About That Pie Fight…
Something else I should have mentioned about this morn's clip of The Battle of the Century: I think I met someone who was in it.
When I was a kid, there was an elderly couple who lived just down the street from us…Mr. and Mrs. Martin Bolger. Mr. Bolger was a retired film editor who'd worked at many different studios but for a long time at Twentieth-Century Fox. Twentieth-Century Fox was also in our neighborhood, a few more blocks away, and Mr. Bolger had purchased that home in the late forties to be near work.
Anyway, when I started getting interested in old movies and especially in Laurel and Hardy, it was arranged for me to walk down there one day and spend about an hour talking with Mr. Bolger. He had worked at the Hal Roach Studios for a time…on Laurel and Hardy movies, among others. He was the first person I ever met who'd ever known the men who are still my two all-time, no-close-runner-up favorite performers. Among other things, he mentioned being an extra in The Battle of the Century and getting a couple of pies in the face and one on the seat of his pants.
Of Stan and Ollie, he said that Ollie was an absolute joy to be around, a dear and funny man, but he was less fond of Stan. By then, I'd devoured and memorized the John McCabe book on The Boys, Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy, and I told him what it said about how Laurel was always heavily involved in the editing of their films to the point of practically controlling it. Mr. Bolger's view was that Laurel had meddled a lot in an area about which he knew little, and that his suggestions had been routinely ignored.
I was about twelve or thirteen at the time. Needless to say, it was a little unsettling to hear someone speak ill of Stan Laurel. I later learned it was not a common view among those who'd worked with Stan, even though the opinion of Hardy seems to have been unanimous.
And I later learned almost nothing about Mr. Bolger. He passed away a few years later, followed closely by his wife. There is almost no record of his history in the motion picture business. IMDB, for example, has but one listing that might be him — this one, for a Martin Wall Bolger, who edited a 1927 feature called Their First Auto. I have occasionally asked Laurel and Hardy scholars about him and no one has ever heard of the man. From all he told me, I'm sure he worked there and he probably was in that pie-hurling orgy. But I'd love to find out a little more about him…