Category Archives: Vintage Comedy

The Little Rascals

The Little Rascals or Hal Roach’s Rascals) is a US serial of short films shown in cinemas from 1922 to 1944, focusing on the adventures of a group of children. Produced by Hal Roach, the series is known for showing relatively natural behavior of children, as Roach and the original director Robert F. McGowan worked to capture the pure and raw nuances of being a child, rather than taking them to act imitating the style of adults.

Even more remarkable and ahead of its time, having put white and black boys and girls together in a homogeneous group, something that had never been done before in American cinema and instead was resumed after the success of Sympathetic villains

Conceived by Hal Roach, the series was initially silent, produced under the title Hal Roach’s Rascals: each episode, lasting 20 minutes (only 30 minutes), had a plot of its own, with children as absolute protagonists. The direction of most of the short films was entrusted to the director Robert F. McGowan, while the rest to another 13 directors; Hal Roach and H.M. Walker (plus nine other writers) edited the script with the latter who also worked on the writing of intertitles. When Roach changed the distributor, moving from Pathé to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in 1927, converting the series to sound in 1929, it took off further. The production continued in these studios until 1938, when the series was sold to MGM, which continued to produce it until 1944. Funny rogues is made up of a total of 220 short films plus a film, General Spanky, in which 41 children from the series. Since after the purchase MGM maintained the rights to the original Our Gang brand, starting from 1955 the eighty sound episodes produced by Roach were broadcast in syndication with the new title of The Little Rascals. Both Hal Roach’s The Little Rascals package (now owned by CBS Television Distribution) and MGM’s Our Gang package (now owned by Warner Bros. Entertainment) have remained in syndication ever since, with some new productions appearing over the years as Little rascals, produced in 1994 by Universal Pictures.

Unlike many other productions with children as protagonists, often set in a fantasy world, Hal Roach wanted to strongly root his series in real life: the majority of children in the series are poor and the “gang” is often clashed with children rich and snobbish, with zealous adults and parents and other such opponents. Relevant was the fact that the gang also included black girls and boys in leading roles at a time when discrimination was still common.

Oliver Hardy

Oliver Hardy

Oliver Hardy was an American actor, known as Ollie in the famous comedy twin Stan and Ollie. Norwin Hardy, as he was his real name, began his life as a handsome babble in a large family in Georgia and was the youngest of six children. His father was a lawyer and died when Oliver was 10 years old. “I think I never decided my life in my final profession, I wanted to follow the law but soon I left my studies.” He had a natural vocation on the song (the whole family loved the music), and he even studied tenor at the Atlanta Music Academy. He first appeared in the cinema in 1914 (in the movie Outwitting Dad), and in the following years he performed secondary roles. He weighed 127 pounds and had a height of 1.88 m. His love of food helped him to keep his volume, although a young man was engaged in sports, he was playing football, and he loved (as much) golf. He was an agile and very good dancer.
Before becoming acquainted with Stan Lorel, Oliver Hardy had played more than 250 films. Together with Stan Lorel, however, they were the most famous comic twin in the history of cinema. The duo was created by producer Hol Roads, a spiritual father – along with director Lio McCreate – of Hondros and Lignus. They first met on screen at The Lucky Dog (1921) and played together in other films, like Duck Soup (1927), but as a real duet they appeared in Putting Pants on Philip, 1927, where the A young Scotsman who comes to America to Olli’s uncle is acting. In 1927 Hound and the Lion cast 13 films and in 1928 11 and until 1932 appeared in short and mostly silent. Among them are: The Battle of the Century, Musicals for Crying, A Perfect Day (1929), The Hunger and The Lost In The Box (1932), which won an Oscar for a short film of that year, a. After 1932, they began to produce feature-length pieces, among which some of the most enjoyable: The Hound and the Lion go to war, The Desert Children, Two Merry Scots, The Hunger and The Lion Cowboys, The Two Fools, Bardas Fournellos, Oxford logs, etc.

More than 100 films turned out as a couple. Lorel and Hardy had a professional ambition alone: they wanted to make people laugh. They did not shame illusions for themselves. Their methods and technique had many elements from the clowns, their humor was a succession of gag, their jokes made the children hilarious because they recognized in the faces of the two comedians their own clumsiness and innocence. Between Stan (Laurel) and Ollie (Hardy) the first was the nicest. He announced to Olli by phone that he was biting a dog and when he asked him where, then, Stan put the headset right over the wound as if his interlocutor was able to see through the line. In another version, Olly was smoother because he considered himself smart. And as he himself said: “There is no more trouble than the bastard he thinks he is smart.” For Olli, they wrote that he was pleased with the continuation of the lime. Few comedians fell so often and so well within the lime. Like no one else could move so much in size or play with his tie to be a point of reference.

Their comedies were simple in action, enjoyed by the constant twists and turns of alternating gangs. Minority heroes wanted to become socially respected and loving. They wore decent suits, hard hats, and they were addressing each other with a mystery. They gained an employment as pioneers or Christmas tree dealers, and if they were at the end of the sea, it did not harm them.

Gentlemen and wreckers, despite their serious style, they were immersed deep in potholes, dug well-formed backless unsuspecting ladies, trying desperately to get rid of a goat and managed to raise piano on a horse.

Stan and Ollie, the most famous twin in the history of cinema, virtually ceased to exist before the clinical death of the couple. Their last film was turned to France in 1950 (The Young Robinsons). Kings of laughter were already weak and tired. But from the time they met, by the end of the 1920s, to the year when Oliver Hardy died, they were closely connected not only because their duo was selling them but because they were good friends: “Ollie was like my brother, we felt each other, although we did not often venture out of the deck.Our life outside the studio was devoted to sports and mostly to the golf that he loved it. It was my life, I loved watching the film at all stages of production. I can assure you that we have never quarreled. ”
Oliver Hardy died in 1957, after a long-term illness, at the age of 65.
Two asteroids, 2865 and 2866, were named “Laurel” and “Hardy” in memory of Stan Lorel and Oliver Hardy.


Harold Lloyd

Harold Clayton Lloyd was born in Nebraska in 1893 and at the age of 12 he began to engage in school theatrical performances. Harold Lloyd, a comedian who has never acquired the reputation and prestige of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, but which has received similar (but delayed) recognition over the years. Lloyd originally portrayed a completely different hero, the man with the glasses in over 70 short films. Later he saw a film where the hero wears his glasses after a scene of action. That’s how he adopted the glasses, an accessory that “makes the person separate, but not noticeable in the way that makes him the dreamlike look of Keaton and the mustache of Chaplin,” as noted by film critic Roger Imbert. Lloyd, became very popular in the 1920s “Girl Shy”, 1924, “The Freshman”, 1925, etc.).
At the age of 12 he began to work with the theater, taking part in performances of the school.
A few years later actor John Lennon Connor asked Lloyd to accompany him to San Diego.
There, Edison asked Connors comrades, which led to Lloyd’s first appearance on the big screen in The Old Monk’s Tale (1913).

That same year, Lloyd participated as an assistant actor in a movie called Rory’o The Bogs, where he met another stunt man, Hal Roach.
In 1915 Roach founded a new cinema company and invited Lloyd to make his own comic series.
Lloyd’s first character was called Willie Warwick (later changed to Lonsome Luck), which was a copy of the character of the little tramp invented by Chaplin.

Eventually, in 1917, Lloyd formed a new Persona, simply called “Glasses”. Lloyd directed the first of the films, but later realized that it was difficult to play his role and direct at the same time. In 1921, Lloyd starred in his first feature-length A Sailor-Made Man, which was a great success. It was followed by Grandma’s Boy (1922), Doctor Jack (1922) and the most spectacular of his films, Safety Last (1923).
At the end of 1923, Lloyd founded his own cinematographic company and for the first two years he distributed his films through Pathe and later Paramount. In 1928, Lloyd had already written his autobiography titled
“An American Comedy,” while in the same year he starred in his latest obsession with Speedy.

The most interesting element of “Safety last” is the huge clock at the top of a skyscraper. Is Harold Lloyd the one we see hanging from the index? We are talking about 1923 when the special effects were not exactly the trumpet of the cinema.
The choice of dramatic angles makes the height seem excessive and Lloyd himself said there was a platform of two or three floors below him. The fact remains, however, that many of the shots were true. After his death in 1971, according to critic Dennis Schwarz, “it was finally revealed that climbing in the twelve-story building was carried out with the help of a stuntman.” The clock number was inspired by a show of the stuntman Bill Stromter, which Lloyd saw randomly on the street.

After the sweeping turn of the talk, Harold Lloyd was forgotten. In 1947 Preston Stertzas wanted to make a tribute to Lloyd’s career and the film “The Sin of Harold Diddlebock” that failed. Three years later, producer Howard Hughes re-published her under the title “Mad Wednesday”. Again a failure, with only profit, Lloyd’s nomination for the Golden Globe Best Actress. In 1953 he received an Academy Award and in 1971 he died at the age of 78.