Laurel and Hardy star in two of their best films, Bonnie Scotland and The Devil’s Brother. Both movies are some of Stan and Ollie’s best work, both “talking” films as opposed to their earlier silent movies, both in black and white. The movies themselves are hilariously funny; one of the funniest moments in The Devil’s Brother is when Stan Laurel is being forced by the not-so-villainous Fra Diavolo to hang Ollie for the crime of impersonating Fra Diavolo. Ollie complains the whole while that Stan is hurting his neck. In The Devil’s Brother, Stan Laurel is referred to as Stanlio, and Oliver Hardy is referred to as Ollio. These are the names that they are still known under in Italy. Bonnie Scotland is, perhaps, not quite as funny, but still quite good. I love the routine with Stan using snuff for the first time, and how poor Ollie ends up falling off the bridge because of it.
Many extras on the 2-DVD set add to the “bang for the buck.” These include commentaries on both movies by Laurel and Hardy fans Richard W. Bann and Leonard Maltin. It also includes a full-length documentary Added Attractions: The Hollywood Shorts Story, and excerpts of Laurel and Hardy routines from several otherwise ignorable films:
- The magic act segment from The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (the highlight of the film in my opinion)
- Afragment from Rogue Song (1930)
- Two segments from Hollywood Party (1934)
- Three segments from Pick a Star (1937).
Editorial review of TCM Archives – The Laurel and Hardy Collection (The Devil’s Brother / Bonnie Scotland) (1933), courtesy of Amazon.com
They were one of the movies’ most successful and best-loved comic duos, probably because their irresistible slapstick antics were underscored by an indomitable optimism. Beginning with shorts made at the Hal Roach Studios, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy struck a universal chord by sharing a contentious yet benign friendship that always survived whatever indignities their mutual bumbling brought upon them. This TCM Archives two-disc collection focuses on the team at their zenith during the sound era and spotlights two features produced by Roach for MGM. The Devil’s Brother (1933) (also known as Fra Diavolo) is a laugh-filled adaptation of the Auber operetta in which “Stanlio” and “Ollio” tangle with a notorious robber baron. The delightful Bonnie Scotland (1935) is a misadventure that takes the boys to Scotland and India.
Synopsis of Bonnie Scotland, starring Laurel and Hardy (courtesy of Amazon.com)
Stan and Ollie stowaway to Scotland expecting to inherit the MacLaurel estate. However, Stan’s inheritance amounts to a set of bagpipes and a snuff box. The boys are tricked into enlisting in the army and are posted to India where the heiress to the MacLaurel estate has moved to be near her guardian. Her Scottish sweetheart Allan also enlists. The boys are “volunteered” by the Sergeant (James Finlayson) to impersonate officers at the palace of Mir Jutra and foil a plot to murder the officers by overturning several beehives.
Synopsis of The Devil’s Brother, aka. Fra Diavolo starring Laurel and Hardy (courtesy of Amazon.com)
At Stanlio’s urging, Ollio foists himself off as the dread singing bandit Fra Diavolo and unknowingly attempts to rob the notorious brigand himself. As punishment, Diavolo orders Stanlio to hang Ollio, but gives them a second chance when Stanlio bungles the job. Taking them on as his retainers, Diavolo travels to the Tavern de Cucu in his guise as the foppish Marquis de San Marco to rob the rich, aged Lord Rocburg and woo beauteous Lady Pamela. Stanlio drives Ollio and the innkeeper to distraction by playing “earsie kneesie nosie” and “finger wiggle,” and gets drunk helping Ollio fill tankards of wine, sending him into an uncontrollable laughing fit. The boys plot to capture Diavolo but wind up with him in front of a firing squad.