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



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See also La estacion de gasolina


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.
Also filmed in Spanish as La estacion de gasolina.
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.
There is a scene early on where Harry waters the plant and then puts a bit of the water on his ear. He then uses a hose to dry himself and deliberately uses it on his ear - was this a deliberate joke to indicate that he was "wet behind the ears"?
The driver in the gas station asks the distance to Petaluma. Petaluma is a city in Sonoma County in California's Wine Country.
An extremely rare example of Jack Hill with a line of dialogue comes up in this film! Around the 10 minutes-mark he replies to a line spoken by Baldwin Cook, who warns Harry and Nancy about bootleggers being in the area; "They'd just as soon kill you as not. So be careful!"
I know this may seem a bit pedantic but I thought the the sign which reads "No Smoking - Stop Your Motor." ought not to have had a full stop after the word motor. It just looks odd.
One source lists Julian Rivero and Eddie Dunn as being in the film. Rivero only appears in the Spanish-language version, and Dunn doesn't appear at all.
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 O'Conor
Detective
Baldwin Cooke
Sheriff
Jack Hill
Sheriff
Bob Kortman
Bootlegger
Sam Lufkin
Bootlegger
Charles McAvoy
Policeman
Nelson McDowell
Motorist with noisy jalopy

UNIDENTIFIED CAST

CREDITS

STILLS
(click any image to enlarge)

SHOT ON LOCATION
(click any image to enlarge)


Acknowledgements:
Richard Finegan (2 stills)

This page was last updated on: 05 May 2020