The Hoose-Gow  
 
16 November 1929
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
sound short
2-reels
 

Director: James Parrott  Producer: Hal Roach  Story: Leo McCarey
Cinematography: Glenn Kershner, Len Powers, George Stevens  Editor: Richard C. Currier  Sound recording: Elmer Raguse

AVAILABLE ON DVD


Laurel and Hardy are on their way back to prison (the same one they escaped from two years earlier in The Second Hundred Years).  They arrive all tangled up in the back of the police wagon and finally dismount after some pushing and shoving between them.  The guard (Tiny Sandford) isn't impressed.  Stan, not wanting to feel intimidated by the larger man, argues his case and protests his innocence.  Ollie tries to silence his friend but still Stan persists.  The boys resume their assault on one another but a mis-placed kick from Ollie lands in the seat of the guard's rear-end.  Sandford separates the boys from the rest of the prisoners and threatens to deal with them later.
During this time the opportunity arises for Ollie to explain to Stan that he has been given two apples from a fellow prisoner (Leo Willis) as a signal to throw over the prison wall. This will alert two men on the other side to lower a rope ladder for their escape; but the guard sees Ollie with the apples and snatches one of them from his hands.  The other is well hidden - inside Stan's mouth.  Stan is ordered to "cough it up" by the guard.  Despite Stan's genuine attempts to do so, he cannot get the lodged apple out of his mouth.  Panic sets in as both Hardy and Sandford tries to help Stan, but to no avail.  Finally Stan elbows the guard in the stomach, which brings about a kick to Stan's backside.  This does the trick.
The guard tells the boys that they will not be allowed such luxuries as apples during their stay at the prison before throwing them (the apples!) over the wall, little realising that this act is the signal for the two men on the other side to throw over a rope ladder intended for Stan and Ollie's escape.
Over comes the ladder, up goes the guard, away run the criminals, down goes the ladder with the guard on.  Sandford comes running out after the two men who have fled on foot, minus their ladder.  Stan and Ollie have followed the guard out of the gate and are given a momentary glimpse of unexpected freedom before Sandford realises his error and shoots them both.  The boys soon change their minds and return.
As the boys adapt to prison life they are seen each with a pick-axe, digging rocks by the side of the road with the rest of the convicts.  Armed with the smaller axe, Stan wastes no time in getting himself into inadvertent trouble when he chops through Ollie's hat after it falls from his head.  With such delicate timing on Stan's part, he then hooks onto Ollie's jacket as well!  Ollie decides to swap tools with Stan, in the hope that no more 'accidents' will occur.  How wrong he is.  A sharp prod to Ollie's rear-end from Stan's new pick-axe brings about further indignity.
An understandably frustrated Ollie offers Stan a shovel and quips he cannot possibly do any harm with that.  Wrong again!  As the boys go back to labouring, the dinner gong is sounded (by a monster-resembling Dick Sutherland), which signals the end of the boys' troubles and time to eat.  Of course, Stan and Ollie are the last to arrive at the tables for their food, but are directed by a helpful con to a vacant table nearby for their dinner.  The table, which has just been vacated by the guard is now occupied by Stan and Ollie.  They sit down and waste no time in getting comfortable.  Stan removes the top from the pepper canister and Ollie suffers from it when he goes to pour it onto his own food.
The guard Sandford returns, after receiving news of a surprise visit by the governor later on, to find his chair taken.  He barks at the boys to get away from his table, with a flailing leg in Stan's direction as he helpfully returns the guard's knapkin.
With their bellies rumbling, Ollie pleads with the menacing-looking cook (Dick Sutherland) for some food.  He instructs Ollie to chop him some wood in exchange for some food, with the promise that more wood means more food.  The boys go and find a large tree, armed with a small axe.  Stan finds a small piece of wood and attempts to chop it before Ollie remonstrates with him and instead takes matters into his own hands.  Ollie starts chopping the tree himself, with Stan frequently putting himself in harms way!  After a few chops the tree begins to fall... with Charlie Hall perched atop of it in a lookout!  The timing couldn't have been worse, as the governor (James Finlayson) arrives with his entourage at that very moment.  Two poshly-dressed women get out of the car and stop by the side of the road where Stan and Ollie are digging rocks.  The men are more impressed than the women are!
No matter where Ollie stands, the end of Stan's pick-axe always manages to find his denim jacket, get hooked up in it and rip it to pieces.
Finally, Ollie takes the 'weapon' and launches it through the air to get it as far away from him as possible. Unfortunately, this act of aggression leads to unexpected trouble when it embeds itself into the governor's car.
Stan points his finger accusingly at Ollie, who realises what he has done.  Ollie removes the offending pick-axe from the car as water starts to gush out of the hole left behind.  Helpful prisoner Leo Willis suggests the boys fill the hole with rice in order to stop the flow.  Ollie sends Stan to retrieve some from the cook's tent, whilst Ollie remains at the car.  Stan returns with the packet of rice and the two men pour it into the hole.
The method works, and just in the nick of time too because no sooner do they plug the hole, the governor returns to his car to leave.  However, when the driver starts up the engine, the rice begins to pour out of cap on top of the carburettor.
An embarrassed Sandford summons Stan over to the car and barks "Did you do that?" before kicking him into the puddle of gooey rice on the ground.  This is the catalyst for the messy events that follow.  Stan stands up to Sandford and throws rice at him from close range.  Stunned, Sandford throws some rice back at Stan but misses, hitting the governor instead.  Govenor Finlayson throws some rice at Sandford, misses, and instead hits Ollie.  Then all hell breaks loose!
Ollie hits Sandford, Fin hits Ellinor Vanderveer, Vanderveer hits Symona Boniface (who by this time is laughing like a mad cuckoo), Boniface hits one the prison officials.  His wife hits Leo Willis, Willis hits another official wearing a top hat; he throws at Sam Lufkin, misses, and hits Stan in the face; Stan then hits Sandford (again!); Sandford hits Hardy, and after that it's pretty much out of control!
The prisoners by the side of the road are loving every minute of it, as rice flies, faces are smothered, and the whole place becomes a battle ground of immaturity and over-reactions.
During the rice fight, Stan and Ollie take advantage of the distraction to escape and run off to hide away in the back seat of the governor's car.  Soon after, the governor takes guard Sandford and flees for the car.  He reverses into a truck, which spills two barrels of paint onto the prisoners and exposing them crouched down in the back seat.
The film ends in complete silence (though a musical cue was added to some later prints for effect).




Favourite bit
Stan retaliates against guard Sandford by deliberately splatting him in the face with rice from close range after being kicked to the ground.  Given Tiny's intimidating size, and Stan's stature, it's always funny to see Stan take on a much bigger man!

Facts
•Filmed August 30 - September 14, 1929. [source: Randy Skretvedt]
Did you notice?
•The license plate of the police vehicle bringing the prisoners into the prison at the beginning is 17-118.
•The prison in the film is the very same one as seen in The Second Hundred Years.  Need proof?  See here:

•There are 12 prisoners in the wagon that arrives at the prison.  Three men cling on to the back, along with two guards.  Can you imagine that scenario today with all the Health & Safety standards in the workplace?!
•Do you not think for a man the size of Tiny Sandford that he over-reacts just a little when Stan steps on his foot at the beginning?  He acts as though someone dropped a brick on his shoe from a big height.
•When the ladder is thrown over the wall at the signal of the apples, Tiny Sandford turns to Stan and remonstrates with him, though there is no dialogue.  I have always found this brief scene to be quite out of place.
•When the dinner gong is sounded, eighteen prisoners run towards the camera, and with Stan and Ollie at the rear, that makes 20.
•Before the boys start chopping the tree you can see the axe marks are already present.
•Don't you just love the way Ollie tells Stan off for attempting to chop the small piece of wood next to the tree?  "No, no, no, no, NO!"
•The dress worn by Symona Boniface reveals a considerable amount of cleavage - especially as she gets out of the governor's car upon arrival at the prison camp.
•The warden's car license plate is 1U.92.12 California 29.
•The lunch scene with the pepper shaker is reminscent of their scene in You're Darn Tootin'.

Stan Laurel
Stan
Oliver Hardy
Ollie
Tiny Sandford
Warden
James Finlayson
Governor
Baldwin Cooke
Prisoner
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/ Charlie Hall
Prisoner/Treetop lookout
Sam Lufkin
Prison camp officer
Symona Boniface
Party guest
Leo Sulky
Prison guard
Blackie Whiteford
Prisoner
Dick Sutherland
Cook
Ellinor Vanderveer
Party guest
Leo Willis
Leo, prisoner
Eddie Dunn
Prisoner
Ham Kinsey
Prisoner
 
Charles Dorety
Prisoner
 
  Retta Palmer
Party guest
 
  Chet Brandenburg
Prisoner
 
  Ed Brandenburg
Prisoner
 
  Tiny Ward
Prisoner
 
     
UNIDENTIFIED
Prisoner
UNIDENTIFIED
Prison officer
UNIDENTIFIED
Men with rope ladder




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Acknowledgements:
"Laurel And Hardy - The Magic Behind The Movies" by Randy Skretvedt (book)
Richard Finegan (still)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Symona Boniface, Charles Dorety and Ham Kinsey)

This page was last updated on: 31 October 2015