|Men O' War|
29 June 1929
|Director: Lewis R. Foster Producer: Hal Roach Dialogue: H.M. Walker
Cinematography: George Stevens Editor: Richard C. Currier Sound recording: Elmer Raguse
|AVAILABLE ON DVD|
|It's a pleasant day in the local park, with boaters on the lake and a band playing in the bandstand. Two young ladies engage in gossip by the small bridge when their conversation is suddenly interrupted by the presence of Stan and Ollie in sailors' uniforms. The boys smile embarrasingly as the girls giggle to themselves before walking off. Ollie then notices an item of women's underwear lying on the floor next to where the girls were standing. Suspecting it must belong to one of the women, he picks them up just as a passing cyclist (Pete Gordon) ditches himself into the water from being distracted by it.
The two girls, who have walked on ahead, have stopped as one of them (Anne Cornwall) realises she has dropped her gloves. Fortunately a passing police officer (Harry Bernard) has found them and is already on his way to reunite them with the owner. When the ladies go in search of their missing item, Ollie seizes the opportunity to give what he believes to be the lost clothing back to the woman after a light interrogation. Before Ollie is able to hand over the underwear, the officer approaches the girls and asks if they have lost anything. They tell him they are missing a pair of gloves and he returns them to her, much to Ollie's surprise.
|Ollie, who up until now has done all the talking, asks the girls if he and Stan can join them at the fountain for some sodas. The girls accept his offer and they walk off as a foursome as Stan ditches the underwear in a bush.
They arrive at the Fountain, a soda shop run by James Finlayson. A quick shuffle through his pockets reveals Stan to have only fifteen cents on him and he calls Ollie outside to explain. When Stan is concerned over how they will pay for their drinks Ollie comes up with a simple-but-selfish solution: Stan must refuse!
The boys go inside and Ollie suggests that he and the two girls each have a soda. He asks Stan what he wants and Stan replies "soda". Having not quite grasped the situation, Ollie once again reminds him of the lack of money to pay for all four of them. They return to the shop where again Stan asks for a soda before Ollie excuses themselves for a third time. At this point the soda jerk (James Finlayson) is growing impatient that his customers are unable to submit their order without arguments. Ollie takes Stan outside again and this time his frustration boils over to the point where he shoves Stan. Stan retaliates by pinching some hair from Ollie's neck. Ollie explains to his dumb friend that they only have "fif-teen-cents". Finally Stan understands!
Stan and Ollie once again go inside the soda place and again Ollie goes through the routine of suggesting three sodas. This time Stan refuses the soda but one of the ladies feels sorry for him and gets him to change his mind, so Stan orders a banana split! Naturally Ollie does his nut and kicks Stan under the counter. Stan kicks him back. Ollie pushes Stan. Stan pokes Ollie in the eye. The sodas are ordered (finally) and Ollie offers to split his with Stan and tells him to drink his half first. Stan hands back an empty glass and explains that his half was at the bottom. Ollie is mad and orders the check. When he sees the bill is 30 cents and realises there isn't enough money to pay for it he tells Stan that he is not in the least bit annoyed and allows Stan to pay for the drinks. Ollie walks off with the girls and leaves Stan to face the music. When Stan sees he doesn't have enough money he has no option but to gamble what he has in a slot machine. He wins the jackpot (really wish it was that easy!) It's a lucky break for Stan.
The second half of the film begins with the boys renting a boat from Finlayson with Stan's winnings. Ollie seats himself between the two ladies and Stan is ordered to row. His first swing of the oar takes Fin's legs away on the dock. His skills don't improve either as he continues to sail around in circles until Ollie takes charge of the situation.
|After a minute or so of rowing in circles the boys see they are not getting anywhere fast and Ollie is no better at rowing than Stan is. Ollie tells Stan to move his position and in doing so gets an accidental oar to his head. Ollie threatens to knock Stan's head off (a somewhat exaggerated over-reaction don't you think?) Meanwhile a confused Fin stands on the dock and does some equally exaggerated double-takes over the boys' antics.
Stan continues to be clumsy with his oars and he and Ollie enter a slapping contest with one another, which develops into a hat fight, which develops into an oar fight. An equally clumsy boater (Charlie Hall) sails backwards into the boys' canoe, knocking a standing Stan and Ollie over. He has the audacity to accuse them of bumping into his boat?! Stan doesn't take too kindly to the accusation - or the name calling that follows it and fills up his hat with water before throwing it in Charlie's face. The ladies cheer and Ollie laughs. This riles Charlie, who takes off Ollie's hat and fills it wil water before throwing it in his face. Ollie responds by hitting Charlie over the head with a cushion from the boat. Charlie returns the favour, so then Stan gets involved and whacks Charlie as well following in quick succession by another from Ollie. Charlie hits Stan over the head with another cushion and causes him to fall down. The war has begun.
Ollie grabs Charlie's oar and snaps it over his knee before handing it back to him; then Stan pushes Charlie in the face as he falls backwards into the lake. Here we go.......!
Charlie gets out of the water and into the boys' boat and continues the cushion fight with Ollie. Ollie swings his cushion so hard that it flies across the lake and smacks another boater (Baldwin Cooke) in the face, causing him to fall into the water as well. This chain of events causes another boat to capsize, emptying another couple into the water.
Seemingly unaware of the carnage they are causing elsewhere, Charlie, Ollie and Stan continue their fight in the boys' boat as the ladies watch on. The other boaters, now in the water, swim towards the boat and all get in. Baldwin Cooke and Charlie Hall square up to one another and go at it. Three more add to the fray (Cooke's wife and the two in the boat they capsized), making 9. Now the ladies are starting to get involved as four more join in from their capsized boats.
A concerned Fin grabs the passing cop to tell them all to stop the fighting before they also end up in the water and make their way to the boat. The cop manages to get on but the boat finally sinks when Finlayson pulls it down. The fight is not concluded as we fade out.
The long scene on the lake with everybody fighting is good enough to qualify as it slowly gets out of hand, but my favourite part is the moment when Stan decides that cushion-slapping should be taken to the next level. He casually walks up to Charlie Hall in the other boat and just pushes him in the face backwards into the water. Let the games begin!
•Filmed May 7-15, 1929. Hollenbeck Park filming dates: May 11-18, 1929.
•Copyrighted July 29, 1929.
•The scenes in the park were shot at Hollenbeck Park near downtown Los Angeles, California, USA.
•The scene involving the sodas and not having enough money to pay for them when Stan and Ollie try to entertain two young ladies on a day out is a re-working of the same scene they used the year before in the silent Should Married Men Go Home?
•Recent aerial photos of the park reveal the bridge seen at the beginning of the film is no longer there.
Did you notice?
•When Ollie picks up the underwear on the path, the sound of somebody playing a ukulele can be heard in the background. In point of fact, the ukulele can be heard previous to that - in all of the long shots. On the close-ups it disappears. It does, however, get louder for some reason when Ollie picks up the underwear.
•The bridge seen crossing the boating lake at the beginning of the film looks quite steep, doesn't it? We don't actually see Stan and Ollie walk across it - they appear from the left of the screen walking towards the two ladies but at no point are they seen on the bridge.
•As Pete Gordon cycles into the lake without looking listen to the very end of the scene before it cuts away to the girls and you can hear somebody giggle. This appears to be close to the camera and microphone and sounds like it wasn't meant to happen, but rather a genuine laugh from one of the film crew. That's my opinion at least!
•Anne Cornwall describes her lost item as being "white, very odd and with a button on the side".
•The sign in the window of the soda shop reads "cigars & cigarettes". There are also 5 stools at the counter.
•When the group arrive at the soda shop, James Finlayson removes his hat to greet them.
•Stan's first line of dialogue comes after 6 minutes when he answers Ollie's enquiry as to how he has only got 15 cents. Stan replies, "I lost the rest".
•When the boys are outside the soda shop Ollie says to Stan he must refuse the offer of a drink, there is a guy sitting behind them at a table. I think this could be Baldwin Cooke. He shows up later as one of the boaters.
•The order of drinks are: Cherry (Greer), Chocolate (Cornwall), Sassafrass (Hardy).
•Charlie Hall is in boat number 45; Baldwin Cooke is in boat number 57.
•I have always felt as though the events in the film take place on a Sunday afternoon, though this is not specified in the script. Does anybody else ever think this?
•As the boats on the lake start to get into trouble there are a number of people on the banks observing the action in the background.
•The final tally of passengers on the boat at the end is 14 (Finlayson doesn't make it on, but had he done so he would have made 15).
•As the group proceed to board the boat they are loaded up with boxes (cigars & chocolates maybe) and flowers for the girls? It is likely these are a result of Stan's slot machine winnings.
|The following three images are courtesy of Rob Lewis (The Laurel & Hardy Magazine) and have been used with permission.
Can I ask that these images in particular not be redistributed in any way without his consent. Thank you.
(images on left ©2012 Chris Bungo - used with permission.)
http://youtu.be/GlQID8knkio (Chris Bungo's 'Then & Now' filming locations)
http://www.laurelandhardy.org/men_o_war_location.htm Rob Lewis (3 captioned stills)
Brad Filippone (observations)
Richard Finegan (3 stills + help and assistance)
This page was last updated on: 12 November 2016