the water he is most concerned with redoing his hair, in a parody of Valentino’s famous vanity. But, while Stan’s lost dignity (and his refusal to acknowledge it) here is good for a laugh, it took Oliver Hardy’s sense of real hurt pride to make it into a great comic scene.

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It’s always fascinating to see more footage of L & H turning up, especially when it helps to fill in pieces of the puzzle we didn’t even know were missing. Here’s hoping we can see the whole 7 minute extract soon.

Here’s the 2 minute extract…

…. and the similar scene from ‘PUTTING PANTS ON PHILIP’

 

 

 

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The Yorkshire Silent Film Festival

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Yesterday was the first night of a brilliant new silent film festival for the North of England. The Yorkshire Silent Film festival, spearheaded by festival producer and silent film pianist Jonathan Best, presents a great new approach to silent film programming.

Rather than settling in one city, the Yorkshire Silent Film festival will crisscross the county throughout the month of July, taking in cinemas, theatres and village halls in a pioneering new approach. Amongst the many towns to be visited are leeds, Sheffield, Halifax, Hebden Bridge, Scarborough and Doncaster.

As far as the programme is concerned, there is a wide range of silents on offer, from Houdini’s THE GRIM GAME and Louise Brooks’ PANDORA’S BOX, through to a sizeable comedy selection. This strand includes shorts from Keaton, Chaplin, Laurel &Hardy and the classic Hal Roach ‘All Star’ short, ‘A PAIR OF TIGHTS. A wonderful gem, this short features Anita Garvin and Marion Byron as Hal Roach’s attempts at a ‘female Laurel & Hardy’ team, with great support from EDGAR KENNEDY. There is also SAFETY LAST and Colleen Moore’s ‘ORCHIDS AND ERMINE’.orchids and ermine.png

 

Musical accompaniment comes from, amongst others, Jonathan Best and Lillian Henley. Here’s wishing the festival’s novel approach the best of luck. Let’s hope it’s the first of many!

Details of all screenings can be found at

http://www.yorkshiresilentfilm.com/festival-screenings/

Come and support this great new festival, and see a bit of Yorkshire along the way!