Them Thar Hills  
 
21 July 1934
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
sound short
2-reels

 

Director: Charley Rogers  Producer: Hal Roach  Assistant director: Don Sandstrom
Cinematography: Art Lloyd  Editor: Bert Jordan  Sound recording: James Greene

AVAILABLE ON DVD

Ollie has a severe case of gout and is ordered by his doctor (Gilbert) to take a vacation up into the mountains to get some fresh air and relax.  Of course Stan comes along to make sure that he receives neither!
Doctor: "That's the worst case of gout I've ever seen"
Ollie: "What causes that, doctor?"
Doctor: "Too much high living"
Stan: "Well maybe we should move down into the basement"
Ollie tells Stan to shut up!  Stan lets the doctor out of the apartment and Ollie walks over the sideboard to pour out his medicine.  When Stan distracts him, Ollie ends up pouring the medicine into his upturned hat.  Stan's idea is to buy a cheap trailer to hook on the back of their car so they can take it up into the mountains for the break Ollie has been prescribed.
Ollie assumes the position ready to climb onto Stan's back so he can carry him down to the car, but when Ollie's braces get caught on the furniture, he is catapulted backwards into the bath.  Stan receives a whack over the head with the bath brush from a soaking wet Ollie!
With Ollie's foot heavily bandaged, they set off for the high hills, where just before their arrival some moonshiners have disposed of their liquor in a nearby well before being apprehended by the cops.  Oblivious to this, Stan and Ollie arrive at the location with their camper van towed on the back of their car.
Inside the trailer is a bed, a fold-up table and small kitchen.  Ollie begins to set up the table for a meal whilst Stan draws 'water' from the well.  The two work in unison in doing their own thing, with Ollie setting the table and preparing the beans as Stan begins to make coffee by using the 'water' he has drawn from the well outside.
The silence is broken up with the sound of Ollie's singing whilst Stan makes a mess of the coffee jar by pouring water into it.  Stan also notices that the water seems to be a funny colour and asks Ollie for his opinion.  Ollie takes a drink of it and claims it is the iron in it that gives it the misleading appearance.  He suggests Stan take a drink of it, as it is good for the nerves.  They both agree it tastes delicious and then resume the preparation of their meal, with Ollie taking up where he left of with the tune he was humming before.
Ollie asks for the can opener and receives instead a whisk!  Ollie soon realises the faux pas but carries on with his tune, whilst grabbing the real can-opener and trying to open the coffee jar with it that Stan has mis-placed.  Ollie opens the beans whilst Stan cuts the loaf of bread as he butters each slice.  After a while Stan casually starts to add some pom poms to the tune Ollie is singing.  Ollie lets it go initially but a stern look in Stan's direction dares him to continue.  Stan dares - and receives a second whack over the head (the first being in the bathroom scene earlier) for his troubles.
Stan then tries to chop some wood for the stove so they can heat up the water but is reprimanded for doing it on the surface where the food is.  Ollie tells him to chop it on the floor and so Stan does.  Only trouble is the wood isn't the only thing to be chopped.  Off comes the end of Ollie's left shoe in the process.  Ollie asks where his other shoe is but Stan doesn't know.  He does however offer a temporary alternative - a leather bag, until the chopped shoe can be fixed.
The married couple of Charlie Hall and Mae Busch are walking along the road which the boys drove up earlier in search of some gas for their broken-down car.




By this time both Stan and Ollie are well on their way to becoming drunk, having taken regular sips of the liquor they think is water.  They sit at their table with their plates of beans and just as Ollie goes to take his first mouthful, he spills his plate as Stan pulls the table towards him.
The Halls spot the trailer and head over to ask the boys for some spare gas.  Ollie obliges not only Mr. Hall with the gas but also Mrs. Hall with her request for some water to quench her thirst.  Mr. Hall leaves with the gascan to make the journey back on foot so that he can fill up his stricken car and drive it to pick up his wife later, who has remained behind in the trailer with the boys.  Ollie offers for her to join them for dinner.  Mrs. Bush accepts, stating that she is so hungry she could eat a horse's neck.  When Ollie instructs Stan to get up to let her sit down and then fix their guest something to eat, Stan grabs the axe and is about to head off out to look for a horse.
A short time later Mr. Hall drives back to the trailer to find Stan fetching more 'water' and all three completely merry and apparently intoxicated.  He observes the noise from outside for a few moments before confronting them all over what is going on.  Mrs. Hall is ordered to leave by her husband, but Ollie defends her.  That's when the fun truly begins.
Charlie tells Ollie to mind his own business and berates him for getting his wife drunk before punching him on the nose.  Stan responds by slapping a slice of buttered bread over Hall's head and patting it.  Ollie gets a second punch on the nose for laughing.  Hall then dunks Stan's head in the bucket on the table but Ollie rescues him by slapping Hall's hand.  Ollie receives punch number three.  Stan takes a sharp knife and cuts off Hall's fringe, and with the aide of some molasses, sticks it back on to Halls' chin.  That results in a fourth punch to the nose for Ollie.
Stan then takes the plunger, dips it into the 'water' and slaps it on Hall's forehead; he does look a sight!  It doesn't stop there either, as the boys continue to abuse Hall with cutting his trouser belt and dumping a plate of beans into them.
Hall gets his revenge when he unhooks the trailer from the car, splitting it into half and tumbling Stan and Ollie through the wall onto the ground outside.  Hall receives more molasses over his head, this time from Ollie, who adds feathers from a pillow to it and turning him into a walking chicken!  Hall retaliates by pouring gasoline over Ollie and setting him on fire.  There is only one way to put out the flames - he jumps into the well.  Surely the water from it will extinguish the fire?

Favourite bit
It comes in the final minute of the film where Ollie turns Charlie Hall into a walking rooster!  Not content with having a sandwich plonked onto his head, having his fringe glued to his chin and a sink plunger attached to his forehead, Ollie goes the final hog and covers Charlie from head to toe in feathers, plucked from a cushion.  It's the ultimate indignity in what is a great film.

Facts
•Filmed June 11-20, 1934.
•Filmed in the Santa Ynez Canyon, Los Angeles, California.  Heavy fog during filming caused the production to be moved back to the Hal Roach Studios.
•The 'pom-pom' tune that Ollie is singing is called "The Old Spinning Wheel".
Production L-19 Laurel and Hardy series.
Copyrighted July 18, 1934.

Did you notice?
•I have long debated over the very brief moment when Stan opens the door to let Billy Gilbert out of the apartment in the opening scene.  Gilbert reaches for the knob and sees the door has already been opened for him.  He looks at Stan and smiles, but in the final few frames of the scene - does Billy pull a gritted-teeth face at Stan?  Maybe it's just my imagination?
•Ollie keeps the medicine spoon under his hat on the sideboard.
•At 3:19 - was Stan & Ollie's tumble into the bath filmed at half speed?
•At 16:13 - Ollie's plate falls an instant BEFORE he thumps the table.
•The boys' license plate is California 5W 10 79.
•The Hall's car license plate is: 5W 10 84 - a number very close to Stan and Ollie's.
•When Ollie uses the can opener to open the tin of beans, the tin is upside down.
•Charlie Hall and Mae Busch don't show up until 12 minutes 37 seconds.
•When we see the boys at the dinner table about to start eating Stan pulls the table towards him rather than moving his chair forward.  He did the same thing five years later in the opening scenes of The Flying Deuces.
•There are five round buttons on the front of Charlie Hall's jumper.
•When Charlie Hall returns to the trailer after fetching his car, his jumper is unbuttoned.
•In the scene when Stan, Ollie and Mae Busch are singing merrily at the table, Stan hits a bottle of sauce with a ladel and it spills over onto Ollie.  This looks like a legitimate accident.  Watch how Ollie sees it but doesn't break character and how Stan quickly grabs the bottle and returns it into the upright position.
•The molasses used by Stan to glue on Charlie Hall's hair is a product of Saunders.
•When Ollie begins to pour the molasses onto Charlie Hall's head outside the trailer there is a close-up shot inserted very briefly (@ 18:56) which has a completely different texture to the negative.  It looks very out of place.  Again, @ 19:34 when Charlie tips the gasoline over Hardy's back the same thing happens.

Stan Laurel
Stan
Oliver Hardy
Ollie
Charlie Hall
Mr. Hall
Mae Busch
Mrs. Hall
Billy Gilbert
Doctor
Bobby Burns
Officer
Baldwin Cooke
Officer
Bobby Dunn
Moonshiner
Sam Lufkin
Moonshiner
Eddie Baker
Officer
Richard Alexander
Moonshiner
Ham Kinsey
Stan's stunt double
     
UNIDENTIFIED
Moonshiner #1
UNIDENTIFIED
Moonshiner #2



Acknowledgements:
Will Downing (selected observations from "Did you notice?")

This page was last updated on: 12 May 2017