Night Owls  
04 January 1930
sound short


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


The chief of police is not happy.  A spate of burglaries in his neighborhood without arrests gives him cause to chastise the local officer (Edgar Kennedy) and warns him that one more incident like this will see him promptly fired.  His fellow officers rib him by implying that he is so bad that the only way he could ever get a robbery charge to stick would be for him to stage it himself.  Cue the world's most gullible candidates asleep on the park bench.  Officer Kennedy wakes them both and tells them they run the risk of ninety days in jail for vagrancy unless they 'do him a favour' in return for the officer turning a blind eye.
Ollie gives Stan a look which either suggests he is really grateful for the offer - or really suspicious that an officer of the law is trying to bribe him.  The proposal is simple: the boys must go and rob the chief's house and then allow themselves to be caught in the act by the policeman, which will put officer Kennedy back in the good books of his superior.  Ollie naturally questions what will become of him and Stan to which he is assured the whole thing will be fixed.  Stan smells a rat and flatly refuses, which gives the officer no alternative than to revert back to plan A and arrest them for sleeping on the park bench.
Ollie realises they are in a no-win situation and after consulting with Stan the boys agree to adhere to the cop's instruction and rob the house under the cover of darkness.  They are lead to a back-alley where a row of dustbins provide ample evidence of their whereabouts owing to the amount of times they are kicked over, fallen upon and trashed.  Officer Kennedy leaves them to their devices as Stan climbs the wall which is on the boundary to the property, aided by a nervous Ollie.  One well-timed feline and a pair of ripped pants later, the two of them end up falling through a greenhouse on the other side of the wall, waking both the police chief (Randolf) and his servant (Finlayson).  Fin goes to the window to investigate the disturbance and observes two cats walking across the wall.  Ollie suggests he and Stan pretend to be cats in order to cover their presence so they both begin making meowing noises.
The high-pitched squealing attracts the wrath of the butler who throws a slipper at them at the insistence of the police chief who is trying to get back to sleep.  It scores a direct hit on top of Ollie's head, but despite this they both continue to make a noise, so Fin throws another - and this time hits Stan on the head.  Angered by the direct shot, Stan retaliates by throwing the slipper back, much to the bemusement of the servant.  Fin throws a third, which this time is countered by Stan wanting to chuck a brick back before Ollie stops him.  They manoeuvre their way to an open window as Stan climbs into the house through the conveniently-left gap.  Upon passing the candle to Stan, the flame catches the curtains and sets them on fire briefly before some quick thinking (and even more conveniently-handy water in a goldfish bowl) by Stan puts out the flame with one swift motion.  Of course, Ollie takes the full load and is drenched.  Fearful of a counter-attack from Ollie, Stan shuts the window from the inside to prevent being assaulted by his partner.  Ollie signals for Stan to go and open the front door, which he does, but then closes it behind him, leaving them both stranded on the outside once again.  Eventually they do manage to negotiate the window and both get inside the house to begin their thieving, unaware that their officer 'friend' has been knocked unconscious by a falling streetlamp light nearby.
When our bumbling crooks do begin to collect items for their haul they make so much noise they wake servant Finlayson (again), who comes to investigate the noise.  Believing his master has pulled the chord to summon him for his services, he approaches and wakes the chief...

Finlayson: "Did you ring sir?"
Randolf: "No I didn't ring, sir!  Will you get out of here so I can get some sleep!  I believe you're getting old - and nutty!"
The boys resume their business downstairs with Hardy telling Laurel they will sit and wait for Kennedy to show up and how they should not make any noise.  So Stan drops the bag with all the stolen stuff sending the sound of a loud clatter through the room just before Ollie leans back to start off a pre-programmed piano.  Could they be any more discreet?  Fortunately for them the sound of the piano disturbs Kennedy from his comatose state just in time for him to charge into the house as the boys dive out the nearest window.
The chief enters the room, catches the officer with the sack of goodies in his hand and proclaims him to be the neighborhood thief who has constantly eluded the law.  A lucky escape for Stan and Ollie it would seem... except for Ollie's pants, which take yet another indignant ripping as the boys flee back over the wall from whence they came.

Favourite bit
Stan has just climbed up onto the wall when a cat runs across his fingers, scaring the life out of him and causing him to panic and fall.  It's a split second facial expression that does it every time for me!

Blink and you will miss it.

•Filmed October 30 - November 12, 1929.
•Production L-29 - Laurel & Hardy series.
•Anders Randolf in his only L&H appearence died less than six months after this film was released.
•This is the sound short with the least amount of spoken dialogue by Stan and Ollie.
•Copyrighted on January 6, 1930.  However, during the credit roll at the beginning of the film it states a copyright year of 1929.
•Also filmed in Spanish as Ladrones. The Italian version, entitled Ladroni, was probably dubbed.
Did you notice?
•When Ollie shakes hands with Kennedy at the beginning, Ollie uses both hands.
•As the boys and the officer approach the alleyway a bell is heard chiming twelve times.
•With 42 burglaries in the local neighborhood don't you think it odd that the chief of police went to bed and left his downstairs windows open?  The first one is open slightly, but enough for Stan to get into - the second is just ridiculous!
•Did Stan even stop to consider that there may have been a fish in the bowl of water he chucks at Ollie after he sets the curtains on fire?
•When Ollie chases after Stan there is a garden rake on the grass.
•When Fin falls down the stairs look at the vase - when it breaks away you can see some kind of line which is attached to it which pulls it apart.
•The word 'Safeway' is printed on the bag the boys use to burgle the house.

Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Edgar Kennedy
Officer Kennedy
James Finlayson
Anders Randolf
Police chief
Harry Bernard
Baldwin Cooke
Charles McMurphy


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

This page was last updated on: 04 January 2018