Thursday, January 12, 2006

Zenobia

This is a little late, but Bill Sherman drew my attention to a January 1st post by Mark Evanier about Zenobia (1939), Babe Hardy's only solo starring feature. At the time, Laurel had been fired from the Roach studio for "breach of contract" and the future of the Laurel and Hardy partnership was up in the air. With Hardy still under contract, Roach put him to work as a star comedian in what amounted to a "tryout". Also cast in Zenobia was studio gagwriter and former headliner Harry Langdon, making his first appearance in a Roach production since his failed 1929-30 series. At the time of Zenobia's release, the studio played up the possibility of a Langdon and Hardy partnership in press releases. There's no evidence of any such teaming in the film itself, and as Evanier points out, such stories were likely to have been dreamed up to pressure Laurel into accepting the terms of a new contract. Similarly, during a previous dispute between Laurel and Roach, the studio announced a new series of "Hardy Family" shorts starring Babe, Patsy Kelly, and Spanky McFarland. Frankly, that sounds much more interesting and plausible than "Langdon and Hardy", although L&H biographer Randy Skretvedt insists that Roach would have been forced to "eviscerate" both his Our Gang and Todd and Kelly series in order to produce "The Hardy Family", an unlikely move.

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