Noche de duendes

NOCHE DE DUENDES (meaning “night of the ghosts”) is the Spanish rendition of the 1930 three-reel comedy-mystery THE LAUREL-HARDY MURDER CASE. It runs a full 51 minutes, with the extra footage at the outset comprised of material incorporated from the 1929 short subject BERTH MARKS. In order for Stan to claim an inheritance, the boys must travel overnight by train to an eerie old mansion on a stormy night. Upon arrival they learn that Ebenezer Laurel had been murdered and the heirs are all suspects! Will anyone confess, or more be murdered? Fans today are surprised to learn that because of the clever film title, and the “old dark house” murder-mystery angle, THE LAUREL-HARDY MURDER CASE performed better at the box-office than any other Laurel & Hardy short. Spanish-speaking Alfonso Pedroza was retained to portray the archetypal detective and carry the dialogue in place of Fred Kelsey, who was always Hollywood’s first choice for this type of role (to the point where caricatures of inept investigator Kelsey appeared in animated cartoons). Curiously, possibly owing to some economic expedient, brief scenes within the BERTH MARKS sequences were dubbed. The contrast clearly shows the superior method was to re-film scenes rather than dub old ones. The voice intonation and inflections, in contrast with the facial expressions, simply do not match properly. Then as now, authentic sound recorded live is always best. One advantage NOCHE DE DEUNDES has over older prints of its domestic counterpart long in circulation, is how much better it looks. Both versions have now been restored utilizing lower generation preprint material, closer to the camera negative. This affords a sharper, cleaner picture with better density, detail and contrast than anything any of us has been able to view since the original theatrical release. Compare and see!

-- by Richard W. Bann --

 Video excerpt from NOCHE DE DEUNDES  
 Corresponding video excerpt from THE LAUREL-HARDY MURDER CASE