THE DANCING MASTERS(1943)
Written May 1943. Filmed June 1943. Released by 20th Century Fox, November 1943. Produced by Lee Marcus. Directed by Malcom St. Clair.
Cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Trudy Marshall, Bob Bailey, Margaret Dumont.
STORY: Dancing instructors Laurel and Hardy team up with a beautiful young woman and a handsome young inventor to help promote a new war weapon that will kill lots of Nazis.
JB: Gangsters! Fighting the War! Outlandish Costumes! Inventions! This film has it all!
When I was a little boy, I loved this movie which, along with BABES IN TOYLAND (which I knew as MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS), was the only Laurel and Hardy movie I knew of. I still have a fondness in my heart for THE DANCING MASTERS so I'm not going to be too harsh --- I'll just go through some highlights and lowlights:
* Bob Bailey returns in a much less interesting part than he had in JITTERBUGS.
* Stan and Ollie are too old to be dressing up in funny clothes.
* "Have an accident?" "No thanks I just had one" is one of the boffo laughs to be found here.
* The "Funny Invention" this time is an invisible ray that is clearly visible.
* Stan tells a "I knew a fella once" story that is kind of funny.
* Stan impersonates a foriegn inventor, complete with made up language, and is actually amusing in this guise (funny how the Fox writers could rarely give Stan anything funny to do as "Stan", though.)
* Margaret Dumont, having made her final appearance with The Marx Brothers in 1941's THE BIG STORE, is a cast member. Nothing much memorable happens, but it is always nice to see "Mrs. Rittenhouse" under any circumstances.
* Robert Mitchum pops up as a gangster, and then pops back down again, never to be seen again.
* Ten minutes of this film is a remake of the auction from Thicker Than Water, but without most of the gags that made that scene a howl.
* Don't tell anyone, but that runaway bus at the end is really just a toy.
That's about all you need to know about THE DANCING MASTERS.