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Laurel Boars
Laurel Boars

Chickens Come Home YIFY

Come Clean is one of Laurel & Hardy's domestic comedies in which they're each married. Here the boys must grapple with their perennial ethical dilemma: when they get into trouble, should they tell their wives the truth or try to bluff it out? Needless to say, they always try to bluff it out, which only makes matters worse. And man, do they get into trouble this time! The situation in Come Clean is decidedly darker than usual and surprisingly risqué, i.e. about as "Pre-Code" as anything the boys ever encountered. The plot involves a suicidal woman named Kate with a mysterious criminal past who punishes Stan & Ollie for saving her life, refusing to leave them in peace unless she's given money. Kate is portrayed by the formidable Mae Busch, who played a similar role as a blackmailing ex-girlfriend in the silent comedy Love 'Em and Weep and its talkie remake Chickens Come Home. She raised plenty of hell in those incarnations, but here she is a bundle of sheer malevolence. Kate is the middle-class husband's nightmare: a crazy gold-digger with nothing to lose. She responds to good will gestures with contempt, and threatens to scream the place down if she doesn't get her way. And Mae sure could scream!Recently I saw this short comedy again for the first time in many years, and while it's not at the very top of my L&H's Greatest Hits list it's nice to report that Come Clean stands as one of their funniest domestic comedies. (And hey, how often is it that you watch a movie you haven't seen since grade school and still enjoy it?) In getting reacquainted with this film I realized I'd misremembered a major detail: in my memory Mae Busch's character was a prostitute, perhaps because of her Anna Christie-like outfit, her demeanor, and her demands for money, but in fact we never learn exactly what she does for a living or why the police are looking for her, or why they're offering such a generous reward for her capture. $1,000 was not small change in the depths of the Great Depression! Perhaps Kate is a gangster's moll, or maybe she's a crook who lost her ill-gotten gains somehow, but we never find out and have to fill in this gap on our own for the story to make any sense. In a way, however, Kate's past is irrelevant, because her true function here is to cause Stan and Ollie grief, and this she does with ruthless efficiency.A bare plot outline for Come Clean would suggest it's a pretty grim excuse for a comedy, but actually the laughs begin almost immediately and seldom let up. The opening sequence is a reworking of a routine the guys first performed in their silent comedy Should Married Men Go Home?, but it works better with sound; this is the bit where Ollie and his wife hope to have a pleasant evening at home by themselves but are interrupted by the unexpected and unwelcome arrival of Mr. & Mrs. Laurel. The Hardys pretend to be out as the Laurels ring their buzzer, but give the game away when Stan slips a note halfway under the door and Ollie foolishly pulls it through while they're still watching. Oops! A lot of forced conviviality follows this faux pas, and when the boys go out to buy ice cream we observe that much of the humor (as in the best Laurel & Hardy comedies) comes not from elaborate gags or chases but in the little moments: just trying to exit the apartment, for instance, Stan & Ollie confound each other repeatedly. After that, the visit to the ice cream parlor is an exercise in confusion and barely-averted hostilities, due mainly to Stan's ineptitude but thanks in part to ice cream vendor Charlie Hall, an actor who must have been put on this earth to serve as a surly nemesis for our heroes.Once Mae Busch's world-weary Kate has entered the picture, i.e. after the boys have rescued her from a watery grave, the situation turns scary for them and grimly funny for the viewer. When she learns the guys are married she knows instantly that their wives will jump to the obvious conclusion if they catch her lounging around the Hardys' boudoir, wearing one of Mrs. Hardy's negligees-- and she's quite right, of course. Kate insists on going home with them, forcing them to hide her from their wives. Ensconced in the master bedroom, Kate is in no mood to be quiet and when she blasts the radio the boys' attempts to drown out the noise cracked me up when I was a kid and did so again when I saw the film the other day. The ending feels quite abrupt, however, leaving those aforementioned unexplained plot points and suggesting that this two-reel comedy might have benefited from an additional reel. But even as it stands, Come Clean is a brisk, amusing and slightly naughty comedy with dark undertones, and a stark demonstration that no good deed goes unpunished in this world.

Chickens Come Home YIFY

We are such a fragile race, so affected by the shifts of a societal breeze. A child misinterprets what she sees and brings about the destruction of people she actually loves. So caught up in her dramatic wants and angry, she lies, and that lie haunts her for her remaining days. This is a movie version of a wonderful book, the best I read that year. It captures the pain and the need to make true restitution. The truth of the matter is that sometimes it just doesn't work that way. The characters come to realize that. It's a slice of life in wartime and all the chickens come home to roost. Probably the most gut wrenching thing is that the character that causes the most damage has great success in life, but carries around her guilt to her dying day. She is never allowed to truly enjoy things. This is a really fine movie and, except for some breaks in editing, does a nice job of presenting the issues in the novel.

"Rare Birds" tells of a hapless Newfoundland restaurant owner/cook (Hurt) whose remote seaside restaurant is suffering from insufficient patronage due to a lack of advertising. A quirky friend (Jones) hatches a plot suggesting Hurt report the sighting of a nearly extinct duck to encourage bird watchers to flock to his eatery thereby stimulating his business while he's being stimulated by thoughts of his comely waitress (Parker)...etc. A fun and earnest flick which trudges through it's wry tale relying on understated tongue-in-cheek humor and quirkiness for entertainment, the film includes other salients such as a home made submarine, 22 pounds of cocaine, some much coveted sheet lights, and an RCMP SWAT team for additional substance. Overall, "RB" is a warm hearted little flick for those who don't mind off-kilteredness and the absence of the usual Hollyweird appurtenances. (B-)

Clint Eastwood, looking drawn, rumpled and weathered, takes a radical, courageous departure from his usual reliably stalwart tough guy persona in this gently moving, defiantly unheroic and very low-key seriocomic 30's Depression-era set drama as Red Stovall, a boorish, feckless, dissolute, alcoholic drifter, failed would-be country-and-western singer/songwriter and general all-around worthless, ill-tempered and irresponsible rapscallion with an unfortunate knack for getting into trouble, messing things up and making life hell for everyone who gets close to him. Slowly dying from tuberculosis, Red makes a lengthy, arduous pilgrimage from Oklahoma to Tennesse to make his dream of performing at the legendary Grand Ole Opry come true, taking his foolishly awestruck nephew Whit (nicely played by Clint's then 14-year-old son Kyle) and his frisky grandfather (a superb John McIntire) along with him. During their eventful odyssey Whit breaks Red out of jail after Red is arrested by drawling good ol' boy sheriff Jerry Hardin for stealing chickens, Red takes Whit to a whorehouse so the boy can lose his virginity, and the group has colorful encounters with an obnoxious, conniving teenage girl (a perfectly irritating Alexa Kenin) who tries to dupe Red into believing he impregnated her, grubby mechanic Tracey Walter, venal highway patrolman Tim Thomerson, and mean, untrustworthy bar owner Barry Corbin prior to Red arriving in Nashville for his do-or-die audition, only to erupt into a coughing fit in front of the hard-nosed talent scout (a marvelous cameo by John Carpenter movie regular Charles Cyphers) while in the middle of belting out the wonderfully regretful and reflective titular song. Eastwood's subtle direction doesn't in any way force the wry humor or delicately heart-breaking sentiment found in Clancy Carlile's folksy, quietly observant script, allowing the story's considerable poignancy to stem naturally from the characters and the experiences they have. Eastwood furthermore delivers an excellent and convincing performance as Red, an atypical Eastwood lead who's initially quite unappealing and only becomes endearing in the picture's tragic closing sequences in which Red's deep-seated yearning to belatedly realize his potential and subsequently be somebody makes itself touchingly apparent. The rest of the cast, which also includes Verna Bloom and Matt Clark as Red's tolerant, long-suffering relatives, are every bit as fine.The elegant, lyrical cinematography by Bruce Surtees gives the film a misty, lived-in look that's a beguiling blend of warm heartfelt nostalgia (Eastwood was born in 1930 and partially grew up during the Great Depression; he traveled about the country with his itinerant laborer father during this troubled time) and scrappy downcast authenticity. Noted country-and-western producer Snuff Garrett was the music supervisor for the stand-out soundtrack; such famous and revered singing stars as Ray Price, Porter Wagner, Frizzell and West, blues singer Linda Hopkins, and especially Marty Robbins have telling bit parts -- Robbins, who died shortly before the movie opened theatrically, has a lovely moment as a back-up session musician who assumes lead vocal chores when Red becomes too weak and sickly to finish the song himself. Eastwood sings a few numbers with a frayed, raspy, worn-out baritone -- it's a hoarse, yet affecting croak which bespeaks countless years of hard living and heavy drinking with a bracingly matter-of-fact directness. Why, "Honkytonk Man" even comes complete with a provocative philosophical message: Sometimes it's the people you expect the least from who teach us the most about life. Unjustly vilified by most critics and ignored by audiences when it first came out, this tender little gem deserves to be rediscovered as one of Clint Eastwood's most surprising and adventurous as well as thoughtful and underrated change-of-pace cinematic excursions that he has ever made to date. 041b061a72


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