Block-heads and Pack Up Your Troubles | Chicago Reader

Block-heads and Pack Up Your Troubles

Two comedies with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Though it's far from the funniest of their features, I have a special affection for Block-heads (1938, 55 min.): next to the classic two-reeler Their First Mistake, it's the most sustained examination of the team's relationship. Tenderness alternates with rage, and the gay subtext is given its dignified due, in one of the most affecting portraits of male friendship this side of Howard Hawks. John Blystone directed, though the artistic control, as always, was Laurel's. Pack Up Your Troubles (1932, 68 min.) is relatively unmemorable but with some memorable bits. Stan and Ollie return from World War I with the daughter of a deceased war buddy in tow. Trying to find her grandparents, they work their way door-to-door through Los Angeles. The film is badly constructed—a two-reel plot drawn out to painful length—and it's cursed by a sentimentality that the team usually avoided. George Marshall directed.

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