Wednesday, May 16, 2012

ATOLL "K" - Paul Misraki - "UTOPIA" (1951)

In 1951, the dynamic comedy duo of Laurel and Hardy made their last picture! It was originally entitled "Atoll K," because it was made in France, but it was released in the USA as "UTOPIA"! The credits state that "Utopia" is based on an idea, not a story, but merely an idea, by director Leo Joannon! Monty Collins gets credit for "the gags!"

Stan Laurel was 61 at the time, and Oliver Hardy was 59 years of age when this movie was made, and both were in ill health at the time!

The film begins with Stan Laurel inheriting a small fortune from a deceased Uncle, but by the time this unscrupulous trio gets done, after taxes and fees, all they get is a little cash, a yacht moored in Marseilles, and an island in the South Seas!

Making quite the political statement, Stanley suggests that he would have rather inherited the taxes!!

Introducing the other main characters, here's Max (Tintin's Nestor) Elloy as Antoine, the man without a country! Antoine has no papers, so he can't get off the boat no matter what he tries! The Captain finally offers him up as a mechanic, to Laurel and Hardy, when he finds out they are headed to a private island!

Adriano (They Killed A Corpse) Rimoldi is the stowaway Giovanni Copini, so as you see, they've got one guy trying to get off, and another guy trying to get on!

They don't get too far before they get caught on a newly emerging island, kind of like "Port Sinister" two years later, but without any treasure or giant crabs! It's at this point that they start building and creating a perfect new Utopian society without any rules, laws, OR taxes!!!

After breaking up with her fiancee on the mainland, entertainer Suzy (Chicken Feed For Little Birds) Delair as Chérie Lamour, shows up on the island one day....

The guys are totally mesmerized by the fact that there is now a woman in their presence!!

Being the consummate gentlemen that they are, the guys opt to bunk together, but there's not really that much room, so all kinds of problems ensue!!

Stanley wins this round with the aid of his pet lobster Ferocious!

I just like this shot of the whole ensemble in their straw island hats!!

They christen the island Crusoeland, and elect Ollie as the President, and Stan gets the position of the People!! Somehow it's not long before the new island is discovered by the rest of the world!

There's a massive pilgrimage to Crusoeland by all the seekers of freedom, and all the people fleeing the zealous over-taxation by the government that still exists to this day some 61 years later!!

It only takes one troublemaker to screw the whole thing up!!

Soon a big fight breaks out, and in this great shot, Stan accidentally breaks a bottle over Antoine's head!

Ollie figures he'll just easily change the rules of the game by making a new proclamation that from now on, there will law, and there will be taxes, but it's not quite that easy to stop the revolution!

The music in "UTOPIA" was created by Paul (Alphaville) Misraki!

When they are just about to be summarily executed, the whole island decides to go back where it came from, sinks back into the ocean, and is gone as quickly as it had appeared!!

A razor sharp wit cuts society into ribbons! It's said that Stan Laurel really didn't like this film, and didn't even want it released, and I might be krazy, but I think this movie, and it's take on a prefect society, is pretty damn funny!!!


Douglas McEwan said...

As a lifelong major Laurel & Hardy fan, obssesive about the boys, I have carefully avoided ever seeing this movie. Stan did indeed hate it. I take him at his word, and avoid watching this picture which I know would only depress me and make me sad. I avoid the 2oth Century Fox films they made in the 1940s as well, though I have seen some of them, and they are terrible. Stan's loathing of them was well-earned.

For me, it boils down to: why watch a Laurel & Hardy movie I know in advance I'm going to hate when I can spend the same time popping in a DVD of their best work at Roach and see a film I love?

The irony about this film is Stan looks like he's two minutes from death throughout, while Babe (Ollie's offscreen nickname) looks robust and healthy. Of course, Babe would die soon, while Stan recovered from the illness that made him look so bad here, and lived another 14 years.

Eegah!! and Tabonga! said...

It was tough trying to find a Laurel and Hardy film that had anything remotely close to sci-fi elements, a film about a Utopian world was about as close as I could get! I read somewhere that this film went public domain almost instantly!

Anonymous said...

I liked Laurel and Hardy's later work at 20th Century Fox, People were disrespectful to them at the time - of course Stan Laurel didn't enjoy them, But the production values in some of them were better than the later Roach features, I know they were not quite as good as theirs over at Hal Roach, I think the boys do have their moments because the studio allowed them for their input, Their last two films at Fox "The Big Noise" (1944) and "The Bull Fighters" (1945) were funny and at least..allow them to be their funny familar characters. Sadly, Mr.Zannick let them go after "Bullfighters"..because he wanted to produce more dramatic films. He realized his mistake and he tried to bring the team back. But it was no go.

Monster Music

Monster Music
AAARRGGHHH!!!! Ya'll Come On Back Now, Y'Hear??