HARRY LANGDON AT HAL ROACH: THE TALKIES 1929-30

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Richard M Roberts
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HARRY LANGDON AT HAL ROACH: THE TALKIES 1929-30

Postby Richard M Roberts » Sat Apr 11, 2020 7:01 am

Our first review from Cliff Weimer at IN THE BALCONY, I don't agree with his opinion on the shorts or Langdon in talkies, and he spouts the standard BS Langdon legend (mentioning Frank Capra in holier-than-thou terms), but he likes the set and the commentary tracks, so we'll post it here:

http://www.inthebalcony.com/harry-langdon.html

RICHARD M ROBERTS

Richard M Roberts
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Re: HARRY LANGDON AT HAL ROACH: THE TALKIES 1929-30

Postby Richard M Roberts » Sat Apr 11, 2020 8:36 pm

https://leonardmaltin.com/show-boat-tex ... ay-survey/


I hope Leonard Maltin listened to the first five or ten minutes of my commentary track for HOTTER THAN HOT.

Little does he realize, he just won me a $200 bet.

So wrong yet so predictable, Bless You Leonard!

RICHARD M ROBERTS

Dennis Campa
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Re: HARRY LANGDON AT HAL ROACH: THE TALKIES 1929-30

Postby Dennis Campa » Sat Apr 11, 2020 10:48 pm

Thanks for sharing the links to theses reviews Richard, even if the reviewers don't get these movies.

I received my copy the other day, and love this set! I've never seen any of these shorts before, and enjoyed them a lot.

All of the shorts are enjoyable; even the weakest short (Skirt Sky) is fun. I don't understand the negative reactions to these movies; are those folks watching the same comedies?

It's hard to pick a favorite on the set, but I've a special fondness for these three: The Fighting Parson (where we get to see Harry play banjo and dance); The Head Guy (more nice dancing, great cast, and a sweet ending); and The King (we hear James Parrott speak, and there are lovely ladies galore).

(Richard, did Parrott appear in any other sound movies?)

The extras are all great (including Richard's always entertaining and enlightening commentaries).

All vintage comedy buffs need this collection!

Dennis

Richard M Roberts
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Re: HARRY LANGDON AT HAL ROACH: THE TALKIES 1929-30

Postby Richard M Roberts » Sat Apr 11, 2020 11:19 pm

Dennis Campa wrote:Thanks for sharing the links to theses reviews Richard, even if the reviewers don't get these movies.

I received my copy the other day, and love this set! I've never seen any of these shorts before, and enjoyed them a lot.

All of the shorts are enjoyable; even the weakest short (Skirt Sky) is fun. I don't understand the negative reactions to these movies; are those folks watching the same comedies?

It's hard to pick a favorite on the set, but I've a special fondness for these three: The Fighting Parson (where we get to see Harry play banjo and dance); The Head Guy (more nice dancing, great cast, and a sweet ending); and The King (we hear James Parrott speak, and there are lovely ladies galore).

(Richard, did Parrott appear in any other sound movies?)

The extras are all great (including Richard's always entertaining and enlightening commentaries).

All vintage comedy buffs need this collection!

Dennis


Thanks Dennis for the words of praise, and I'm happy to hear you received your set already, did you order it through Amazon? Apparently Amazon has been sending emails to folk who had pre-ordered it saying the delivery will be delayed as they have much more important things like food and medical supplies to deliver right now, so we were not expecting anyone to have it in their hands until late next week.

I think we can expect a number of reviews from people still mired in the Capra legend (ah hell, call it what it is, the Capra Bullshit) and ethos who, even if they actually watch the films before they review them will sit stone-faced staring at the flatscreen daring these comedies to make them laugh, but as I say in my commentaries, the edge I have on most people with these films is having seen them with sometimes multiple audiences and watched them kill, so the hell with the depressives and the Langdon haters and Capra worshippers and the ones who had their notions pre-conceived `cause they once read something in a book by the likes of Leonard who has said these were awful shorts for decades, and it's so much easier to parrot someone else's opinions than think for yourself.

At the same time, and mark my words here, I also expect to see some "historians" who will suddenly "discover" HOTTER THAN HOT as a great Langdon short and claim it a revelation that they have come upon all by their widdle ownsomes, while also conveniently forgetting that I have been telling people that for years (I said so in my book on Roach). With Harry Langdon, one can always expect these crazy extremist opinions pro and con, part of what makes him so interesting as a comedian, and what makes discussing and defending him both interesting and a chore. In any event, Kit Parker and I have done our part, struck our blow for liberty, and gotten these shorts which I have loved for years out where folk can see them, and took our shots at defending them and explaining him to set the record straight. We'll see where the already continuing nonsense in the reactions to these shorts continues.

Did James Parrott appear in any more sound films? Not in which he spoke.

RICHARD M ROBERTS

Dennis Campa
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Re: HARRY LANGDON AT HAL ROACH: THE TALKIES 1929-30

Postby Dennis Campa » Sat Apr 11, 2020 11:53 pm

Hi Richard (and everyone!)

You're very welcome. I ordered the Langdon (and a bunch of other titles) from VCI after you mentioned their sale. Placed my ordered towards the end of last month, and received my package two days ago.

(That same order included everything from When Comedy Was King to Three Nuts in Search of a Bolt. Harry Langdon and Mamie Van Doren in the same order!)

Hearing you talk about seeing the Langdon shorts reminds me of when I saw The Chaser with you at Cinecon more than 20 years ago. I'd never seen it, and loved it (and so did the audience). Totally undeserving of its reputation as a lousy movie. I do hope to see the Roach shorts with an audience one of these days.

People can like or dislike anything, but I love these movies. The shorts made me smile and there was something interesting about all of them; they've made my weekend a lot more fun!

Please keep the Roach releases coming!

And thanks for the info on James Parrott!

Bill Coleman
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Re: HARRY LANGDON AT HAL ROACH: THE TALKIES 1929-30

Postby Bill Coleman » Sun Apr 12, 2020 12:21 pm

I haven't got this set yet, but I saw some of these on TCM several years ago, and thought they were great, and that Leonard Maltin had vastly underrated them in previous writing. A particular favorite is The Head Guy, and I thought the scene where Langdon is eating a sandwich, talking to himself, winding down with "now. I’ll eat my apple after now,” is one of the funniest things I have ever seen, and a great example of Langdon's ability to generate humor out of practically nothing.

Ed Watz
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Re: HARRY LANGDON AT HAL ROACH: THE TALKIES 1929-30

Postby Ed Watz » Sun Apr 12, 2020 4:12 pm

Time to set the record straight: There has been a long-standing assumption that Harry Langdon was fired by Hal Roach Studios after a single season of 8 comedies. In truth, Harry was initially signed by Roach to star in 12 two-reelers. After appearing in the first 8 shorts, an offer came to Langdon from Warner Brothers in the Spring of 1930 to return to feature film work. With Langdon's $2500 a week salary the highest on the Roach lot (Laurel, Hardy and Chase each were earning half that amount - or less), and with the financial effects of the Depression worsening, Harry's departure was considered a win-win for both parties. It is unlikely that Roach would have considered the financial outlay turning PARDON US into an L&H feature if the costly Harry Langdon series had continued. Langdon meanwhile was immediately signed by Darryl F. Zanuck at his same Roach salary to appear in what was planned as a major production, A SOLDIER'S PLAYTHING. The fact that the eventual film's scope was severely curtailed and it emerged as a programmer doesn't alter the facts: Langdon left Roach, Roach did not fire Langdon.

We know that Zanuck and Warner Brothers felt Langdon was a good bet to return to features. They evidently liked what they saw and heard in Harry's talkie shorts. So what did contemporary film critics and audiences think of the Roach films? I pulled a few random clippings from Exhibitors Herald, Hollywood Filmograph, and Variety. Again, these are random selections:

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"Of course he smiled -- just like you and me." -- Harold Goodwin, on Buster Keaton (1976)

Ed Watz
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Re: HARRY LANGDON AT HAL ROACH: THE TALKIES 1929-30

Postby Ed Watz » Sun Apr 12, 2020 4:19 pm

Here's several more examples. It sure seems that Harry Langdon's Roach talkies were a hit with the public:

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Get this set so you can discard those assumptions you've read elsewhere -- and decide for yourself!
"Of course he smiled -- just like you and me." -- Harold Goodwin, on Buster Keaton (1976)

Richard M Roberts
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Re: HARRY LANGDON AT HAL ROACH: THE TALKIES 1929-30

Postby Richard M Roberts » Sun Apr 12, 2020 4:37 pm

Thanks Ed, all of this I discuss in the commentary tracks on the set, including reading quotes from some of the reviews you listed.

Yes, this is indeed the record we are setting straight in doing this set, to put to bed the baloney spread by people like frankly Leonard Maltin and others regarding these shorts for too damn long, and getting these funny comedies their chance again to entertain the way they did when they came out.

My message to those who tell me they don't like these shorts, beyond "who cares", is the tragedy that they have less in the World to laugh at than I do.

RICHARD M ROBERTS

Richard M Roberts
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Joined: Sun May 31, 2009 6:30 pm

Re: HARRY LANGDON AT HAL ROACH: THE TALKIES 1929-30

Postby Richard M Roberts » Tue Apr 14, 2020 12:07 pm

Well, I've been hearing from several this morning that Amazon apparently decided that the Langdon Roach set is essential materials needed by the general populace and have shipped them out on the release date today. That means they should be in everyone's hot little hands soon to enjoy. Of course good comedy is essential materials in a virus lockdown!

That also means (need I remind you), that we will be expecting you all to get those five-star Amazon reviews up on the Amazon page very soon indeed, as well as spreading the good word out on social media to help sell more copies of this set, c'mon, I know you're all sittin' at home looking for something to do, no excuses. You want more of this stuff, you've gotta do your part to make that happen, that's the deal, remember?

Lets see if we can put it another way that will get the Cinewhiners pissin' in their panties.....(cocks a loaded 38 Bankers Special and aims it at the mockup of the Charley Chase Volume 3 sitting on his desk).....I'm waitin'.


RICHARD M ROBERTS


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