In Paris, Oliver Hardy falls in love with Jean Parker. But as she does not share his feelings (& is already
married), he decides to commit suicide, & as he doesn't want to do
it alone, he decides to take Stan Laurel with him. Of course their
collective suicide fails & so they join the foreign legion to
forget. Once in the training camp they (of course) wreak havoc, are
arrested for desertion & sentenced to be shot in the morning. The
make a chaotic escape attempt before actually escaping by a plane, which
they crash of course. Stanley does survive the crash, but not so Ollie,
who - in the final scene of the film - gets reincarnated as a horse -
complete with mustache & bowler hat.
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Stan & Ollie just can't be completely unfunny as this film
(again) proves, but it also shows how much the boys do benefit from a
good story - as long as the movie is about Ollie, his unrequitted love
& his suicide attempt, it works very well, showing both Laurel &
Hardy to be carefully carved-out characters rather than mere funnymen,
but once they arrive at the training camp to just wreak havoc, the
dramatic tension is out & the story does become pointless (if not
completely unfunny, as I've already mentioned). A scene where Stan is
turning his bed springs into a harp does seem strangely out of place
here, being something Harpo Marx did all the time but something
completely out of character for Stan Laurel ! Another movie that has Laurel & Hardy in the foreign legion, albeit the Scottich one, Bonnie
Scotland, is a lot better !
The supporting cast does include Charles Middleton as camp commander
& Laurel & Hardy regular James Finlayson as prison guard.
Co-writer Harry Langdon was actually a former late-silent-early-sond-era
slapstick-star, who was now - as were so many of his colleagues -
strugglling to regain past glories. Langdon co-scripted three other
Laurel & Hardy-features - Block-Heads, Chumps at Oxford,
Saps at Sea - around the same time as well as co-starring with
Ollie in Zenobia (at that time Stanley had - temporarily - split
company with producer Hal Roach, & Langdon was supposed to terminally
replace him - it didn't work). Not long after that he moved over to Monogram
Flying Deuces by the way is the only Laurel & Hardy-movie
of the 1930's not produced by Hal Roach, the boys were loaned to
Boris Morros. Their next movie, Saps at Sea, would be their last
for Roach ever.