Another Fine Mess
 
Series: Laurel and Hardy Distribution: MGM  Director: James Parrott  Cinematography: Jack Stevens
Production: L-36 Type: Sound short Producer: Hal Roach  Editor: Richard Currier
Released: 29 November 1930 Length: 3-reels Dialogue: H.M. Walker Sound recording: Elmer Raguse

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An advert placed in the local newspaper is appealing for a would-be tenant to take up residence in the mansion of one Colonel Buckshot whilst he is away on a safari in South Africa. The Colonel (James Finlayson) is about to get into his waiting cab when he reminds his butler (Eddie Dunn) and maid (Gertrude Sutton) that everything is being left in their care. The cab pulls away sharply with the Colonel in it, much to the relief of the servants.
Stan and Ollie are on the run from a chasing cop after being caught napping in the local park.  The boys make a quick detour when they bump into a different policeman up the road. They find the basement to Colonel Buckshot's house and quickly hide inside it, but inadvertently lock themselves in when the latch on the outside locks shut. The boys make their way through the cellar and into the house and are looking for the exit when the voices of the servants are heard upstairs, prompting Stan and Ollie to quickly hide behind the curtains.
The maid and butler come downstairs, and after a brief argument they leave what they believe to be the now-empty house. The boys go to the front door to make sure the coast is clear so that they can also leave, but upon seeing a policeman they run back into the house where they are effectively trapped.
The boys instead try to leave the house via a window but end up pulling the curtains down and disrupting the roller blinds when another cop is spotted outside.
A wealthy, recently-married English couple (Charles K. Gerrard and Thelma Todd) arrive in a cab with the intention of renting the house. They speak loud enough of their intentions, and having never met the owner of the house.  Ollie overhears this and puts a plan into action, leading Stan at pace upstairs to dress into the butler's clothing. (In doing so his momentum smashes Stan head-first into a wall - see favourite bit).
Stan answers the door and tries to dissuade the couple from coming in, but after again being reminded of the police presence in the area he quickly ushers Lord and Lady Plumtree into the house.  Put on the spot, Stan calls after 'Colonel Buckshot' and tells him the couple wish to rent the house.  An unsuspecting Ollie reluctantly has to play along and directs Stan, whom he now refers to as 'Hives', to show the guests to the solarium.
Ollie's greeting of the newlyweds isn't without humour: "Good morning, many many many good mornings".  After the formal introductions are made, Mrs. Plumtree asks to speak to the maid.  Again caught by surprise, Hardy has to improvise quickly and instructs Stan (or 'Hives') to fetch her.  Of course, Stan hasn't a clue what is going on until Ollie takes him to one side and forcibly explains things.  Upstairs Stan goes to change into the maid's attire.
Downstairs, Hardy is asked to render a song on the piano but his offering of Chopsticks comes to an abrupt end when the force of his playing causes the lid to slam shut on the guests' hand.  Fortunately this slight faux pas is overlooked when Stan, in a state on undress distracts Ollie from upstairs and asks what he is supposed to do with the corset he is holding?  After Ollie tells him to wear it, Ollie begins a guided tour of the mansion with Lord Plumtree in trying to locate the billiards room he has announced he has.
Ollie leads Plumtree upstairs and opens random doors in the hope of establishing such a room, only to find Stan in an even more state of undress.  One more door, and a window later Ollie begins to backtrack along the hall, arm around the Lord when Stan - now dressed in full maid's uniform comes out of his room.  Stan gives Plumtree a courtsey, resulting in his underwear falling to his kness before flying head-first down the stairs.




Now downstairs, Laurel has adopted the role of the maid and is seated on a sofa besides Mrs. Plumtree (Todd): Todd: "How long have you been here?"  Stan: "About half a year, to be exact three months"She questions Stan on his (her) duties, the number of bedrooms and the Colonel's affairs.  Thelma giggles (for real) and enjoys the mostly ad-libbed scene with Laurel here with some comical pushing and shoving between them.  In the conclusion, Stan/Agnes agrees to Lady Plumtree's request for him/her to stay on as the maid through the duration of her renting the house.
Hardy and the Lord have now come downstairs in pursuit of the billiards room, where Ollie shows him into yet another room, this time full of stuffed animal heads.  Ollie has seemingly lost his billiards room, but Plumtree confesses it doesn't matter because he never plays the game anyway.
The four of them meet up again in the living room where the subject of rent, wages and horses is discussed between Ollie and Lord Plumtree.  Ollie tells butler Hives to call for maid Agnes, so Stan calls her name aloud. After some shoving, Stan bursts out crying and begins to undress yet again, returning soon after in the maid's uniform.
The real owner of the house, Colonel Buckshot has arrived back home suddenly having forgotten to pack his bow and arrow and rings the doorbell.  When Stan, dressed as the maid answers the door the Colonel is taken aback by his presence and even moreso when the stranger-in-drag asks if he would like to see Colonel Buckshot?  Believing the new caller is another would-be tenant, Ollie answers the call and adopts his role as the fake Colonel.  A painting on the wall depicting the man in the hallway with a hunting rifle and dead animal is enough to convince both Stan and Ollie they are now in a world load of trouble.  Stan opens the front door as Ollie shoves the Colonel outside.
Stan and Ollie run back through the house and hide in a side room (the one with all the stuffed animal heads) as the Colonel breaks into the house to find Plumtree.  The Colonel grabs a gun from his cabinet and chases Plumtree out of the house as the police rush in to find the boys disguised as a goat (actually a gnu).
Stan and Ollie run from the house and commandeer a tandem bicycle being ridden by two gentlemen (one is Bobby Burns). Together they ride along the street, still dressed in their animal costumes and pursued by the police, who continue to fire shot in their direction.  Eventually this leads them into a train tunnel, where the boys emerge on the other side stripped of their clothing and with the cycle separated by passing train.

Favourite bit
Ollie grabs Stan and runs towards the stairs but as he does the momentum and speed causes Stan to slam face-first into the wall. The things they did for comedy were painfully outstanding!

Facts
Production L-36 - Laurel and Hardy series.
Copyrighted December 9, 1930.
Filming dates
September 22 - October 6, and October 27 - November 4, 1930.
Trivia
Based on a sketch entitled "Home From The Honeymoon", written by Stan's father, Arthur Jefferson. Jefferson later saw this movie and did not like it.
The RHI "The Essential Collection" DVD features two audio commentary tracks: a) Richard W. Bann; and b) Richard W. Bann & Piet Schreuders.
It is possibly because of the title of this film why so many people mis-quote Ollie's famous line of "another nice mess".
This is basically the 'sound' version of an earlier film of Laurel & Hardy's, Duck Soup.
The exterior of the mansion is located south of what is now the Santa Monica Freeway at 3500 Adams. It's near Crenshaw Boulevard and was once the home of Warner Brothers musical director Busby Berkeley. The interior shots of the mansion were shot on stage #2 of The Hal Roach Studios.
The Crane twin sisters who introduce the film were paid $15 each for their contributions. This was the only Laurel & Hardy film to have them talk over the opening credits.
The scene where Stan Laurel is dressed as the maid and talking to Thelma Todd on the couch was largely improvised, If you look closely you can see Todd begins to crack up after Stan says about the previous maids having "housemaid's knees".
Joe Mole, a former vaudevillian had a specialty of performing stunts on bicycles. That is him and his brother dressed at the goat at the end of the film riding out of the railway tunnel.
The final bicycle ride takes place at the Hill Street tunnel at the Bradbury Mansion.
The copyright year shown on the MGM title card says 1931.
The events of the film take place on a Tuesday, according to Lord Plumtree.
The address of Colonel Buckshot's residence is 1558 Poinsettia Avenue, Beverly Hills, California, USA.  There is/was no such address in that area, but there was a Poinsettia Avenue in Culver City, Los Angeles, one block away from the Hal Roach Studios.

This is the screenshot seen in the Italian version of the film:

The Colonel gets in to a car from The Yellow Cab Company, number 1143. The servants leave in a Black & White cab approximately four minutes later.
Hanging on the basement wall is a broom, a pair of garden shears, a hoe and a shovel. A piece of hose is wrapped around the hand rail.
There are 17 stairs in the Colonel's home. There are eleven steps that lead up from the road to the front door.
Upon arrival at the house, it is Plumtree who rings the doorbell, whilst his beautiful wife fans herself off.
During the film Thelma Todd refers to her husband firstly as Ambrose, and then later as Leopold. It is assumed that Todd was mistaken due to learning her dialogue from a slightly different shooting script.
Taking into consideration that Hardy's character is a vagrant at the beginning of the film, it is remarkable that he is so competent at playing the piano.
The picture hanging on the wall to the left of the door where Stan is seen in a state of undress upstairs is obviously not an original painting. You can see the crease marks in the paper at the top-left. Ollie refers to it as "Physic At The Well".
Thelma Todd's character just seems to vanish towards the end of the picture without explanation.
Throughout the course of the film Plumtree's name is mis-quoted on 4 occasions, thus:
"Lord Appletree" (Stan - and later by Ollie), "Lord Figtree" (Ollie) and the best one...
Ollie: "Agnes, meet your new master, Lord Flagpole Crabtree"
I do love the floor slide Stan does after he and Ollie run back down the hallway towards Lord Plumtree after the Colonel shouts for the police near the end.
Alternative versions
The colourized version of the film is missing some short scenes: immediately after James Finlayson says goodbye to his butler and maid at the beginning. The original version sees him getting into the cab and it leaving, followed by some dialogue about how South Africa has their sympathy. Also later on when Hardy is showing Lord Plumtree around the house he opens a door upstairs to reveal Stan in a state of getting undressed; this scene is also absent from the colourized version.
The original UK VHS edition of this film (released on the Virgin/VVL label in 1991) omits 16 seconds in the scene where Hardy is looking for his billiard room. He opens the door and escorts Plumtree into a room and says "Now what did I do with that billiard room?" The scene runs from 18:32-18:48 on the UK DVD. The scene is restored in its entirety in the DVD edition.
What the experts say
"Often slow paced but ultimately enjoyable." ~ Lord Heath.

Stan Laurel
Stan / Hives / Agnes
Oliver Hardy
Ollie / the fake Colonel Buckshot
Thelma Todd
Lady Plumtree
James Finlayson
Colonel Wilburforce Buckshot
Charles K. Gerrard
Lord Leopold Ambrose Plumtree
Harry Bernard
Policeman
Bobby Burns
Bicyclist
Betty Mae Crane
&
Beverly Crane
Talking titles
Eddie Dunn
Meadows, the butler
Gertrude Sutton
Agnes, the maid
  Bob Knight
Policeman
 
  Bob Mimford
Policeman
 
   
UNIDENTIFIED CAST

CREDITS POSTER & COLORIZED TITLE CARD


DVD COMPARISONS

Acknowledgements:
Laurel And Hardy: The Magic Behind The Movies by Randy Skretvedt (book)

This page was last updated on: 29 November 2017