Monday, December 9, 2013

Oranges and Lemons (USA, 1923)

Having a very simple rural plot of an orange packer involved in conflicts and trying to escape his pursuers and with the support of the scenery for its gags, this film is still entertaining today. As the western world was still relatively rural on early 1920ies, the plot of this film comes as no surprise.

It is a typical product of Hal Roach’s studio, which produced comedies with a much less frantic pace than his competitor Mack Sennett. This film stars a relatively young Stan Laurel before his successful pairing with Oliver Hardy. Stan was English and a member of famous Fred Karno English music hall troupe that also gave Charlie Chaplin to the cinematic world. An experienced comedian even before entering films, he was in Hal Roach comedies for a while before working with American comedian Oliver Hardy.
Even though this short has a less frantic style than many of its counterparts, it is, however, a bit more physical and fast even compared to other films produced by Roach. In this film we can also see some witty intertitles, a standard practice in films by Hal Roach studios, which had some quite funny ones.

Every gag the scenery could provide was employed in this film, for instance with fruits, machinery, facilities, etc. 

An institution of silent comedies is also evident in one of the characters. A crazy fake moustache, which also emphasizes who menacing the man is. 

Some people might think it is a poorly produced film, but it is not true. We must have in mind that those “bread and butter” comedy shorts were highly popular during silent era and studios kept a steady and growing output of them to meet audiences’ demands. Some studios even produced those shorts on a weekly basis.

Further reading and materials:
1. Stan Without Ollie: The Stan Laurel Solo Films, 1917-1927 by Ted Okuda,James L. Neibaur

1 comment:

  1. This is the only Stan Laurel solo short that makes me really laugh. The slapstick is so inventive. And it's relentless! One thing after another. The part where he's trying to close that overflowing apple box cracks me up every time I see it.