Zenobia (film)

Zenobia (also known as Elephants Never Forget (UK) and It's Spring Again) is a 1939 comedy film directed by Gordon Douglas and starring Oliver Hardy, Harry Langdon, Billie Burke, Alice Brady, James Ellison, Jean Parker, June Lang, Stepin Fetchit and Hattie McDaniel. The source of the film was the 1891 short story "Zenobia's Infidelity" by H.C. Bunner, which was originally purchased by producer Hal Roach as a vehicle for Roland Young.[1]

Zenobia
Theatrical Poster
Directed byGordon Douglas
Produced byHal Roach
Written byCorey Ford
StarringOliver Hardy
Harry Langdon
Billie Burke
Alice Brady
Hattie McDaniel
Music byMarvin Hatley
CinematographyKarl Struss
Norbert Brodine
Edited byBert Jordan
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • April 21, 1939 (1939-04-21)
Running time
73 min.
65 min (colour cut edition)
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

Background

Zenobia is one of the few films after the teaming of Laurel and Hardy that features Hardy without Stan Laurel,[2] the result of a contract dispute between Laurel and producer Hal Roach, who maintained separate contracts for each performer, rather than a team contract, which would have offered them more control over their careers. Zenobia was Roach's attempt to create a new comedic pair without Laurel, and a series of films with Hardy and Langdon was planned. The dispute was short-lived, however, and Laurel and Hardy were reunited shortly thereafter.[3]

Plot

Set in 1870, Hardy plays Dr. Henry Tibbett, a Mississippi country doctor who is called on by a travelling circus trainer to cure his sick elephant. After the doctor heals the grateful beast, the elephant becomes so attached to him that it starts to follow him everywhere. This leads to the trainer suing Dr. Tibbett for alienation of affection.

Cast

Reception

The film was a box-office disaster. United Artists even had trouble booking the film into theatres.[4]

The New York Times wrote on May 15, 1939, that the film:

"...[was] a rough idea of what would happen to Gone With the Wind if Hal Roach had produced it ... an antebellum, costume romance in slapstick, in which an elephant adopts Oliver Hardy and, it appears, Harry Langdon has adopted the partnership perquisites formerly reserved for Stan Laurel."

Then—playing on the potential for a new comedy team of Hardy and Langdon—the reviewer said:

"Harry Langdon's pale and beautifully blank countenance ... has probably already excited the professional jealousy of Mr. Laurel."[5]

The film is mentioned quite frequently (referred to as "the elephant movie") during the Stan and Ollie biopic, something that (in the 2018 film) Stan begrudged Ollie for doing.

Music

  • The music is by Marvin Hatley, the composer of "Dance of the Cuckoos", Laurel and Hardy's famous theme song.

See also

Notes

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/1938/08/02/archives/screen-news-here-and-in-hollywood-metro-signs-von-sternberg-to.html
  2. For Oliver Hardy's films without Stan Laurel, see: Oliver Hardy filmography.
  3. For details on this dispute, see the main article on Laurel and Hardy.
  4. Ward, Richard Lewis (2005). A History of Hal Roach Studios. Southern Illinois University. p. 112. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  5. "THE SCREEN; Hardy and Langdon, With Billie Burke and Alice Brady, Are Featured in 'Zenobia' at the Globe". The New York Times. New York. 15 May 1939. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
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