Laurel & Hardy: A Chump At Oxford
Two street cleaners inadvertently foil a bank robbery and are rewarded with an education at Oxford University. In a sensational transformation, a bump on the head restores Stan’s memory, revealing him to be the lost British athletic and scholastic standout, “Lord Paddington. ” This was the pair’s first release through United Artists. Following the dissolution of his distribution arrangement with M-G-M, Hal Roach allowed first Laurel’s, and next Hardy’s contracts to expire. They had long labored separately under individual employment agreements, so finally there was an opportunity for them to sign as a team with Roach. The producer announced he would utilize them in the new film format he created, the streamliner, approximately double the length of a two-reeler. Inspired by A YANK AT OXFORD, Roach shot and cut Laurel & Hardy’s “comeback” picture to run 42 minutes — only to shelve it until 1942 in favor of an expanded version to 63 minutes. The reason: while at liberty Laurel & Hardy had made FLYING DEUCES for RKO in the interim, which was racking up big grosses as a full length feature. This success caused Roach to re-think his game plan insofar as running time was concerned — initially just for the international market, but ultimately for the entire theatrical release. What the longer version added at the outset is a reworking of FROM SOUP TO NUTS, with old friends James Finlayson, Vivien Oakland and Anita Garvin. The shorter, streamliner version is a completely different edit than the corresponding footage in the extended rendition. The streamliner (again, held out of release until 1942) even contains lines and shots not found in the longer cut (issued theatrically worldwide in 1940). Plus there is one scene in the coming attractions trailer not used in either edit of the picture! Compare the three and see. Fans find this endearing film a totally satisfying experience, in either length. Especially with such a poignant ending. Directed by Alfred Goulding, who first recommended Laurel to Roach in 1918. Uncredited director of the added prologue shot three months later was Gordon Douglas. With Forrester Harvey, and Peter Cushing as one of the otherwise elderly looking student tormenters.
Starring Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Forrester Harvey
Director Alfred Goulding