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Rare Behind The Scenes show Laurel and Hardy on the set of “Swiss Miss” back in 1938

Ian Smith

Swiss Miss, is a 1938 comedy film directed by John G. Blystone, produced by Hal Roach and starring Laurel and Hardy. It also features Walter Woolf King, Della Lind and Eric Blore in support.

Producer Hal Roach is said to have indulged in artistic interference during the film’s editing, much to Stan Laurel’s exasperation. Always a large creative force behind the camera, Laurel objected to Roach’s removing scenes, including the addition of a bomb in the composer’s piano, where the tapping of a particular key would set it off. A drunken Stan is seen touching the piano keys during the piano delivery sequence involving the gorilla; Laurel initially thought the inclusion of the bomb would give the scene more power. A musical number in the cheese shop was also removed; only a few lyrics remain in the film. (The bomb in the piano gag would later be used in a Bugs Bunny/Yosemite Sam cartoon Ballot Box Bunny.)

 

Actor Alan Mowbray, on a break from filming on a nearby set, visits .

Actor Alan Mowbray, on a break from filming on a nearby set, visits .

This film has a famous comedy scene with Laurel and Hardy trying to move a piano across a bridge suspended high above some mountains. Originally, there was to have been a subplot in which a bomb had been secretly attached to some keys in the piano, thus adding suspense to the comedy. Producer Hal Roach deleted the bomb subplot but retained the now-pointless shots of Laurel accidentally hitting the piano keys.

 

Actor Alan Mowbray, on a break from filming on a nearby set, visits Stan

Actor Alan Mowbray, on a break from filming on a nearby set, visits Stan

Rumoured to have been filmed in Colour, but the film was processed into Black and White. Close examination of the Black and White film quality compared to similar Laurel and Hardy features of that time possibly suggest this but so far a colour print has not surfaced. The film was idea for colour testing due to the sets costumes and even the title lettering used.

 

Hal Roach directing a scene

Hal Roach directing a scene

Stan Laurel talked Anita Garvin into coming out of retirement to play the wife who is interested in seeing Stan And Ollie’s mousetraps

 

Hal Roach's daughter, Margaret, who was an extra - with the St. Bernard

Hal Roach’s daughter, Margaret, who was an extra – with the St. Bernard

The gorilla is played by actor ‘Charles Gamora’, who also played Ethel the chimp in an earlier L&H short The Chimp (1932).

 

Stan and Marvin Hatley at piano; Walter Woolf King at left; Hal Roach, Jr., at far right

Stan and Marvin Hatley at piano; Walter Woolf King at left; Hal Roach, Jr., at far right

Film Daily-Friday 11 August 1939: Plagiarism suit for injunctions, accounting and damages was filed in (Los Angeles) Federal Court yesterday by Isabella Knotter against Hal Roach Studios, Inc., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Corp., M-G-M Distributing Corp., Lowes, Inc. and Culver Export Service. Plaintiff claims to have submitted her story, “So Zwei Pechvogel.” or “Two Down-and-Outs,” to the Hal Roach studios on June 16,1937, which was allegedly infringed in the films “Swiss Miss” and “Au Far West.” Her manuscript had been returned in August, 1937, with a notation stating that it had been unread, the complain stated.

Stan Laurel singing with Marvin Hatley Charles Judels while Babe Hardy looks on.

Stan Laurel singing with Marvin Hatley Charles Judels while Babe Hardy looks on.

 

Stan photographing Dinah the mule.

Stan photographing Dinah the mule.

The boys on set with the make-up girl

The boys on set with the make-up girl