Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Gone But Not Forgotten

When I decided to write this post it took me a while to work out how to start it...and what to call it.

This morning I was deeply saddened to hear that that great British comedy actor, Sir Norman Wisdom, had died. However I have spent the rest of the day chuckling to myself whilst remembering my favourite bits from his films. Which I think he would prefer to everyone being upset.
There are quite probably people who are my age who have never heard of Norman Wisdom, let alone seen his films. It amazes me when I come across people who have never heard of such great people. I know someone who saw a picture of Laurel and Hardy and thought one of them might have been Charlie Chaplin!

Anyway the point of this post is for me to point out some of the classic stars who you should never ever try to get one over on...because they will get you back! They  are gone but certainly not forgotten. And before I start I am not an expert so do not take this as gospel truth, or complain if I get something wrong.

Norman Wisdom was one such person. In his films he may have been short in stature, but what he lacked in height he made up for in heart. He would always stand up for his friends and family, against any opponent, no matter how tall they were...sometimes in fairly childish ways. In some ways he was like a child who never quite grew up.

He was a classic under dog. He didn't really stand a chance, but he somehow managed to work it all out by the time the credits rolled.

My favourite Norman Wisdom film is The Square Peg, set in World War 2, where he plays both a British road mender turned soldier and a German general. Anyone watching these classic comedies will notice that for a little guy he has a very loud voice! :-) May he rest in peace and be forever remembered for making us laugh.

Next up on this list is that man who told us to Smile no matter what - the great Charlie Chaplin. Now I have not seen a lot of Chaplin's films, however I do know that he would stand for what he believed in. I do know that he was an under dog, sometimes described as a tramp, one who poked fun at Adolf Hitler with his film The Great Dictator.
As I have mentioned I have not seen a great many of Chaplin's films...but I couldn't really do a post on the classic movie stars who were good at getting their own back without mentioning him now could I? To put it plainly: No I couldn't.

Now our next star I know slightly more about, my brother being the family authority on the duo that he was part of...yes you have guessed it...Stan Laurel. Now he was slightly different in that you may on occasion have been able to get one over on him...however do anything to Oliver Hardy and you were toast.
In the short film Them Thar Hills the duo are taking a holiday where unbeknownst to them the well is full of moonshine. Long story short they end up drunk and in an altercation with another holidaymaker they have come across. The guy hits Olly, Stan does something to the guy i.e. sticks a sink plunger to his head, Olly laughs, guy hits Olly, Stan does something to the guy etc. It goes on for a while and ends with the guy being covered in molasses and feathers, with a plate of beans down his trousers, and still with the sink plunger on his forehead. And Stan and Olly have no back to their caravan and Olly has had his trousers set on fire!
No matter how badly Olly sometimes treats him, Stan will always stand up for his friend.

And now we come to the most fearless of these stars. One who you only needed to slightly insult to feel his wrath...Harpo Marx. I am a very big fan of the Marx Brothers owning all of their films and being able to name them all off the top of my head. So therefore this bit will have the most examples in it.
You may have thought that the ones to watch was Groucho with his quick tongue and rapid fire insults he was a force to be reckoned with. However whilst you are struggling to get a word in edgewise with Groucho or Chico for that matter you aren't paying attention to the silent one who is stood behind you getting up to all sorts of mischief with his scissors and car horn.

For instance, in The Big Store, a woman claiming to be a journalist tells Harpo to 'Get out of my way stupid'. From that moment she is danger. Harpo follows her and whilst she is arguing with a shop assistant about getting some hat fabric to match her dress, Harpo's scissors appear out of his pocket.
He suddenly appears with a piece of fabric that perfectly matches the woman's dress. However she decides she doesn't want it after all and we see that Harpo cut the fabric out of the back of her dress. She kind of deserved it though she was very rude to all she came across.

Another example is in Duck Soup, where see a loud mouthed lemonade stand owner being slowly driven mad. Whilst he is arguing with Chico, Harpo cuts the guy's pocket out of his trousers, sets fire to the man's hat, squirts him all over with lemonade and, later after a further altercation drives the man's customers away by paddling in his tank of lemonade.

And so the curtain has fallen for the last time for another great star, we must keep their memory alive through their comedy.

Laughter may die down...but it never truly dies...

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