Blotto - Pressbook Stories

"Hollywood extras will soon be on easy street if Laurel & Hardy continue making such comedies as BLOTTO, their latest Hal Roach comedy for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which is now on the program at the ................. Theatre.

"Because of the rush to start this comedy it was necessary for Jack Roach, casting director at the Hal Roach Studio, to work until three o'clock one morning rounding up enough extras for the cabaret scenes. The next morning almost 200 extras appeared on the set dressed in evening clothes. Over two-thirds of the comedy takes place in the 'Rainbow Nightclub,' and the lucky ones that have their own evening clothes naturally make more money per day than those who have to resort to the wardrobe department.


"There were all kinds of people on the set. Girls galore, with long hair, long bobs, boyish bobs and Dutch bobs. They had on long dresses, short dresses and mid-way dresses. There were he-men of the Charles Bickford type, and the clean cut masculine beauty of the Conrad Nagel type."

But most of all there was the Jack Hill don't-notice-me-although-I-am-everywhere type. This ubiquitous Hal Roach Studios career-extra can be seen both inside the cabaret, and outside the phone both. Plus he performs a stunt when Stan and Ollie knock him over as they flee the nightclub when their evening of whoopee goes terribly wrong.

Another pressbook anecdote recounted how the "laughing jag" sequence tested with audiences: "This gag was a howling success in a Los Angeles theater, and long after it was finished the audience snickered in remembrance. The fact that this comedy followed a feature length Harold Lloyd picture made it rather dubious as to how the people would receive it. But they laughed just as loud and just as long as they did at Harold Lloyd in his latest comedy WELCOME DANGER. And a comedy must be a success if one can clock l02 laughs in only two reels, as was done in BLOTTO."

The per reel average of this laughfest drops precipitously when the count is changed from three reels to two, since in fact BLOTTO was the first Laurel & Hardy three reel subject. The studio's first three-reeler starred Harold Lloyd and was called NOW OR NEVER (l92l).

BLOTTO was also the first filmed-in-French release (NIGHT OWLS had been re-filmed in Spanish and Italian versions). "We're funnier if our French isn't so good," Stan Laurel told writer Mollie Merrick at the time. "But they must understand us. No audience likes to sit and laugh and not know what it's laughing about. These are being made into longer releases for the foreign market than for America. That, too, is an experiment."

The incremental footage in the five reel export versions is mostly given over to the floor show at the speakeasy, consisting of the three solo dance acts. The second number, featuring a balloon dancer, added little to the proceedings beyond running time.

-- by Richard W. Bann --