Los calaveras

LOS CALAVERAS (meaning “the revelers”) is the Spanish adaptation of the 1930 three-reel comedy BE BIG as combined with the 1931 three-reel comedy LAUGHING GRAVY (abridged at the last moment to two reels for original release in English speaking territories). The combination of these two otherwise separately issued shorts runs just over an hour. The idea was to constitute feature film running time in order to command the corresponding higher film rental prices from exhibitors. Having included the equivalent original concluding reel of LAUGHING GRAVY and achieved feature length, there was no incentive or reason to add much new material, and so the result is a faithful transposition of the two English shooting scripts, resulting in LOS CALAVERAS which was happily welcomed by the international market. In BE BIG the boys try to trick their wives so as to attend a lodge meeting, but they experience trouble getting into the special outfits worn by their fraternal order. When the wives discover the attempted deception, they grab handy shotguns to demonstrate their blasting skills. Different ethnic supporting cast members include the exuberant Luis Llaneza replacing Baldwin Cooke as the lodge member on the phone, and Latin leading lady Linda Loredo instead of Isabelle Keith as Mrs. Hardy. Beautiful Anita Garvin was retained as Mrs. Laurel, but she silently “mouthed” her lines while an actress off-camera standing at an open microphone spoke the Spanish dialogue! Presumably no one is supposed to notice that little Charlie Hall has a different role in each short. In LAUGHING GRAVY, Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy are now living without their wives, in a boarding house, on a cold winter night, where they conceal a pet pup from their landlord. There follows the sentimental, well-acted concluding reel concerning Stan’s possible inheritance, conditioned on abandoning his friendship with Ollie (which sequence was never seen in North America or the United Kingdom). This was the last Spanish footage Laurel & Hardy shot in this remarkable experiment. Roach had to stop because he was actually showing up his distributor, M-G-M, which by then was resorting to dubbing their own productions. Exhibitors overseas were not pleased. In words paraphrased by Hal Roach himself, they complained to M-G-M, “We don’t want dubbed pictures from Metro; we get them not dubbed from Hal Roach.” 

-- by Richard W. Bann --

Video excerpt from LOS CALAVERAS  
 Corresponding video excerpt from BE BIG  
 Corresponding video excerpt from LES CAROTTIERS (French version of BE BIG & LAUGHING GRAVY)  

Click here to read more about BE BIG - LES CAROTTIERS - LOS CALAVERAS (an excerpt from Richard W. Bann's essay on BE BIG)