The second in our series of articles detailing Laurel & Hardy’s ‘extra’ film appearances – those the team made in newsreels, promotional reels, TV, and home-movie footage. Compiled by ‘Helpmates’ own ‘Keeper of the Celluloid’, David Wyatt, these listings contain details of (hopefully!) every known extant piece of footage.
Please note: all titles feature original L&H footage, and are in b&w unless mentioned as colour. Stan Laurel’s home-movies are detailed together in this part for ease of explanation, even though some of these reels feature Stan and his family rather than both Laurel & Hardy.
HEARST METROTONE NEWS
MOVIE COMEDIANS SEE THE BIG CITY – LAUREL & HARDY ON VISIT FROM HOLLYWOOD GIVE BROADWAY ONCE OVER IN SEA–GOING HACK - 7/1932
Hearst News were based in New York and obviously couldn’t miss a story right on their doorstep. They couldn’t miss hamming it up either. Amongst massive crowds on New York’s Broadway our heroes are supposedly stopped for running a red light. Their comedy routine with a traffic cop is sadly missing the expertise of Hal Roach studio personnel; neither is the cop a second Edgar Kennedy. Nevertheless, probably the only completely surviving sound newsreel from their 1932 tour
HOLLYWOOD CARAVAN OF STARS - 29/4/1942
Laurel & Hardy appear amongst many Hollywood stars at the start of this whistle-stop tour in Washington. Claudette Colbert, Cary Grant, Joan Blondell, Charles Boyer, and Desi Arnez are seen amongst others. After official greetings they depart in a parade of Jeeps. Out-takes include much more of the same, plus L&H exiting from their train in the company of Bert Lahr, Rita Hayworth and Groucho Marx.
Some of this footage has been used in various World War 2 documentaries including Fox’s Movietone ‘The Hollywood Victory Caravan’, and is the source of the shot in which L&H climb into a Jeep in ‘Autobiography of a Jeep’ – a 1943 USA Office of War Information film.
STAN LAUREL’S HOME MOVIES - 1930s
Stan Laurel had his own 16mm movie camera and produced some delightful home movies, now looked after by his daughter Lois.
Most familiar is a sequence with Stan, his father Arthur Jefferson and stepmother Venetia outside their Ealing property, 49 Colebrook Avenue, an even more familiar address if you know “Pack Up Your Troubles”. These shots alone were taken in the UK and, confusingly, often come attached to the Tyneside and Edinburgh films mentioned in ‘Part One’.
Other reels feature Stan on fishing trips; Lois at home with her mother; playing in the snow; and with Jacquie Lynne during a break from “Pack Up Your Troubles.” (The organisation “The Sons of the Desert” found Jacquie Lynne thanks to her seeing these shots on the Video Treasures’ video, with an appeal from Lois asking if anyone knew her current address. She turned out to be living only a few blocks from Lois!
L&H are seen visiting the Bedford Drive residence on two occasions - Lois’s fourth and fifth birthdays. In the first, Lois can be seen going shy on ‘Uncle Babe’. Lois has revealed in recent years that, at age four, she believed L&H’s on-screen relationship to be the real thing. Stan deliberately wrote the violent climax to One Good Turn, where he gets his own back on Ollie, to appease his young daughter.
Just a few shots show backstage activity on the Roach lot – Babe and Charley Chase fooling outside the dressing room block, and a cod ‘circus’ parade with Lois during shooting of The Chimp.
ART LLOYD’S HOME MOVIES - 1930s
Art Lloyd – Stan Laurel’s favourite cameraman on the L&H films – also shot some 16mm home-movie film. The film was supposedly borrowed, but never returned to his widow Venice Lloyd some years ago. So while, in theory, the film should still exist (why would anyone steal such material only to dispose of it?), in practice these precious images (of Laurel & Hardy on the set? - of who knows what?) are lost to us all.
HOLLYWOOD VICTORY CARAVAN - 1942
16mm Kodachrome. A colour record of various stars on stage in Philadelphia including Laurel & Hardy performing their introduction to ‘The Drivers Licence’ sketch. Rescued by Irv Hyatt when the original film was brought to him for transfer to video. Shown by Irv at the Birmingham U.K. L&H Convention and subsequent London National Film Theatre L&H Show.
STAN VISITS OLLIE (aka LAUREL & HARDY AT HOME) - 1956
Filmed on 8mm Kodachrome colour by Andy Wade.
L&H relax in the grounds of daughter Lois’s home in Tarzana, California (making nonsense of the film’s acquired titles – Stan is not visiting Ollie, neither are L&H at home!).
Stan’s wife Ida, daughter Lois (then married to Rand Brooks), and grandchildren Randy and Laurel are also seen. Babe had lost an incredible amount of weight, on doctors’ advice, and appears thinner than Stan. He twiddles Stan’s tie at one point, not wearing one himself. Stan seems less at ease, recovering as he was from his first mild stroke.
The last footage of L&H to be seen together. This sad little film has an even sadder history. Andy Wade was a teenage L&H fan from Florida who asked to film Stan on more than one occasion. According to John McCabe, Andy died in a motorbike accident, after which his film was commercially exploited against Stan’s wishes. It appeared for sale on 8 and 16mm film in the States and continues to be sold on video and DVD today. Clips also appeared in BBC TV’s ‘Omnibus –Cuckoo’ (1974) and ‘Living Famously – Laurel & Hardy’ (2002).
UNIDENTIFIED TOURS FOOTAGE - USA, 1932
A brief clip with Laurel & Hardy leaving a train, Laurel dusting the steps in advance for Hardy.
This would seem to date from the start of their 1932 tour. Their rail journey took four days from Los Angeles to New York, via Chicago. Surely too low key for their New York arrival (neither do their clothes exactly match those in the extant New York Hearst Metrotone newsreel item). Another stopover location en route seems more likely. Possibly from a now missing newsreel or Columbia Screen Snapshots short. (Screen Snapshots was a long-running series of Columbia shorts comprising mostly behind the scenes footage of film personalities.)
Re-used in Columbia’s Screen Snapshots : Memories of Famous Hollywood Comedians - 22/4/1951 - a compilation of out-takes and off set footage from previous Screen Snapshots. These included the 1941 Keystone Party, itself re-issued in 1951 as Hollywood Pie Throwers (complicated, isn’t it?) and, for the record, including comedy associates of L&H, Billy Gilbert and Buster Keaton, in a pie throwing scene.
MGM TRAILER REEL (untitled) - 1933
A preview reel of MGM productions for the upcoming season, made for cinema trade showing in Europe and Africa only. Mainly trailer footage – Mutiny on the Bounty; Romeo and Juliet; the Marx Brothers’ A Night at the Opera; San Francisco with Jeanette MacDonald etc. There are also behind-the-scenes shots of MGM stars, including: Jean Harlow (Jeanie Weenie!) with Wallace Beery and Clark Gable.
Introducing and concluding the reel is gag footage of Laurel & Hardy with James Finlayson.
L&H clean a giant telescope, Hardy repeatedly gets hit in the eye or head while trying to look at “the stars of MGM” through it. Fin interrupts to show these stars to the audience.
At the end, Laurel hits his head on the telescope smashing a lens; Fin chases them both to a lift. Ollie stops to make a farewell speech to the audience and (as per the gag in Double Whoopee) Fin accidentally sends the lift up, knocking the button with his elbow. Ollie turns and plummets down the lift shaft; “Ohhhh!” from Ollie; crash!; “Doh!” from Fin. The End.
Found fairly recently in France, only a dubbed French version of this reel is known to exist. Laurel & Hardy and everyone else were filmed clearly speaking in English. Two short clips appeared on the ARTE TV channel, as reported in ‘The Laurel & Hardy Magazine’ (Vol. 5, No. 6). - the total L&H contribution being then unknown.
THAT’S THAT - 1937
Gag reel of L&H clips and out-takes compiled by editor Bert Jordan at Hal Roach Studios for Stan’s birthday in 1937. Included are alternate takes from The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (USA and Spanish versions), Our Wife (with Fin) and Way Out West - with both Tiny Sandford and his replacement, Stanley Fields, playing the Sheriff’s role.
Owned by Lois Laurel, a 35mm work print minus its soundtrack was also quoted in Glenn Mitchell’s ‘Laurel & Hardy Encyclopaedia’ as “in private hands”. It is in fact at the UCLA. Shown at various L&H Conventions from 1980 onwards.
THIS IS YOUR LIFE - 1/12/1954 - NBC TV, USA
Episode of the USA. TV show originated, and hosted by Ralph Edwards. Covering both Boys’ lives (or trying to) in half-an-hour, minus commercial breaks. Guests included director Leo McCarey, producer Hal Roach Jr., Vivian Blaine (from Jitterbugs) and others from their earlier days. Bernard Delfont, backer of their British tours, and Ben Shipman, their long-time agent and lawyer, appear in the ‘surprise’ introduction. Stan Laurel in particular could have done without the surprise. “A staggering experience … we certainly never intended to start out (on televsion) on an unrehearsed network show!” he said later.
Almost as staggering is reading the blurb on Stonevision’s DVD release of the show: “For years it was feared lost, but recently discovered ….” reads the cover. This is nonsense. The live show was kinescoped (film recorded) for syndication around the USA. Stan and Babe were each given a copy themselves, and the show has circulated for years on film and video. The Hazel Bishop cosmetics commercials are cut in some versions, as is a song used to fill time while our heroes make their way from hotel to TV studio – the taxi had a flat tyre, according to Lois Laurel. But the show exists complete, thankfully, since so little else of L&H on TV does.
THIS IS MUSIC HALL
L&H sequence filmed 29/9/1955. BBC TV transmission 19/10/1955
A live Gala Variety Show saluting The Water Rats, the famous charitable show business organisation of which L&H were proud to be members since 1947. L&H filmed a message at Stan’s Franklin Avenue address in Santa Monica. This film insert was introduced by Ben Lyon during the live show, a complete film recording of which exists at BBC TV.
L&H end the message by saying “Goodbye to brother Water Rats … and our many friends and fans” in what turned out to be a real goodbye – their last professional recorded appearance together. Extract in BBC TV’s ‘Living Famously – Laurel & Hardy’ (2002)
In our magazinse we offered the hope that new Laurel & Hardy footage would continue to be found. Since then eight more British and European newsreel items have come to light and, we repeat: “There must be MORE!” There will be a supplement of these additions and amendments at the end of the series. Meanwhile, please contact the ‘Laurel & Hardy Magazine’ if you think you have made any new discoveries.
NEXT ISSUE – PART 3: The Solo material - footage with either Laurel or Hardy
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