Standard Cinema Corporation / Film Booking Offices of America (FBO) / Selznick release
30 October 1924
|.......||The film opens on a random tree and then cuts to a bashful Stan who is looking at the camera and smiling. As the camera pulls back we see that he is in fact watering the large tree with a watering can whilst a prison guard with a rifle looks on from afar. Stan walks on towards the next tree and repeats the act of watering it at its base. Suddenly a mean looking convict with striped shirt jumps out on Stan from a bush and signals for him to come closer. Stan begins to act all bashful again but the convict isn't patient enough to wait and so grabs Stan and throws him backwards into the bush. Moments later Stan is thrown back out of the bush wearing the convict's prison uniform as the real convict legs it off down the road wearing Stan's civilian clothes.
Unsurprisingly, the prison guard who has missed the exchange of clothing routine, finds Stan dressed as the prisoner and collars him, despite Stan's protests of innocence.
The next scene shows a 'Merry Christmas Boys' hamper which later reveals it is a gift to the male prisoners at the jail where Stan now resides. The guards in corridor number 10 are busy filling the prisoner's stockings which are hung outside each of their cells. Each inmate is given a pick-axe as a gift, as they are all poked through the end of their hanging stockings on the wall.
|The guards open the corridor doors to allow a selection of women in so they can hand out hampers and gifts to the inmates. Stan gets chatty with his designated woman, who leaves a basket just out of arm's reach of Stan's cell door. He tries in vain to reach it but is thwatred by a passing guard, who slaps his hand. Stan is not preterbed and instead reaches out his leg to hook the basket by its handles, tripping the guard on his return walk. Stan retrieves the contents, a cake, and begins to eat it whilst sitting in his bunk and continues to act bashful. The guard blows up and kicks the empty basket outside in the corridor and storms off.
Stan starts to flick several flies away from his large cake before continuing to consume it, but it is no use. Finally Stan summons over a corridor guard and whispers a request to him. The guard seems more than willing to lend Stan his shotgun so that he can shoot the flies off the cake. Stan takes aim, and fires, blowing the small piece of cake to bits.
Stan is led out into the corridor for a drill with the other convicts, where he backs up into the metal gates and excuses himself in cheeky fashion. He is soon returned to his rightful place courtesy of an armed guard. The other prisoners are marched off down the corridor and Stan is left behind, where he attempts a second retreat. Same result.
Eventually Stan finds his way into the wash room where the others are already in the process of getting bathed. Stan grabs a soap bowl being used by a fellow con and begins to wash. The deprived con quickly grabs the bowl back when Stan isn't looking and resumes his wash. This routine repeats itself to an almost point of boredom and predictability for a while until finally the guard orders Stan to sit down. Stan sits on the bench on which the soap bowl is and flips the thing up into the air and down onto the guard.
Stan walks off into the next room where an electrician is testing out an electric chair. Stan doesn't see him, and continues to sit in the chair just as the switch is turned on - narrowly avoiding electroction at each turn. Stan lets out a rather strange (not to mention extremely embarrassing exaggerated and cringe-worthy) laugh to nobody in particular. But the smiles soon vanish when he realises he has taken brief refuge in the chair.
The electrician asks for Stan's assistance in moving the lever on the control panel over as it is stuck. The two men pull and tug at the stick, with Stan brushing his backside against the live chair. Stan takes to the control panel and the other man is blown through the ceiling after receiving the full dose from the 50,000 volts, courtesy a clumsy Stan.
|•Only portions of the film survive today.|
|•This was the first of twelve films Stan made with Joe Rock.|
|•Stan Laurel helped the writers prepare the film, sets were built at Universal Studios, actors and actresses were hired, costumes fitted - and the date was set for the first day of shooting. Stan turned up at Joe Rock's office covered in scratches and cuts to his face and claimed it was the result of a cat. Rock was suspicious and eventually got the truth out of Laurel that it was in fact Mae Laurel in a fit of jealous rage for not being included in the cast (due to a condition of Stan's contract which he elected to keep from her) that caused the marks. Stan initially succumbed to Mae's wishes that they either appear together in the film or not at all, and so Stan offered to withdraw from the filming so as not to upset Mae. Joe Rock summoned Mae Laurel to his office that same day and told her face-to-face that she was a stone around Stan's neck and that she was holding him back. When Mae stubbornly refused to believe him, Rock tore up Stan's contract and handed it to him in pieces. Although Stan did make the picture with Rock, it was the beginning of the end between Stan and Mae Laurel.|
|Did you notice?|
|•Stan waters three trees in the opening scene.|
|•There are four vertical bars on the cell wall where Stan is imprisoned, on corridor number 10.|
|•Stan's face paint is very pale, much like Larry Semon's of the era.|
|•There is no mattress in Stan's cell bunk.|
|•The film is set around Christmas time as each prisoner receives a Christmas present. However, the outdoors scenes show the trees are full with leaves, which could not have been possible.|
|•In the cell Stan has a cake, which he breaks in half with his bare hands. A close-up on the cake shows that it has in fact been cut neatly into quarters - which could not have been possible.|
|•Why does Stan attempt to wash his shoes in the wash room? I mean, is there a point to it?|
|•The maximum output from the electric chair is 50,000 volts. That may sting a bit!|
Prison guard in opening scene
Convict in bushes
Prison corridor guard
Steve Rydzewski (identification of Gary Odell)
This page was last updated on: 12 January 2018