Sunday, February 18, 2007


This Laurel and Hardy comedy short has two distinct and loosely related halves. In the first half, Stan is a skinny and inept boxer in a match against a much braunier and skilled boxer. In the second half a baker slips on a banana peel and it starts a series of pies-in-the-face that escalates to include an entire city block. It's not clear which fight is considered The Battle Of The Century.


Jack Dempsey was one of the most popular sports figures of the 20s. In September 1927, he faced Gene Tunney in an attempt to regain the World Heavyweight Championship; Dempsey had lost the title to Tunney a year earlier. The fight had garnered a lot of interest, and there were over 100,000 spectators at Soldier Field in Chicago.

The match would end in controversy and would be known as "The Long Count Fight". Tunney out-boxed Dempsey for 6 rounds, but in the 7th, Dempsey knocked Tunney to the mat. A new rule had been implemented prior to the fight that required a fighter who dropped his opponent to move to a neutral corner before the referee would begin counting. Dempsey was apparently unaware of this rule. It took 3 to 7 seconds for the referee to get Dempsey to a neutral corner before he began his count. Tunney got up on the count of 9. He regained his composure and won the remaining rounds and the match.

Laurel and Hardy not only took advantage of boxing's popularity, but specifically spoofed The Long Count incident.


Seriously - Slipping on a banana peel? A pie in the face? This movie must have seemed stale even then (Charlie Chaplin resorted to a pie fight in Behind The Screen 10 years earlier). Today, this 80 year old movie is as fresh as a 90 year old movie.

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