The Fixer Uppers  
 
09 February 1935
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
sound short
2-reels

 

Director: Charley Rogers  Producer: Hal Roach
Cinematography: Art Lloyd  Editor: Bert Jordan  Sound recording: James Greene

AVAILABLE ON DVD


Laurel and Hardy are trying desperately to sell their Christmas cards to random members of the public.  Their first stop is at the door of renowned drunk Arthur Housman.  Ollie reads him the first card but fails to generate any interest.  A fellow tenant (Bobby Dunn) walks past them and blows his nose, the sound of which underlines the opinion of the potential customer after hearing the reading.  Ollie reads a second card but this time wins over the customer with his cheerful 'mother' card.  The boys then knock upon the door of their next victim, a crying Mrs. Gustave (Mae Busch with a very unconvincing cry).
Initially she is uninterested in their cards, but when Ollie asks if she has a husband he makes his pitch by reading a sentimental '4 in 1' card to her.  Still uninterested, she refuses the card before Ollie realises she is crying.  He tries in vain to find out what the problem is until she reveals her husband no longer pays her the same attention that he used to.  Stan recalls an occasion where a woman in a similar predicament got another man to make love to her in front of her husband (kinky!) to make the other guy jealous (it gets a bit confusing at this point).  The woman then offers Ollie $50 for a day's work to help her make her husband jealous.
Cautious, Ollie confides in Stan to make sure his plan is air-tight before asking the woman what she proposes.  She suggests that if her husband was to catch another man kissing her the same way as he first kissed her, then that would do the trick.  The frustrated wife then demonstrates with an unsuspecting Stan how to accomplish her mission and slowly embraces him before engaging in a never-ending kiss to his mouth.  The kiss only ends after Ollie interrupts them with a pat on the womans shoulders.  She releases Stan from her clutches as he crashes to the ground with a faint.  Not content, he gets back up, wipes his mouth and plants a kiss right back on her mouth, which in turn causes her to faint.
Ollie: "Now look what you've done"
Stan: "Well she started it!"
As Ollie tries to help the woman to her feet she notices her husband walking in through the front door and quickly grabs Ollie to start kissing him.  This kiss only lasts 7 seconds but it's Ollie's priceless expression at the end of it which steals the scene - made funnier by the fact he was oblivious to the reason why Busch suddenly grabbed him!


The husband (Charles Middleton) demands an explanation, but when it is offered he refuses to accept the situation at face value, prompting him to issue a challenge to Hardy at midnight to duel to the death in the very same room.
The second reel begins with the boys sitting miserably in a bar drinking beer, with Ollie contemplating his fate when Stan comes up with a suggestion.  Supposed Ollie doesn't show up at midnight, then the guy cannot shoot him.  Ollie makes the call; Pierre is not happy and storms out of his apartment with the intention of finding and killing Ollie on the spot.  A short while after, the telephone in the bar rings and Stan answers it, but Ollie is baffled when he hears Stan's end of the conversation.
Ollie: "What did he say?"
Stan: "He said it's a long distance from Atlanta, Georgia, and I said it sure is"
Into the bar walks the drunken card customer (Housman) whom the boys met at the beginning but he is refused service by the wise bartender (Noah Young in a rare speaking role).  The drunk offers to buy all of the boys' cards if they agree to order a drink for him.  Several drinks later and the boys are passed out, so the drunk assists the police in locating what he believes to be his new friends' apartment by using the card in Ollie's pocket (which was issued by the irate husband.)  The police unload Stan and Ollie onto a bed and leave.  Soon after, the real residents arrive home and discover the boys waiting for them.  Pierre wastes no time in reminding Ollie of the proposed showdown and leads him into the living room and explains the rules.  Fortunately his wife has loaded the guns with blanks, so upon being 'shot' Ollie can play dead.  The two men duel and Hardy observes the wife's instruction, but upon hearing the husband declare he wants to make sure of the death by cutting him up into pieces, Ollie suddenly springs to life and together with Stan make a quick exit.  It's a lucky escape.
All things considered it is an incredibly slow, confining film; tight, and with little space to breathe.  The editing of the sequences are too long and there appears to be a static camera for the most part (they could have just mounted the camera on a tripod and got the same effect).  Not one of their best and evidence that the two-reel formula had been exhausted.

Favourite bit
Mae Busch is about to demonstrate to Ollie how she remembers being kissed by her husband.  She holds Stan close to her and it's at the exact moment when she says "we pressed tightly together" that Stan's mouth twitches with anticipated nervousness.  It's incredibly subtle and brief but it's brilliant on the part of Laurel, who knew how to make a small expression result in such a big impact on the screen.

Facts
•Filmed between January 11-19, 1935.
•The film is sometimes incorrectly listed as The Fixer-Uppers (with the hyphen).  According to the title card (usually the official source), there is no hyphen.
•This was the boys' penultimate short film.
•Production L-22 - Laurel & Hardy series.
Copyrighted February 26, 1935.
Did you notice?
•In the opening scene when Arthur Housman hic-cups, it makes Stan jump.
•According to Ollie, he designed the cards, whilst Stan wrote the verse.

•The Gustaves live in apartment number 6.

The kiss between Mae Busch and Stan Laurel lasts 43 seconds.
•The life-sized portrait of Mae Busch in the apartment (you can't miss it!)  Later in the film during the showdown you can see it has been severely slashed to bits.
•There was a censorship rule about screen kisses back in those days, where two people kissing can not exceed 5 seconds without cuts.  I am guessing this is why we have several cutaway edits to Hardy during the Busch/Laurel kiss.
•During the course of the film Hardy pats both Mae Busch and Charles Middleton on their left shoulders.
•The establishment in which Stan and Ollie drink is called the Café des Artistes.
•Strange that the drunk Arthur Housman is sober enough to assist the police find Laurel and Hardy's home, whilst the boys themselves have passed out through excessive drinking.
•How did the police gain access to the Gustave residence exactly?
•Mae Busch is a popular kiss: she kisses three co-stars on the mouth (Laurel, Hardy and Middleton).
•There is a wonderful red herring in the last scene when we are meant to guess where Stan and Ollie are hiding - look at the fat and the thin dustbins on the street corner. 

Stan Laurel
Stan
Oliver Hardy
Ollie
Mae Busch
Madame Gustave
Charles Middleton
Pierre Gustave
Arthur Housman
The drunk
James C. Morton
Policeman
Jack Hill
Policeman
Noah Young
Bartender
Bobby Dunn
Nose-blowing boarder
Bob O'Connor
Waiter at Café des Artistes
Dick Gilbert
Policeman
   

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This page was last updated on: 10 September 2018