Wednesday, 16 November 2016

With Love And Hisses (1927)

Although starring the duo (along with their regular sparring partner, James Finlayson), this is not a Laurel and Hardy film featuring the familiar characters, but another early silent where the duo are still working out their roles. Despite the occasional blasts of crude energy, the end result is a little slow and sluggish.

There is no real story to speak of, just a selection of loosely strung together sketches featuring the misadventures of Home Guard Private Cuthbert Hope (a very effeminate looking Stan), Sergeant Banner (Olly) and Captain Bustle (Finlayson). What surprises is the earthy, coarse tone of some scenes - at one point, the sweaty, slobby soldiers are packed into a single train carriage, sticking their backsides in other people's faces, making revolting smelling food, while other gags involve skunks, swollen posteriors and (implied) nudity.

Some of the elements that would be staples of Laurel and Hardy are in place here, such as the perpetually splenetic Finlayson and the sparingly used caustic intertitles from HM Walker ("There were cheers and kisses as the Home Guards left for camp. The married men did the cheering"). Unsurprisingly, the most successful sections are the gags involving the duo working together to cause mayhem. Their combined carelessness leads to the destruction of the soldier's uniforms, and an elaborate and silly gag involving a conveniently placed and conveniently sized movie poster. They were perfectly talented on their own, but together, greater than the sum of their parts.

With Love and Hisses(B&W) 1927 - Laurel & Hardy by herbert-hueller