Tonight’s meeting was lovingly dedicated to that most sacred of unions, holy matrimony. Titled “Domestic Bliss”, the evening’s program was devoted to showing how marriage makes for happier living – depending on how you define ‘happier’ that is!
The 30 attendees sharing the bonds of holy fraternity tonight were first entertained by the animated cartoon “The Novelty Shop” (6:38 running time), which was originally released on August 15, 1936. Yes, Stan and Ollie made themselves known here as two of the novelty items who come alive after the toymaker closes shop for the night.
There are many highs and lows in a marriage. I would hazard a guess that having a man impersonate another man’s wife to impress a rich uncle would definitely be one of those lows. In fact, this is what occurs in Laurel and Hardy’s silent film entitled “That’s My Wife” (17:36), which was amazingly filmed in 6 days in December 1928 and released March 23, 1929. We noted that the month of December 1928 was a very busy one for the boys at the Roach Studios. “Wrong Again” (the one with the horse on the piano, remember?) finished December 1, and “Big Business” would be completed just after Christmas. “That’s My Wife” was shot in-between these 2 films, making for quite a month. The Studios closed after this for the installation of sound equipment, heralding the talking film era at the Roach Studio.
In marriage, communication is a must. Surprises should be kept to a minimum. Such as coming home from work early to unwittingly interrupt your wife’s bridge party ‘with the girls’. This is what Robert Benchley sadly finds out in his May 27, 1939 release “Home Early” (8:32).
Children of course can be associated with many a marriage. What a joy they are to their parents, except of course if the father wants a quiet night at home on his birthday to enjoy his evening meal. In Our Gang’s “Feed ‘Em And Weep” (10:40), Darla’s father is not appreciative of the presence of her friends – the Gang (minus Spanky and Buckwheat, among others) – in this May 7, 1938 short. Interestingly, Johnny Arthur (Darla’s dad here) played Spanky’s dad in “Anniversary Trouble” (1-19-35), and Darla’s dad previously in “Night ‘n’ Gales” (7-24-37). Oh well, nobody noticed.
After the intermission and ‘fabulous’ raffle, we continued with our tour through the many facets of marriage. Of course, to have a marriage, one party must first ask another party TO get married. In the WB Foghorn Leghorn cartoon “Of Rice And Hen” (6:17), released November 14, 1953, Foggy is induced to ask Prissy for her hand with the underhanded help of the barnyard dog…
Celebrating memorable dates in a marriage is a long-held and cherished tradition. An anniversary is a special event commemorating that special day when two became one. However, in this instance, two stayed at two in Laurel and Hardy’s February 25, 1933 release “Twice Two” (19:30). Here, it is the first anniversary of Laurel and Hardy’s marriage – each married the other’s twin sisters one year ago and a special meal with cake for dessert has been arranged. Cake? Laurel and Hardy? I wonder what could possibly happen?!
Of course, in marriages there are misunderstandings which must be worked through if one’s union is to stay healthy. In “Fate’s Fathead” (17:27), a Charley Chase November 17, 1934 release, Charley is happily married but accused of being a ‘masher’ to one of his wife’s girlfriends. It’s just a silly misunderstanding, but Charley just can’t seem to explain his way out of it. Keep trying, Charley!
Sometimes a little white lie is needed to get one through a difficult situation in marriage. A little white lie is quite different from an outright HUGE lie, which Laurel doesn’t seem to understand. With the help of his equally unhelpful friend Mr. Hardy, they set out to deceive Stan’s wife (played by Anita Garvin who you should NEVER get angry by the way!) in “Blotto” (24:49). Written and filmed in December, 1929 and released February 8, 1930, the plot involves sneaking out to go to a nightclub, stealing the wife’s wine, the wife substituting cold tea for wine, nightclub dancing and singing and drunken carrying on, and a wife’s revenge. Ouch.
And yet somehow the institution of marriage continues and perseveres even in the light of Laurel and Hardy’s attempts to sabotage it. Some things even Stan and Ollie can’t manage to destroy.
Next up in the “Pot-Luck Outdoors Adventure” on Saturday September 24 at an “undisclosed location” (sorry Mr. Cheney). All those on the email distribution list of “The Chimp Tent” will receive an invitation. So – if watching Laurel and Hardy outdoors while enjoying a pot-luck dinner appeals to you, please join us for this RSVP-only affair, which is being co-hosted both by your local “Chimp Tent” and the Cincinnati Area MENSA group. After this comes the October 22 Halloween show, so get your gear out and come in costume! We hope to see you then.