Series: All Stars w/Laurel and Hardy

Director: Hal Roach
Producer: Hal Roach
Titles: H.M. Walker

Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, James Finlayson, Dorothy Coburn, Viola Richard
Company: Pathé Exchange
Released: 12 February 1928
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: S-26
Filming dates: May 9-14, 1927; retakes June 9, 1927
Rating: 6/10

Flying Elephants

Available on BLU-RAY & DVD:

It's the Stone Age, where beautiful, scantily-clad women watch as their hunking beasts of men fight another for superiority in the barren desertlands of long ago. Two men duel with clubs atop of a cliff, whilst a tough caveman by the name of 'Iron Heart' battles a wild bear down in the dust. A proclamation courtesy of King Ferdinand chiseled in stone on a rock declares that "all males over 13 and under 95 years of age must marry within 24 hours under penalty of banishment and death or both!" A couple approach a bearded registrar seeking marriage. He agrees to perform the ceremony for them - an unusual practice of sticking two feathers in his ears then blowing his finger until the feathers fly out again. He declares the couple to be "soul mates", asks them to place a piece of rope in each of their mouths before clubbing it in the middle and causing them to bang heads.
An elderly 'wizard' by the name of Saxophonus (James Finlayson) is introduced with a thumping toothache, being pulled in a cart and accompanied by his beautiful daughter Blushing Rose (Viola Richard). She tries to care for him but his pain forces him to push her away. Upon the horizon emerges a new, bulky caveman with a club who is intent on causing trouble.
He is the "Mighty giant" (Oliver Hardy), as he struts into the land with one thing on his mind - to steal a wife. He is stopped in his tracks by another caveman (Tiny Sandford), who directs his attention to the proclamation. Hardy laughs off the thought of obeying such ridiculous orders and is quick to ask the caveman if he knew "who he was?". Hardy boasts that he can get five women in five minutes, and that's when he is working slowly! After two failed attempts, Hardy finds a third damsel but he isn't being fooled again, and pushes her away. She persists in her quest for him as he walks off. Hardy is just about to give in to her advances and kiss her when he is unexpectedly nudged hard from behind by a charging ram. It just isn't his day.
Then, over the horizon appears Little Twinkle Star (Stan Laurel), a slightly-built caveman with club, searching for romance. With the announcement that spring is here and that the buttercups are calling, he is summoned by caveman Sandford and notified of the King's proclamation that all men are expected to marry. Stan's response is that his mother hasn't yet told him about the facts of life before dancing off along the cliff top. He merrily chants 'Spring!', 'Love' and 'Romance' before finding 'Winter' when he falls into a prickly bush!
After removing several thorns from his rear-end, Stan hobbles off, picking flowers and shaking his legs. Stan appears through a slim passage between two rocks and finds the two men fighting over a woman's affections. The duelling clubbers attempt to hit Stan for intruding into their space but only end up clubbing one another again. Stan offers his flowers to the lady, who accepts them before she is quickly whisked off over the shoulders of another caveman. After Stan is rejected, he carries on his journey until he meets up with another woman, who is apparently alone. This one, however is Dorothy Coburn, and she can take care of herself! Stan hoists her up over his shoulder without warning, but she struggles and overpowers him. Stan tells her he intends to take her into his cave but she has other ideas and lashes out at him. It's a clear mis-match as the lovely Dorothy manhandles poor Stan into a submission. If that wasn't bad enough, he is then chased by a triceratops.
Stan takes a rest at a waterhole, where he meets the previously-seen Blushing Rose. A game of hide and seek, followed by a teasing game of kiss-chase ensues as she plays hard-to-get with Stan, running around the area and enticing him to chase her.
She leads Stan back to her father, where he promptly asks Stan what his intentions are towards his daughter. "I want to marry her" replies Stan, before adding he shoots fish for a living (he specialises in sardines) as a means to support the daughter. Nearby, Stan observes a fisherman (Leo Willis) diving for fish in a small lake, and so, Stan takes up his spear and tries to catch the fish which are leaping out of the water, for himself. When he is unsuccessful, Stan wades into the water up to his chest and continues to poke his spear at random before poking the fisherman, who for some reason is under the water. Stan ditches the spear and instead grabs a club (where did he get it from?) He catches flies in his hand, places them on the surface of the water and uses them as bait.
This method works as the fish respond to his new approach. So does the fisherman - who gets clonked on the head when he surfaces in front of Stan (what's with that guy?!) Whilst the commotion is taking place in the water, a worried Blushing Rose attends to her father's toothache on land. After placing a piece of string around his tooth, she leads him away to a rock and suggests he tie the other end to it and throw the rock over the cliff. In steps Hardy, who assists in picking up the rock and throwing it - and Saxophonus over the cliff! Problem solved - the tooth is out.
After Saxophonus climbs back up the steep cliff, he and Hardy perform some sort of almost-homosexual ritual and walk off before being joined by Stan. Stan and Ollie are formally introduced but it becomes apparent there is hostility between them when Ollie makes his move on the daughter. Stan steps in to remind the new stranger that he, himself had his own heart set on her. Saxophonus hands Stan a new club and tells him to fight with Hardy, who is more than willing to accept the challenge. Ollie is victorious but by the time the duel is over, the daughter has vanished. Stan offers to show Ollie where she is, and leads him to the top of the cliff before attempting to kick Ollie off when he isn't looking.
His attempts of murder-in-broad-daylight are thwarted when Hardy is too heavy to be moved off his feet. Stan tries to plead with Ollie but Ollie gives chase. As luck would have it, a wild goat has seen the fight and charges at Ollie, sending him over the cliff. A jubilant Stan celebrates and is reunited with his sweetheart, albeit briefly. They disturb a bear, who chases the couple, along with Saxophonus under a capsized cart for a rather uncomfortable finale!

Favourite bit
I like it how Stan gives it all the I'm the big man routine and makes some bold statements about what he would like to do with/to Dorothy Coburn but then to see her kick his ass around for a good minute is a joy to watch.

Copyrighted September 2, 1927.
The release date of this film was held back for 8 months to presumably capitalize on the then-popularity of its stars.
Filmed in Moapa, Nevada, USA.
The last Laurel & Hardy film to be distributed by Pathé, though technically it was released under Hal Roach's "All-Star" series.
Intertitle card count: 38.
Regarding the 28th intertitle card: After Stan has finished the wrestling match with Dorothy Coburn (on 11 minutes), there is an intertitle card which is absent in the Universal/Kirch DVD print(s) which reads, "Forget it - I just cancelled my insurance policy", before Stan runs off.  The card is present on the Lost Films DVD (Volume 6), though it has obviously been re-created - some sources say by Michael Agee.  Its authenticity is in doubt however, when another title card turned up years later which reads, "I ain't been the same since my operation" appears in the same spot and with what appears to be the original font.
There is concrete evidence showing Edna Marion on set and in costume for the film.  Whatever the reason, her scenes did not make the final cut in the editing of the picture.
Many of the credits in the opening sequence on the Lost Films DVD (Volume 6) appear to have incorrect information on them.  Credits such as supervising director, photography and editor seem to have been culled from a different title sequence.
In the establishing shot of the desert land, there is a creature moving at the bottom of the screen.  It's hard to make out just exactly what it is supposed to be.  It could be a dinosaur, but more likely it is some sort of buffalo or bear?
The title of the film refers to three elephants who fly across the top of the screen from right to left on 5:10, for a total of five seconds.  That's it!
Stan Laurel doesn't appear until nearly 7 minutes into the film.
Dorothy Coburn is wearing white underwear underneath her costume.  It is briefly seen when Stan is carrying her on his back with her struggling.
When Stan is chased by the triceratops (after the fight he has with Dorothy Coburn), he comes upon a waterhole.  This looks very similar to the one seen in the Oliver Hardy film No Man's Law, which was filmed at the same time, in 1927.
The scene where Stan is up to his chest in the water, poking his spear around, you can see Leo Willis under the water as Stan approaches him.  Stan then pulls him up out of the water.
When Hardy throws James Finlayson over the cliff with the rock, it is quite obvious that the actor is replaced by a dummy.  It is more evident when the dummy is being pulled backwards by the rock down the steep incline.
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy first appear on screen together after 16½ minutes into the film.
James Finlayson's character is a bit fickle: he is grateful for the help Hardy offers him with his tooth (you know, chucking him off the cliff) and then encourages Stan to fight him after the tussle over his daughter.  Ungrateful old caveman!
My opinion
Tame comedy yet surprisingly harmless at the same time.

Stan Laurel
Little Twinkle Star
Oliver Hardy
Mighty giant
James Finlayson
Dorothy Coburn
Gorgeous wrestler
Viola Richard
Blushing Rose
Tiny Sandford
Hulking caveman
Budd Fine
Iron Heart
Fay Lanphier
Iron Heart's wife
Leo Willis
Shirley Palmer
Edna Marion
[scenes deleted]
*this image is from a publicity still
John Northpole


INTERTITLES (click image to enlarge)

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Laurel And Hardy: The Magic Behind The Movies by Randy Skretvedt (book)
Peter Mikkelsen (stills)
Jorge Finkielman (lobby card)
Jeff Veroff (lobby card)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Shirley Palmer)

This page was last updated on: 24 May 2021