Series: Laurel and Hardy
Director: George Marshall
Producer: Hal Roach
Photography: Art Lloyd
Editor: Richard C. Currier
Sound: James Greene
Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Billy Gilbert
Released: 31 December 1932
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: L-11
Filming dates: October 31 - November 11, 1932
Towed In A Hole
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The boys are driving slowly along pulling their fresh fish business behind them in a trailer. Ollie is singing whilst Stan blows a horn after every line. "Fresh fish, caught in the ocean this morning. Salmon, mackerel, swordfish and tuna". Ollie is content that for the first time in their lives they are a success. Stan seizes the opportunity to improve further upon the mood of his companion by offering a potential money-spinning idea to further boost their business: by catching their own fish and selling them on to the customer at a clear profit. The idea intrigues Ollie so much that they decide to go to the local scrap merchant to purchase a somewhat second-hand, dilapidated wooden boat (for an undisclosed amount) from owner Billy Gilbert.
After a quick checking over Ollie decides they should fill the boat with water in order to determine where the leaks are. Stan has a fight with the hissing hose as he turns it on, and after eventually getting it under control is instructed to hand it to Ollie through the porthole. Believing he is acting efficiently, Stan first turns the water spray on and then pokes the hose through the hole, soaking Hardy. Ollie reprimands Stan and relegates him to deck scrubbing duties whilst he attends to painting the rudder. Unaware it is attached to a protruding pole on deck, Stan shifts it out of his way, sending the bottom half straight into Ollie's face and into the pot of paint nearby on the ground. This is the catalyst of the atmosphere which begins between them!
The two become involved in a stand-off up on deck with the two men exchanging water soakings of each other (see favourite bit). They call a truce, which is short-lived as Ollie slips on Stan's soap and flies off the deck, bucket in hand, straight into the paint on the ground again. Later, Ollie is fixing the holes in the side of the boat whilst Stan busies himself up on the deck scrubbing the anchor before lowering it through the cabin. But the weight of it carries both he and the chain down and land on top of Ollie who is under the boat mending holes. This is the final straw for Ollie, who confines Stan to the cabin with a black eye!
Ollie sits and paints the mast as Stan sits below chalking diagrams on the wall whilst engaging in a game of tic-tac-toe with himself. Stan theh manages to get his head trapped behind the foot of the mast (the very one that Ollie is still painting up above). Armed with a hand saw he begins the process of freeing himself from his predicamanet just as Ollie has climbed to the very top of it. Crash! Stan now has two black eyes and is tied to a barrel to prevent further interference. Finally, Ollie gives in and unties Stan believing he couldn't possibly do anything further to hinder their progress when Stan suggests Ollie raise the sail on the boat to assist with towing it with the car. When Ollie sees the logic in the idea a sudden gust of wind picks up, blows the sail into the car and wrecks both car and boat off-camera. When all seems lost Stan investigates the wreckage to discover the horn he was blowing at the beginning of the film is still intact. Ollie flips.
There really are so many wonderful moments in the short duration that it's hard to choose just one best scene. It has to be the water-exchange. Ollie has come to the end of his tether with regards to Stan's behaviour and empties a bucket of water over Stan's head, Stan replies by emptying the same bucket over Ollie's back. Ollie retaliates by getting Stan to hold the bucket whilst he fetches a small wooden block to wedge Stan's overalls open before tipping another load down there. Stan grabs the hose... It's simply brilliant!
• Copyrighted January 18, 1933.
• The story was written between Stan Laurel and director George Marshall.
• When Ollie stops the car to hear Stan's suggestion near the beginning, a man in the background crosses the road behind them. Other than the three principal actors this is the only other person to be seen in the film (although later when Stan is on deck scrubbing the anchor you can see people very faintly in the distance walking along a road.)
• The scenes involving Joe's Junk Yard were shot at Hal Roach's ranch in November 1932. If you look closely enough you can see the Our Gang schoolhouse during the scene where Stan and Ollie are putting the sail up.
• The name of the boat is Ruth, which could have been an obvious reference to Stan's soon-to-be wife Virginia Ruth Rogers. However, Stan did not meet her until nine months after this film was released so this cannot have been connected.
• Billy Gilbert appears for one scene, approximately 13 seconds of screen time and one line of dialogue.
• I don't know if it's just me but whenever I watch this film it is hard to believe Stan was 42 at the time. His youthful face always made him look much younger - don't you think?
• It strikes me as rather odd that when Ollie is painting the rudder that he places the pot of paint behind him instead of in front of him for easier access to it. We see that it was set up for him to fall into later of course.
• The boys use a nearby chest-of-drawers to climb up onto the boat deck.
• When Stan plays his game of tic-tac-toe with Ollie down below, Stan is "crosses" and wins with a vertical line on the right-hand side of the grid.
• In the scene where Stan traps himself behind the mast pole in his cabin there is a hammer lying on the side, just underneath the diagrams he has chalked on the wall.
• When Stan gets his head trapped behind the mast down below, the marks which were on it previously are not there anymore, meaning this scene was shot out of sequence.
What the experts say
• "Simply brilliant. Classic Laurel and Hardy. Almost perfect." ~ Lord Heath.
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Laurel And Hardy: The Magic Behind The Movies by Randy Skretvedt (book)
Paul Mular (poster)
This page was last updated on: 31 May 2019