LAUREL & HARDY –BEYOND THE 106 MOVIES - Part 3
Compiled by David Wyatt – Helpmates own “Keeper of the Celluloid”
The third in our series of articles listing Laurel & Hardy’s “extra” film appearances – those the team made in newsreels, promotional reels, TV, and home movie footage. In this part, their solo appearances – footage with either Laurel or Hardy on their own.
Please note: All existing original appearances are, hopefully, listed, and are in B/W unless mentioned as colour.
CINEMA NEWSREELS - USA.
HEARST -METROTONE NEWS
Bing Crosby opens the Del Mar race track. Film stars Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Taylor and Una Merkel are seen in the stands while Babe Hardy is seen in one gag-shot tearing up his ticket, having supposedly lost a race.
15,000 see Sally’s Booter Equal Track Record as He Beats Favorites in Del Mar Handicap - 31/7/1937
15,000 race-goers obviously thought this horse race was one of the year’s highlights. For us, the highlight is in some unedited rushes not used in the newsreel at all - a gag sequence starring Babe and Bing Crosby:
Bing appears running the race track payout window; cue Babe Hardy who arrives with a handful of winning tickets, just as Bing is about to close up, and so takes all the season’s profits. There are several takes - both stars mug for the camera, Babe doing his tie-twiddle and, in one version, blocking Crosby from view “Look at him blocking me out!” says Crosby. Bing calls Hardy “Babe” at one point. (A double in-joke: as well as being a great friend of Hardy’s, Bing was actually President and part-owner of Del Mar, and Babe one of the investors.)
In Bing Crosby’s 1950 film Riding High, Oliver Hardy played a cameo role as a novice race-goer, finally carried out on a stretcher still shouting the name of his losing horse, “Doughboy”. Could this have been Bing getting his revenge?
This time at Santa Anita race track (where Hal Roach was one of the big shareholders) for the Christmas’ stakes. Babe is seen in the stands together with other stars: Al Jolson, Virginia Bruce and again Bing Crosby.
WINS CALIFORNIA BREEDERS 2 YEAR-OLD
CHAMPIONSHIP - 5/6/1939
Santa Anita again. Babe with spectators Virgina Bruce, Mr & Mrs. Bing Crosby, Mr & Mrs Spencer Tracy, Arthur Treacher, and Guy Kibbee amongst others.
The Shamrock Hotel, Houston, Texas is opened by Glenn McCarthy, an oil magnate (you know what a magnate is, don’t you?). Guests received for the evening’s festivities include Stan Laurel, kidding around with fellow stars Hugh Herbert, Pat O’Brien, Ward Bond, Andy Devine and comedienne Joan Davis.
BRITISH PATHÉ NEWS
The “Skating Vanities” roller skating show, newly arrived from the USA, is recorded at a performance in Paris. So too is Stan Laurel, seen in a single close up watching from the audience.
Stan was in France prior to the filming of Atoll K.
French film stars greet the crowds at the Tuileries Gardens, Paris. Simone Signoret, Maurice Chevalier, Yves Montand and a host of others. Stan Laurel scratches his head in familiar fashion for the cameras, and Rita Hayworth, who doesn’t, are the only two American stars seen at an event apparently high-profile enough for the then French President, Vincent Auriol, to attend.
Babe arrived in Paris two days later to join Stan for Atoll K.
GAUMONT PATHÉ, FRANCE
The same story as Pathé’s Skaters Keep ‘Em Rolling (see above). Edited differently, though, with no more shots of Stan.
“A Cocktail of Stars”: Jean Marais, Brigitte Anber, Nicole Courcel, Michele Morgan, Erich von Stroheim, and Stan Laurel.
Stan is seen clowning around with some musicians and attempting to play the trumpet.
[NB. As I have not yet seen this footage, I am very willing to make a trip to the Gaumont archives, in France, to purchase a copy for showing at the next Helpmates’ Convention. Just send money, preferably enough for a-two week trip via St. Tropez. to “David Wyatt,” c/o this magazine.]
Meanwhile evidence would suggest that this is a compilation and that not all these stars were filmed together in the same location.
“Village Fair of the Stars at the Tuileries Gardens, Paris”
The same story as Pathé’s French Film Stars’ Garden Party (see above). Some different stars are seen, among them: Michel Simon, Noel –Noel, Maria Montez etc.
Stan Laurel smiles happily (well it was before Atoll K) in a different close-up to the one in Pathé’s newsreel.
SHIP’S REPORTER SERIES - OLIVER HARDY INTERVIEW
National Television Guild - 1950
Babe and Lucille Hardy sailed to France on the RMS. Caronia, 10 June 1950, prior to the shooting of Atoll K, in August of that year. Babe is interviewed on board. Conversation covers topics as diverse as: the forthcoming L&H film, Babe’s solo career, supporting comedian Larry Semon; how he acquired the nickname ‘Babe’, the then current lack of visual comedy, and the team’s continued success - “23 years and still friends –I think that’s a record!”
When queried over rumours of a split, Babe quickly sets the record straight “They’ve got us mixed up with other teams” – a guarded reference to Abbott & Costello. Reporter Jack Mangan, a big fan of the film Flying Deuces, if we can believe his comments, mentions interviewing Stan Laurel “a couple of months ago” – frustratingly, an interview that sadly seems not to have survived.
Clips used in BBC TV’s Living Famously – Laurel & Hardy 2002
ERSKINE JOHNSON’S HOLLYWOOD REEL - ABC TV, USA 1951
One of a series of short TV magazine reels looking at life behind the scenes in Hollywood - a sort of “Screen Snapshots” for the TV era. Filmed by Erskine Johnson and Coy Watson, this episode Close-ups and Long Shots has Stan officiating at a children’s swimming gala, at the Brentwood Bantam Club.
Stan’s silent clowning includes handing prizes to the judges, instead of the winners, and trying to pin a medal on a boy’s bare chest. Stan is in fine form looking both healthy and happy; - thankfully back to normal after his debilitating diabetes and other problems of only a few months earlier while filming Atoll K. NOTE: SOUND A BIT ROUGH ON YOU TUBE CLIP:
THE CANDID CAMERA STORY OF
THE MGM PICTURES’ 1937 CONVENTION
A souvenir record of MGM’s 1937 Convention for the studio’s sales and distribution staff, intended only for internal MGM showing. Rushed together in time to be shown at the Convention’s own opening night banquet. Delegates are shown en route by train; disembarking from studio buses and being greeted by Louis B. Mayer - pretty boring stuff until various film celebrities arrive. These are not identified, there being no commentary, but we can spot Hal Roach with Patsy Kelly; followed by Babe Hardy escorting Lyda Roberti; as the large crowd enter one of the sound stages.
A title reads “Tomorrow night you will be guests of Hal Roach.” Background music over this is the Cuckoo Song, as per the score of Way Out West.
Oh! to have been one of those visitors, even if Babe does look horribly bored with the whole business. The clip showing Hal Roach and Babe Hardy was used in When the Lion Roars (1992), the Turner TV series chronicling the history of MGM. Wrongly, the footage is suggested to be of one of Louis Mayer’s birthday parties.
HAL ROACH 25th ANNIVERSARY AS A FILM PRODUCER -1939
Another in-house MGM newsreel, this time of a party to celebrate Hal Roach’s 25 years in film production. Babe Hardy is seen at Roach’s side throughout.
As in the above Babe appears clean shaven, and wearing horn rimmed glasses.
STAN LAUREL’S HOME MOVIES
These were listed together in Part 2 of this series, so please see last issue for details of any footage featuring Stan or Babe alone.
Stan’s second-cousin, Nancy Wardell, and her mother are seen visiting Stan, with his wife Ida, backstage at the Alhambra Theatre, Bradford, during the team’s 1952 tour. This 9.5mm film was shot by Nancy’s sister-in-law, who had never used a movie camera before, and is tantalisingly brief – no more than a few seconds. Stan, in costume, chats with his visitors, kisses Nancy, and pulls faces for the camera.
Stan and Jean “Babe” London watch TV together. Babe London, who played “Dulcie Darling” in Our Wife, had acted with Stan as far back as his solo film days with G.M. Anderson. The source of this footage is unclear. It could be amateur, or perhaps a local TV news item. Re-used in BBC TV’s Living Famously – Laurel and Hardy (2002). The clip used in BBC TV’s Omnibus – Cuckoo documentary (1974) was provided by one Bob Boord. Please step forward Bob Boord and tell us more!
Kodachrome colour. Filmed in the Laurels’ Oceana apartment, Santa Monica, Stan clowns for the camera, dusting the Oscar he received in 1961, and dubbed ‘Mr. Clean,’ and playing with a pair of Laurel & Hardy marionettes.
This last film footage of Stan Laurel shows him in happy mood and in seemingly good health. Again used both in BBC TV’s Omnibus – Cuckoo and Living Famously.
If you have spotted any original Laurel and Hardy footage that you think should be included, please let us know.