Laurel & Langdon... together at last
But the similarities end at the initial comic set up: an innocent doughboy unaware that World War I is over. Put Stan and Harry in exactly the same situation, and their key differences become apparent.
Still, Langdon’s influence is felt in subtle ways through-out the film. As Block-Heads gallops to its climax, it revisits a typical Laurel & Hardy gag lifted from Unaccustomed As We Are. Ollie enters a gas-filled kitchen, lit match in hand, to ignite a stove. A pause, then the inevitable ka-boom! Here’s where Harry’s “fine Italian hand” comes in. Stan, startled, bolts from his chair and hurtles himself down thirteen flights of stairs to the safety of the street. Once outside, he comes to a flat-footed stop and examines the building. He approaches the high-rise warily, giving the building a tentative shove before dashing back into the street – just in case it crumbles from the force of his mighty hands. Approaching again, he pushes it, pushes a little harder, then leans against it with his shoulder. Satisfied that it’s not going to crumble into dust, he tips his hat to the doorman and returns to Ollie’s apartment. If anything is a scene from a potential “Langdon & Hardy” comedy, this would be it… Stan’s derby is even crumpled into an approximation of Langdon’s trademark dented fedora.
An early version of this blog post was originally published in Nieuwe Blotto Magazine.