Series: Laurel and Hardy feature
Director: John G. Blystone
Producer: Hal Roach
Screenplay: James Parrott, Felix Adler, Charlie Melson
Photography: Art Lloyd
Editor: Bert Jordan
Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Della Lind, Walter Woolf King, Eric Blore
Released: 20 May 1938
Length: 7 reels
Production No.: F-20
Filming dates: December 28, 1937 - February 26, 1938;
added scenes April 1, 1938; retakes April 21, 1938
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The Alpen Hotel, high up in the Swiss Alps, is readying itself for the arrival of a V.I.P. guest, the greatest operatic compser of the day Mr. Victor Albert (Walter Woolf King). His agent Edward (Eric Blore) gives the owner of the hotel (Ludovico Tomarchio) a strict guideline on what is expected from him upon Albert's arrival in order to maintain a "perfect atmosphere". As Victor is chauffeured towards the hotel, preparations are being made by the staff in the form of a vocal lesson. With the exception of the chef's (Adia Kuznetzoff) over-enthusiastic vocals, the trial run meets with the approval of Edward. Shortly afterwards, Victor arrives and makes it known that he wishes to be alone and emphasises that his annoying wife is not welcome.
Laurel and Hardy arrive in the small village, selling mousetraps, much to the bewildered stares from the local townfolk. The boys call upon their first potential customer, a woman (Anita Garvin). She initially shows an interest, but when her husband (Eddie Kane) intervenes they become embroiled in an escalating disagreement which involves some slapping. When the husband strikes his wife, Stan hits the husband for doing so, which is applauded by Ollie, but he too receives a slap. Ultimately, the boys leave without having made the sale. Ollie reminds Stan that after two weeks of being in Switzerland without having sold a single mousetrap, their financial situation is in peril. Stan suggests a new strategy; to visit the factories that make cheese, as they surely will have mice.
They stop at a cheese factory in an attempt to promote their product, though the first impression they make is to almost wreck the place when Ollie trips over and pulls down the owner's display case full of cheese. Stan begins boring holes in the wooden floorboards in order to set the traps "so that the mouse has some place to get in". Then when Stan plugs up the hole with a cork, it is so that "the mouse can't get out"! Stan continues to fill the floor with holes, bursting through a gas pipe in the process. After a desperate struggle to put out the flames (after Stan sticks a lighted match down the hole!) the proprietor makes the boys an offer for their business. Ollie accepts, believing he has made a bargain sale, little realising the money offered to him is fake Bovanian francs.
The boys celebrate with a large meal at the Alpen Hotel, ordering large meals much to the delight of the owner, who attends to their every request - except Ollie's demands for an apple pie. The chef is berated in front of the guests for not having any apple pie and is told to make some or face being discharged. However, things turn bad when the boys cannot pay their bill and are sent to work in the kitchen until they have worked off their debt with the added stipulation that for every dish they break they will have to work an extra day. Back in his tranquil surroundings, Victor's concentration is broken by the sound of crickets. However, he uses this to his advantage by turning it into the theme for the song he is composing, but his new-found happiness is short-lived with the arrival of his incredibly irritating and annoying wife Anna (Della Lind). Immediately she wins over the folk in the hotel with her gentle approach and melodic singing voice.
She is soon reunited with her husband, Victor, much to his annoyance. After an argument, he instructs her to return to Vienna so that he can continue to construct his masterpiece operetta. Anna retreats to the lobby where Stan and Ollie are sweeping the floor. They tell her of their plight and how they have to remain there to work off the bill they incurred. This gives Anna an idea. She deliberately orders everything on the menu in the hope she too will be forced to remain at the hotel when she herself cannot pay for the food. As the boys bring back and forth her food, the boys sneak opportunities to wipe some of the menu board clear of the marks which represent their broken dishes. The chef eventually spots their little game and orders them to re-mark the board!
Outside the hotel Stan and Ollie are put to work plucking chickens as a large St. Bernard looks on. Stan seems rather interested in the small barrel of brandy around the dog's collar and is reprimanded by Ollie for having impure thoughts. But when Ollie is called inside to help the chef, Stan is left alone with the dog. After several failed attempts to relieve the creature of his brandy, Stan fakes illness in order to lure the dog over to help him. When the dog seems uninterested, Stan comes up with the perfect plan: by throwing all the plucked feathers up into the air to simulate snow. The trick works and Stan gets the brandy.
Back at the hotel, Victor is rehearsing a song on the piano when he is joined in duet by his annoying wife (now dressed as a maid for her part in the incident earlier). Victor calls for his bumbling assistant Edward to have her thrown out of the hotel, but he settles instead for a counter-offer when he is afforded the chance to work in peace, up in a secluded tree-house. Ollie rushes to give Stan the news of their assignment to deliver a piano (where have we heard this before?) to the tree-house, accessible only via a mountain climb and a rickety rope bridge. He finds Stan barely conscious, lying on the floor inebriated from the brandy and with the St. Bernard lying on top of him. Stan confesses, "I ought to be shot!" The boys go to the hotel and fetch the piano and are mocked by Victor when Ollie expresses his gentlemanly kindness to his wife. (In her reaction shot, Anna looks as though she's sucked too long on a sour lemon drop.) A brief exchange of apple-throwing between the Boys (which culminates in Edward receiving it thrown at his head!) leads to them taking the piano outside. They start to push the heavy instrument up a slope, but encounter a large rock on their way. Still in a state of drunken-ness, Stan picks it up and (eventually) throws it over the cliff before proceeding to push the piano back towards Ollie. Ollie stops him and orders Stan to test the rope bridge they have come upon. Stan obliges, and then faints when he is told of what he had just done.
With Stan pulling, and Ollies pushing, they manoeuvre the piano across the rickety bridge until they get the wheels stuck. As they attempt to lift the piano off its trolley, Ollie falls through the slats in the bridge and ends up in distress. Stan rescues him and Ollie insists on testing the remainer of the bridge to ensure its safety. As he does, a gorilla emerges from the tree-house and creeps up behind him. After taking off Ollie's hat, then scratching his leg and finally slapping his rear end, the gorilla is finally seen and in the ensuing panic, the bridge collapses, sending the gorilla and piano down to a certain doom below. The boys recover their composure, but the piano is lost.
70% COMPLETE... TO BE CONTINUED....
Stan trying to deceive the dog into giving up his brandy.
• Copyrighted May 3, 1938.
• Associate producer Sidney S. Van Keuren also directed some additional scenes.
• Roach had the basic idea for this film, which was altered by Laurel and the writers. He directed the unit for one day of shooting, but his footage was ultimately left out of the film.
• Charles Gemora, who played the gorilla in Swiss Miss, also worked as a make-up artist on the film. His name is mis-spelled on the credits as "Gamore".
• Anita Garvin appears in a small role as a tradesman's wife in the film. This was at the insistence of close friend Stan Laurel, who enticed her to sign up for this picture.
• There are strong rumours that the film was originally shot in colour, though no colour print of the film has yet surfaced.
• Originally it was scripted that a bomb was supposed to have be inside the piano which is transported by Stan and Ollie up into the mountain. The bomb would be activated as soon as a particular key on the instrument was played (notice how Stan carelessly hits keys at random on the bridge). The idea was later removed by Hal Roach.
• The name of the hotel is the Alpen.
• Notice the horrible back projected shot when Victor is being driven to the hotel in the second scene.
• When we first see the vocal/singing lessons in the hotel foyer, conducted by the manager, look at the woman in the middle (of the three women) - her face is rather staring!
• Laurel and Hardy first appear after 6 minutes 10 seconds. With the padded-out slow pacing of the opening few scenes, this seems like an eternity.
• Stan's first on-screen action is to ring a bell but he discovers there is no clapper inside. This isn't the first time this has happened. Remember how in The Bohemian Girl Stan stole the clapper from the town cryer's bell in the village?
• The name of Laurel & Hardy's business is the Miracle Mouse Trap Company. On the side of the boys' sleigh reads "Mouse traps with a personality".
• When Stan brings two boxes of samples into the cheese factory, he approaches the clerk and says "Don't go away, we've got something to show you." This sound bite was used frequently in the Universal DVD box-set from 2004 during navigation between the menus on the discs.
• When Stan and Ollie visit the cheese factory (after being rejected by the tradesman and his wife), there is a sign on the building outside which reads "schweizer käsefabrik". Translated, this reads "Swiss cheese factory". (Thankyou Google Translator!)
-The word 'Spitzenberger' is seen above the wording, which would indicate the scene is set in neighbouring country Germany.
• Between Stan and Ollie, a total of eight holes are drilled into the cheese factory's floor.
• The chef played by Adia Kuznetzoff, is quite similar in both character and appearance to Max Elloy's character 'Antoine' in Atoll K, don't you think?
• On the landing of the hotel there is a motif which reads "Gruels Gott 1792." Translated, this means "Greeting". [Jim Jarvis writes: The "gruels Gott" cited should read "gruess" in English or "ue": "ü" with an umlaut. What looks like "ls" is probably the German and old English "ß" which is a modern "ss":"Grüß Gott".]
• It strikes me as a little odd that the rope bridge would only be built on one side? There is no support on the side of the bridge, making it incrediby dangerous.
• Ollie asks Stan to see if the rope bridge is safe to hold them both. Stan runs across the bridge and back. All this actually proves is that it could hold Stan's weight. The fact the bridge does hold the weight of two men and a piano is purely co-incidental in terms of answering Ollie's question.
What the experts say
• "It's one of Laurel and Hardy's lesser features. Not helped by really annoying characters such as Anna and that stupid bloody English servant. There are some memorable scenes but the comedy is minimal and the whole theme seems to be a bit of a bore at times. It's slow and poorly paced - but is it such a coincidence that the director was the same man who directed Laurel and Hardy in "Block-Heads" the same year, which is only just about slightly better than this." ~ Lord Heath.
|Walter Woolf King
Cheese factory proprietor
Taxi cab driver
Astonished Swiss villager
Astonished Swiss villager
Astonished Swiss villager
Joseph (the chauffeur)
Mule-drawn cart driver
Accordian player with gorilla
Astonished Swiss villager (Vera White on the right)
Cheese factory proprietor's wife
|(left): An amazing optical tilt on a wonderful matte painting featuring a combination miniature valley and matte art by Louis (Luis) McManus.
(top-right): The Swiss Alps as per Seawright.
(middle-right): Jack Shaw was one of the matte artists regularly employed on Seawright's Hal Roach films so some of these matte paintings may be his.
(bottom-right): The treehouse in "SWISS MISS" - a superb matte composite.
http://nzpetesmatteshot.blogspot.co.uk/2010/07/roy-seawright-hal-roach-studios.html (Peter Cook)
"Laurel And Hardy - The Magic Behind The Movies" by Randy Skretvedt (book)
Tony Bensley (corrections)
Jim Clewer (some colour screenshots plus identification of Vera White)
Peter Aberle (German credits and screenshots)
This page was last updated on: 20 August 2017