THE FLYING DEUCES (1939)

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 THE FLYING DEUCES (1939)

Nowadays, Laurel and Hardy are cult. You used to be able to get Stan and Ollie action figures so let’s not having any arguments about it. Furthermore, they are also iconic and very funny. If you don’t think they’re funny then you’re a big sourpuss and we strongly expect that dogs bark at you and children give you funny looks. So reviewing the Network Blu-ray release of The Flying Deuces might be a bit tricky. It’s classic Laurel and Hardy, so what on earth are we supposed to say about it? Oh well, here goes...

Stan and Ollie are in France. Ollie falls in love with a local mademoiselle (Parker) but is heart-broken to discover she is already taken. So he and Stan hilariously attempt suicide (no, really) but are saved by a Foreign Legion officer (Gardiner), who persuades them to join the Legion in order to forget all about her. He also happens to be Ollie’s love rival but neither of them knows that yet. So they join up and have a series of slapstick misunderstandings with the usual slightly surreal edge. Oh, and they spend the last ten minutes of the film (after a rather good chase) in an out-of-control aeroplane just in case you’re rather reasonably wondering why a Foreign Legion flick should be called The Flying Deuces.

And it’s great! In fact, it’s essential. You might think that’s a bit of an extreme superlative for a Laurel and Hardy movie but bear with us. The Flying Deuces was one of the few of their films to fall into the public domain so if you’ve seen it, you’ve probably seen it in a pretty shoddy condition and it might have even been missing the shark routine. Yes, there’s a shark in it. It’s a bit incongruous we grant you, but it’s supposed to be there and this version has the fish restored to its former glory. In fact, Network has done a great job on the restoration and transfer - Stan and Ollie haven’t looked this good in a very long time. Not only do you get the shark, there’s also the classic laundry scene; Ollie giving a fine rendition of ‘Shine on, Harvest Moon’ (with Stan dancing); the usual exasperated performance from James Finlayson (the guy with the walrus moustache) and one of their weirdest endings ever. People forget the fact that they would occasionally stray into the bizarre at the denouement, but they did and this one’s a doozy. Let’s just say it involves a very unexpected horse. Just to top all that, the commandant is played by Charles Middleton, who you know better as Ming the Merciless in the old Flash Gordon serials.

Not much in the way of extras, but there is the German version on the disc if you fancy the slightly unsettling experience of watching Dick und Doof in der Fremdenlegion. We watched a bit but frankly it was too weird...

Extras: Image gallery and German version.

INFO: CERT: U / DIRECTOR: A. EDWARD SUTHERLAND / SCREENPLAY: RALPH SPENCE, CHARLEY ROGERS, FRED SCHILLER, HARRY LANGDON / STARRING: STAN LAUREL. OLIVER HARDY, JEAN PARKER, REGINALD GARDINER, CHARLES MIDDLETON, JAMES FINLAYSON / RELEASED: OUT NOW

 


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