The Flying Deuces Blu-ray/DVD

Sunday, 14 June 2015 23:00 Written by 

The Flying Deuces - out now on Blu-ray and DVD"The Flying Deuces" is the first Laurel and Hardy feature to have been released on Blu-ray in the UK, representing a high-definition treat for fans of the inimitable comedy duo. The story sees the wayward friends enrolling into the French Foreign Legion as a way to forget their woes, earn some dough and go on an adventure, little bargaining for the back-breaking work and tough disciplinary rules that await them in sun-drenched Morocco.

The film contains all the traits expected of a classic Laurel and Hardy tale, and some rather unusual ones besides. There is plenty of the slapstick antics Stan and Ollie are so famous for, along with adorable naivety, love interest and more peril than even this pair are accustomed to! The director is A Edward Sutherland ("Beyond Tomorrow"), also an actor who played one of the Keystone Kops.

The guest cast includes Jean Parker ("The Gunfighter") as Georgette, a lovely French lady who Ollie becomes besotted with, not realising that his adoration is not mutual. The original TV Ming The Merciless, Charles Middleton ("Duck Soup") plays an equally fearsome and withering Commandant at the Foreign Legion base. Reginald Gardiner ("The Great Dictator") is Georgette's true love and coincidentally the man who recommends the military life for our boys.

A beloved Laurel and Hardy regular, James Finlayson has a small role here as a jailor, but he still manages to squeeze in his wonderful interpretation of the double-take and his typically extreme consternation as Stan and Ollie escape his clutches more than once!

Where "The Flying Deuces" differs from other Laurel and Hardy shorts and features is the level of morose behaviour on display by Ollie. Before they join the Foreign Legion he is so low he attempts to commit suicide. The duo are also sentenced to death later on, a particularly macabre turn of events for a duo normally associated with light-hearted comedy. Yes, they are often at risk of breaking a limb or three, or getting beaten up, but this feature takes things to the next level and in my opinion feels a little off because of it.

Despite this strangeness, I was still in stitches on many occasions, for example on seeing Stan walk the wrong side of a door, or bang his head on a sloping ceiling time and again, or repeatedly soak Ollie with a soggy cushion. The comic timing and chemistry are as magical as ever.

There are better, more concentrated Laurel and Hardy films out there, but Flying Deuces still has plenty to cherish and is hopefully the start of a wave of Blu-ray releases that depict many people's comedy heroes in the sharpest way imaginable.

The special features include:

  • The German version of the film: "Dick und Doof in der Fremdenlegion"
  • Image Gallery
  • Promotional material on PDF

Quite why Network have included the German version I do not know. It is certainly a curiosity for fans of Lauren and Hardy to hear their favourite characters voiced by German actors. The posters and promo designs in the gallery cover a broad range of art styles, some more attractive and flattering than others!

The black and white film is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, with a mono soundtrack that appears to have been remastered along with the crisp picture.

“The Flying Deuces” (1939) is out now on DVD and Blu-ray, courtesy of Network. The main feature has a running time of 68 minutes approx, carries a 'U' certificate and retails for £9.99 on DVD and £14.99 on Blu-ray, or less from www.culttvstore.com

 

denizli escort denizli escort