Class Clowns

College life and the behavior of students and facility alike has been a source of inspiration for countless satires and parodies on the subject from the silent era (Harold Lloyd in The Freshman [1925], Buster Keaton in College [1927]) and early sound period (Laurel & Hardy in A Chump at Oxford [1939]) on up to more contemporary examples such as National Lampoon’s Animal House [1978], Van Wilder [2002] and Accepted [2006]. Certainly one of the funniest and most memorable of all is Horse Feathers (1932), a madcap burlesque of university life starring The Marx Brothers in which the institution of higher education is held up for ridicule and satirized mercilessly.  

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Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves: The Bohemian Girl

Image courtesy of and Dieter

Image courtesy of 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