Today's Video Link
This may interest some of you. In 1931, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy made a short comedy called Chickens Come Home — a remake of a silent film they'd made only four years earlier called Love 'em and Weep. Chickens Come Home was one of their longer shorts, running a little over 30 minutes.
In the early days of sound film, the studios hadn't yet mastered the art of dubbing movies for foreign release. It had been so easy to sell silent films overseas — you just remade the titles — but for talkies, it wasn't that simple. Rather than lose those lucrative foreign markets, some studios took to remaking their output in other languages. Laurel and Hardy would make a film and then they'd do one or more foreign versions, redoing the entire film (minus any scenes with no dialogue) using the same sets and costumes but with everyone, including the two stars, speaking Spanish or French or German.
Stan and Ollie spoke no other tongues so a coach would guide them through the translated scripts. Their dialogue would be written out phonetically on a blackboard just off-camera. In our clip today, they are not dubbed. They're actually speaking (in this case) Spanish…and you can sometimes catch them reading it off that blackboard. Some of the other actors (most notably in this one, Jimmy Finlayson who plays the butler) were in the American version and they too used the blackboard. Other actors you'll see were Spanish-speaking ones who were hired just for these versions, replacing actors in the English-language filming.
This, the Spanish version of Chickens Come Home, is called Politiquerias and it runs 56 minutes. Because of differences in what the Spanish distributors wanted, the film was padded out with new scenes, most of them featuring Spanish variety acts who have nothing to do with the Laurel-Hardy storyline. The most "interesting" (disgusting) of these acts is a gent named Hadji Ali whose specialty was that he would eat and drink a number of odd things and then vomit them up on the stage. That's right: Another damned vomiting act. Justin Bieber should be paying royalties. You might want to skip that part.
If you don't know Spanish, you may not be able to follow the plot which goes like this: Oliver is a successful manure merchant who is planning to run for mayor. An old girl friend shows up one day and blackmails him. She has a photo of him that would end his political ambitions and probably, if Mrs. Hardy saw it, his life. So the rest of the film is about Stan and Ollie trying to get the photo back and hide the blackmailer and a lot of it is even funny when you can't understand the dialogue…not that I expect many of you will make it all the way through this. But I even love watching those two men when I barely know what they're saying — so I did…