Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The excellent box-office returns for the previous Laurel & Hardy comic operas The Devil's Brother and Babes in Toyland encouraged Hal Roach to cast the team in still another operatic adaptation, a self-styled "comedy version" of William Balfe's The Bohemian Girl. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy play members of a gypsy tribe wandering through middle Europe sometime in the early 19th century. As if he hasn't got enough trouble trying to train dimwitted Stan to be a "first-class pickpocket," Ollie is also saddled with a faithless wife (Mae Busch), who is in love with dashing gypsy robber captain Devil's Hoof (Antonio Moreno). While trying to break into the palace of gypsy-hating Count Arnheim (William P. Carleton), Devil's Hoof is captured and flogged. In retaliation, Ollie's wife kidnaps Arnheim's little daughter Arline (Darla Hood of "Our Gang" fame) and leaves the child in Ollie's care, explaining that the baby is his ("I didn't want to tell her who her father was until she was old enough to stand the shock!") Twelve years later, Arline (now played by Jacqueline Wells) has grown into a beautiful young woman who's forgotten all about her aristocratic childhood, except whenever she dreams "she dwelt in marbl'd halls" (from the song of the same name). By coincidence, Arline one day finds herself wandering around the grounds of her ancestral home. She is captured by the Captain of the Guards (James Finlayson) and sentenced to be flogged, whereupon her foster-daddy Ollie and her drink-besotted Uncle Stanley race to her rescue. There's a happy ending for Arline, but not for Stan and Ollie, who wind up the picture with one of their famous "physical distortion" gags. A troubled production, The Bohemian Girl had to be extensively reshot and re-edited after previews because of the sudden (and still unsolved) death of co-star Thelma Todd, who was originally cast as the Gypsy Queen. It was decided out of respect for Todd to retain only one of her musical numbers and to refilm the rest of her scenes with other actors; as a result, Bohemian Girl is one of the patchiest and most uneven of the Laurel & Hardy features. Fortunately, Stan and Ollie's scenes are well up to par, especially the classic bit wherein Stan inadvertently becomes progressively drunker as he tries to bottle a cask of bubbling wine.
aristocracy, abandonment, adoption, family, friendship, gypsy, kidnapping, orphan, princess, rescue, royalty