Published on March 13th, 2008 | by Chris0
Air Raid Wardens (1943)
I love Laurel and Hardy. I really do. I mean how can you not? During the 30's they were sort of a counterpoint and companion to the slapstick of the Three Stooges.
But in 1943's Air Raid Wardens, that original magic was pretty much gone. They were both a few years older, and by this time were just going through the motions, and their "shtick" had already become somewhat dated, having been surpassed by more contemporary acts like Abbot and Costello.
The picture finds the two in their usual state of decrepitude. Having gone belly up in several business ventures, they've started a bicycle shop. But shortly after they get the patriotic itch and decide to join up with the war effort.
Well, they get turned down by every division of the service, and return home. Really this early part of the film sets a tone for the rest of it. From this point its clear they're no longer what they used to be, both on the screen, and generally as an act. It's kind of an ironic bit.
Anyway, they return to find a group of guys moving a radio shop into their bicycle store! And, as we soon find out, they're not what they appear to be.
Well, the town's Civil Defense Corps. takes pity on them, and lets them do their part as Air Raid Wardens. Of course they're inept even at that, and are subsequently discharged from that duty as well.
But, as luck would have it, they stumble upon, quite by accident, a Nazi plot to blow up the local Magnesium plant, and in their own bumbling way, save the day.
Truthfully, as a fan of the early Laurel and Hardy this was a disappointment of epic scale. It's clear that Air Raid Wardens is nothing but a wartime propaganda piece. Not that there is anything wrong with that. There were lots of them at the time.
The problem is that, quite frankly, you just can't go home again. The few episodes of typical Laurel and Hardy mayhem in the film just have a "going through the motions" feel to them. They just didn't have it anymore. Some of the bits, while they may have been funny during the post-depression 30's, just seem sad at this point. Such as Stan struggling furiously just to write his name down as he's checking out his gear.
And the ending? Well, lets just say it ends like you'd expect the typical fifteen minute short to, not a feature-length picture.
I really wanted to like Air Raid Wardens, but when it was all said and done I just couldn't. Another fine mess, indeed.
Laurel & Hardy - Air Raid Wardens / Nothing but Trouble
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Laurel and Hardy: Air Raid Wardens/Nothing But Trouble (DVD) (DBFE)Whether serving their country in wartime or serving multicourse mealtime mayhem, Laurel and Hardy serve up laughs in this classic twofer...
DVD InformationBinding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Brand: Warner Home Video
Original Release Date:
- William Powell
- Myrna Loy
- Florence Bates
- Jack Carson
- Gail Patrick
- Factory sealed DVD
Summary: But in 1943's Air Raid Wardens, that original magic was pretty much gone. They were both a few years older, and by this time were just going through the motions, and their "shtick" had already become somewhat dated