I dive into some family titles now with the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book, and I hesitate to admit this, this was my first experience with a Laurel and Hardy film. The only real complaint I have about the film is that it is too short, clocking in at just over an hour. Beyond that, I rather enjoyed it.
Set in the western town of Brushwood Gulch, the pair of lovable buffoons have traveled across the country to find a young woman named Mary (Rosina Lawrence). They have been commissioned to deliver a deed of a gold mine left to her by her now, late father.
Arriving in town, they meet up with local bar owner, Mickey Finn (James Finlayson), who easily learns of their purpose in town, and discovering they have no idea what young Mary looks like, decides to find a way to get the deed from them. He asks his sweetie, and showgirl, Lola (Sharon Lynn) to pose as Mary and take possession of the deed, and from there, they’ll have Mary sign it over to them. It seems she works in the bar as a maid.
When they learn that they have been conned, wackiness erupts in full force as they try to find a way to get the deed back from the conniving couple.
The comedy runs from really broad physical bits (the thumb lighter gag is great!), to some goofy dialogue, Stan quickly proves himself to be my favorite, and the shoe leather gag was pretty sweet. There are also a couple of musical numbers, and even a soft shoe. There seems to be a little bit of everything, and something to please everyone.
The two of them together are a lot of fun to watch, and it’s very easy to see why their work together was so successful, they play off one another very well, and you can see that they slip into their characters smoothly and easily, with Stan being simple-minded, and Ollie, a bit of a blusterer, but really no more clever than Stan is, no matter what he would have you believe.
I’m sure one could make a comment on the snide remarks Ollie makes about English things, deriding fish and chips, and London, while seemingly promoting all things American, though once again, he is no smarter than Stan… There’s probably a whole paper on the subject out there somewhere… But for me, I simply wanted to settle in and watch a film that I had never seen, and it seemed like a very enjoyable cross between a film short and a vaudeville act.
There are some great comedic moments in this film, and I wouldn’t be averse to watching some more of their work… any recommendations you’d care to share with me?