Series: All Stars w/ Harry Langdon
Director: Lewis R. Foster
Producer: Hal Roach
Story editor: H.M. Walker
Photography: George Stevens
Editor: Richard C. Currier
Sound: Elmer Raguse
Stars: Harry Langdon, Thelma Todd, Edgar Kennedy, Frank Austin
Released: 17 August 1929
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: S-24
Filming dates: June 10-17, 1929
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Thelma is at home and expecting a visitor, so after dismissing her maid and butler she prepares herself in front of her mirror before taking to the couch. A man knocks at her door and is called to come in. It is Harry, who enters the room in awe of Thelma's magnificent dwellings. After taking an age to get from the door to the sofa, telling himself to be quiet, slipping on the polished floor, not even seeing Thelma who is only a few feet away and then looking bewildered when she begins talking to him (seriously do people actually behave like this in real life?)... we eventually discover that he is not the guest she was expecting. Even a simple instruction on sitting down seems confusing to him. After the maid fetches Harry a drink, he begins telling Thelma about how he was standing on the street corner when all of a sudden there was a fire. We see Harry in the street as several fire carts go by, with him looking confused and bemused by it all.
A guy at a store (Edgar Kennedy) calls Harry over, who is still obsessed with the fire trucks, and asks him to deliver a note across the road for him in exchange for a small pocket lighter. Harry is completely and utterly oblivious to the man and despite him (the man) trying desperately to make Harry understand but it's pointless. Harry is in a world of his own and uses the lighter to ignite a firework he just happens to have on him, then puts the bloody thing in his mouth and covers his ears. Yes. Back in the present, Harry tells Thelma about the man on the street who gave him the note but begins to get uncomfortable after an ice cube from his drink slips down his pants. But it's okay because Harry ignites his lighter and pinches the flame before putting his fingers down his trousers to warm up the ice. At this point Thelma (and the rest of us watching) have just about had enough of him!
Thelma demands to know why Harry is in her apartment and he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a note for her, discarding his lighter in the process which slides across the floor, under the door and sets fire to a rug. Thelma finally gets to read the real note from the man on the street (Jack) and begins crying. The butler (the sinister-looking Frank Austin) comes in to check on her, and gives Harry a pretty dirty look in the process! Thelma tells Harry to tell Jack that she will fix him and she looks to Harry for his help by seducing him. She lies down on the sofa and makes a telephone call to Jack, all the while Harry picks up a doll-like puppet and begins playing with it. There is some clever interaction with Thelma as he grabs her legs thinking it is the doll.|
Meanhile outside in the corridor there is panic among the other tenants as the fire has started to take its hold. A knock at the door from one of the tenants informing Thelma of the fire causes her to faint and forces Harry to try and retrieve the key to the locked door which she had put down her dress to prevent him from leaving. He tries a series of methods to get the key off her (man, just reach in and take it - she's out cold!) Harry pins Thelma up against the wall (lucky bastard!) and uses a rope trick (somehow) to make her lean forward so that the key will fall out onto the floor but only manages to smash himself over the head with a vase in the process. At that moment Jack walks in and sees Harry holding an unconscious Thelma and charges him but the three of them become entagled in a curtain. Harry makes his escape out of the window and lands in a large net being held by several cops. But after he bounces back up into the air he comes to rest on the smoke stack of a fire truck.
The staredown between Harry and the butler - none other than Frank Austin.
• Copyrighted August 26, 1929.
• This was the first of eight films that Harry Langdon made for Hal Roach. Each of them were released under Roach's 'All Star' banner.
• The film made its DVD debut in 2020 thanks to Kit Parker, but it is missing the soundtrack, which has been substituted with a piano accompaniment provided by Andrew Earle Simpson.
• When all the fire trucks head off to the fire there is a dog who then goes to the lamp-post to have a sniff. For me that was one of the highlights of the entire film!
• Thelma Todd pretty much saves the film with her appearance. And when she drops that key down her dress, who wants to offer to go and retrieve it for her?
• Thelma Todd looks pretty relaxed lying on that counch with her legs up on Harry Langdon, doesn't she?
• No doubt about it but Harry definitely puts his hand on Thelma's breast when he is trying to retrieve the key. It's not even subtle! Also, in the same scene I think it is highly unlikely that gravity would keep Thelma on her feet like that.
What the experts say
• "I had seen some of Langdon's work for Hal Roach before I viewed this film so my expectations were not high going into this! That said, I just kind of felt sorry for the guy. He cannot see that his intended humour comes off as irritating and unfunny. Thelma carries the film, both with her acting and being the male eye-candy. It just scrapes past as tolerable." ~ Lord Heath.
Tenant who tries to put out fire
|SHOT ON THE LOT
The following scenes were filmed on the Hal Roach Back Lot and are included in the TOUR
(click any image to enlarge)
|SHOT ON LOCATION
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Richard Finegan (stills)
This page was last updated on: 05 May 2020