Review: ‘Laurel and Hardy: The Flying Deuces’ (1939)

Laurel and Hardy, arguably one of the greatest comedy duos to grace the silver screen, have had one of their classic comedies released on Blu-ray.

The Flying Deuces, released in 1939, follows Stan and Ollie joining the Foreign Legion to help Ollie forget the woman he is in love with, after discovering that she is married. They eventually get posted to Morocco, where a series of slapstick style misfortunes begin playing out along their travels.

As The Flying Deuces is one of only two Laurel and Hardy films in the public domain, it has often been released as part of a compilation DVD or in poor quality. Laurel and Hardy fans will be pleased to hear that Network have released the DVD and Blu-ray in the as-exhibited theatrical aspect ratio, with high definition and clear sound; a relief for those searching for years to find a good quality print of this film!

My only real connection with Laurel and Hardy is seeing their 1932 film The Music Box when I was a child, and greatly laughing whilst Stan and Ollie attempt to deliver a piano, facing various mishaps along the way. Although The Flying Deuces is an enjoyable film, I don’t believe it will convert anyone seeking out the work of Laurel and Hardy for the first time. The film follows little plot, and at times the 68 minutes long feature feels much longer.

Mostly, the scenes throughout the film don’t appear to connect very well with the narrative, but rather are just thrown in as a starting point for some crazy antics for the duo to get up to. This cannot be blamed on the screenwriters, as most comedy duo films from this era, not just Laurel and Hardy in particularly, contain a very lose plot in which to allow the duo to do as they wish. Martin and Lewis, and also Hope and Crosby are similar in some respects.

This continued format could overbear the story, and make it seem like a series of sketches disguised as a film. But, thankfully due to the secondary characters in the film, such as Jean Parker as the waitress that Ollie is in love with, and her husband Reginald Gardiner as the Foreign Legion officer, this creates more of a wholly round comedy film, of which Stan and Ollie are the stars.

I have no doubt that fans of Laurel and Hardy will be pleased with this restored release, and even relatively new fans like myself will beable to enjoy The Flying Deuces, even if it brings no real desire to watch it again anytime soon. But in that circumstance, it doesn’t particularly matter, as there is a whole range of Laurel and Hardy films over several decades to be seen, to enjoy their unique brand of slapstick humour.

On a side note for you trivia fans, it has often been said that director A. Edward Sutherland and Stan Laurel didn’t get on during filming, with Sutherland allegedly commenting; “I would rather eat a tarantula than work with Laurel again!”

Laurel and Hardy: The Flying Deuces is available to buy now from Network.

Read the article at onthebox.com

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About writingsuzanne

History graduate. Freelance writer and reviewer. Passionate about film, theatre and music (film soundtracks!).
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