De bote en bote

DE BOTE EN BOTE (meaning “from cell to cell”) is the re-filmed adaptation, in Spanish, of the initial Laurel & Hardy feature film, PARDON US (in some countries known as JAILBIRDS), a spoof of the prison films cycle so popular at the time. In fact, prison sets were borrowed from M-G-M’s blockbuster hit, THE BIG HOUSE. First conceived as a two-reel comedy, with The Boys playing bootleggers who bounce in and out of prison, PARDON US kept building in hilarity until the filmmakers realized they had expanded their efforts to feature running time. For years, popular Laurel & Hardy shorts were billed above the featured attraction on theater marquees, so at last the greatest of all comedy teams appeared in a full-length movie themselves! The Spanish interpolation extends the show another six-plus minutes, and there are several key differences that will give audiences an entirely new viewing experience. For starters, the sequence of events was rearranged. New gags and sequences were substituted. The schoolroom sketch was deleted. A new song was added. And the climactic prison riot was the big surprise, offering quite a few changes – all better discovered on screen for yourself than described here! Some few of these concluding scenes were dubbed, indicating this vastly altered ending was originally intended for American movie patrons, then scuttled, because English speaking filmgoers have never seen any of this footage before! Four foreign editions were produced of PARDON US (one with Boris Karloff in the cast) but only this Spanish version survives today for re-examination. The contemporary VARIETY critique praised Leroy Shield’s wonderful “trick musical score,” which we know from the music cue sheets was a little different – but always delightful -- in each of the five filmed versions. Among the Spanish-speaking supporting cast, three of Laurel & Hardy’s directors make cameo appearances, as does producer Hal Roach, himself. It was something Roach did only one other time in the whole history of Hal Roach Studios! There are many other way-inside jokes for the deepest-dyed Laurel & Hardy film buffs to find, and it is likely you will discover something new each and every time you screen DE BOTE EN BOTE.

-- by Richard W. Bann --

Video excerpt from DE BOTE EN BOTE  
Corresponding video excerpt from PARDON US