In the second of a two-part episode, Lon Davis, author of the critically acclaimed “Silent Lives,” returns to “The Online Movie Show” to discuss the transition from silent films to the talkies, focusing on stars who made the leap into the new medium (including Garbo, Neil Hamilton and Laurel and Hardy) along with now-forgotten performers who did not (including Madame Olga Petrova, Karl Dane and Mary McLaren).
BOOTLEG FILES 581: “Zenobia” (1939 comedy starring Oliver Hardy, Harry Langdon and Hattie McDaniel).
LAST SEEN: An unauthorized posting from a TCM telecast is on YouTube.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: A 1997 VHS video release.
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A film that slipped through the cracks.
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: It is not a priority.
In 1939, producer Hal Roach announced that he was creating a new film that teamed Oliver Hardy with Harry Langdon. This was not something that Hardy welcomed, but he had no choice. Hardy and his longtime partner Stan Laurel were signed to separate contracts with Roach – their teaming came about by accident rather than design – but after a dispute involving the production of the team’s 1938 feature “Block-Heads,” Roach terminated Laurel’s contract. With Hardy still under contract for another year, the producer looked about for a vehicle to fit his rotund comedy star.