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Last Updated: Monday, 9 August, 2004, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
Rare Laurel and Hardy film found
Laurel and Hardy
Laurel and Hardy speak German phonetically in the 1931 movie
A rare movie featuring comic duo Laurel and Hardy speaking in German has been found by film archivists in Russia.

The 40-minute film, Spuk um Mitternacht (Ghost at Midnight), was a 1931 version of their English hit movie The Laurel and Hardy Murder Case.

The Munich Film Museum uncovered the film while searching Moscow archives.

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy spoke phonetically in German with the help of speech coaches, while native speakers replaced the original supporting cast.

Big success

"Because dubbing was still difficult at the start of the sound era, [films] were shot in various languages," a spokesman for the museum said.

Until the movie was found in July, the only German-speaking piece featuring the two Hollywood stars was a selection of short clips from a German version of their 1931 film Pardon Us.

The museum said Spuk um Mitternacht, advertised as Laurel and Hardy's first German motion picture with sound, premiered in Berlin on 5 May 1931 and proved a big success.

Many famous actors made similar foreign language films but most have been lost.

In general the film works very well even in this little short version
Stefan Droessler, director, Munich Film Museum

Laurel and Hardy remade several shorts for foreign audiences, speaking their own dialogue with the aid of language coaches and off-camera prompting boards.

The rediscovered print of Spuk um Mitternacht was nine minutes shorter than the original, but it included jokes written specifically for a German audience.

The museum's director Stefan Droessler told BBC News Online: "In general the film works very well even in this little short version and contains all the unique jokes about Stan's uncle in Berlin and Julius Caesar.

"Munich Film Museum will restore the film to its full length so that it can be made available for screenings and a future DVD release."

Spuk um Mitternacht will be shown as part of the Bonn Silent Film Festival on 14 August.

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