Brats  
 
22 March 1930
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
sound short
2-reels

 

Director: James Parrott  Producer: Hal Roach  Dialogue: H.M. Walker
Cinematography: George Stevens  Editor: Richard C. Currier  Sound recording: Elmer Raguse

AVAILABLE ON DVD


We open with Stan and Ollie babysitting their young children in the downstairs living room one evening.  The boys (or in this case the adults) are sitting quietly in the corner playing checkers whilst their sons play with building blocks in the opposite corner.  Stan is clearly winning the game and Ollie knows it.  Every time he attempts to make a move, Stan anticipates his counter move and causes Ollie to re-think.  Ollie uses a distraction technique to try and throw Stan off his stride but it doesn't work and Ollie has to concede defeat.
A loud crash disturbs their concentration when the brats begin an argument over their building blocks.  Brat Oliver is reprimanded for being a bully and the two respective parents smile at their own children, who are formally introduced to the camera.  The fathers start a new game of checkers as the kids play.  Brat Stan starts building up his blocks whilst brat Ollie looks on, getting more and more intrigued.  As he attempts to join in, brat Stan slams a block down hard on his fingers deliberately, resulting in brat Ollie kicking down the pile of blocks in retaliation.  Angered by this, brat Stan picks up two of the blocks and hurls them in the direction of his playfriend rival, who ducks and causes the flying objects to hit adult Ollie instead.
The kids are once again reminded that if their disruptive behaviour continues they both run the risk of being sent to bed.  The brats agree to play hide & seek, but cannot agree on who should be 'it'.  Another argument ensues.  Brat Ollie smacks brat Stan's head against the side of the wooden sofa, which is returned by a poke in the eye from brat Stan.  Naturally, they are both sent to their room.  In a private moment, away from the brats' eyes, Ollie turns to Stan with "boys will be boys!"  Stan's reply "blood's thicker than water" does nothing to amuse Hardy.  Upstairs, brat Stan has locked himself in the bedroom and assaults brat Ollie's eye with the doorknob.
The two begin to get physical, bringing  more disruption to the checkers game downstairs.  The parents go upstairs to confront the children only for Ollie to receive a flying rollerskate to the face.  Ollie's fury spills over when he threatens to break their necks if the disturbances continue.  Stan offers Ollie some calm advice on how to tackle the escalating situation.  Ollie agrees to play along by offering a nickel to the first brat who can get undressed and into bed.  It works, as the brats compete to win the prize.  The adults leave the brats to get ready for bed, and agree on their new tactics being a winner before Ollie slips on the previously-thrown skate and tumbles off down the stairs (see
favourite bit).
The men turn their attentions to a spot of shooting pool, complete with marshmallows being mistaken for the cue chalk.  Meanwhile, upstairs the brats have spotted an animated mouse running around in their room.  Brat Stan grabs a toy rifle and takes aim as the mouse takes refuge on brat Ollie's back but of course, he misses the target and plugs brat Ollie instead.  With all best intentions to relieve his friend's pain, brat Stan makes matters worse as he disturbs a jar of liniment on the top shelf in the bathroom, which pours down into the pyjama pockets of brat Ollie.  Ollie's agonising reaction leaves only one alternative; Stan runs a bath for him to ease the pain.  Problem sorted, temporarily at least, until Stan realises his sock is caught on the stool Ollie is perched upon.
Ollie takes an unwanted bath, courtesy of Stan's sock-retrieval.  The two brats then get embroiled in a boxing match, oblivious that the bath is filling up with water as their fathers' pool game downstairs is ended with a generous scattering of ceiling plaster on the table.  Up the stairs they march to sort out the situation.  The brats are in bed, pretending to be asleep, both still wearing their boxing gloves.  A last resort to control the situation means Ollie tries to sing the kids to sleep with a rendition of "go to sleep, my baby".  It works - until Stan joins in with his vocals.  It all comes to a very wet ending when brat Stan agrees to go to sleep if he can have a drink of water...



Favourite bit
Ollie has slipped on a roller skate which has landed in a remarkably strategic position at the top of the stairs.  As he descends the stairs he is seen with his legs high up in the air.  It's a cheesey gag to be fair and looks very fake, but it's cute and humourous at the same time.

Facts
•Production L-31 - Laurel & Hardy series.
•Filmed January 21 - February 7, 1930.
•Copyrighted March 31, 1930.
•Also filmed in German as Gluckliche kindheit, and in French as Les Bons Petits Diables, and possibly in Spanish.
•Also released as a silent film.
•The title card and credits were modified in the late 1930s for re-issue. This listing includes the original 1930 credits and card.
Did you notice?
•During the game of checkers, Stan is playing as black and Ollie uses the white pieces.
•When we first see the checkers board it is set up incorrectly.  Play should have a light (white) square on the bottom-right of the board as the player faces it.  In this instance, the board should be rotated 90 degrees for it to be correct.  When the men begin their second game, the board is set up correctly.  A continuity error which I spotted on reviewing the film.
•When we first see the checkers game in progress, Stan has 11 pieces and Ollie has only 4.
•After the brats drop the jug the camera cuts to Stan and Ollie at the checkers board.  Look at the outrageous stack of white chips Stan has in his corner all piled up on one another!
•The clock on the mantle piece says the time is 7:30pm.
•The framed photograph on the mantle piece is that of actress Jean Harlow.
•This was one of the rare occasions where Oliver Hardy shaved his moustache.
•There are some obvious continuity errors with the position of the balls on the pool table between shots.
•The film takes places in Hardy's home.
•The liniment which is applied to Ollie's backside is Doane's from St. Louis, Missouri. 

Stan Laurel
Stan
Oliver Hardy
Ollie
     
Jean Harlow
Photograph

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Acknowledgements:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0020708/ (IMDb.com)

This page was last updated on: 06 August 2015