Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I love the sound of Hal Roach shorts. I have a particular fondness for the Our Gang and Laurel and Hardy shorts because they used Roy Shield themes which are distinctive and provide a lot of style for the comedies. He had happy themes, sad themes, oriental themes, sounds for cats, sounds for laughs, and anything in between.
One of the reasons the music is so wonderful is that it was so novel at the time. Short subjects were low budget and many studios did not want to spend the money on original music. In addition, early talkies were notoriously silent with long stretches where the only sounds were the cracks and pops of an old film or disk. Roach amended the awkwardness with song.

I started watching the Our Gang films at the ripe old age of seven, and although it took me some time to get used to there being no color (imagine something so old there isn't even color!), I quickly got wrapped up in the fun that the kids were having. It wasn't unusual for my sister and I to spend an afternoon watching all four shorts on a Cabin Fever tape and wanting more. I lost concept of time, forgot that these films were old, and began to incorporate the visuals and sounds into my perception of my own life, and as I got older and began to see the kids as children and not my contemporaries, I wove them into my perception of what I hoped my life would be like as a mother.

I'm not quite ready for children yet, but my idea of a happy night at home is cooking dinner for my husband with the sounds of light jazz in the background. Sometimes I even put on a movie to listen to as background music, usually something I've seen dozens of times so I don't spoil the film. Often I choose a short film and Hal Roach's are favorites.

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