UTOPIA 1951 THE PHARMACIST 1933
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UTOPIA starring Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Suzy Delair, Max Elloy, Adriano Rimoldi and Michael Dalmatoff. Directed by Leo Jaonnon. The final feature film starring Laurel and Hardy. Unjustly reviled because of Stan's sometimes shocking appearance due to illness, UTOPIA is actually a very good film. Tackling more mature themes than the usual Stan and Ollie fare like taxes, laws and personal freedom, there are still plenty of classic L&H gags, routines and laughs reminiscent of the team's best work. An international production with everyone in the cast dubbed to English with the exception of Stan and Ollie, this film is also known as "Robinson Crusoeland" and "Atoll K". Our release is the standard American 82 minute version.
THE PHARMACIST starring W.C. Fields, Elise Cavanna, Marjorie Kane and Grady Sutton. As the owner of a very unprofitable pharmacy, Fields lives in an hysterically surreal world in which his daughter shakes martinis with her pogo stick and eats the family's pet canary. The few customers who visit are either overbearing, bullying, or insane and, before long, a gunfight erupts. A great and very funny film produced by Mack Sennett.
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Yes, this is that commonly available final L & H feature, made overseas, and well researched (note the amazing Amazon book on the making of this film). In many books we are informed that a good amount of footage was deleted. Most of these obviously "Public Domain" issues show approximately "80" minutes or so.
This L & H near-fanatic noted *maybe* one minutes' worth of rare or unseen material. I could be wrong. (Even one second of "the boys" is worth its' weight in gold - all due respect to Mr. Hardy).
While watching this somewhat "infamous" film (critics and fans have lambasted this film as a worthless fiasco), one can still smile when L & H show they have lost none of their timing or comic personae.
This viewing was most enjoyable - I haven't watched it all the way through in quite a while = though I've watched the early scenes about the "yacht" (which "heir" Stan has inherited). It's really a two-reeler in itself...and actually much funnier thanj several of their short subjects in their Classic period, roughly 1930-34.
The picture as a whole, to this reviewer-fan, is by their best effort since 1940 (the year they left Hal Roach). As frantic as the 1950-51 effort is in spots, and unnecessarily complicated and wakward with out of sync dubbing, Stan and Ollie are fully back in character (after years of restraint with Fox and MGM). Also, the script is quite intellgent and is certainly relatable to current times: an overly complicated world, with too many restrictive rules and regulations impinging on freedom (note I didn't use the plural on that...); and over-taxation, to drive industrialized nations' contemporary inhabitants up the wall.
I think the picture is very funny. If you do not, then watch all the Marseille dock scenes, then skip to the great passage with Oliver drawing up the "short" constitution and assigned posts to the five Islanders. That's enough stuff to satisfy any comedy fan.
But seriously, the film is NOT funny. It is NOT clever and it is certainly NOT a Laurel and Hardy film. It was ham-fistedly made, poorly written and terribly directed. There is nothing remotely funny, amusing or even interesting in this independent European produced film.
I've seen it two or three times over the years because I'd watch it, be horribly disappointed, then after many years forget how awful it was and watch it again!
Not only is it sad, but it is heart breakingly sad. I'm warning you don't watch it. There is a reason that this film is in the public domain, it's because is terribl!
I recommend you watch ANY other Laurel and Hardy film, even their 40s features from 20th Century Fox and MGM other than this one.