Image of the week – 3 January 2021

The wonderful short subject Night Owls was released tomorrow – 4 January – in 1930, and how better to recognise this with one of the splendidly professionally coloured images that are becoming increasingly more available to enjoy!

Officer Kennedy makes a point to Ollie and Stan

This splendid shot with Officer Edgar Kennedy shows the point in the movie where Ollie can see some sense in Kennedy’s suggestion, but also where Stan is completely aloof to the idea!

Now, not everyone will appreciate these original images having colour added to them, and that is understandable, but our thinking is that this is a positive; provided the colour images are seen as a supplement and not as a replacement. Our recent blog Laurel and Hardy in Colour does clarify this stance, as well as deliver lots of other information.

Night Owls was a very early entry into the Sound Short catalogue, in fact it was only the seventh Laurel and Hardy ‘talker’ (the term used at the time). It also saw the first appearance of T. Marvin Hatley‘s wonderful trademark “Ku Ku” which became the Laurel and Hardy theme tune in virtually every picture that followed.

The short was also the first Laurel and Hardy talkie to be remade in foreign languages for overseas territories. It was reshot in Spanish as Ladrones (“Thieves”) and expanded to nearly four reels in length instead of the English two reels. The film was also released in an Italian version, Ladroni, and in an Esperanto version Ŝtelistoj, which are both now lost. with the boys, James Finlayson and Edgar Kennedy learning and speaking their lines phonetically, often with the help of cue-cards held just out of camera range.

If you look carefully, in the scene where Fin rolls down the stairs, he smashes an unfeasibly large vase at the bottom. However, the vase is intact a few scenes later. While we know that Roach gave Laurel and Hardy the luxury to largely shoot in sequence to allow gags to develop and progress naturally, this is one occasion where something affected the running order of the business they already had ‘in the can’. This could have been another idea that developed later in the shoot, or perhaps even a gag that was deleted which necessitated a change in the edit.

The big news at the time was the Wall Street Crash which happened during the production in October 1929. Stan lost $30,000 in the financial crisis (equivalent to over $450,000 today!) but he later recovered between $6,000 and $7,000.

We hope that you have enjoyed our brief look at this wonderful early sound short and please feel free to leave any observations of comments in the box below. We’d love to hear from you and all comments will receive a response on this page.

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