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The Laurel and Hardy Collection vol. 2 (1945)

Cast: Richard Lane, Richard Lane, Carol Andrews, more...
Director: Malcolm St. Clair, Malcolm St. Clair
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Running Time: 193 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
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Laurel & Hardy's last American film is a marked improvement over their previous 20th Century-Fox features, though still not in the same league as their 1930s classics. Stan and Ollie play a couple of detectives from Peoria, Illinois, who fly to Mexico City to arrest the notorious Larceny Nell (Carol Andrews). Their South-of-the-Border visit coincides with the much-anticipated arrival of famed Spanish bullfighter Don Sebastian-who happens to be the exact double of Stan Laurel! When Don Sebastian's Mexican debut is delayed by passport problems, press agent Hotshot Coleman (Richard Lane) persuades Stan to take the toreador's place in the bullring. Stan is understandably reluctant until Hotshot threatens to turn the boys over to his business partner, sports promoter Richard K. Muldoon (Ralph Sanford). It seems that several years earlier, Stan and Ollie wrongly sent Muldoon to prison; upon his release, he vowed to someday catch up with the boys and literally skin them alive ("First the little one, then the big one!") With this threat hanging over their heads, Laurel & Hardy are forced to acquiesce to Hotshot's scheme-leading to a chaotic nightclub incident, a hectic misadventure at a bull farm, and a climactic riot at the bull arena when the real Don Sebastian finally shows up. Though it falls apart in the final reel thanks to an overabundance of mismatched stock footage gleaned from Blood and Sand (1941), The Bullfighters is for the most part a fond throwback to Laurel & Hardy's glory days: the highlight is an egg-breaking routine revived from 1934's Hollywood Party. Curiously, none of the reviewers in 1945 mentioned the film's grotesquely hilarious closing gag, which must be seen to be believed. Rory Calhoun (billed as Frank McCown) shows up in a bit as a rival bullfighter. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

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