Laurel’s Last Film Without Hardy

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Today is the anniversary of the release date of the Hal Roach silent comedy film short Should Tall Men Marry? (1928).

The film is interesting for a couple of reasons. One is that it was directed by Louis Gasnier, who started out directing Max Linder comedies in Paris, directed the famous Perils of Pauline serials…and, as if this isn’t already a crazy enough combination of things, the B movie cult classic Reefer Madness.

Also, this is Stan Laurel’s last solo film, i.e. the last film he ever made without Oliver Hardy as his partner. This too is interesting. Prior to their teaming, Laurel had the more flourishing solo career than Hardy. AFTER their teaming, Hardy was the only partner who did the occasional outside project, such as Zenobia (1938) and The Fighting Kentuckian (1949). The thinking was that, unlike Hardy, Laurel was wedded to a character that couldn’t function outside the partnership. Personally, I think that’s crap. We get a glimpse of Laurel’s range in A Chump at Oxford. He could have played anything. He (and more likely the producers) were just chicken.

Should Tall Men Marry? is a western parody. Laurel plays an apparently retarded cowhand (at one point he kisses a calf) who competes with other cowpokes for the hand of a country damsel named Martha. Her father is played by Jimmy Finlayson, who gets an extended comic sequence with a mule. At the climax, the villain and his gang kidnap the the girl and Fin and Stan come to the rescue, after much back and forth, mostly by clubbing  the bad guys on the head with boards. I hope I haven’t spoiled it for you!

For more on silent and slapstick comedy please see my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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To find out more about show business past and presentconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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