Berth Marks


Berth Marks

Infobox Film
name = Berth Marks


caption =
director = Lewis R. Foster
producer = Hal Roach
writer = Leo McCarey
H.M. Walker
starring = Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
music =
cinematography = Len Powers
editing = Richard C. Currier
distributor = Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
released = June 1, 1929
runtime = 19 min.
language =silent film
English intertitles
country = USA
budget =
preceded_by = "Double Whoopee"
followed_by = "Men O' War"
imdb_id = 0019686
amg_id = 1:77346

"Berth Marks" is a 1929 short comedy starring Laurel and Hardy. The story involves Stan and Ollie as two musicians attempting to travel by train to Potsville.It was only their second sound film,but a silent version was also made for cinemas at the time that were not equipped to show talkies.

Cast

*Stan Laurel
*Oliver Hardy
*Harry Bernard
*Baldwin Cooke
*Paulette Goddard
*Charlie Hall
*Pat Harmon
*S.D. Wilcox
*Sammy Brooks

Film analysis

Although not highly regarded among Laurel and Hardy enthusiasts today, Berth Marks is a technically accomplished film considering its production early in the team's sound films. The opening scene - in which Ollie listens patiently to a stationmaster rattling off a long, garbled list of destinations - shows that even at this very early stage the filmmakers were conscious of how sound could be deployed in new comedic ideas. (This scene inspired a similar train station bit at the beginning of Jacques Tati's 1953 film Mr. Hulot's Holiday, in which a throng of holidaying tourists must listen to the announcement of trains at a station, and follow the directions to the correct platform - which ends up being incorrect). The team exhibits a fine sense of timing in their reaction shots to this gag, which is repeated twice, and in the subsequent flurry of activity after the stationmaster, having nearly moved out of earshot, adds "...and Pottsville!" to his list of placenames and spurs Stan and Ollie into action.

The scenes aboard the train, although they grow redundant through lack of comedic variation (a lack the team would address and improve upon radically in subsequent sound shorts) nevertheless has some fine moments. Although dialogue is at a minimum in most of the train scenes, consciousness of sound film's possibilities for understatement and irony permeates what lines are placed in the film: the conductor offering his opinion of Laurel and Hardy's vaudeville act, based on their trainbound ineptitude, "Well I'll bet you're good!", or Ollie's exasperated "I wish I'd checked you with the baggage!" to Stan, after Stan has tumbled repeatedly out of the upper berth. Such ambiguities resident in speech tones could not have been possible in silent films, and Laurel and Hardy would amplify such possibilities as they became more familiar with the medium of sound. Sound too is used to enhance visual gags: the ripping of clothing offscreen, for example, or the sound effect emphasizing the final gag, in which Stan, running away from Ollie, has his hat knocked off at a great distance by a rock Ollie has thrown. The film's emphasis on pantomime also yields some amusing moments: Stan searching his pockets after Ollie questions him "Where's the [bass] fiddle?" is just one.

Production Notes

Action and dialogue scripts written circa mid-April 1929. Filmed circa April 20-27, 1929. Released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer June 1, 1929. Reissued 1936 with new musical scoring added to introductory scenes. (Source: Randy Skretvedt, Laurel and Hardy: The Magic Behind the Movies).

The train scenes, including outtakes unused in Berth Marks, were spliced into foreign-language versions of The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case the following year. These scenes were combined with new footage, utilizing actors fluent in the languages appropriate to the foreign-language versions. Laurel and Hardy's scenes from Berth Marks were overdubbed to match the required languages.

See also

* 1929 in film
* Laurel and Hardy films

External links

*imdb title|id=0019686|title=Berth Marks


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