Saturday, May 09, 2020

Night Owls (1930)

I watched this Laurel and Hardy short on TV this morning. I've seen it probably close to a dozen times over the years, and it's never been one of my favorites. I've always found it a little too slow and plodding, even clumsily-staged compared to their best work. I had chalked this up partly due to the lack of fluidity in the early talkies, but even then, Laurel and Hardy had achieved a more relaxed, smooth pace in even earlier films like The Perfect Day and The Hoosegow (1929), so I wasn't sure I could explain my reaction to Night Owls based purely on the challenges of adapting their comedy to early sound film.

For whatever reason, when I watched Night Owls again this morning, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and found my estimation of it much higher than before. The version shown on the "Laurel and Hardy Show" features new musical under-scoring of the familiar LeRoy Shield tunes, arranged by Ronnie Hazlehurst, so perhaps that added to my enjoyment and smoothed over the flow of the action. But beyond that, the antics of the Boys' repeated attempted break-ins struck me as much funnier this time around. What had struck me as one of their weaker shorts in the past now had me in stitches.

Maybe it was just the laughs I needed this morning.

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