Two of a Kind

A slice of early Americana. A showcase for some of W.C. Fields’ best gags and funny bits of business. The second screen pairing of two comedic actors that audiences loved seeing together. Tillie and Gus (1933) is all of those plus it marks the first major role of that pesky little Baby LeRoy, soon to be a regular tormentor of Fields. It also includes a scene-stealing trained duck and several eccentric character actors who make perfect foils for the title characters such as Clarence Wilson, George Barbier and Edgar Kennedy. Tillie and Gus might not be my favorite Fields’ movie (that’s a toss-up between The Bank Dick and It’s a Gift) but it is a constant delight and well worth seeing or revisiting for any Fields beginner or hard core fan.  Continue reading

Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves: The Bohemian Girl

Image courtesy of www.doctormacro.com and Dieter

Image courtesy of http://www.doctormacro.com and Dieter

Even though the 1936 Laurel and Hardy feature The Bohemian Girl is not ranked among their best by the duo’s fervent fans or film historians, I have a fondness for it because I saw it at an early age before I was even aware of their silent films or the movies which would later become all-time favorites – Way Out West (1937), A Chump at Oxford (1940) and Sons of the Desert (1933). What stood out were the hilarious sight/audio gags such as Ollie’s bafflement at his partner’s slight-of-hand tricks, the horse scrubbing sequence, and Stan’s switch from high soprano to basso while singing; those have a resonate power to make you laugh in the worst of times. Unfortunately, most operetta aficionados dislike it because the music is secondary to the narrative and is not given a showcase deserving of the libretto. And L&H devotees find the music as insufferable and annoying as those musical passages in the MGM Marx Brothers comedies where you just want the boys to get on with their business. For those who fall between both camps and have never seen The Bohemian Girl, this is your homework.   Continue reading