Series: All Stars w/The Taxi Boys

Director: Del Lord
Producer: Hal Roach
Photography: Art Lloyd
Editor: Richard C. Currier
Sound: James Greene

Stars: Clyde Cook, Franklin Pangborn, Geneva Mitchell, Billy Gilbert, Bud Jamison
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 13 August 1932
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: T-2
Filming dates: June 27 - July 2, 1932
Rating: 6/10

What Price Taxi

A parade inspection at the Black And Blue Cab Company headquarters reveals that two of the drivers are unaccounted for. The furious inspector (Bud Jamison) calls the missing drivers at their home. The two taxi drivers (Franklin Pangborn and Clyde Cook) are in bed snoring when the telephone rings. The short lead on the phone causes Pangborn to yank it hard, pulling the phone out of the inspector's hands from inside his garage (a great gag). The gag is repeated a couple of times until the inspector pulls the phone back towards him and brings the two men out of their bed and onto the floor. He demands that the men be over at the garage within two minutes or they will be fired.
Across the hall from their apartment, rival cab driver Billy Gilbert is in the process of ejecting the ice man from his home, despite the protests of his beautiful wife (Geneva Mitchell). They embrace and he heads off to work, but not before warning her that he shall be home early. Franklin appears on the landing, still trying to dress himself when the wife accosts him and tells him she has locked herself out of her apartment. He reluctantly offers to help by climbing up over the door and into her room via a wide open space. At this time, the jealous husband has forgotten something and presses the buzzer to his apartment from out in the street. Franklin answers the call by saying that nobody is home! Gilbert is straight up the stairs - just in time to find the man in his apartment in a state of undress... with his wife.
After the longest slow-burn possible from Gilbert, he eventually disposes of the cabbie from the second floor window and warns him that he will get a punch on the nose every time they cross paths from now on. Gilbert (taxi driver for a rival company) is later in the street polishing his cab, only to have it splashed with "mud" from a passing car. The offender is Clyde Cook - who is warned that if he does it again (what are the odds?) then he runs the risk of having his arm broken off and hit over the head with it. Clyde quickly drives off but is stopped by a traffic cop at a junction and told to move back. He does - and Billy Gilbert gets not one, but two more pothole-splashes all over his car and face. The hot-tempered Gilbert gives chase until finally, he rams Cook's cab, sending it up onto the sidewalk and onto its side.
Franklin Pangborn sees the incident and runs into a nearby cafe to hide. He picks up the newspaper and reads how a husband recently murdered a man found in his wife's room. Echoing his earlier disposal from the raging cabbie's apartment, he becomes paranoid when the same cabbie enters the cafe and sits down at his table and starts to read the back of his newspaper. Pangborn disguises himself as Gilbert orders a steak. The scared cabbie manages to evade detection and flees the cafe, but things worsen as Clyde Cook enters and sits at the same table. From out on the sidewalk, Pangborm tries to signal Cook of the danger he is in by waving his arms around frantically. Gilbert gets up to pay his bill and is grabbed by Cook, who has mistaken him for the waitress. Gilbert once again gives chase. Around the streets of Culver City they go until eventually they arrive back on the Back Lot with Gilbert up-ending Cook's car by the side of the road once more.

Favourite bit
This gag, at the beginning of the film is quite decent. A tug-o-war with a telephone cord between angry taxi cab dispatcher (Bud Jamison) and cabbie Clyde Cook, who is asleep in his bed. The fact that the men are in completely different locations when it happens is rather clever (and well executed).

Released as part of the "All Star" banner, this was the first film in the Taxi Boys series to be released, though Thundering Taxis was the first to be made (and was the tenth - and last to be released).
Clyde Cook and Franklin Pangborn work for the "Black And Blue Company". Their motto is "Cabs Every Where". Billy Gilbert works for rival cab company "The Blocker Cab Company".
In the opening scene when Bud Jamison calls his taxi drivers to march towards him, we see a fat man with his outstretched trousers walking towards the camera, but you can clearly see through his legs that nobody is behind him. When Jamison calls "halt", there is a noticable edit in the continuity of the film where the other drivers were added to the scene.
There are nine cab drivers in the parade at the beginning of the film. The two missing drivers at the beginning are referred to as "7 and 11". This would mean that a total of eleven drivers worked at the company - well, at least on that particular shift.
When we first see Clyde Cook and Franklin Pangborn, they are in bed snoring with a feather being passed between them. This gag was later re-used for the introductory scene of Laurel & Hardy in Babes In Toyland.
We do not see the face of the ice man whom Billy Gilbert ejects from his apartment.
The ease in which Franklin Pangborn managed to climb up through Billy Gilbert's door and into their apartment just exposes how bad the security is in that building! Oh, and didn't they bother putting windows above the doors then, or did they just leave them as gaping holes for any would-be burglar to climb through? Why not just leave a chair outside your door too for good measure, you know, to help the burglar get the elevation he would need?
When Billy Gilbert is first seen in the street cleaning his car you can see behind him that there are parked cars on the opposite side of the road. In the next shot two cars are seen heading towards him driving side-by-side (which is a bit odd, don't you think?) before he gets splashed with mud. This would mean therefore if we are to believe that at the point they pass him the road would have been 4 cars wide. Billy has his car parked by the side of the road, and 2 cars squeeze between his car and the car parked opposite. Just not possible. Also, look at the car that splashes the water up from the pothole in the road... it completely misses Billy Gilbert's taxi as it drives past, but in the next scene it would appear a bucket of paint is thrown over the bonnet of his cab! I know it was for comical effect, but even so...?
There are several edits where the taxi cabs drive through the Hal Roach backlot and then through Culver City. One occasion is when Clyde Cook is reprimaded by Billy Gilbert after he is splashed by Cook's car. Then, when Gilbert gives chase.
The newspaper that Franklin Pangborn reads in the cafe is the Los Angeles Examiner. The main headline is "Husband Kills Man In Wife's Room!"
Billy Gilbert orders a steak. It arrives at his table pretty quickly, don't you think?
The diner is called the Mint Cafe.
My opinion
As the first film in the series to be released, it's a decent enough effort although it sets up a false sense of security as the following films in the series introduced Ben Blue, who was a complete twat.

Clyde Cook
Franklin Pangborn
Geneva Mitchell
Billy Gilbert
Jealous husband
Bud Jamison
Taxi company dispatcher
Ham Kinsey
Bobby Dunn
Charles Bimbo
Eleanor Fredericks


CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

(click any image to enlarge)

Jesse Brisson (identification of Charles Bimbo, Eleanor Fredericks)
Jim Dallape (Back Lot images and locations identification)

This page was last updated on: 03 June 2023