The Flying Deuces
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Parodying Hollywood's 1930 Foreign Legion films, The Flying Deuces showcases a multitude of gags from the cinema's funniest duo: Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. In this likable and fast-paced misadventure, Stan and Ollie join the Foreign Legion to escape Ollie's romantic woes. The usual bumbling results, as the pair get in every kind of trouble imaginable when they try to master the exercises and discipline the Legion requires. The Flying Deuces contains the hilarious, wild sequence when Stan and Ollie attempt to desert the Legion in a stolen airplane. The film also features the charming song and dance to "Shine on, Harvest Moon."
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In the movie Stan and Ollie decide to take a break from their life in Des Moines, Iowa and take a trip to Paris (Where the movie is set.). For lodgings they rent a room at a small inn where a young woman named Georgette works (She is the daughter of the owner.). Ollie immediately develops a crush on her. He sends her candy, flowers and even a picture of himself (Georgette thinks the gifts are Ollie's way of thanking her and her father for their hospitality and is oblivious to the fact that Ollie has romantic feelings for her.). Ollie soon tells Stanley that he plans to ask for her hand in marriage. However his hopes are shattered when Georgette reveals that she is happily married. Ollie becomes so distraught that he decides to commit suicide by drowning. Just as he is about to do so a French Foreign Legion soldier named Francois (Who happens to be Georgette's husband.) happens by. After hearing Ollie's story Francois says that suicide is not the answer. What he should do instead is join the Foreign Legion. Francois says that after just a few days in the Legion Ollie will forget all about his unhappy romance. Stan and Ollie immediately enlist....and chaos ensues.
"The Flying Deuces" is a lot of fun from start to finish. I have seen the movie many times over the years and I laugh myself silly every time. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are (as always) excellent. They are helped here by a strong supporting cast. In addition to the very clever jokes there is also a well done performance of the song "Shine on Harvest Moon" by Stan and Ollie. The final scene of the movie is just plain terrific. A great way to end a very fun and entertaining movie.
The DVD is of very good quality. You have the option of watching the movie in color or Black & White. One of the reasons I bought this particular DVD is because it features the movie in color. More often than not I prefer that because I think it adds to the quality of the movie. Whatever your preference I think you will be satisfied. I do have a small criticism of the sound. It's a bit loud. I found myself having to turn the volume control on the television down a little more than usual. The sound quality is a problem, but it can easily be remedied as I mentioned.
Now for the reason I am a bit disappointed with this particular version of the movie. I noticed as I watched the movie that there is approximately three to four minutes of footage that was included in my old VHS copy but not included on this DVD. That is a shame because that excised footage contained some of the movie's best comic moments. For example on my VHS copy the opening scene is of an artist drawing and portrait of Stan and Ollie. The camera focuses on the completed portrait for a second or two before the artist gives it to Stan and Ollie. For some reason in this DVD that footage is cut. The audience never sees the portrait. They just see it being handed off. There is a sequence in Stan and Ollie's room at the inn where Stanley keeps bumping his head on an angled wall. That scene is cut from this DVD. Also as Stan and Ollie go to a river to commit suicide, a newspaper is shown with a headline that says "Man Eating Shark Escapes!". The shark just happens to be roaming the waters where Stan and Ollie plan to end it all. The shark actually added some laughs to the sequence I was very disappointed to see all scenes and references to the shark were not included on the DVD. This is very strange.
While I am glad to finally have this excellent movie on such a good quality DVD I was disappointed to see so much missing from it. Still, I believe "The Flying Deuces" is one of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy's best and I do highly recommend you see it. I think you will enjoy it, but sadly not as much as you should.
Backstory, to my knowledge, is that in the confusion of being without a contract, they signed with another company and assumed the screenplay would be fine. Stan, under pressure, rewrote it..and we have a very strong film. Good, tight comedy editing and the expected deft direction of A. Edward Sutherland, of course well-known as Director of W. C. Fields films, contribute to a fun experience. The soundtrack is a little overpowering at times...but who can complain when Ollie breaks into "Shine On, Harvest Moon"?
The proceedings are slightly different than one might expect, as the characters sustain in the real world (save some wonderful musical sequences), and accordingly have a harder edge. Sad to realize that soon they were to be victims of the non-independent system, when they were not allowed to do any consequential rewriting and were always stuck in the, shall we say, non-surreal world. Everything had to make *sense*...and no time for elongated mime.
The boys find themsleves in Paris, and with all the "April in Paris" romantic trappings. Ollie is infatuated with the beautiful - but married - Jean Parker (an Inn Keeper), and when he learns she is married, he decides to end it all..until Gardiner convinces him that the Foreign Legion is the only way to forget. (Gardiner is the betrothed! Can't give away what happens next!).
Parker and Gardiner are absolutely great in this effort. They give two of the very best L & H support performances!
I don't know if this print (color or b & w) is really "restored" - there appears to be hard edits I do not recall - and the graininess is obvious...I can wait for the real thing, if necessary. In the meantime, enjoy!