Series: All Stars w/ Harry Langdon

Director: Warren Doane
Producer: Hal Roach
Story editor: H.M. Walker
Photography: George Stevens
Editor: Richard C. Currier
Sound: Elmer Raguse

Stars: Harry Langdon, Edgar Kennedy, Nancy Dover
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 29 March 1930
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: S-29
Filming dates: November 20-29, 1929
Rating: 4/10



Le Estacion De Gasolina

BEST DVD VERSION

See also The Big Kick


The police are in pursuit of two bootleggers who are in the process of making a getaway in their car, which stops at a gas station momentarily before driving off. Two detectives (Edgar Kennedy and Bob O'Conor) are hot on their trail. The cops stop by the gas station to enquire as to whether anybody had seen the bootleggers' car. The attendant (Langdon) is somewhat pre-occupied doing god-only-knows-what, whilst his girl (Nancy Dover) points the cops in the right direction. Harry then gets out of his overalls and into his suit to water a potted flower with a watering can before washing in the same water. He then dries himself using an air hose from the station. This scene drags on and on to the point of total and utter boredom. Harry then inflates a balloon with an evil face on it just so that he can punch it. I mean, what the hell am I watching here?
A driver (Nelson McDowell) pulls into the garage with some serious damage to his car, which is making a considerable amount of noise. Harry and the driver try to have a conversation over the noise before he throws a blanket over the engine. He then starts dismantling parts of the car whilst the engine is still running, much to the astonishment of the driver, who is even more shocked when his leg is pulled through the bonnet and his shoe ripped off! As the car begins to fall apart parts of it explode and send components through the gas station windows. Harry eventually gets the car to stop running by repeatedly taking a hammer to it. So after all that Harry asks the driver what he needs. "How far is it to Petaluma?", asks the gentleman. Harry is not amused. A second car with two women pulls into the garage and asks the same question. They are quickly dismissed.
Two armed cops in civilian clothing (Baldwin Cooke, Jack Hill) turn up at the station looking for the bootleggers and warn Harry that the crooks have been seen stopping at the station to fill up on gas and to be on the lookout for any suspicious people. Harry spots a truck pull up outside so he puts on a fake beard but in doing so he accidentally knocks the air hose which inflates the evil-faced balloon. The camera lingers on Harry Langdon again here for an eternity as he tries hard to be funny but actually comes off as being completely the opposite. The balloon finally explodes due to being overinflated and after being up the back of Harry's raincoat for the last hour (or so it seems judging from the scene, which drags on and on.) A bus with the bootleggers pulls up at the station with dummies in the back posing as passengers. A gunfight breaks out between then and the cops who are hiding behind some trees.
Several bullets pierce the bus, shooting water out of the side and into Harry, who in yet another long, boring scene, starts dancing in the spray. He then begins rescuing the dummies from the bus and putting them into the office. When one of the dummies' heads falls off Harry realises that it's not water that is coming out of her but liquor. As he tries to prop up one of the dummies, Nancy is outside hoisting the crooks' bus up on a hydraulic pole and spins them around. The cops arrive, arrest the bootleggers and take them away, whilst the two detectives congratulate Nancy and offer her a reward for their part. A uniformed policeman wanders into the station and finds the dummies but as he is examining them Harry smashes him over the head with a hammer. The cop chases Harry out of the building and finally this awful film is over!

Favourite bit
The scene where motorist Nelson McDowell stops by the gas station with a car that is practically falling apart. Harry tries desperately to fix the problem by removing elements of the car until everything seems to be fine. It turns out that all the driver wanted was directions. It's about the ONLY scene in the whole film that is worthy of any attention!

Trivia
Copyrighted February 17, 1930. The copyright credit shown during the opening titles says 1929.
This is the Spanish-language version of The Big Kick.
This was the sixth of eight films that Harry Langdon made for Hal Roach. Each of them were released under Roach's 'All Star' banner.
The film made its DVD debut in 2020 thanks to Kit Parker.
There is an advertisement for Beech Nut Tobacco hanging in the window at the gas station.
The driver in the gas station asks the distance to Petaluma. Petaluma is a city in Sonoma County in California's Wine Country.
The only replacements in the film from the original version are the absence of Baldwin Cooke and Jack Hill as the cops. However, Jack Hill is seen very briefly near the end of the film when the cops are putting the bootleggers into the wagon. He is holding a rifle.
Charles McAvoy, who plays the cop in the final scene, is the only actor whose scenes were unaltered with both versions. Therefore the footage of him in the Spanish version is simply archival footage taken from the original version.
The differences between The Big Kick and La Estacion De Gasolina
Having watched the two films side-by-side I was able to determine that for the most part certain shots were filmed (mostly with Harry Langdon) only once, often where no dialogue was needed. In these instances the footage was simply duplicated into the Spanish print (in other words it was not re-filmed but rather re-used, therefore it could be considered archive footage rather than unique footage). There is one exception later on when Harry has some brief dialogue in the station with the dummies where they used the original footage and simply dubbed his voice in Spanish. All the shots of the actors in this film where they are speaking in Spanish were re-filmed for this version. Some other small differences were also observed, as I have highlighted here:
[1] Opening credit rolls have different styles of art deco backgrounds. These can be compared here: Original credits and Spanish credits.
[2] The opening intertitle card that introduces the film is different. These can be compared here: Original opening and Spanish opening.
[3] When the bootleggers pull into the service station, they honk the car horn and then leave. The Spanish version is a few seconds longer, with Bob Kortman looking around the car.
[4] When the cops stop their car Edgar Kennedy and Bob O'Conor are in different seats. In the original version O'Conor is driving but in the Spanish version Kennedy is at the wheel.

[5] When the cops arrive at the gas station it's Kennedy that stands up and gets out of the car first, whereas in the Spanish version it's O'Conor. Also, in the Spanish version the car is parked further forwards.

[6] Original: Kennedy bangs on the door and then speaks to Nancy. In the Spanish version it's O'Conor.

[7] In the English version Nancy bangs on the door to get Harry's attention but he asleep while standing up. She has to bang several times before he realises she is there before blowing her kisses. In the Spanish version he sees her straight away and blows her kisses.
[8] This scene is ever so slightly different. After Harry finishes smashing the car with the hammer we cut to a slightly tighter shot where the driver asks him directions. It is almost identical but it is definitely two different takes. In the English version Harry points at the man and says, "Is that all you want?" and then tells Nancy to talk to him "because I am so mad I can't talk".
[9] In the Spanish version we cut to this shot before Harry speaks his lines to Nancy. Both of these shots are exclusive to the Spanish version.

[10] After Nancy gives the driver directions Harry picks up an ice cream. In the original version we then cut to the next car pulling into the station but the Spanish version is a few seconds longer because the driver then says "Gracious, Senorita" before driving away. Nancy then sees the ice cream in Harry's hand and smacks him.

[11] The scene where the two young ladies ask for directions is slightly different as well. One in English, one in Spanish. Different shots.

[12] When these two men sneak out from behind the fence, the English version is a few frames longer. Notice how Jack Hill looks away from the camera. In the Spanish version he doesn't. You would definitely have to be watching these two scene side-by-side to notice this. It is extremely quick, but they are separate takes. Also when we cut back to Nancy and Harry at the station, there is a slight pause from Nancy in the original version when she sees the men before she shows Harry. In the Spanish version we cut to her immediate reaction in seeing the men. When we cut back to the two men, the original version shows Jack Hill speak to Eddie Dunn, but we don't see that in the Spanish version.

[13] Well this one is obvious, right?!

[14] When the two men enter the station the original version shows a long shot with them and Harry & Nancy. The Spanish version offers a close-up of Harry & Nancy without the two men.

[15] The two armed men tell Harry & Nancy they want to talk to them and begin to lead them outside. There is this brief shot cut into the scene, which is only evident in the Spanish version.

[16] After the two men leave the Spanish version has this brief shot of Harry who turns and faces the camera and mutters something inaudible.

[17] Slight difference here where in the original version Nancy puts her left hand up on the bus but in the Spanish version she doesn't.

[18] The next scene has Edgar Kennedy coming out from behind the tree in the original, but it's Bob O'Conor in the Spanish version. O'Conor's scene is significantly much longer than Kennedy's too.

[19] Slight difference in this scene, near the end when the cops are rounding up the bad guys and putting them into the wagon. Two completely different takes. The Spanish version is slightly longer. If you look closely you can just make out Jack Hill holding a rifle in both shots.

[20] Big difference here. At the end, in the original version Edgar Kennedy says to Nancy, "Well little lady I want to congratulate you" before the scene cuts back to Harry inside the station. The Spanish version has Bob O'Conor speaking with Nancy and has more dialogue before we cut back to Harry. Shortly afterwards we cut back to the scene with the two cops and in the original version Kennedy then tells Nancy "We shall see that you are well rewarded". When we see this in the Spanish version there is no dialogue, except that Nancy says "oh" and then kisses Bob O'Conor in excitement.

What the experts say
"It's not great. I admire Langdon's attempts to be original but these films suffer badly from him just not really knowing what he is doing half the time. Some of his scenes are so long they become tedious and slow the plot (what there is of it) down considerably. I try to find at least something positive from Langdon's films and for me here it's the scene with Nelson McDowell who only stops by for directions and ends up having Harry smash his car to bits! The quality of the film is poor. Nobody gets any close-up shots and Nancy Dover has little to do... but then neither does anybody else with Langdon hogging the screen for large chunks of the film." ~ Lord Heath.

Harry Langdon
Harry
Edgar Kennedy
Detective
Nancy Dover
Harry's girl
Bob Kortman
Bootlegger
Sam Lufkin
Bootlegger
Charles McAvoy
Policeman
Nelson McDowell
Motorist with noisy jalopy
Bob O'Conor
Detective
Julian Rivero
Third bootlegger
Jack Hill
Sheriff

UNIDENTIFIED CAST

CREDITS

This page was last updated on: 05 May 2020