The Final Film of Laurel and Hardy

A Study of the Chaotic Making and Marketing of Atoll K


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About the Book

The remarkable story behind the planning, development and marketing of Laurel and Hardy’s ill-received final film, Atoll K, has been little explored. Details on the script development, cast, crew, locations, and even basic information on running times and release dates have been sketchy at best since the film’s 1951 release.
This work reconstructs the circumstances surrounding this unusual international co-production (Atoll K was a French-Italian film with English-speaking stars). Through lost documents detailing the film’s production and funding, previously unreleased behind-the-scenes photos, and a rare interview with French movie star Suzy Delair, the author explores the continuous changes to the film’s script during its chaotic production and the final marketing of the film’s many different versions (Atoll K was also released as Robinson Crusoeland in the United Kingdom and as Utopia in the United States). Several appendices detail alternative sequences and cut scenes in various versions of the film and include French box-office reports from 1951 to 1952 as well as a complete filmography.

About the Author(s)

A retired district court judge and director from Buxtehude, Germany, Norbert Aping has published books on Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin and slapstick television.

Bibliographic Details

Norbert Aping
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 280
Bibliographic Info: 136 photos, appendices, notes, filmography, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3302-5
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5174-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      v

Foreword by Glenn Mitchell      1

Introduction      3

Part I: The Production of Atoll K      9

1. Preparations      11

2. On the Way to the Script      28

3. On the Way to Shooting      42

4. At Last a Script!      51

5. Shooting Begins in Marseilles      68

6. Shooting on the Côte d’Azur and in the Studio La Victorine      90

7. In the Paris Studio      106

8. The Editing      123

Part II: Atoll K on the Market      137

9. The French Version of Atoll K      139

10. The Italian Version Atollo K      157

11. The English-Language Version of Atoll K, Robinson Crusoeland      171

12. Utopia in the United States of America      185

13. Atoll K throughout the World      199

14. The German Version of Atoll K, Dick und Doof erben eine Insel      210

Appendix 1. Filmography      233

Appendix 2. Information in Opening Credits and Distributors’ Data      239

Appendix 3. Alternative Sequences      242

Appendix 4. Scenes Cut from the 100-Minute Version      245

Appendix 5. French Box-Office Reports, 1951–1952      248

Chapter Notes      251


Index      269

Book Reviews & Awards

“a wealth of photos and many interesting new facts…outstanding…very thorough…essential”—Rogue Cinema; “may be the best researched film history book I’ve ever read”—National Board of Review; “fascinating”—