The Flying Deuces Review

Image for The Flying Deuces

Spurned by Georgette (Jean Parker), the Parisian waitress he loves, Oliver Hardy persuades Stan Laurel to enlist in the Foreign Legion with him, so that he can forget. However, the Commandant (Charles Middleton) assigns them to Georgette's beau, Francois (Reginald Gardner).


Stan Laurel was a perfectionist. His eye for detail was crucial to the success of Laurel and Hardy's shorts and features alike. But his tendency to take control occasionally caused friction. Indeed, this film only came about because Stan was in dispute with producer Hal Roach over the shooting of A Chump at Oxford and independent newcomer Boris Morros decided to exploit the situation to arrange a loan deal.

However, Morros made the mistake of commissioning Alfred Schiller to concoct a screenplay based on the French comedy, Les Aviateurs, and Stan was so unimpressed that he virtually washed his hands of the project. Schiller clearly had no insight into the Laurel and Hardy dynamic and tried to turn them into competitive wiseacres along the lines of Abbott and Costello. Yet, Laurel clearly collaborated to some extent on the much-revised screenplay with Ralph Spence, Charles Rogers and onetime silent clown Harry Langdon, as the bulk of the story resembled  Beau Hunk, while the scene in which the heartbroken Ollie contemplates suicide was a discard from The Live Ghost.  

Stan proved more pro-active once filming began at General Studios, even though Morros had insisted on a detailed shooting script to curtail any ad libbing that might unnecessarily extend the budget. Consequently, Laurel fell foul of director A. Edward Sutherland, who was hardly a comic novice, having handled such W.C. Fields vehicles as  Mississippi and Poppy.  

 Amidst all this incompetence, tension and indifference, it's amazing that The Flying Deuces has anything to recommend it. It's certainly one of the weaker features of the Roach era, but there's much to enjoy in Ollie's bashful flirting with Jean Parker, Stan's harp-playing on a bed spring, the soft shoe routine to `Shine On, Harvest Moon' and the endurance flight that culminates in Ollie being reincarnated as a horse.

Not one of Laurel and Hardy's strongest features but charming nonetheless.