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Stan & Ollie were at their sound-era peak in The Devil's Brother (1933), a hilarious adaptation of the Auber operetta Fra Diavolo (also the film's alternate European title), in which "Stanlio" and "Ollio" find themselves entangled in the exploits of the Marquis de San Marco, a notorious singing bandit named "Fra Diavolo" (played with adequate panache by Dennis King) who's set his sights on the lovely Lady Pamela (played by '30s screen queen Thelma Todd). Plots in Laurel & Hardy films are almost always perfunctory, but this is one of the better ones, lending Stan & Ollie ample opportunity to cut loose with Roach-invented gags and trademark slapstick. The highlight has to be Stan's drunken laughing fit, a miraculously sustained bit of hilarity (with Ollie eventually joining in) that's absolutely infectious and irresistible--it's impossible to watch without laughing right along with Stan.

Bonnie Scotland (1935) finds L&H in Gunga Din territory (or if you prefer, The Lives of a Bengal Lancer) as they arrive in Scotland hoping to collect "MacLaurel's" inheritance, only to end up recruited into a Scottish infantry regiment in the Indian desert. The comedy is mildly compromised by a standard-issue romance plot involving costars June Lang and William Janney, but whenever Stan and Ollie are onscreen, the laughs are consistently plentiful and timelessly entertaining. Adding expert context to the comedy, audio commentaries by film historians and lifelong L&H fans Leonard Maltin and Richard W. Bann are packed with knowledgeable information out each film, the careers of the cast members, working methods at Hal Roach studios, shooting locations, and fascinating anecdotal details (such as the fact that long-time L&H supporting player James Finlayson was the direct inspiration for Homer Simpson's beloved exclamation, "D'Oh!" on TV's long-running animated sitcom The Simpsons.

Store Comments

Extras include "Added Attractions: The Hollywood Shorts Story," an excellent TCM feature-length documentary, narrated by Chevy Chase, that extensively chronicles the many varieties of short subjects produced during the 1930's and '40s--essentially an extension of Vaudeville and newsreels that gave rise to many of Hollywood's finest performers during the golden age of the studio system. pLUS audio commentaries, introductions by TCM host Robert Osbourne, a fragment from the lost 1930 Technicolor film 'The Rogue Song,' their magic act scene from 'The Hollywood Revue of 1929,' trailers, their two scenes from 'Hollywood Party' (1934), and their three scenes from 'Pick a Star' (1937).

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WA67888 TCM Archives: Laurel and Hardy DVD Collection (Devil's Brother, Bonnie Scotland) $39.92 $35.99