The Live Ghost
Series: Laurel & Hardy Distribution: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer  Director: Charley Rogers  Cinematography: Art Lloyd 
Production: L-20 Type: Sound short Producer: Hal Roach  Editor: Louis McManus
Released: 08 December 1934 Length: 2-reels Dialogue: H.M. Walker  Sound recording: James Greene


Menacing Walter Long is the desperate captain of a ship which is about to sail the seas, but he has to first hire enough shipmates to man his depleted boat.  In a local bar, Long proposes to the men that he is looking for help, but gets no offers from the reluctant sailors, especially after one of them claims his ship is haunted.
In walks already-pissed (for a change) Arthur Housman, one of the ship's crew, for one last "tinsy winsy" drink.  Long tells him to make it snappy, then walks outside and sees Stan and Ollie fishing by the dock.  He asks if they would be interested in sailing with him, but Ollie says no.  Stan is worried that the ocean is "infactuated with sharks".  Long asks if the boys want to make some quick, easy money by shanghaiing some men for him, with the enticing offer of $1 per head.  They accept the offer.
Outside the bar, Ollie tells Stan his plan.  Stan will go in and allow himself to be chased outside so that Ollie can clonk the men with his frying pan.  Stan goes into the bar and sits down at a table, between Charlie Hall and Leo Willis.  The two sailors stop talking and are immediately drawn to the sight of seeing Stan pull out a boiled egg from a paper bag.  Leo is the first gullible victim who asks Stan his intentions regarding the egg. 
Stan bets Willis $1 that he cannot put the egg into his mouth without breaking it.  The sailor takes the bet and successfuly sticks the egg into his own mouth.  Stan's clenched fist breaks the egg and he is chased outside, where Ollie clunks his first victim.  The pattern repeats itself a few more times before Ollie decides to take over from Stan, as he is concerned that the patrons are getting too accustomed to seeing Stan's face.
Ollie decides to switch roles with him. Unfortunately, his first victim is Charlie Hall - who had just witnessed Stan's egg trick on his drinking partner and the plan backfires. As Hall chases Hardy out of the bar Stan misses his saucepan swipe and ultimately clonks Ollie instead... then Charlie Hall... then Walter Long!
When the new crew awaken they, along with Stan and Ollie, find themselves below decks on the allegedly haunted ship. The captain reassures the boys that as long as they remain on the ship no harm will come to them. Ten ports later and the crew are getting restless as they want their revenge for being lured onto the boat by the now-immune Laurel & Hardy but they refuse to leave the boat.  The captain orders the boys to make sure the drunken sailor Arthur Housman remains on board. Displeased with this decision, Housman conjures up a cunning plan to escape from under their noses by putting a blanket over some suitcases in his bunk to give the impression he is asleep, then leaves through a side door.
When Stan and Ollie return to the cabin Stan discovers a loaded gun and accidentally fires it at the sailor he was meant to be supervising. Convinced that he is dead, Ollie suggests they get rid of the body before the rest of the crew return by throwing his overboard in a weighed-down sack.
Stan: "Poor fella, do you think he's gone to heaven?"
Ollie: "I'm afraid not. I guess probably he went to the other place. Get me a large piece of coal"
Stan: "What, do you have to take your own coal with you when you go to the other place?"
Ollie: "Why certainly not; that's to weight the sack down so that it will sink!"
The drunk, on his way back to the cabin trips and falls into a vat of whitewash (it just happened to be there!)  When he stands up he resembles a ghost.  Completely dripping in whitewash he heads back to the cabin and gets into his bunk, as Laurel and Hardy return shortly afterwards to dispose of his 'body'.  After placing him in a sack, the boys then throw the drunk overboard (er.... the coal didn't work, guys and the whitewash sticks to you even after you have been for a swim!)
Stan is just about to get into his own bunk, with Ollie (despite there being a vacant bed underneath) when he sees the "ghost" climbing back on board the ship (see favourite bit).
A scared Stan jumps into bed and tells Ollie what he has seen, but Ollie warns him not to mention "ghosts" in front of the captain.  Unperturbed by Stan's gibberish, Ollie gets out of bed to investigate Stan's fantasy but finds nothing.  Meanwhile, the drunk returns to the cabin and climbs into Ollie's bunk and hides under the covers.  When Ollie returns he gets back into bed and assumes Stan is the one under the sheets.  That is of course until he sees Stan outside the cabin window and is compelled to look under the blanket.
Ollie leaps out of bed and runs for his life, catching up with Stan outside, just as the other shipmates come aboard to extract their revenge on Stan and Ollie for their being shanghied. earlier.  Of course they quickly do a major u-turn and jump overboard when they bump into the "ghost"
As the boys are running around the deck trying to escape the fear of the ghost, the captain arrives, arm in arm with Maisie, who identifies the "ghost" as her ex-husband.  She beats him up and chases him off the ship, whilst Stan and Ollie are comforted by the captain's return.  In their state of panic, both men confess they have seen a ghost.  Naturally, the captain flips and makes good on his promise to rearrange Stan and Ollie's heads before ordering them to bed.

Favourite bit
Stan's double-take after seeing Arthur Housman climb back on board the ship covered in whitewash (which somehow miraculously was still on him despite him being fully submerged in the sea).  Stan thinks he has seen a ghost...

Production L-20 - Laurel & Hardy series.
Copyrighted December 11, 1934.

Filming dates
November 8-14, 1934.

Mae Busch has a seemingly insignificant role as the jilted ex-wife of the drunken sailor Housman.
Walter Long refers to the bartender (Harry Bernard) as "Joe".
The bar is called The Crow's Nest.
A huge painting of a ship hangs behind the bar.
When Walter Long first speaks to Stan and Ollie he asks them "what y'doing?".  Given that Stan is sitting there with a fishing rod dangling into the water, don't you think that's a pretty stupid question?
Ollie tells Walter Long that they clean fish over at the fish market.  They had similar jobs in The Flying Deuces, where they worked at a fish market in Des Moines.
As the boys stand outside the bar with Walter Long (before it all kicks off inside), it's nice to see Long's facial expressions - smiling!
Leo Willis accepts the $1 bet from Stan that he can put the egg into his mouth without breaking it.  However, the egg is broken (somewhat unceremoniously) and therefore Willis should pay up.  He, to my reckoning still owes Stan that dollar.
Walter Long hoists Leo Willis up onto his shoulder and walks off with him.  Given that Willis was at least 220lbs, that is quite a show of strength from Long.
When Ollie cracks the egg in Charlie Hall's mouth, it is a real egg.
1934 wasn't a particularly good year between Walter Long and Laurel & Hardy.  In "Going Bye-Bye" he wraps the boys' legs around their own necks, and here he twists their heads 180 degrees around!
The set used for the scenes shot on the deck of the boat were also used in the Our Gang film, Shiver My Timbers.

What the experts say
Laurel & Hardy author Christian Blees lists The Live Ghost in his top ten films L&H in the book, Alles, was Sie über: Laurel & Hardy wissen müssen (translated: Everything you need to know about Laurel and Hardy).

Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Walter Long
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess -
Mae Busch
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess -
Arthur Housman
Drunken sailor
Charlie Hall
Leo Willis
Harry Bernard
Baldwin Cooke
Jack 'Tiny' Lipson
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess -
Pete Gordon
Chinese cook
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess -
Art Rowlands
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess -
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - Hubert Diltz
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess -
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - Dick Gilbert
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess -
John Power
Charles Sullivan
Bobby Callahan
Sailor in bar
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - Tony Campanaro
Hurdy gurdy man
outside The Crow's Nest



Joe Davis (colorized print)
Jesse Brisson (identification of John Power, Bobby Callahan and Charles Sullivan)

This page was last updated on: 29 May 2017