Berth Marks  
 
01 June 1929
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
sound short
2-reels
 

Director: Lewis R. Foster  Producer: Hal Roach  Story: Leo McCarey  Dialogue: H.M. Walker
Cinematography: Len Powers  Editor: Richard C. Currier  Sound recording: Elmer Raguse

AVAILABLE ON DVD


Stan is waiting at the railroad station for Ollie when the station master announces (in an undecypherable tone) that it is time to board the train which has just rolled in.  Ollie arrives but despite his best efforts he cannot locate Stan.  Frantically searching the station grounds Ollie has all but given up when the two bump into each other.  As the train departs Stan drops his satchel containing the sheet music which accompanies the fiddle he has with him, leading the boys to scramble around trying to pick it up before finally boarding the in-motion train.  Once onboard they encounter the conductor who asks to see their tickets.
Conductor: "Pottsville?  What are you fellas going to do in Pottsville?"
Ollie: "We're a big time vaudeville act"
Conductor (sarcastically): "Well I'll bet you're good"
The conductor leads the boys off to find their berth but a struggle between Stan, Ollie and the fiddle accidentally tears down a curtain, exposing a young lady in her bed.  Her scream scares the boys off as they continue to search for their bunk.  Stan then inadvertently walks into the wrong room where yet another young lady in bed screams.
This time her man (Charlie Hall) reacts by coming out and ripping the jacket of the first man he sees (Harry Bernard), assuming he was the culprit.  This one incident escalates into a mass-tearing of clothing throughout the entire train which only ends in the penultimate scene when nearly every passenger (and conductor) has been assaulted!  Finally, the conductor leads Stan and Ollie to their berth, where Ollie tries to assist Stan in climbing up on top through a series of manoeuvres such as cupping his hands and getting Stan to spring up, and going down on all fours whilst Stan stands on his back for leverage.
Once Stan is up (after cheekily taking off his coat whilst standing on Ollie's back) he tries to hoist up Hardy, but his weight is too much and they both end up back on the floor in a heap despite the brief offer of help from a passing porter with a small ladder.  They do finally get up into their berth and begin the painfully slow process of undressing so that they can retire to bed for the night.  Meanwhile the porter returns to the carriage and pinches their shoes before returning to his cabin and throwing them out of the window as he sees the state they are in!
Up in the berth, Ollie is crowding the area as he tries to pull of his pants and shoving Stan into the side of the wall.  Stan is himself getting into difficulty as he ends up with clothing on his head and being pretty badly bullied by Ollie's short temper it has to be observed.  This goes on for several minutes before they eventually settle.  Just as they do the call goes out from the conductor that Pottsville is approaching and no sooner do the boys get comfortable they have to get dressed again to get off the train.
The conductor goes to instruct the passengers in the carriage of the next stop and is met with a multitude of torn clothing and fighting among them, barely emerging on the other side as he gets through the crowd.  Out on the platform of Pottsville and still undressed, Ollie enquires to the whereabouts of the missing fiddle.  Stan says he must have left it on the train.  Unamused Ollie rolls up his sleeves as a sign he intends to punish Stan, who has fled down the track on foot.  A well-aimed rock is hurled by Ollie and knocks Stan's hat off.  Stan motions a retaliation but Ollie takes chase as Stan flees into the distance.

All things considered it's probably the least funniest of all the boys' sound shorts.  Slow and desperate, it fails to make an impression.
           


Favourite bit
It's very brief, blink and you'll miss it but as the boys are clearly struggling to get undressed in the crowded berth Stan grabs Ollie's trousers and throws them at him rather hard.  Ollie reacts quickly by grabbing the trousers and slapping Stan across the face with them.  After all that poor Stan has had to endure throughout this ordeal I don't blame him for being just a little snappy!

Facts
•Production L-24 - Laurel & Hardy series.
•Filmed April 15-18, April 22 & 24, 1929.
•Copyrighted December 9, 1929.
•Also released as a silent film.
•Reissued in 1936 with new soundtrack music.
•This was the second Laurel and Hardy sound short released.
•The long second-reel where Stan and Ollie undress and prepare themselves for bed in the upper berth of the train was re-worked into a later film, The Big Noise.
•Much of the dialogue was improvised on the spot.
•Some sources claim Paulette Goddard appears in the film as a train passenger.  It seems, however that nobody has been able to successfully identify her.
Did you notice?
As the train leaves the station and Stan is running to catch up listen carefully and you can hear somebody yell "Bye Ollie".  The scene was shot in the public station of Santa Fe, California with a large gathering of people who were amused by their antics.  Unfortunately the microphones picked up the sounds of those (some of the children present can also be heard on the soundtrack) who had gathered to watch the filming.
•The berth in which the boys undress is in carriage number 754.
•The b&w print of the film features a long-shot of Pat Harmon at the beginning stating the journey of the train.  When he appears to say 'New York City' it is followed by 'All aboard' (Ollie then asks if the train goes to Pottsville").  In the colourized print of the film it cuts to a close-up shot of Harmon as he says 'All aboard'.  It was from this alternate take I was able to grab his screenshot for his page.

Stan Laurel
Stan
Oliver Hardy
Ollie
Charlie Hall
Passenger
Harry Bernard
Passenger
Baldwin Cooke
Passenger
Silas D. Wilcox
Conductor
Pat Harmon
Station Master
Sammy Brooks
Midget passenger
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/ Eleanor Fredericks
First screaming woman
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/ Jack O'Brien
Man who trips over Stan's satchel
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/
Matthew 'Tijuana' Jones
Train porter
     
UNIDENTIFIED
Santa Fe conductor
UNIDENTIFIED
Passenger with crumpled straw hat
UNIDENTIFIED
Charlie Hall's wife
UNIDENTIFIED
Sleeping man in upper berth
 
UNIDENTIFIED
Fighting passenger #1
UNIDENTIFIED
Fighting passenger #2
 





 
Acknowledgements:
Laurel & Hardy - The Magic Behind The Movies by Randy Skretvedt (book)
Richard W. Bann (identification of Eleanor Fredericks)
Randy Skretvedt (identification of Jack O'Brien)
Jim Clewer (identification of Matthew 'Tijuana' Jones)
John Field (stills)

This page was last updated on: 19 March 2018