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Film / The Flying Deuces

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The Flying Deuces is a 1939 film directed by A. Edward Sutherland, starring Laurel and Hardy.

In this one Stan and Ollie are up to their usual goofball antics in Paris. Ollie has fallen head over heels in love with Georgette, the daughter of the innkeeper. What Ollie doesn't know is that Georgette is already married. When she rejects his proposal, a heartbroken Ollie resolves to drown himself in the Seine, and brow beats Stan into jumping with him.

They are about to jump in the river when Francois, a passing officer (and unbeknownst to Ollie, Georgette's husband) recommends that they join the French Foreign Legion instead. They do, and they're off to Morocco, but unsurprisingly Stan and Ollie decide to leave, not grasping the concept of "desertion". They're chased by, among others, Francois.

One of only two Stan and Ollie features to fall into the public domain; as such it is available from a wide number of sources but often in badly faded/decayed prints. Francois is played by Reginald Gardiner, who a year later would play a similar straight man role in The Great Dictator.


  • Artistic License – Biology: A shark in a river would die pretty quickly, sharks being saltwater fish.
  • Artistic License – Military: Deserting the Foreign Legion usually resulted in a penalty of your required term of service being extended plus prison. Then again, since Ollie wrote an insulting letter to their commander, that's probably why they were sentenced to death.
  • Aside Glance: As usual, Ollie looks at the camera numerous times, like when Stan does something epically stupid.
  • Bindle Stick: Stan has one of these at the end when he's tramping around alone.
  • Call-Back: When they're about to commit suicide and Stan asks what Ollie would like to come back as, Ollie says "I don't know...I wouldn't mind a horse." Sure enough, at the end Ollie has been reincarnated as a horse. Also doubles as a Brick Joke.
  • Darker and Edgier: Stan and Ollie trying to kill themselves, Ollie being killed in a plane crash at the end.
  • Deconstructed Trope: A humorous example being a Laurel and Hardy film. This film deconstructs the Heartbroken Badass joining the Legion of Lost Souls, a popular media trope at the time. They learn the hard way that a broken heart doesn't take so long to mend and they simply can't quit the Foreign Legion.
  • Disturbed Doves: Partway through their madcap flight, Stan and Ollie fly right through a flock of doves, and several get stuck in the cockpit with them. A bunch of doves then fly away after Stan and Ollie crash.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: No better way to establish the setting of Paris than by showing the Eiffel Tower as the first shot of the movie, and following it up with the Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame.
  • Gilligan Cut: And a Match Cut as well. Stan and Ollie refuse to do all that military work for the equivalent of three cents a day, Stan rapping the commander's table for emphasis. Cut from Stan's fingers rapping the table to Stan's fingers scrubbing a shirt in a washtub.
  • Hollywood Darkness: That one little candle does a surprisingly good job of lighting the tunnel Stan and Ollie are escaping through.
  • Ill-Timed Sneeze: Stan and Ollie's hiding place in the armoire is revealed when Georgette's fluffy robe makes Stan sneeze.
  • Legion of Lost Souls: Stan and Ollie join the French Foreign Legion.
  • Malaproper: Stan, as always. "No use crying over split milk."
  • Mildly Military: Stan and Ollie make terrible soldiers. They're especially bad at marching.
  • Reincarnation-Identifying Trait: Ollie dies in a plane crash and Stan is disconsolate. After this, however, Stan meets a talking horse who wears Ollie's hat, and the two friends are reunited, after a fashion.
  • The Remake: A loose remake of a L&H short called Beau Hunks, which also had Ollie joining the French Foreign Legion to forget a lost love, and dragging Stan along.
  • Secret Underground Passage: Fortunately, the cell Stan and Ollie are occupying is directly above the entrance to one.
  • Shot at Dawn: Said word-for-word as Stan and Ollie's sentence, but averted when they escape instead.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Significant Background Event: An officer barks to his men "Let no one pass through that gate no matter what happens!", as Stan and Ollie skulk through the gate behind them.
  • Spoiler Title: It's called The Flying Deuces, and the opening credits show Stan and Ollie in a plane and dressed as pilots, but they don't fly a plane until the climax.
  • Strongly Worded Letter: When Stan and Ollie decide to leave the Foreign Legion, Ollie leaves a particularly insulting letter for their commander. We never learn what it says but their commander is so infuriated that he has the two sentenced to death for their desertion.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Two non-pilots barely keeping a plane under control? They crash. One dies.
  • Whatever Happened to the Mouse?: Who passed Stan and Ollie the note about the secret passage? All we see is a hand.
  • Winged Soul Flies Off at Death: After they finally crash the plane into a field Stan climbs out, apparently fine. Ollie is not so lucky, and we see his winged soul flying up to heaven.