Nothing But Trouble  
 
06 December 1944
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
feature
69 minutes
 

Director: Sam Taylor  Producer: B.F. Zeidman  Screenplay: Russell Rouse, Ray Golden  Cinematography: Charles Salerno Jr.  Editor: Conrad A. Nervig

AVAILABLE ON DVD
(click selected images for Amazon)

 
It's 1932 and unemployment is at an all-time high.  Stan and Ollie are desperate to work but none is available.  They try and convince the clerk at the unemployment office with their portfolio of ancestors who were all chefs and butlers, but their enthusiasm falls on deaf ears.  Stan suggests they try their luck on foreign soil.  First up is France, where a restauranteur mocks Ollie's "steak a la Oliver".  They have no joy either in Italy where they receive similar treatment.
Fast forward twelve years to the present (1944) and the boys are on their way home on a ship after being captured by the Japs during WWII.  Ollie explains to a young man on board they were released after their captors tasted his cooking!  The tired boys return to the same employment office in search of work unaware that in their absence things have changed drastically.  Now potential employers have inundated the office with requests to find them staff.  As soon as Stan reveals that they are willing to take any job they are ambushed by the over-eager crowd who are all desperate to employ them on the spot.  They are ushered into a side room where they meet Mrs. Hawkley (Mary Boland), a rich snob who regularly entertains higher members of the society.
After the boys confess they are looking to get jobs as chef and butler she quickly smuggles them out of the building through the window and into her car.  Back at Mrs. Hawkley's home, she has prepared them a small meal as they are about to undertake their new duties for her and the dinner party she has organsied for that night.  The telephone rings and Mrs. Hawkley takes the call.
Prince Saul (Philip Merivale), a distinguished guest is asking to confirm the time of the dinner.  When the call ends Saul returns to accompany King Christopher in his quarters where he is approving an important document for some royal guests.  King Christopher is a football-loving teenage boy who desires to play the game he so loves, but his future is thrown into peril when his jealous uncle Saul plots to have him killed.
Mrs. Hawkley goes over the dinner plans with Ollie whilst Stan steadily manages to drop all the dinner plates off camera one by one.  Ollie is ordered to go to the store and get the ingredients for the meal, which includes a large sirloin steak.  Meanwhile, the young king is escorted to the local park by the prince's henchman Ronetz (John Warburton) in order for their sinister plan to work.  When there Ronetz assigns two goons to see off the king but they manage to lose him.  Unbeknownst to them, Chris has taken refuge with a football game in progress featuring a group of boys and as luck would have it two of the boys have to leave, which opens the opportunity for Chris to join in.  A passing Stan and Ollie are collared by the boys into officiating the final phase of the game after their referee had to leave suddenly.  They reluctantly agree after some gentle pursuading.
Ollie officiates and Stan takes control of the whistle.  The game resumes with Christopher joining in.  During the play Chris receives the ball and runs the length of the field to score a touchdown.  Time expires and the game is over.  Stan and Ollie then resume their 'normal' lives and are about to proceed back home when Ollie realises they do not have the steak needed for their meal.  After a brief argument as to who is to blame, they head off to the nearby zoo (accompanied by Christopher, who has now tagged along) to find it is feeding time at the lions cages.  As luck would have it, a large sirloin steak is in with one of the lions.  Ollie orders Stan to put his arm through the open bars and retrieve it.  Easier said than done, so Ollie tries a variety of distracting tactics so that Stan can get the meat, including imitating a female lion and tickling the large cat with an umbrella.
Chris manages to grab the meat after the lion is distracted and wins the praise of the boys.  He follows Stan and Ollie back to the Hawkley house but when he is told to go home he gives them a sob story about his abusive uncle.  The boys reluctantly allow him to stay with them, albeit remaining hidden.  The boys start preparing the meal for the dinner engagement as Chris tucks into a gigantic salami.
In the dining room Prince Saul gives Mrs. Hawkley the bad news that King Christopher will not be joining them for dinner, much to her chagrin.  In the kitchen the boys run through a rehearsal on how to serve the food to the guests but Stan becomes confused so it is determined that Chris will sit under the table and direct Stan accordingly when serving.




Mr. & Mrs. Hawkley and their V.I.P. guest Prince Saul are seated and ready to receive their starter meal - soup.  Stan clumsily gets everything wrong and is constantly corrected when Chris presses on Stan's shoe from under the table.  The meal isn't going well with the apparently awful taste of Ollie's soup when suddenly the Prince lets out a burp so loud it rattles his ears.  Stan is quick to point it out to the host, whose hic-cup doesn't even come close to the Prince's belching!
The soup dishes are removed and it's time for the main meal - the steak - to be served.  Problem is nobody can cut it, so Ollie has to come to the rescue, using a variety of instruments you just wouldn't expect to find at a dinner table, including a saw large enough to fell a tree.  As luck would have it the evening is broken up by the sudden departure of the Prince.  Stan and Ollie are promptly fired for their efforts and take refuge at a shelter with Chris.  They are not there long before they are reported to the police for kidnapping 'King Christopher'.  The boys are arrested (recognise the arresting officer?) and led away to the police station as Chris is returned to Prince Saul.
Chris is eager to have his friends re-hired by Saul and when the idea of using them as a blame to poison the king is mentioned, Saul seems very interested.  Stan and Ollie think they were imprisoned for stealing the meat from the lion, but are released from jail and hired to serve as butler and chef for the Prince's formal gathering later that afternoon, not realising that their child friend Chris is actually the King.
The banquet is in full swing as the guests arrive and the Hawkley's are introduced to the King.  Realising he is the boy they ejected from their home, they are overcome with embarrassment.  Soon after, Stan and Ollie arrive and are greeted with a warm hug from Chris.  It is explained to the Boys that their young friend is actually King Christopher the Second, from Orlandia.  Stan and Ollie are shocked and with heavy hearts they apologise and go to leave.  The deceitful Prince Saul stops them and offers them an immediate job as butler and chef (as part of his cunning plan).  At first the Boys are suspicious but after realising it's a serious proposition, they jump at the chance.
Stan serves from a tray to the guests, whilst Ollie stands guard at the food table.  He offers Chris an enormous salami and Mr. Hawkley the best hors d'oeuvre on the tray.  Mrs. Hawkley eagerly offers Stan his old job back, which he promptly refuses.
Ronetz casually slips a poisonous pill into the King's dessert and Ollie orders Stan to serve the tray to the guests.  However, Stan disputes that Chris's intended dessert isn't the largest and swaps it with another one.  Ollie disagrees and before long half-a-dozen plates are exchanged, moved about and re-positioned until the poisoned one is 'lost'.  Stan serves the salads to the guests, whilst a nervous Saul looks on.  When Mrs. Hawkley tries to force feed him, he excuses himself in a panic (it turns out he in fact was the recipient of the poisoned salad!)  Saul and Ronetz argue over the poisoned salad, unaware they have been observed by Chris - who runs to Stan and Ollie for protection.
Ollie boldy threatens to throw the Prince out of the window, but his plan backfires when the Prince pulls a gun and tells Ollie and Stan to do the jumping themselves!  Ollie is first up at the window ledge, but by good chance, some painters on the floor below have left their wooden planks overhanging the ledge, making for a relatively easy 'fall' for the Boys.  Ollie siezes the opportunity and calls Stan to join him.  Chris is asked to jump first, which he does, and lands safely on the boards below.  The decorators spot their overhanging boards and remove them just as Stan and Ollie are preparing to jump.  The Boys say their goodbyes but then panic when they see the predicament.  Saul gives them until the count of ten to jump but a bite of the poisoned salad prevents him from completing the count.  The Boys are saved from suicide and are reunited with Chris.

Favourite bit
This may seem to many a very strange choice for a favourite part but when I watched this film recently and this scene came up I had tears in my eyes!  The guests are around the dinner table and sampling their starter meal, mock turtle soup.  It tastes so bad that when the Prince (Philip Merivale) takes a sip on his spoon he lets out a belch so loud that it makes his ears wiggle.  Funnier still is how he manages to make such a sound with his mouth closed.

Facts
•Filming began in June 1944.
•Incredibly, this film was the biggest financial box-office earner of all the boys films.
•The last Laurel & Hardy film to be released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
•In the trailer for the film, Laurel and Hardy are referred to as "hooligans"; a more disrespectful phrase I can not think of.  Also, during the film, Mrs. Hawkley refers to them as "nincompoops" as well as Prince Saul's reference to them being "clowns".
Buster Keaton served as a gag writer on the film.

Did you notice?
•The name of the employment agency is Lorrison's.
•When Laurel and Hardy are in France, there is a large neon sign behind them in the street which says "Moulin Rouge".

•Laurel and Hardy travel to Europe in 1932 to find employment.  They return in 1944, some twelve years later and do not appear to have aged one bit.

•The room that the boys are ushered into at the employment agency has a poster on the wall saying "Deliver us from evil" with a German swastika on it.

•When the boys are first seen at the Hawkley residence, Stan is eating his meal with his hat tucked under his left arm.

•The dinner party was scheduled for 7:30pm.
•The "How To Play Football" book which King Christopher reads is published by Citizen Publishing Company.  The first page he turns to features a profile photograph of Knute Rockne.  Knute (1888-1931), a Norweigan-born professional football player and coach was regarded as one of the greatest coaches in American college football history.
•The tune heard in the chiming football which King Christopher listens to is "The Notre Dame victory song".
•The first sign that Prince Saul is jealous of the King comes at the moment he closes the chiming football and then proceeds to sit in the King's chair at his desk.  The king, being only a young boy would not have realised that this was a blatant act of disrespect for his authority, but it is a clue to the viewers of the Prince's intentions later on in the film.

•During the ball game in the park watch as Ollie (supposedly the official) pushes several boys out of the way as Christopher runs with the ball to score his touchdown.

•Christopher's touchdown means his team win the ball game 13-12.

•The name of the zoo is Rexford.

•The name of the lion who has the steak is Louis.  In the cage next to him is Leo.  These are references to Louie B. Mayer of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (the film company who produced the film); and Leo of course would be for the lion in the logo.

•This film features Stan Laurel's most extreme close-up when he is trying to stare down the lion.

•When Ollie is prodding the lion with the umbrella, Stan gets a bit too close to the cage.  The lion lunges at him and Stan runs off screaming.  His mouth does not move.

•When Mrs. Hawkley is eating her soup, Stan can be seen in the background of the shot leaning on her chair as she eats.
•As the boys are released from the police cell they are told to "scram!"  This isn't the first time in their film careers they had heard that phrase uttered to them by an official!!  Also, Stan seems to forget his line for a moment.  Notice how he pauses when he says "let's try and find.... Chris".
•The address of the banquet is given as Rexford Park Hotel, room 1242.
•It breaks my heart to hear Stan Laurel's awkward line, "we know how it is - he's a King and we're just... nobody."
•The clock on the wall says 4:55pm at the time Prince Saul propositions the Boys into cooking for the King.
•Ollie reveals that their ancestors had never worked for anybody above the rank of a Lord Mayor.
•It seems that Stan bore no bad feeling towards Mr. Hawkley because he not only serves him at the banquet but also recommends one of the better hors d'oeuvres to him, whilst refusing to even acknowledge Mrs. Hawkley.  However, Stan does later serve Mrs. Hawkley with dessert.
•If it was a real situation, do you think that a young child such as Chris would really jump out of a high-rise window the way he does in the film?  I think not.
•When you see the overhead shot of the Boys standing on the ledge, you can count that they are on the seventh floor of the building.

Stan Laurel
Stan
Oliver Hardy
Ollie
Mary Boland
Mrs. Elvira Hawkley
Philip Merivale
Prince Saul
Henry O'Neill
Mr. Basil Hawkley
David Leland
King Christopher II, of Orlandia
John Warburton
Ronetz
Matthew Boulton
Prince Prentiloff
Eddie Dunn
Policeman in flop house
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/ John Berkes
Jones, the homeless informant
Jean De Briac
French restauranteur
Joe Yule
Police officer
Charles Irwin
Karel
Chester Clute
Clerk in 1944
Garry Owen
Clerk in 1932
Lee Phelps
Rankin's friend
Robert Dudley
Man next to Rankin's friend
(in employment office, opening scene)
Leyland Hodgson
Felcon
Olin Howland
Painter's foreman
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/ Dell Henderson
Painter #1
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/ Nolan Leary
Painter #2
Paul Porcasi
Italian restauranteur
William Frambes
Ocean liner passenger
Connie Gilchrist
Mrs. Flannigan
Bob Stebbins
Chuck
Edward Keane
Police chief Smith
Robert Homans
Jailer
Al Thompson
Employemnt hopeful #1
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/ Gino Corrado
Mr. Kitteridge
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/ Joan Del Mar
Girl at football game
   
UNIDENTIFIED
Man in employment agency
UNIDENTIFIED
Employment hopeful #2
"a job!"
UNIDENTIFIED
Employment hopeful #3
UNIDENTIFIED
Rankin
UNIDENTIFIED
Butch
UNIDENTIFIED
Willie Flannagan
UNIDENTIFIED
Kid
UNIDENTIFIED
Pushy

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SCREENCAPTURES FROM THE TRAILER

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Acknowledgements:
From The Forties Forward by Scott MacGillivray (book)
Laurel And Hardy - The Magic Behind The Movies by Randy Skretvedt (book)
Jim Clewer (some screenshots)
Brad Farrell (identification of Joan Del Mar)
Jorge Finkielman (art drawings from credits sequence)

This page was last updated on: 14 May 2015