Les carottiers

LES CAROTTIERS (meaning “the chiselers or cheaters”) is the slightly more risqué, re-shot French 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 LES CAROTTIERS 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 engaged for this version included Jean de Briac, who replaced Baldwin Cooke as the lodge member on the phone. In fact it was de Briac who worked behind the scenes coaching the famous funsters to speak their lines in French – with Ollie handling his French pronunciations better than Stan. Also Germaine de Neel appeared 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 mike spoke the French dialogue! “She had the microphone off the set,” Garvin recalled, “and she’d speak the real words.” Presumably no one is supposed to notice that little Charlie Hall has a different role in each of the two combined shorts. 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 French language 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.”  Mastered from fully complete and near-mint nitrate source material.

-- by Richard W. Bann --

 Video excerpt from LES CAROTTIERS  
 Corresponding video excerpt from BE BIG  
 Corresponding video excerpt from LOS CALAVERAS (Spanish 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)