Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Laurel & Hardy in "The Devil's Brother" (1933)

The first of Laurel and Hardy's operetta films, and quite possibly the best, adapted from the 1830 show by Daniel Auber. The boys play down-on-their-luck vagabonds in 18th century Italy who reluctantly become the bumbling assistants to the notorious bandit chief Fra Diavolo ("The Devil's Brother"). Comedy highlights include Laurel's "kneesy-earsy-nosey" finger games and Laurel becoming intoxicated while filling bottles in a wine cellar. The soundtrack retains a number of the songs from Auber's original score. Singer Dennis King brings the perfect mix of menace and charm to the title role, supported by a fine cast including Thelma Todd as the bored noblewoman, James Finlayson as her cuckold husband, and Henry Armetta as the long-suffering innkeeper whose inability to imitate Laurel's "finger games" causes him no end of frustration. One of the only Laurel and Hardy films directed by their long-time producer Hal Roach.

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