|Series:||Laurel & Hardy||♦||Distribution:||MGM||♦||Director:||James W. Horne||♦||Cinematography:||Art Lloyd, Jack Stevens|
|Production:||L-3||♦||Type:||Sound short||♦||Producer:||Hal Roach||♦||Editor:||Richard C. Currier|
|Released:||12 December 1931||♦||Length:||4-reels||♦||Sound recording:||Elmer Raguse||♦|
|BEST DVD VERSION|
Ollie is singing a sentimental love song at the piano before Stan questions his mushy show of emotion. He confesses that he is infatuated with a woman whom he intends to marry. Shocked at the sudden announcement, Stan enquires as to who Ollie is going to get wed to.
Ollie: "To a woman, of course. Did you ever hear of anyone ever marrying a man?"
Stan: "My sister."
Ollie isn't impressed. He tries to explain his situation to Stan when there is a knock at the door. Naturally Stan picks up the phone and tries to engage in conversation before Ollie instructs him to answer the door. The news isn't good as the resulting telegram informs Ollie that his sweetheart is no longer interested in him. Dejected, Ollie announces he is going to go somewhere he can forget all his troubles, but not before an accident (caused by guess who) leaves Ollie crumpled on top of a broken piano with a chair spring sticking out of his backside!
The boys have joined the Foreign Legion to "forget". The first thing they forget is Stan's parade number. A quizzical commandant (Charles Middleton, who was perfect for the role) questions their need to join up, given they are both so obviously stupid. Their answer doesn't do much to set the record straight. As the boys retire to their quarters along with the rest of the new recruits Stan spots several fellow legionnaires crying over a photograph identical to the one possessed by Ollie. Ollie realises she wasn't worth the effort and thus informs the commandant of their mistake of having joined the army, but the commandant reminds them that no matter what their excuse, they are there to stay. Resigned to the fact they are now trapped, Stan and Ollie are ordered to return to their quarters. One delightful sequence takes place here as the boys continually leave their hats on the commandant's desk and keep returning to retrieve them.
After an eight hour march through the desert, the troup return to camp exhausted. Ollie proclaims that he is is so tired his feet are killing him then proceeds to removing what he thinks is his boot before performing an over-exaggerated massage on his bare foot. He doesn't realise it's Stan's foot until Stan demands that Ollie scratch his back! The commandant is informed of an imminent attack on Fort Arid and thus all available men must be sent on a mission to protect it. This of course includes Stan and Ollie, who are just on the verge of taking a much-needed sleep.
After marching all night through the desert, Stan comes up with an ingenious method of keeping the hot sun out his eyes, by turning around his head flap. Ollie copies him and it isn't long before they are rolling down a steep sandy hill and taking out the captain. A sandstorm hampers their progress further when the boys become separated from the rest of the group.
At Fort Arid, the Arab enemy leader tries to negotiate with the camp commander, who is unwilling to surrender the fort. Sensing defeat, the commander sends him on his way but his optimism is restored moments later when the sound of a marching band of men approach the fort on the outside. The gate is flung open with anticipation only to discover a tired-looking Stan and Ollie on the other side. The opportunistic enemy seize this opportunity to fire at two guards on an elevated patrol, killing them. The boys are required to take their places, as the Arabs plan their attack. Manoeuvering across a narrow walkway they cross over each others' paths as Stan gets his rifle entangled in Ollie's uniform. After several attempts to free it, eventually he just gives up and walks off, much to the bemusement of Ollie. The enemy scale the outside wall and breach the fortress when the boys aren't paying attention then overpower the gate guards, allowing for their group to penetrate the fort. Fortunately for the men, the legionnaires manage to isolate the prisoners and close the gate but prepare for the imminent attack by placing Stan and Ollie on grenade duty. They are meant to pull the pins out and throw the devices over the gate, but Stan in his usual clumsy manner ends up throwing the pin over the top and the grenade back into the pile of fellow grenades on the floor. Ollie saves the day, but then they are accosted by an Arab who decides to use a convenient side door to gain access to the fort, who then chases them into a store room. A barrel of tacks are spilled all over the floor and this is enough to stop the bare-footed assassin in his tracks. This gives the boys an idea! They grab handfuls of tacks and wildly spread them all over the entrance so that when the enemy charge through they will all be 'attacked' (sorry, that was bad!) The fort is saved, the boys redeem themselves and just when Ollie had finally got to forget all about the reason he joined the army in the first place, the photograph suddenly appears one last time!
The commandant orders Stan and Ollie to return to their quarters after their cheeky request to leave the army, but the boys have left their hats on his desk. They pick them up and go to leave.... then continually return because one of them has left his hat on the desk. This goes on for a whole minute before the commandant erupts! As long as the sequence is, it never gets tiresome or boring. Simply exquisite.
• Production L-3 - Laurel & Hardy series.
• Copyrighted November 3, 1931.
• Releaseed with Spanish subtitles as Heroes de Trachuela, in which it was combined with Helpmates. • Reissued in 1937.
• Released as "Beau Chumps" in the UK.
• July 15-18, July 27 - August 11, 1931, with added scenes August 24, 1931.
• The woman who is at the centre of all the attention is Jean Harlow, who appears in the film only in a photograph - just as she did in Brats.
• The colourized print of the film (available on DVD) is simply horrible!
• Was originally scheduled to be a 2-reel short but Hal Roach made the decision to extend it to 4 reels due to the amount of quality material in the script.
• Director James W. Horne appears in the film as the Chief of the Riff-Raff. His credit in the opening titles bills him as Abul Kasim K'Horne (in person).
• Charlie Hall is recruit #13, Baldwin Cooke is #14, Ollie is recruit #21 and Stan is recruit #22.
• Stan's "number" is Hollywood 4368.
• Charlie Hall's part in the film is brief. He is first seen in the line-up as the group arrive at camp (he calls out his number 13) and then afterwards in the background organizing his clothing as the boys note the photograph sequence among the other men.
• Though not released until the end of 1931, the copyright on the title card shows MCMXXX (1930).
• The morning after the army march through the desert, the camera picks up Ollie and Stan at the rear of the marching army, walking towards the camera. As the camera pans back (as they walk towards it) look at the ground (sand) where Ollie is walking. Where there are footprints all around, the ground over which Ollie walks is completely smooth. It is my guess that this is due to the camera being mounted on a sledge of some sort and was being dragged backwards through the uneven sand, and why it appears to be smooth in front of Ollie.
• The final photograph held by the Chief is signed "To my Sheikie Weekie".
What the experts say
|James W. Horne
Chief of the Riff-Raff
Fort Arid commander
New recruit #14
New recruit No. 13
Jeannie Weannie (photograph)
Fort Arid legionnaire/Arab
Marconi Ally, Arab informant
Voice of New recruit No. 11
Fort Arid legionnaire
|CREDITS & STILLS
||POSTERS, LOBBY CARDS & COLORIZED TITLE CARD
Jesse Brisson (identification of William Gillespie and Bob Kortman)
Dr. Macro (some posters and stills - used with permission)
Jim Dallape (lobby cards)
Rick Greene (lobby cards)
This page was last updated on: 24 February 2018