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Utopia
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Genre:Comedy
Year:1950
Rating:NR
Length:1 Hour 23 Minutes
Cast:John Berry, Leo Joannon, Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy

In their very last feature film, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy travel to London so that Stan can claim his uncle's inheritance. All of the cash has been eaten up by taxes, but at least Stan is able to claim a tax-free island and yacht that his uncle has left him. Boarding the yacht (actually a run-down tub) in Marseilles, Stan and Ollie set sail for their island in the company of stateless refugee Max Elloy, who signs on as cook, and Italian bricklayer Adriano Rimoldi, who stows away. The little party is nearly torn to bits by a storm at sea, but the yacht runs safely aground on a newly formed atoll. The tiny atoll's population is increased to five when nightclub singer Suzy Delair, fleeing her domineering naval-officer fiance Luigi Tosi, takes refuge with the other castaways. Laurel & Hardy and their friends live an idyllic, Robinson Crusoe-like existence until Delair's fiance shows up. He announces he hasn't come to claim her, but to investigate reports that the atoll is rich with uranium. Indeed it is, and soon every nation in the world is clamoring to claim the atoll's radioactive deposits. Laurel and Hardy take quick action, declaring sovereignty over "Crusoeland." They then devise an anarchic government over which Ollie presides. Stan is relegated to the postion of "The People." Comical chaos reigns when their "no laws, no taxes" policies attract the attention of various unsavory types, including rabble-rouser Alec Dalmatoff. Filmed over a period of twelve months, this expensive Franco-Italian coproduction suffers from a too-complex plot, lazy direction, poor voiceover dubbing of the largely European supporting cast, and especially the horrible physical condition of Stan Laurel, who was suffering from several life-threatening illnesses during filming; fortunately, he regained his health after the production wrapped, as proven by his hale-and-hearty appearance on a 1954 installment of TV's This Is Your Life. Though some disciples of Laurel and Hardy will have a great deal of difficulty sitting through Atoll K, it does contain a few isolated moments of pantomimic brilliance and first-rate sight gags. Originally running 98 minutes, Atoll K was judiciously pruned down to 82 minutes for its English-language release; in Great Britain, the film was titled Robinson Crusoeland, while in America it was released as Utopia. Hal Erickson

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