A Chump At Oxford
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The halls of academia are in for it when Laurel and Hardy are given a chance at an Oxford education after foiling a bank robbery, and Ollie's in for it when a flowerpot on the head leaves Stan thinking he's a vain British aristocrat, in this grade-A comedy. Wilfred Lucas and a young Peter Cushing co-star. NOTE: This is the original 42-minute version of the film (without 20 minutes of unrelated footage producer Hal Roach added for European release). Standard; Soundtrack: English.These DVD's are produced by Nostalgia Family Video and Come in a "No Frillz" set. DVD titles come in clear clamshell packaging with no DVD menu and no individual title artwork.
Top customer reviews
The expanded version has multiple applications, one, for all intents and purposes, the status as the unofficial final two-reeler of Laurel and Hardy! You may scratch your head (or wiggle your ears), saying, the final short subject was "Thicker Than Water" in 1935. But in 1939 Roach remade a silent comedy as the 21-minute beginning to the already shot 42 minute domestic release. They play Butler and Maid (interesting that Stan plays "Agnes" - basically the same character he played in the 1930 "Another Fine Mess", also a movie where the boys, as usual on the outside looking in, this time to a vacated mansion where they have to play servants for an unexpected couple looking to rent a home) for a huge gathering hosted by James Finlayson and Anita Garvin, in her last L & H appearance. (Oh yeah, that's the number two point for the fans and historians). Not unexpectedly, they make a shambles of things.
I cannot detect alternate footage or different cuts, as many have pointed out, in the rare print. I did notice that the film quality is superior. The 42 minute CAO looks like a syndication print - well-worn, I might add.
The movie itself is surely a Classic. Stan and Ollie are street cleaners -long before it was appealing for College graduates - and they stumble upon success by causing an exiting bank robber to stumble on the banana peel that Stan has tossed aside during their lunch break. Stan figures, they're sanitation men, so it'll get cleaned up after lunch. They are rewarded with their dream....an education! At Oxford!!
Interesting that there's a somewhat bizarre alteration to their characters. In today's jargon, they come as "dumbed down" (could that be possible?) versions of themselves. Particularly at the dinner party (the long CAO) Ollie is actually slightly coarse and boisterous as he shouts out the upgraded seating arrangements; Stan easily slumps down in his chair, to do some serious imbibing of wine which he was instructed to "take". He then carelessly throws the salad at the guests. The "old" Stan, though inebriated, would have been more cautious and careful. Later, they give no benefit of the doubt to the Dean, who has rudely entered his own quarters - they're half-crocked, and rather threatening, as they confront him from their spot in his bed, and with a clutch of his booze on the bedstand. So an element of The Three Stooges has found its' way into the L & H playbook here. In their previous picture, "The Flying Dueces" (incidentally, not a Hal Roach production), there was also a noticeable difference: they're more into the "real world" vernacular, as they demand a pay raise of Charles Middleton, while they carry on in Foreign Legion. (Makes one wonder if some of those much maligned post-Roach opuses for Fox and MGM deserved that level of criticism, when it seems that Stan Laurel decided to make the boys a little less lovable, if you will, and more in the vein of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, for example. A more brash, fast-talkin', situation-driven style.
Back to England: After they sort out a few details, like who actually *is* the Dean, and who *isn't* the Dean's Assistant, and enrage some well-entrenched students including Mr. Charles Hall, early L & H nemesis, missing on film for perhaps four years (point #3), Stan has an encounter with a self-closing window in the real Dean's office, and this action results in one of the most memorbale transformnations in movie history: Stan becomes Lord Paddington, worldclass scholar and athlete. It's a little vague, but his true personality/couldn't be "alter ego", now has such status as to displace the Dean Of Oxford! And now Ollie, "Stan's" former mentor and friend must serve tea and crumpets to Stan....Lord Paddington.
Stan's Paddington has pomposity to equal his mental prowess. He insults Ollie at every turn. When Ollie tumbles to the floor trying to move in the way Paddington advises, there's no concern for his well-being...just the rug.
When it was all said and done, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy offered much more than pratfalls and flying lemon marangue pies.
This DVD is such an example.