Laughing Gravy  
 
04 April 1931
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
sound short
2-reels

 

Director: James W. Horne  Producer: Hal Roach  Dialogue: H.M. Walker
Cinematography: Art Lloyd  Editor: Richard C. Currier  Sound recording: Elmer Raguse

AVAILABLE ON DVD


It's snowing hard outside as Stan and Ollie lay sleeping in their warm bed.  That is, until Stan wakes Ollie up with a bout of hic-cups.  This generates a chain reaction where their dog is awoken, and after Ollie tries to quiet it he collapses the bed upon re-entry, spilling a considerable amount of ceiling plaster down onto the sleeping landlord directly beneath their room.  As pets are strictly forbidden in the hotel, the boys are summoned to get rid of their animal or face eviction themselves.
When they plead their innocence the landlord discovers the dog hiding away in a small bedside cabinet and immediately confiscates it and throws it out of the house before retiring to bed.  "If I wasn't so kind-hearted I'd throw you out too!" he barks at Ollie.  Upset, Stan vows to get the dog back, but aware the landlord will hear him Ollie volunteers for the job himself.  Unfortunately as he leaves the house the front door closes shut behind him, locking both he and the dog out.  Ollie signals Stan at the upstairs window to tie two sheets together to make a rope so that they can both return to the bedroom, and after a quick fix Stan lowers the 'rope' and the dog is hoisted to safety.  Content at having retrieved his pet Stan closes the window, leaving Ollie stranded out in the cold in just a nightshirt.
Infuriated, Ollie whistles to Stan to get his attention but the landlord hears and opens the window to see what is going on outside just before Ollie ducks for cover in a nearby bush and pretends to be the dog.  The landlord calls out for the mutt to get away from his window and hurls a plantpot at it, hitting Ollie directly on the head before he retires to bed once more.  Stan lowers the sheets down for Ollie but realises he has a considerable amount of weight to hoist up this time he ties one end around his own waist.  Ollie gives one hard tug on it and Stan ends up flying out of the window but manages to grab hold of the window frame and pull himself back up to safety so he can begin the task of saving his friend from freezing to death.
The boys manage to get themselves back into their room but once again they break the bed and cause the dog to start yapping.  This time landlord Charlie Hall  aggressively confronts them and demands they open the door to let him in.  They hesitate, so Charle takes a run-up and launches himself at their door but just before he reaches it in full motion, Stan opens it and the poor landlord's momentum takes him right through into the kitchen!  After he recovers, he tells Stan and Ollie they must leave first thing in the morning (which is quite generous given the circumstances I think).


During this time Ollie has hidden the dog up the chimney where it has now crawled up onto the roof.  The boys, dirty from climbing up and down inside the chimney decide they must wash before they go to bed.  There is a wonderful piece of timing when Ollie gets Stan to hold a large tin tub and then as he hands him two bottles Stan lets go of the tub and drops it on Ollie's foot.  Brilliant.
Attempts to wash the dog clean first are scuppered by a series of mishaps including Stan moving the tub just as Ollie pours the water, and later as Stan pours the water over Ollie's head.  That should have been enough to annoy any man but Ollie's patience finally gives out when the landlord enters their room unannounced and Stan quickly improvises by dunking Ollie's head under the water in a futile attempt to convince of their innocence.  Ollie picks up the bowl of water and hurls it aimlessly at Stan, who has ducked out of the way meaning poor Charlie takes a whole body load.  Their deadline of 24 hours is now moved up to having to leave within 15 minutes!
This is where the lost third reel kicks in, with the boys dressed in their suits and packing to leave when the landlord brings Stan up a telegram informing him that he has come into a large fortune on one condition: he has to dump Hardy, whom it has been asserted is the cause of Stan's decline over the years.  Although Stan is reluctant to share this information with his best friend (a hilarious set of one-worded answers to Ollie's prying of the message's content) eventually Ollie gets to read the message for himself.  In the end Ollie lets Stan go but insists that Ollie keep the dog.  When Stan cannot bear to be separated from the creature he rips up the telegram and throws away his fortune.  Ollie naturally believes it's because Stan values their friendship, but Stan tells him it's because he doesn't want to be without Laughing Gravy.  Naturally Ollie flips!  They obey the landlord's request to leave the premises but before they can exit, a policeman advises them that the house is now under quarantine and nobody can leave for two months.  That information was the last straw for the fed-up landlord who takes a double-barrelled shotgun and somehow manages to squeeze off TWO shots off-camera before the film fades to black.

This third reel is important from a historical point of view but lends nothing to the film to make it fresh.  It's very slow and dramatic, though with one fine moment: the scene where Ollie realises why Stan didn't want to show him the letter is rather touching, and in a little way sad.

Favourite bit
Maybe a strange choice this one, but my favourite bit of the film goes to Charlie Hall.  He has just about had enough of being woken up, enduring falling ceilings, tenants crawling up and down his chimney and on his roof in the dead of night, not to mention the constant yelping of the prohibited dog; and in a moment of comical anger comes out with one of the most bizarre choices of dialogue I have ever heard.  For some reason the line has stuck with me for a long time and never fails to make me laugh.
"That does it!  If you're not out of here in 15 minutes I'll send for the cops, so help me Bob. Oooooo!"

Facts
•Production L-39-C - Laurel & Hardy series.
Filmed February 2-18, 1931, with added scenes Feb. 24, 1931.
Previewed as a three reeler, but shortened to two reels for US release.
•Copyrighted April 16, 1931.
Laughing Gravy was the real name of the (male) dog seen in the film.
This film is a re-working of an earlier silent short Angora Love, in which Stan and Ollie try to conceal a goat into their room despite the protests of their landlord.
•A long-lost third reel was discovered in 1985 and subsequently released on home video and DVD.
This film, along with Be Big!, were simultaneously produced in Spanish language versions, and the two shorts were edited together into one continuous film Los Calaveras.
Laurel and Hardy read their lines from cue cards on which Spanish was written phonetically. At the time of early talkies, dubbing was not yet perfected. The same was done for a French language version, Les Carottiers.
Did you notice?
•Stan hic-cups a total of 16 times.
•The number on the door of the house is 316.  The boys are in room 14.
•There are four plants on the landlord's windowsill, but he picks one up to throw at the dog (Ollie).  Later when the boys are messing around on the roof, they dislodge some bricks from the chimney and as they fall off the roof and land on the landlord's head (who has come to his window again) there are once again four pots on the ledge, despite the one that was thrown away earliler.
•From the moment the knot becomes undone, it takes Ollie a whole three seconds to fall a very short height into the barrell of ice water below!
•When the landlord tries to force entry to the boys room after being awoken a second time by the dog (the scene where Stan opens to the door to let him in and Charlie Hall has aready started his running battering-ram and ends up in the kitchen), look at where Ollie is hiding himself!
•I'm not sure if it was deliberate of the cameraman, but when Stan yanks Ollie's legs through the open chimney in their room the camera shakes considerably.  It was either a mistake or a genius piece of timing - I have never really been quite sure which?
•When the drunk knocks on their door, Ollie dunks Stan's head under water for exactly 7 seconds.
•When Charlie Hall blows his brains out off camera, he fires twice.  So, did he miss with his first shot then?

Stan Laurel
Stan
Oliver Hardy
Ollie
Charlie Hall
Landlord
Harry Bernard
Policeman
Charles Dorety
Drunk tenant
Laughing Gravy
Laughing Gravy

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Acknowledgements:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0022058/ (IMDb.com)
"Laurel And Hardy - The Magic Behind The Movies" by Randy Skratvedt (book)

This page was last updated on: 04 April 2015