Laurel and Hardy in “The Flying Deuces”

The Flying Deuces (1939) is one of the Laurel and Hardy features many of us came to know first and best, as it was one of the first to become widely available on home video (it was in the public domain early for some obscure legal reason). Directed by Eddie Sutherland, it is a remake of their earlier French Foreign Legion comedy short Beau Hunks (1931). The title is an obvious play on “Flying Aces:” implying that they are not foremost in ranks of airplane pilots, as they prove hilariously during the film’s hair-raising finale. Ollie is heartbroken because his girl Georgette (Jean Parker) has chosen another man to marry (Reginald Gardiner, who was in Chaplin’s The Great Dictator a year later). So Ollie enlists in the Foreign Legion, and forces Stanley too as well. Now THAT’s friendship. The humorless, long-faced commandant is played by the great Charles Middleton. L & H perennial James Finlayson plays their jailer when they inevitably get thrown in the brig. As they had in Way Out West, the boys stop suddenly at one point and do a musical number, in this case “Shine On, Harvest Moon”, and its almost unbearably charming, This was one of the team’s last films before they finally broke with Hal Roach and started floundering with the major studios. Despite having seen it a zillion times, I’ll watch this one any time its playing.

For more on comedy classics like Laurel and Hardy’s “The Flying Deuces” please see Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.