Tuesday, July 15, 2014


So I turned on TCM about five minutes before 8:00 last night so I could watch For the Defense, the first of last night's Kay Francis movies. TCM was finishing up what looked to be a fairly unfunny short that I didn't recognize, although it was obviously from the early 1930s. A look at TCM's online schedule revealed that short to be 1932's The Soilers, starring Thelma Todd and Patsy Kelly.

So I went to IMDb to look it up. The search revealed that in addition to the 1932 version of The Soilers, there was also a 1923 short also titled The Soilers. The two have nothing in common other than the title. The 1923 version stars Stan Laurel -- without Oliver Hardy -- and is set against the backdrop of the Alaska Gold Rush. It sounds interesting, since I don't think I've seen any of Laurel's early shorts without Hardy. That, and the presence of a really stereotypically gay character. Half of the 20-minute movie seems to have shown up on Youtube, but not the whole thing. (The 1932 The Soilers doesn't seem to be on Youtube at all.)

Stan Laurel's The Soilers was parodying The Spoilers, which was apparently one of the popular movies of 1923, and was filmed in several versions, perhaps most famously in 1942 with John Wayne. In fact, all of the versions of the movie are based upon a popular novel from the beginning of the 20th century by a man named Rex Beach. For some reason, that name sounded familiar to me, although I wasn't quite certain why. It turns out that quite a few of Beach's adventure novels have been turned into movies. I blogged about The Silver Horde before, while another one that sure sounds famliiar is Flowing Gold (1940), which has John Garfield and Pat O'Brien working in the oil fields. In fact, I may be mixing it up with the 1939 movie Blackmail, which I know I saw a year or so ago on TCM when TCM ran it. (Was it really only three months ago? For some reason I thought it was longer, but a search of TCM's monthly schedules on my hard drive doesn't yield any other matches since 2007.) That one is also set in the oil industry and has a criminal on the run (John Garfield in Flowing Gold, Edward G. Robinson in Blackmail), but the key difference is that Robinson is clearly innocent and being blackmailed. IMDb doesn't seem to have links to Amazon for either Flowing Gold or Blackmail, so I'm not certain that either of them is on DVD.

No comments: