BONNIE SCOTLAND, 1935
Cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, June Lang, Anne Grey, William Janney, Vernon Steele
Stan and Ollie mistakenly enlist in the army and find themselves posted to the Northwest Frontier in India on a dangerous mission.
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It started a couple years ago, slowly building up with films such as Superbad and The 40-Year Old Virgin. But bromance is not in the closet anymore. Now itís everywhere. More recently, there has been a whole movies devoted purely to the heterosexual relationship between two guys, like I Love You, Man and even an MTV reality show called Bromance. Men are loving each other more than ever and they arenít afraid to show it. However, this is not a new phenomenon. It might now be addressed instead of subtlety implied, but nope, the love between two men has been around a long time. Male camaraderie has been fashionable in films almost since films started to be made. Some of the most famous male relationships in film are those of comic duos. They laugh together. They cry together. They need each other, and Laurel and Hardy are the perfect example. In their 1935 feature, Bonnie Scotland, Laurel and Hardy resume their misadventures and reestablish their love for each other.
Bonnie Scotland begins with Laurel and Hardy traveling to a new town in Scotland in one of the funniest introductions on film. As Laurel and Hardy strut down the road to a marching beat, we realize that itís not the musical score that is accompanying them, but a blacksmith that is pounding away at his project. This concept, of having the apparent non diegetic music (meaning you do not see the source of the music on screen and can assume the characters are not hearing what you are hearing) becoming diegetic (meaning you can see the source of the music), has been repeated in comedies numerous times. It happens in the television show Arrested Development and in films like Ghost Town. It goes to show you that some jokes never get old.
We soon learn that Laurel is arriving in Scotland to accept an inheritance he believes to be worth a ton. However, he is instead handed bagpipes and a snuff box. They decide to make the best of it and set aside their disappointment. They continue to find themselves the center of mishaps and the people they encounter grow tired of the duo. In one particular scene in the hotel they are staying, they try to cook fish but do not have a grill. Cleverly, they use the box springs under the mattress bed and stick a candle under it to cook the fish. But when the hotel owner smells something fishy (pun intended), they try to hide their make shift grill. Needless to say, the mattress catches fire and Laurel goes off on one of his hilarious crying fits.
There have been many comedy duos throughout history, Abbott and Costello, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, but none seem to connect with the audience the way Laurel and Hardy do. Not only are they extremely funny, but they also pull at your heart strings. You feel so sorry for these guys when bad things happen to them. They are like giant babies that you just want to comfort. So, while they want to embrace each other, you want to embrace both of them. There could be a lot of hugging here. You can see that the two genuinely love each other and when Laurel is forced to execute Hardy in this film, you feel so awful for the two of them. After all, they are all each other has and if one of them had to go, the other would be left with nothing. Itís the ultimate bromance. They arenít even fighting over a girl. They are fighting for each other.
The way they play off of each other is classic comedy. Hardy plays the straight man, always fixing what Laurel has broken, while Laurel plays the goof. He messes everything up. They help each other out. Similar to Chaplin, the best part of the way their comedy works is that they do not think they are funny. They are just going about their life and the humor comes out of naturally. Of course, they do not see it, but the audience does. If you are a Laurel and Hardy fan or a fan of things that are funny, Bonnie Scotland is a nice little film to watch.