Series: Laurel and Hardy

Director: James Parrott
Producer: Hal Roach
Dialogue: H.M. Walker
Photography: Art Lloyd
Editor: Richard C. Currier
Sound: Elmer Raguse

Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Blanche Payson
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 23 January 1932
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: L-5
Filming dates: October 19-26, 1931
Rating: 8/10


Available on BLU-RAY & DVD:

Having taken advantage of his wife's absence, Mr. Hardy has woken up with a hangover after a wild party in his now-untidy home. A telegram arrives informing Ollie that his wife is due home at noon, which brings about a sudden feeling of dread and the desperate need to telephone Stan to ask for his help. After several attempts to arouse Stan from his sleep with the ringing phone, he finally answers the call. Ollie demands to know why Stan hadn't attended the party, to which Stan says he was bitten by a dog. Ollie asks if the situation was serious, and Stan replies that the doctor told him he could catch 'hydrofosphates'.
Ollie eventually gets to the point when he orders Stan to come over to his immediately to help him clear up the mess before the wife sees it. Seconds later the doorbell rings and in walks Stan, much to the shocked Ollie's surprise. He tells Stan of his predicament and asks his help in clearing up after showing him the wedding photograph if his wife (Blanche Payson with a comically grumpy face on her), and offers to have done the same for Stan had the situation be reversed. Stan disagrees that Ollie would ever have done the same for him and when asked to justify the remark Stan replies it's because he is never going to get married [Hmmm if only he knew!] He does though, agree to help Ollie. Stan gets busy in the kitchen washing the dishes whilst Ollie gets dressed in the bedroom in preparation to meet his angry wife from the station soon. His clean clothes are quickly ruined when he walks through the living room and trips on the roller-brush and flies off into the kitchen through the air, landing on top of Stan's clean dishes - and then even has the audacity to shout at Stan to clean the mess up!
Things quickly go from bad to worse as Ollie opens the back door causing a smoke stack to collapse and fall down on his head, spilling its soot all over him. Ollie tries to wash his hands but accidentally picks up the block of butter Stan had put there moments before instead. Covered in soot and butter, Ollie then approaches the kitchen cupboard only to add flour to the list of stains on his clothing as it falls from the top shelf over his head! So, after a third change of clothes is forced upon Ollie. Stan is still in the kitchen trying to unblock the sink with an oversized plunger when Ollie receives the end of it in the eye as Stan pulls it out of the sink! As Stan decides to chucks a bowl full of water out into the yard, but the window drops shut and the resulting wave hits Ollie who is standing in the kitchen. Little does Ollie know at this point that more "wet" was still to come...
Stan finally snaps after one too many blames from Ollie and threatens to walk out but Ollie reminds his friend that he doesn't have enough sense to do so. After more soakings, Ollie's wet suit is put through a clothes ringer by Stan - straight into the sink full of water, as Ollie sticks the other half of the suit in the oven to dry off. Problem is nobody remembers to turn the over off. The telephone rings and a furious Mrs. Hardy wants to know why she hasn't yet been picked up from the station. Ollie makes an excuse and leaves Stan to attend to the house as he makes his journey to meet the wife whilst wearing the most ridiculous costume imaginable (minus a horse!) Stan does eventually get the house tidy and lights a nice cosy log fire for the return of Ollie and his wife. An hour later Ollie returns, wiser, sadder and dizzier and without his wife and finds Stan hosing down what is left of the house! As the defeated Ollie sits in the armchair wondering how things could possibly get any worse... it starts raining.

Favourite bit
During the strange telephone conversation near the beginning of the film, Stan picks up the receiver, puts it down, picks up a statue-type ashtray, then puts that down and finally the receiver again, this time putting the mouth-piece up to his ear so he has the two ends of the telephone in both ears.  It's a split second gag which is made all the more funnier by the bizarre conversation they have!

Ollie: "You never met my wife did you?"
Stan: "Yes, I never did."

Copyrighted December 21, 1931.
Also released with Spanish subtitles as "Heroes de Trachuela", in which it was combined with Beau Hunks.
Filmed during the same period where Laurel and Hardy were also shooting Any Old Port!, which has started filming but was awaiting re-shoots which were then shot later in November - after this film had already wrapped.
Blanche Payson's screen time amounted to 8 seconds and two lines of dialogue.
The opening credits unfolds sideways like a scroll.
In the opening shot there is a hat on the lightshade, hanging from the ceiling as well as a cigarette in the ashtray which is still burning.
The number displayed on the wall outside Hardy's home is 1645. This was a fictitious address.
Ollie signs for the telegram with his right hand, and the messenger offers the telegram to him with his right hand also.
The doorbell to the front door is located on the wall on the right-hand side, and there is a window on the door (at head height) split into four quarters.
Stan's telephone number is Aptos 8080. Aptos is a small community in Santa Cruz, California, USA, close to the San Andreas Fault.
When we first see Stan he is in bed and the time is 11:10am, according to the alarm clock on his bedside cabinet. There is a newspaper at the foot of the bed which is turned to the comics section and there is a statuesque-type ashtray next to the telephone (seen in close-up on a small table).
It takes 6 rings on the telephone before Stan finally answers Ollie's call - a duration of 1 minute and 15 seconds from the time Ollie asks the operator to reach him.
Stan's dog bite is on his right wrist.
There is a painting of a yacht on the water just inside the front door hanging on the wall.
When Ollie shows Stan the wedding photograph of his wife, his face is not evident in the picture.
Ollie twice trips over the rolling sweeper - both times on his right foot.
It is revealed that Mrs. Hardy is in Chicago with her mother and had been gone for over a week.
Stan pokes Ollie in his right eye with the plunger.
When Ollie hurls the plant pot through the windows it hits the neighbour (Bobby Burns) outside whilst he is watering the grass. Look on the extreme right of the frame and you can see a man's hand throwing the plant from short range.
The clock on the mantle says 12:54pm as Stan starts to light the fire. Shortly afterwards the title card says the story moves forward one hour. Now given that Ollie was supposed to meet his wife at noon, there couldn't have been much time before the start of the fire and Ollie arriving back home so it begs the question how a fire could have caused such immense damage in such a short period of time?
Randy Skretvedt published the following information and encourgaed me to re-post it here with his permission: Production reports indicate that the first day's filming was Monday, October 19, 1931, starting at 8:30 in the morning. The location given is as La Bonia, evidently a gag as no such street existed then or now. The location of the prop house, probably just a facade for the opening scene and later a burned back wall, was on a little finger of property owned by the Roach studio on Carson Street. It was next to an actual home behind it, and others across the street. The home behind Ollie's burned-out wall is 8885 Carson Street, and a parking lot now sits on the property where Ollie's home was built. The house we see behind Stan as Ollie asks him to close the door is 8880 Carson Street, still standing but with a large addition behind the main house. One wonders what the neighbors thought about the Roach crew's shenanigans happening in such close proximity.
Since the October 19th report calls for Laurel, Hardy and a Messenger Boy, we can deduce that Robert Callahan's scene was filmed this day, and possibly the ending sequences, although Stan always preferred to shoot everything in sequence as a very unusual way of making movies, but one which accommodated Laurel and Hardy's penchant for improvising.
The reports for October 20 through 24 call for Stan, Babe (so designated) and a double, presumably for Ollie's 108 off the carpet sweeper and his later dive into the stack of dishes. Sunday, October 25 was an off day, but the company came back at 9:00 on Monday, the 26th, the final day of filming. They photographed the scenes with Blanche Payson at the railroad station telephone booth, and the single shot of Bobby Burns, doing another 108 as he waters a lawn. The location specified is still "Int. House" as on the previous five days, but the interior of Blanche's phone booth was likely on a sound stage, and Bobby Burns' pratfall was probably shot near the facde of the Hardy home.
My opinion
One of the better sound shorts from Laurel and Hardy, when they were really at their peak and could do little wrong. The pacing, the gags and the dialogue are all on form. Blanche Payson is her typical self. Very good.

Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Blanche Payson
Mrs. Hardy
Bobby Burns
Robert Callahan

CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

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Laurel And Hardy: The Magic Behind The Movies by Randy Skretvedt (book)

This page was last updated on: 23 January 2023