Maids A La Mode
  Director: Gus Meins • Producer: Hal Roach •
Cinematography: Hap Depew • Editor: Louis McManus • Sound recording engineer: James Greene
  04 March 1933  
  sound short  

  ZaSu is adjusting hem-lines and shoulder straps/bras on the LOVELY models getting ready for the catwalk to exhibit Billy Gilbert's fashionable designs. He is waiting for a rich customer, Ms VanAstorHorse, to arrive with her fiancée. Billy tells his assistants in his usual 'blustery' way, "The minute they come, I want you to call. No, the second they come!" His blood pressure increases as he continues, "NO! Sooner than that! Don't forget!"
He goes to see how the ladies are getting on. He asks, "Where's Miss Todd?" And out comes Thelma, who is as scantily dressed as the others. (Phew!) Billy says, "Ahh, I'm depending on you." And Thelma smiles sweetly.
The large frame of Ms VanAstorHorse and the small build of her fiancée arrive to see the clothing display that Billy hopes to sell them. He is almost running on the spot with excitement to see them, and says, "I am so happy you come!" Ms VanAstorHorse enquires, "I hope you have a wonderful selection?" Billy creeps and crawls with, "Oh the best, but even the best isn't good enough for your honeymoon!" She fawns and says to her little fiancée, who has Laughing Gravy the dog under his arm, "Oh Ducky, did you hear what he said?" 'Ducky' tilts his head, puts his top teeth on his bottom lip, and makes an "Mmm-mmm",high-pitched sound of contentment. She introduces him to Billy, who says, "You lucky people!", and they all giggle foolishly! With great excitement, Billy leads them to the chairs for the viewing. Her chair legs collapse under her weight, which to Billy's relief, she doesn't seem to notice!
The conveyor belt moves and one by one the lovely ladies show their new clothes. Billy is narrating, but all this is to no avail as the lovey-dovey couple only have eyes and ears for each other. Biily is asking them if they like what's on offer, and she says "Yes, yes", purely for the sake of answering, whilst 'Ducky' nods blankly. This continues until they notice a girl in naughty night attire that makes them all stare. Ms VanAstorHorse says sexily to her Ducky, "Ooh, we must take THAT on our honeymoon with us!" Ducky licks his lips, and says, "Shall I ask her?" She croons, "OOH Ducky!" and they both smile. The 'Carry On'-ness, continues when another girl reveals similar naughty attire, which makes Ducky AND Laughing Gravy sit up and take notice!
Up next is a moody Thelma dressed in a wedding gown. (Max, dream on, and remember that you are already married, and you wouldn't wear the gown then!) I say, 'moody', because when ZaSu genuinely says, "Oh Thelma, you look beautiful!" Our moody little Thelma snaps, "So what?!" (Don't know what THAT'S about!) As the conveyor belt glides Thelma along, ZaSu spies something that needs adjusting on the train of the gown. She deals with it as both she they get tangled, the belt goes too fast, with Thelma's thighs on show as ZaSu is under the gown. The couple open and close their mouths in shock, Ducky chases after Laughing Gravy who is after the girls, who are running/crawling on the spot, Billy flusters and blusters until eventually they all end in a heap!
Billy sacks our girls. "Not only are you fired" he rants, "You are discharged!" He goes back to the conveyor belt and ends up without dignity, running backwards on the spot whilst trying unsuccessfully to appease the couple, who storm out. He eventually falls, bum first, on a BIG pin cushion, with BIG pins, and yells in pain!
Our girls pack their things, and when ZaSu falls through a chair, Thelma does her usual far-too-late double take, but we all forgive her bad timing, don't we? Billy sort-of forgives the girls too, as he needs two dresses to be delivered by 12 o'clock, and reinstates Thelma and ZaSu for that duty.
Andre is a well-to-do French artist, who invites Billy to his party tonight. Billy reluctantly agrees, but only when Andre stops kissing him!
Andre also knows Thelma and greets her and ZaSu with loud "Mer-mer-mer-mer" kisses on the hand (ZaSu's annoyance at this, is very funny) when he meets them on the street. With a pinch on their cheeks (the face!), he leaves them, insisting they attend his party.
As they walk on, ZaSu reminds Thelma that they haven't any decent party dresses to wear. But Thelma has an idea. They can 'borrow' the new dresses that they have, because they have got until 12 o'clock to deliver them. Thelma puts her strange posh voice (that she uses sometimes-which keeps me more interested!) on to convince ZaSu, "We'll have a grand time, Andre throws the most marvellous parties!"
They are interrupted by a mattress which is on the pavement (or 'sidewalk', depending on where you are reading from!) outside a shop. Slapstick time, as the girls trip over it, get tangled and 'pinged' by the springs, a mouse runs out of it, the girls scream and run, bringing the shop owner out, who yells, "What's the idea!?" and makes a three-course meal out of being tangled,falling and rolling about, until fade.
At the party, policeman Harry Bernard is just leaving as Andre fondles his cheek (face!), much to Harry's displeasure! Another of the Laurel And Hardy People, Kay Deslys, is in full flow as an opera singer, and even her necklace is bobbing up and down in throat rhythm! "Clear as a bell!" Thelma sarcastically points out. ZaSu digs, "Sleigh-bell!" ZaSu's flannels are revealed as she shakes hands with another guest, and Thelma looks on in embarrassment. Not only that, the flannels have a loose thread at ZaSu's back, and a curious drunken guest pulls at it, and yards of it covers him and the room space, but nobody seems to notice although ZaSu complains of 'being cold'. The girls are asked to dance, and Thelma spots ZaSu's bare back and zip hanging down. Thelma tries to reach the zip whilst dancing, but instead flicks open the drunk's shirt. She eventually gets a firm grip on the protruding zip and with a lot of effort, grimacing and thrusting rips it off completely! (nurse!) As she looks at ZaSu's bare back, she does another one of her double, no, treble, er no, quadrupil-takes, and I love her even more! She turns to her dancing partner, Andre, and if you lip-read carefully, appears to say, "Oh f**k". But maybe not!
The dance over, the girls have their backs to a large curtain. Thelma hides behind it, and attempts to sew ZaSu's zip back on. Who arrives at the party now but the last person our girls want to see, Billy Gilbert! The fear bursts out of Thelma, who makes a petrified "NAAAAAWWWWW!" (NO) sound. Very strange! They try to make their escape, and find that ZaSu has been sewn to the curtain! She swings from side to side across the room. Whilst airborne, she picks up masks (that just happen to be lying around), and they ram one down on Billy's head, and put one on each other. Billy and other guests, (including Charlie Hall) get knocked over by the swinging ZaSu. Even a little statue is animated, and ducks out of her way. With Thelma's help,she tears herself loose, and runs away with Thelma standing on the end of the trailing curtain that is still attached to ZaSu's 'borrowed' dress, and 'ski's' behind her.

Another gem from our girls, who were assisted by many other lovely girls, in this very funny romp!

•Film # 15 in the series.
Did you notice?

  Zasu Pitts
  Thelma Todd
Billy Gilbert
Von Smaltz
  Cissy Fitzgerald
Mrs. Von Eckterhorse
Harry Bernard
Billy Engle
Mrs. Von Eckterhorse's fiancee
Estelle Etterre
  Kay Deslys
Dolores Deslys
  Charlie Hall
Party guest
  Marvin Hatley
  Sydney Jarvis
Furniture man
  Mary Kornman
  John J. Richardson
Leo White
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - Laughing Gravy

Mick Roche (review)
Brent Seguine (identification of Billy Engle)
Steve Wright (identification of Estelle Etterre)

This page was last updated on: 05 December 2019