County Hospital
 
Series: Laurel and Hardy Distribution: MGM  Director: James Parrott  Cinematography: Art Lloyd
Production: L-8 Type: Sound short Producer: Hal Roach  Editor: Richard C. Currier, Bert Jordan
Released: 25 June 1932 Length: 2-reels


....... Stan has taken time out from his busy schedule (!) to go visit his best pal Ollie, during his long hospital convalescence.  Parking his car directly outside the main door (see Did you notice? below) he strolls into reception armed with a small paper bag and asks for directions to Hardy's room.  He is told by nurse Dorothy Layton that he wants room 14 (it's next to the solarium, apparently).  A brief trip down the corridor and he finds room 14, but before he can enter, a nurse holding a small baby emerges from the room.  Stan's expression is one of bewilderment.  Fortunately, to save any misleading embarrassment, the nurse asks Stan what he wants, before she sends him on his way to room 14 on the top floor.  Finally he catches up with Ollie, who by his reaction was not impressed with the sudden unexpected arrival of his visitor.
Ollie: "I didn't expect to see you here today"
Stan: "Well I didn't have anything else to do so I thought I would drop in and see you"
Ollie is clearly not happy with that statement, and asks what Stan has in the paper bag.  He responds by informing Ollie that he has brought him some "hard boiled eggs and some nuts".
Ollie: "Now you know I can't eat hard boiled eggs and nuts!  If you wanted to bring me something why didn't you bring me a box of candy?"
Stan "Well they cost too much"
Ollie: "Well what does that got to do with it?"
Stan: "You didn't pay me for the last box I brought you"
Some classic dialogue - some of the best they ever produced, and it just seemed so flawlessly delivered.
Stan sits beside Ollie's bed and helps himself to the first egg.  This lasts a little over a minute before he digs into the bag for the second.  After pulling the next egg from the paper bag, it rolls off the cabinet and into a water jug on the floor.  He then performs a clever routine in trying to retrieve the egg from the jug without putting his hands into the drinking water which Ollie reminds him he needs to consume.
At this point an unusually polite Billy Gilbert (as the doctor) enters the room to enquire as to the well being of his patient.  Ollie introduces the doctor to Stan, who wastes no time in offending the doctor by calling him "ma'am".  Gilbert informs Hardy that he expects him to stay in hospital for a couple of more months, much to Ollie's relief.
The ever inquisitive Laurel then starts his inadvertent journey of destruction by trying to use a weight on the floor as a nutcracker for the nuts he would like to consume; unfortunately, this object is the counterweight keeping Ollie’s leg suspended above him, and in lifting up this weight Stan causes Ollie’s leg to crash down on Billy Gilbert’s head.
In his increased frustration with his patient's annoying visitor, the doctor forcibly grabs the weight from Stan and in doing so it sends him out of the open window.  Dangling from outside the top floor window, the doctor manages to hold onto the rope attached to the weight, which Stan is holding.  A tug-of-war ensues as Stan tries to pull the doctor to safety, as Ollie dangles inside the room, suspended in mid-air by the calamity caused by Stan's behaviour.  Eventually, and after an eternity (for Gilbert) the inevitable happens: the doctor is saved, but at a cost to Hardy - who slams right through his bed and crashing down onto the floor.  That's it for Ollie; his hospital stay is abruptly terminated and is told to pack up and go.
Stan is asked to fetch Ollie's clothes from the closet, but when he attempts to dress him he establishes the difficulty in trying to put the trousers on over his leg.  Ollie tells him that it is obvious he needs to cut the leg off (see favourite bit below).  Not only does Stan cut the wrong leg off, but the wrong trousers - those belonging to Ollie's eccentric room-mate (William Austin, who shows up briefly in one scene).  The boys do finally leave, with Ollie offering to drive (how??) but his attempts to get comfortable in the drivers' seat land him in the back seat after he falls backwards.  Stan, who has recently sat on a sedative-filled hypodermic syringe in the hospital, is drousy as the effects start to kick in.  He drives home through the traffic, with the car swaying aimlessly all over the street.  After a series of near-hits, eventually their car collides with a streetcar, which bends their car into 180 degrees.

Here we have a stark contrast of one of the best first reels of Laurel and Hardy followed by easily one of the worst.  The hospital scenes are classic workings of familiar routines in which mostly every gag comes off with magnificent timing and finese.  Once the boys leave the hospital and start their journey home with Stan heavily sedated, it gets extremely embarrassing.  Ollie over-acts his scenes whilst the projected background of Culver City traffic is so obvious it is cheesy.
           


Favourite bit    
      Ollie has instructed Stan to cut the leg off his pants in order for him to fit into them, due to his heavily-bandaged leg.  Stan, in his infinite state of dumbness thinks for a split second Ollie means for him to cut his leg off.  The misinterpretation is funny on its own, but what makes it all the more hilarious is Ollie's reaction when he realises what Stan was thinking!
Facts
•Filmed at the end of February 1932.
•Although technically not a direct sequel, most VHS and DVD releases do have Them Thar Hills on the same media as the two films work well together when seen back-to-back.
•The hospital facade seen at the beginning is actually a listed building in Culver City, Los Angeles.  It was also used in Going Bye-Bye! when Stan and Ollie are sitting in their car talking to Sam Lufkin outside the courthouse.
•The original opening title cards read:
"Mr. Hardy fell on his leg, and was laid up for two months.
Mr. Laurel fell on his head - and hadn't felt better in years."
Did you notice?
•Don't you think it just a little odd that Stan takes the most convenient parking spot outside the hospital upon arrival?
•The first line of dialogue is spoken by part-time L&H veteran Frank Holliday as he asks nurse Dorothy Layton, "This way?  Thankyou."
•A total of nine characters are seen in the opening hospital reception.  Note the switchboard operator sitting behind Dorothy Layton.
•The opening scene takes place at 11:25am - as dictated by the large clock in the reception.
•As Stan begins his initial walk down the corridor look out for Frank Holliday, whom he passes.  Holliday is first seen in the reception asking the nurse for directions and is then seen standing against the wall talking to a doctor.
•Ollie is in room 14 on the top floor.  It's easy to remember this when you consider the scene where Billy Gilbert is seen dangling from the top floor window! 
•Having reviewed a number of their films, I think it is clear to see Stan Laurel has a problem with eye contact with other people.  Look at the scene where he is talking to the nurse holding the baby - he is clearly looking at the top of her head as he talks to her.
•When we first see Ollie, he is reading a book.  Unfortunately due to the pixels on the DVD it is hard to determine which book he was reading.
•Stan just happens to keep a salt shaker in his jacket pocket.
•When Stan eats the egg, the camera remains on him for 72 consecutive seconds with only one brief cutaway to Hardy for two seconds.
•With Stan Laurel's reputable eye for production quality, it is surprising he didn't cringe when he saw the final few minutes of the film?
•The final car journey lasts 2 minutes and 3 seconds from the time Stan drives off until the time he crashes.
•Billy Gilbert actually smiles!

Stan Laurel
Stan
Oliver Hardy
Ollie
Billy Gilbert
Doctor
May Wallace
Miss Wallace, head nurse
Estelle Etterre
Nurse
William Austin
Ollie's room-mate
Lilyan Irene
Nurse with baby
Dorothy Layton
Nurse at reception desk
Betty Danko
Desk nurse
Sam Lufkin
Policeman
Frank Holliday
Hospital visitor
Baldwin Cooke
Orderly
Ham Kinsey
Orderly


Acknowledgements:
Jesse Brisson (identification of Betty Danko)

This page was last updated on: 16 November 2016