.......... ..........
         
    Should Tall Men Marry?    
         
    1928    
         
    Director:  Louis J. Gasnier
Producer:  Hal Roach
Editor:  Richard C. Currier
Cinematography:  George Stevens
   
    Hal Roach Studios/Pathé Exchange
15 January 1928
silent short/2 reels
   
         
       
         
         
....... Ranch owner Joe Skittle (Finlayson) is at home nursing his feet in a tub of water.  Whilst preparing to fill the tub with mustard the powder causes him to start sneezing violently.  The bottles of medicine on the table topple over and his socks even try to make a quick exit from the floor due to the draft!  Outside, a shady character called Snake-tail Sharkey (Stuart Holmes) makes his way to Skittle's house after being accosted by a dog.  He walks in through the open door and after yet another sneeze from Skittle greets the host with a handshake, but then inadvertently squirts a bottle of cream into his face as he sits down on the table beside him.  Sharkey asks Joe for his permission to marry his daughter but is advised to ask her himself.
The daughter in question is the lovely Martha Sleeper who is out on the ranch sitting on a bench under a large tree and being wooed by boyfriend Teddy von Eltz.  Along comes a wandering stranger from Arkansas called 'Texas Tommy' (Stan Laurel) who tries to encourage the bashful beau to offer some affection to his beautiful woman.  To give an example of what he is trying to express, Tommy demonstrates a cuddle on his nearby goat.  Teddy is just about to go one step further (a kiss!) when he notices the girl's father approaching.
Caught in the act of smooching with the cow, the ranch owner (Fin) asks how long the 'romance' has been going on?  The look on Tommy's face shows confusion at first but when he does realise what is implied by the question he tries to explain the misunderstanding.  An exchange of kicks to the rears takes place as the daughter comes over to talk to her father.  He tells her that Sharkey wishes to marry her, but she flatly refuses the request, "not if he was the last man in the world".  Joe walks off and around the corner bumps head first into a mule, causing him to sneeze again before the animal gives chase.  The mule chases him around the house, across the ranch and eventually into a barn, during which time he manages to relay back to Sharkey his daughter's rejection of him.  Then begins the game of hide and seek with the mule who is waiting outside the barn.  Believing the coast is clear Joe makes his exit, though this is short lived as he is soon chased back inside.
As this is situation unfolds, Sharkey emerges from the house and trips over a tiny puppy on the top step before booting it out of the way; an irresponsible action which is seen by the larger dog (previously seen at the beginning), who then chases Sharkey away at speed.  Meanwhile back at the barn, Skittle comes out wearing a fake beard (anybody else wonder where he got it?) as the mule sits waiting patiently, failing to recognise it being the same man who went into the barn.  After a few footsteps the fake beard produces a sneeze and Joe's identity is exposed as the beard flies off.  And so continues the chase...
The daughter at this time is confronted by Sharkey at a nearby barn as he makes his matrimonial interests clear.  Along comes Teddy and a mutual exchange of ill feeling takes place.  The couple mount their horses and ride off as Sharkey's crew of four ranch hands make themselves known.  A young boy fishing looks on with interest at the young couple's playful activity as all of a sudden both parties are ambushed by the Sharkey gang back at the barn.  Teddy is struck by one of the men whilst Martha is pulled inside and momentarily at the mercy of the five-man gang.  Sharkey threatens he that she ought to marry him but still she refuses and after plowing through the men runs off to escape, climbing up on top of the roof via a hatch.  Followed by Sharkey, she grabs an arrow from a weathervane on the roof, detaches it and uses it as a weapon, throwing at her stalker who falls head first into a pale of water.
           



....... Nearby, Joe and Tommy are tending to the mule when the young fisherboy runs over to alert them of the capture of the couple at the barn.  (Watch the dramatic mood of the film suddenly switch as Fin drops a hammer on Laurel's foot!)  The guys mount a horse, and after a couple of attempts to open a gate make their way over to the situation that has developed during which time the gang have recaptured their victim and taken her back inside the barn.  Teddy regains his composure from the earlier assault and makes a vain attempt to get back his girl but he is overpowered, whilst Joe and Tommy continue to argue on horseback en route.  When they arrive and are unceremoniously thrown from the horse they agree to split up in an attempt to avoid being killed together.  Tommy makes his way through the back entrance and manages to snare half the gang with a rope before climbing up to the upper level as Joe ties a big bag of oats to the end of a rop and swings it into the gang at the front entrance.  Tommy removes a wooden hatch and entices a gang member to confront him and as he does he falls through the hole in the floor.  This is followed by a clever gag where Tommy and Joe drop the oats bag on the villain before double punching him to the ground.  Sharkey and Tommy are the left alone in the barn to fight it out with knife and axe, resulting in a draw, whilst Joe sits in a tree and drops on top of two of the gang.  Joe returns to the barn and discovers Tommy hiding under a sack before getting into an altercation with Sharkey outside.  Meanwhile, Joe wanders into the barn and frees the hostages as well as smacking the gang members outside who were dropped on by Tommy from the tree and clubbing another member with a bottle.  Proud of their victory, Joe and Tommy celebrate outside with the daughter and boyfriend despite the occasional interference from Sharkey, who is incapacitated from being tied up.  The film ends when Joe is chased away from the barn by the mule.

I found the film to be more sinister than comical to be fair.  Although Finlayson does have a few 'moments' on screen, it is Stan Laurel who, despite his apparent supporting role, has the better of the scenes.  A lot of his characteristics, such as the sudden bursts of crying, are on show here as well as some good touches of comic timing.  It's an above average film but a below average comedy... if you know what I mean.

Favourite bit    
      Stan Laurel has a comical small role in this film as a farmhand who tries to entice his boss's daughters' beau (I think I said that right?!) to show his woman some affection.  He uses a small cow to demonstrate his suggestions; first by giving it a big cuddle and then by kissing it full on the mouth in order for the man to get the hint.  It's disturbing and hilarious at the same time!

Facts
•This was Stan Laurel's last solo film without Oliver Hardy.
•The film was made in early 1927 when Hal Roach still had his distribution contract with Pathé, but the film was held back from general release to capitalize on the popularity of Stan Laurel's rising fame at that time.
•Stuart Holmes plays a character called Sharkey who is after James Finlayson's daughter.  The year before Oliver Hardy also played a character called Sharkey who was interested in Fin's daughter in No Man's Law.
Did you notice?
•Fin uses Colman's Mustard for his feet.
•When we first see Sharkey he is lighting a cigar.
•Fin sneezes a total of 11 times thoughout the movie.
•The name of the mule is Geraldine.
•There is a large wagon wheel standing up against the side of the barn.
•The inscription on the bag Fin swings into the gang at the barn is RC Seed Oats.

James Finlayson
Joe Skittle
Martha Sleeper
Martha Skittle
Theodore von Eltz
Teddy
Stuart Holmes
Snake-tail Sharkey
Stan Laurel
Texas Tommy
Edgar Dearing
Henchman
  Lew Meehan
Henchman
   
UNKNOWN
Boy
UNKNOWN
Henchman #2