The Dancing Masters
 
Series: Laurel and Hardy Distribution: 20th Century Fox  Director: Malcolm St. Clair  Cinematography: Norbert Brodine
Production: N/A Type: Feature Producer: Lee S. Marcus  Editor: Norman Colbert
Released: 19 November 1943 Length: 63 mins Screenplay: W. Scott Darling Art directors: James Basevi, Chester Gore

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At the 'Arthur Hurry' dance school, Ollie gracefully dances as an instructor in unison with his all-female class to the tune of London Bridge. Meanwhile in the beginner's class across the hall, Stan is teaching The Dance of the Pelican. A pot of glue is spilled by a clumsy worker onto the wooden flooring and an even clumsier Stan steps into it and gets his foot stuck to the wall. Ollie is called upon to assist Stan in becoming unglued from the wall. A few tugs later and Stan is free, and so is half the wall! The class is then dismissed by an indignant Ollie.
Elsewhere, a gang of criminals are holding a meeting to discuss their next strategy in extorting money from unsuspecting individuals. Their leader Silvio (Nestor Paiva), tells the group (which includes a pre-famed Robert Mitchum) they are now acting as insurance salesmen.
Back at the dance school, Trudy Harlan (one of the students, Trudy Marshall) comes to give Stan and Ollie some money for her lessons.  Ollie tries to put the cash into the safe but forgets the combination.  "Two turns to the left", says Stan.  Ollie turns the dial twice in a counter-clockwise direction but still the safe won't open.  Stan takes charge and physically turns the safe around 180°... two turns to the left. It's a rare post-Roach moment of genius from Stan.
Gangsters Robert Mitchum and George Lloyd turn up at the dance school and introduce themselves to Stan and Ollie.  After an aggressively pursuasive sales pitch, and a hint of what's to come if they do not comply, the boys give in and take the deal.  Ollie hands over the premium on the policy of $100, but the crooks are apprehended by the cops as soon as they leave the building.
Trudy travels to her father's war products factory to meet up with her boyfriend, Grant Lawrence (Bob Bailey).  Her father Wentworth (Matt Briggs) is not keen on Grant, preferring instead George Worthing (Allan Lane) as a more suited man for his daughter.  Grant is fired after he accidentally burns Worthing with a blowtorch.
That evening, Trudy invites Grant, Stan and Ollie back to her home but has to hide them away in the living room until her parents leave for the airport.  With the house to themselves (and after finding some ridiculously silly hiding places to avoid detection from Mr. Harlan after he returns to fetch his pipe), the boys make themselves at home.
Ollie finds a control panel, believing it to be for a radio, but in actual fact it operates a secret drinks bar disguised as a library.  Stan removes a book from the shelf as Ollie presses a switch on the panel, which turns the library into the bar as the floor revolves around 180°.  Stan spots the bar but cannot convince Ollie of his findings because by the time Ollie looks, the wall has returned to the books.
Trudy plays host with making everybody food and becomes involved in a hats and plates passing routine with Stan and Ollie.  Meanwhile at the airport her folks have their flight cancelled and have to make their way back home.  At the house, accident-prone Grant continues to wreck havoc when he causes a bottle of beer to explode and get everybody wet.  Grant ends up removing his pants as Trudy offers to dry them, whilst Stan and Ollie get themselves embroiled in a pushing match that ends up being taken 'outside' for a fight.  But when the Harlans suddenly show up at the house, the boys quickly forget about their spat and make a run for it - upstairs into the couple's bedroom to hide.
Grant is quickly discovered - minus his pants and Trudy has to defend him.  Grant is told to leave, but not before a piece of unfriendly advice from love-rival George Worthing, who also has his sights set on Trudy - and an invention Grant has been working on.  Also discovered is the bar behind the bookshelf.  Mrs. Harlan storms off to bed and is later joined by her husband, as Stan and Ollie remain hidden under the beds.



The boys bide their time until the Harlans are alseep and then escape via the bedroom window, but as Stan climbs down over Ollie's back, Ollie's grip on the rug gives way, dragging Mr. Harlan's bed - with him in it - down and out into the fountain below.
The next day at the dancing school, the landlord pays the boys a visit to demand his overdue rent.  Stan manages to pursuade Ollie to draw out their money from the bank in order to pay off the arrears, but on the way home they stop off at an auction house.  An auction is in progress for a rare grandfather's clock when a woman bidder realises she does not have enough money to win it and asks Ollie to keep the bidding open for her whilst she runs off to fetch more money.  However, the auction ends with Ollie being the winning bidder and when the woman fails to return, he is burdened by having to pay for it - with the money he had withdrawn to pay the dancing school landlord.  They take ownership of the clock for less than 5 minutes, when it is destroyed in the road by a speeding truck.
Trudy comes to visit Stan and Ollie back at the dancing school to ask their favour in helping Grant sell the idea of his invention.  The boys proudly demonstrate to her how great Grant's previous invention, a vacuum cleaner, is by soiling the carpet with dust, rubbish, feathers and a cushion - then forget that the electricty has been cut off due to non payment!
Ollie leads the demonstration of Grant's invention in front of Mr. Harlan and his associates, with Stan disguised as an eccentric scientist.  It all goes well, until Stan accidentally sets Harlan's house on fire!
In a last resort attempt to find the money to pay their rent Ollie decides to cash in on the insurance policy he took out earlier by attempting to deliberately injure Stan.  A failed banana skin stunt lands Ollie with a $15 fine, which is later followed by another plan-gone-wrong when Ollie receives a number of falling bricks to the head.  In a surprise twist, Harlan decides to fire George Worthing in favour of supporting Grant's invention.
Ollie's last effort to cause injury to Stan comes with an open-top bus ride to the beach.  But once again it is Ollie who suffers most when a cake-eating dog causes the downstairs passengers all to abandon the moving vehicle.  The final few minutes sees Ollie riding the bus onto a rollercoaster, whilst a dizzy Stan gets pelted by coconuts in a boardwalk amusement game.  The film concludes with Ollie breaking his leg when the bus flies off the rollercoaster tracks and with Stan, Trudy and Grant paying him a visit in the hospital.

Favourite bit
Who would have thought that a simple thing like paying for a clock would be so complicated? In a perfectly-timed routine, Stan and Ollie swap a porcelain cat, a wad of banknotes and a receipt between themselves and the cashier. It takes 17 "swaps" before they get it right! Brilliant!

Facts
Laurel and Hardy feature for 20th Century Fox.
Copyrighted November 19, 1943 (day of release).
Filming dates
June 1 - circa June 25th, 1943.
Trivia
This was the fourth feature (of six) Laurel and Hardy made for 20th Century Fox.
The original running time ran for 75 minutes before being cut down to 63 minutes.
The film went on to become the third highest grossing movie of 1943 for producers 20th Century Fox.
The billing credit for Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy is displayed after the title card during the opening credits. This is unusual.
Film historian Scott MacGillivray provides an informative commentary track on the Region 1 DVD from 20th century Fox Home Entertainment (released 2006). There is a large summary of the film in MacGillivray's wonderful book, From The Forties Forward (Second edition): pages 109-123.
The drinks bar/library set is actually a leftover set from the film, Tales Of Manhattan (1942).
When the clock is destroyed in the road, the truck driver later gets out of his vehicle and gets involved in an argument with Hardy.  This scene was one of several that was cut out of the final running time in order to speed up the film.
The auction scene is almost identical to the one they filmed for Thicker Than Water.
The Arthur Hurry School Of Dancing is the name of the establishment run by Laurel & Hardy.
Ollie has the opening line of the movie with "That's it girls, that's it. Remember, gracefulness is everything."
During Stan's teaching class at the beginning, look out for a brief cameo from part-time L&H co-star Daphne Pollard as the woman who snaps back in response to a comment about him, "Isn't he light?". She responds, "In the head!"
The wires holding Stan Laurel up can clearly be seen as he dances in the opening scenes.
At the beginning of the film when we see both Ollie - then Stan performing their respective classes, in each scene a man is seen sitting behind a piano.
I think it is mighty impressive that a man of Stan Laurel's age (53 at the time of filming) can perform such an athletic feat as to raise his right leg so high up a wall as he demonstrates his techniques to the girls in his class.
When the pot of glue is spilled onto the floor it leaves quite a mess.  In the next shot it is a tidy blob.
When Ollie pulls Stan's stuck foot away from the wall, you can see the outline of the forthcoming rip in the plaster just before the hole appears.
Stan gets his dancing slipper stuck to the wall, with his leg in it.  Why didn't he just pull his leg out of the shoe to leave the slipper stuck on the wall?  Much easier.
The name of the gangster's organisation is the Acme Importing Co.  When Robert Mitchum hands Ollie his card, Ollie reads it out as "The Last Mile Insurance Company."
When Ollie refuses Robert Mitchum's business card, Mitchum insists that Ollie is going to take out the insurance.  Ollie then turns to Stan and there is a break in the continuity of the film, as though some frames are missing.  It happens at 9 mins 48 secs into the Region 1 DVD.
The deal offered to Ollie from Robert Mitchum would result in an insurance pay-out of $5,000 for a broken arm, $10,000 for a broken leg, $50,000 for the loss of an eye and $100,000 for a broken neck.  The premium payment on the policy is $100.
When Stan, Ollie and Grant arrive at Trudy's house for the evening, the grandfather's clock reads 8 o'clock.  When we next see it, as Stan and Ollie go to leave the house for their fight, it is 8:47pm.
The book Stan picks up from the revolving library/drinks bar is Boswell's "Life Of Johnson".  The book, written by James Bowell, is about the life of Dr. Samuel Johnson and is considered to be the best written biography in the English language.  Incidentally, there are a total of 93 books spread over 4 shelves in the bookcase! And there are 34 bottles of booze on the other side as well.... and yes... I counted!
There are six switches on the control panel that operate the revolving bar/library.
The scene where Trudy, Stan and Ollie pass the plates and hats around is reminiscent of the opening scene of Our Relations.
When Grant says goodnight to Trudy before leaving her house, he uses his right hand to shake her left hand.
A rather clumsy continuity error occurs when Stan and Ollie make their exit from the bedroom.  They are seen emerging from underneath the wrong beds.  When they hide, Stan is nearest to the door and Ollie is further away, but when they come out from under them they are reversed.
About halfway through the film Ollie receives a telephone call from Grant.  Stan enquires if Grant had died, because he had been shot.  There was a scene cut out of the film which would have made sense of this scene, but its absence makes the continuity of the final film hard to understand.
The address of the studio is at number 263.
The auction house is run by the Orion brothers.  Above the facade of the building is the inscription "Established 1893".
The woman who lumbers Ollie with the bidding at the auction house last bids $140 before she leaves.
A total of five people bid on the grandfather's clock during the auction. Hardy wins the auction on $300.
When the auctioneer (Robert Emmett Keane) congratulates Hardy on winning the clock he presents a porcelain cat to him as a bonus prize. There is a big jump in the footage as he does so.
When Trudy puts the suggestion to Stan and Ollie about helping Grant with his invention, she says "I think the invisible ray will be sensational".  The audio jumps as the scene misses a few frames of footage.
Ollie gets a $15 fine for the banana skin prank on the police officer.
The destination of the bus is Laden Street via Ocean Drive.
During the bus ride, the same background is seen repeatedly in certain shots.
Isn't it just a bit irresponsible for a bus driver to just get up and abandon the bus halfway through the journey whilst passengers are still on it? I mean, how long does it take to apply a brake anyway?!
The final shot of the movie with Ollie in a hospital bed with his right foot heavily plastered, is almost identical to his predicament in County Hospital.
What the experts say
"One of the better features from Laurel and Hardy's lacklustre post-Roach period." ~ Lord Heath.

Stan Laurel
Stan
Oliver Hardy
Ollie
Trudy Marshall
Trudy Harlan
Robert Bailey
Grant Lawrence
Matt Briggs
Wentworth Harlan
Margaret Dumont
Louise Harlan
Allan Lane
George Worthing
Robert Mitchum
Mickey Halligan
George Lloyd
Jasper
Nestor Paiva
Silvio (ringleader)
Ruth Brady
Secretary
Robert Emmett Keane
Auctioneer
Daphne Pollard
Mother at Dancing school
George Tyne
Gangster
Harry Tyler
Man on crutches
Sherry Hall
Dentist
Charlie Jordan
Dentist's patient
Emory Parnell
Featherstone
Brooks Benedict
Sidewalk barker
Edward Earle
Clerk at airport
Hank Mann
Fruit vendor
Cyril Ring
Bus passenger
Charley Rogers
Butler
Jimmie Dundee
Cop who slips on banana peel
George Melford
Gateman
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/ Lillian Porter
Dance student
   
UNIDENTIFIED
Woman in Laurel's dance class
UNIDENTIFIED
Woman next to Daphne Pollard
UNIDENTIFIED
Woman in Hardy's dance class
UNIDENTIFIED
Mrs. Featherstone
UNIDENTIFIED
Woman bidder next to Hardy
UNIDENTIFIED
Woman who bids $160
UNIDENTIFIED
Woman who bids $170
UNIDENTIFIED
Woman who bids $190
UNIDENTIFIED
Bus driver
CREDITS POSTERS




DVD COMPARISONS

Acknowledgements:
From The Forties Forward by Scott MacGillivray (book)
Laurel And Hardy - The Magic Behind The Movies (3rd Edition) by Randy Skretvedt (book)
Jim Clewer (identification of Lillian Porter)


This page was last updated on: 19 November 2017