Block-Heads (1938)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Buddy Film, Reunion Films, Military Comedy  |   Release Date - Aug 19, 1938 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 55 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Block-Heads is a delightful Laurel & Hardy excursion, an expansion of their earlier short Unaccustomed As We Are that suffers nothing in being lengthened. As with most Laurel & Hardy outings, Block-Heads is essentially a string of gags assembled in some sort of a framework. In the case of Block-Heads, this is a very simple but sturdy framework, and that adds to the strength of the film; everything fits together, but the structure still allows the boys to wander a little outside the plot boundaries for a good gag. And there are plenty of good gags here, from the mountain of empty bean cans that mark the passage of time for Laurel to the surrealistically funny "shadow shade" pulling. The attempt to climb 13 flights of stairs, which could become monotonous in other hands, is a delight here, as is Laurel's handmade (literally) pipe. Perhaps the most surprising sequence comes early on, when the duo meet after a 20 year absence and Hardy mistakenly believes his pal has lost his leg due to the war. It's hysterically funny, yet the "darkness" of the situation makes it also a bit shocking -- and all the more memorable therefore. (The original ending of the film -- in which we see big game hunter Billy Gilbert, mad at the pair because he thinks they have been behaving improperly with his wife, at home with their heads mounted on his wall, prompting Hardy to give out with his traditional "another fine mess" line -- was apparently considered a little TOO dark and was cut before the film was released.) Block-Heads is a sheer delight, and an excellent introductory film for those who haven't been exposed to the hi-jinks of the legendary comedy duo.