Series: Laurel and Hardy
Director: James W. Horne
Producer: Hal Roach
Dialogue: H.M. Walker
Photography: Jack Stevens
Editor: Richard C. Currier
Sound: Elmer Raguse
Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Mae Busch, Thelma Todd
Released: 21 February 1931
Length: 3 reels
Production No.: L-38E
Filming dates: December 30, 1930 - January 10, 1931
Chickens Come Home
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|Ollie is the top cheese of a company for high-grade fertilizer whilst running for mayor in the forthcoming election. He summons a co-worker into his office (part time L&H co-star and Stan Laurel stunt double Ham Kinsey) and asks to see Mr. Laurel. Hardy tells Stan to take a memo by writing down his acceptance speech.
"Friends, fellow citizens, and collegiates. And so forth, and so forth...and so on! (in brackets)."
Stan gets to the end of writing and snaps his pencil before sharpening it in a musical pencil sharpener. At this point Mae Busch storms into the reception office next door with little patience and plenty of sarcasm, and demands to see Mr. Hardy. The secretary informs the boss of her arrival but he is too busy to see her, which isn't well received by the anxious woman. Back in his office Hardy continues to recite his speech for Laurel;
"Furthermore, it is my aim to keep our city clean of all vice. Applause."
Proud of himself, Ollie informs Stan "that'll open their eyes" just as the mysterious woman walks in. Her mocking laugh reveals her presence which is met with Ollie asking Stan to leave so he can be alone with her in private.
|Ollie recognises her as a woman from his past and asks why she has suddenly appeared after all these years, just as he is becoming successful. She wants money, but Ollie refuses to give her any, and instead orders her to leave. The ex-sweetheart produces a candid photograph of the two of them from their previous time together and threatens to blackmail him if her demands are not met. Ollie panics, and just to make matters worse his new wife (Thelma Todd) makes an unexpected appearance in the reception next door. Stan frantically rushes in to warn Ollie, who then quickly hides his ex-flame in his office bathroom. Mrs. Hardy's surprise visit is to advise her husband that she has arranged a dinner party for that evening to commence at 7pm - the same time he has agreed to meet up with his ex to make a 'final settlement' over her blackmail threats. The awkwardness is further compounded by Ollie still holding his ex's fur in his hands after he has shoved her unceremoniously into the adjacent room. Mrs. Hardy politely enquires to Stan;
"And how is Mrs. Laurel?"
Stan: "Oh fine thank you"
Mrs. Hardy: "I'd love to meet her some time"
Stan: "Neither do I too"
(This is to set up the fact that the two wives have not met so that when Mae Busch turns up later at the Hardy mansion she can be passed off as Stan's wife.)
Ollie makes up an excuse and hands over the fur to his wife as a gift before she leaves. Mae Busch comes out of her hiding place only to be told Hardy cannot meet her as planned due to his wife's announcement. She is not pleased and will not take no for an answer. So Ollie formulates a cunning plan to send Stan in his absence so that he can keep her company until he can get there himself. This requires an awkward telephone call to Mrs. Laurel to smooth over the edges. An equally displeased Mrs. Laurel informs Ollie that if her husband does not come home at the right time then she will break his arm. Ollie gets off the phone and acts as if nothing is out of place, despite Stan's scepticism.
Evening finally arrives - and so does Stan at the ex-flame's apartment, bearing flowers much to the bemusement of the hostess.
|Disastisfied at his excuse, she telephone's Mr. Hardy to demand an explanation.
Hardy, who is in the middle of hosting the dinner party slips her some temporary excuse that he will be over as soon as he can get free. The butler (James Finlayson) overhears the plan and offers his master the squinted eye (Fin's wonderful trademark) in disgust.
A small cash bribe quickly wins him over. Over at the ex's apartment Stan anxiously awaits Ollie's arrival and asks;
"Do you mind if I smoke?"
Mae Busch: "I don't care if you burn up!"
At this point Stan spots the photographic evidence linking Ollie to this mad woman and conceals it inside his jacket, in the hope that she will not be able to use it to blackmail her victim. He smugly acknowledges his own victory.
At the Hardy house Ollie thinks up an excuse to leave the house to attend to the ex & Stan so he tries to con his guests into believing he is out of cigars so he can go and get some more. However, the helpful butler Fin makes sure Ollie doesn't have to go too far by bringing more into the room on a tray. The phone rings again but this time Mrs. Hardy gets there first before Ollie snatches it away from her. The seed of suspicion is planted as he is requested to sing a rendition of a popular song to the aggressive piano accompaniment of his wife.
Again the telephone rings and again Ollie has to wrestle it from Mrs. Hardy's clutches. Stan warns him that he cannot get organised and that the ex is on her way over. Stan and the ex take their argument out to the street where they are seen by a gossip friend of Mrs. Laurel, who cannot wait to report the news. Stan, the ex girlfriend and Mrs. Laurel all make their respective ways over to Hardy's house for a showdown. The Hardy guests leave as Stan walks in with the ex-girlfriend, who refuses to leave until she has her settlement.
Ollie fires a gun and she faints. This leaves Ollie with the dilemma of trying to get the woman out of the house and comes up with a not altogether convincing idea - to place the woman on his back and throw her coat over the top of them. Stan escorts his 'wife' to the front door only to find his real wife has arrived, brandishing an axe. Double-takes galore with Thelma Todd and James Finlayson giving their best as Ollie then attempts to leave with the strange woman mounted on Stan's back. The inevitable happens and they are all chased out into the street!
There are a lot of great scenes here, especially with the Hardy/Finlayson bribery on top of the Hardy/Busch blackmail. Seems that Ollie cannot win whatever he does! One round he does manage to win however is the favourite scene award: Stan has placed the framed photograph on the sofa which nobody is meant to see, but Ollie quickly notices it and jumps on it, cracking the glass and trying to hide the discomfort. It's his "ooooh!" which makes the moment all the more funny.
• Copyrighted March 3, 1931.
• Reissued by Film Classics as Chicken Come Home. See here for title card.
• On performing one of the hilarious double-takes, James Finlayson put so much into it that he actually knocked himself out cold.
• This is a sound re-make of an earlier film made by Laurel and Hardy, Love 'Em And Weep (1927).
• At the time of shooting, Hardy would have been 38 and Thelma Todd was 24.
• Thelma Todd was originally slated to play the role of the ex girlfriend (the Mae Busch part).
• A Spanish-language version of the film was made as Politiquerias.
• "New Tax Law Will Set Better Standard" is one of the headlines in the newspaper Hardy is reading in his office.
• The newspaper lists Hardy's middle name as "Norval", the same as in Pardon Us. This is spelt incorrectly.
• When we first see him Ollie is wearing a rose in his breast pocket jacket.
• When Stan swats the fly in Ollie's office, the sound effect is the same one used when he does the same thing in Our Wife (1931).
• Stan has a plaster on the second finger on his right hand.
• There are 7 workers in the office next door to Hardy's office.
• Mae Busch walks into the office at 10:35am. Thelma Todd walks in at 10:45am.
• A calendar hangs on the reception wall, but it is hard to say with any degree of accuracy which month it is set to; though in a later scene Thelma Todd comments that it is currently July. If this was the case then bearing in mind the dinner party was at 7pm the sun would have been still very evident, yet when Mae Busch turns up with Stan it is very dark outside.
• Hardy's telephone number is Granite 3648.
• When Stan is in Mae Busch's apartment, there is a coathanger still attached to the back of his jacket whilst he is wearing it.
• There is a bear's head rug on Mae Busch's floor.
• At the Hardy residence there is a large motif hanging on the wall bearing the name "Norvell". This was actually part of Oliver Hardy's heritage.
• Mae Busch lives in a building called Empire Apartments. The gossip woman lives across the hall from her and just happens to know Mrs. Laurel. Small world huh?
• Mae Busch is wearing white underwear when she is wrestling with Stan outside the building.
• A total of 13 onlookers observe the Laurel/Busch fight. One of which I think is Baldwin Cooke, who appears at the end of the scene from the left wearing a hat.
• The IMDb states that Frank Rice plays Hardy's dinner servant. That's because some idiot submitted that information to that site, and as usual, they published it as fact without checking it.
• Thelma Todd wears an ear-ring only in her left ear.
• Hardy demands that Mae Busch leave his house, he then fires a gun. As he does this look at Stan's hat - it clearly has a thin piece of string attached to the top of it which is pulled upwards as the gun is fired to give the impression that his hat flew off in comical manner as a result of the action on screen.
• Hardy demands that Mae Busch leave his house, he then fires a gun. As he does this look at Stan's hat - it clearly has a thin piece of string attached to the top of it which is pulled upwards as the gun is fired to give the impression that his hat flew off in comical manner as a result of the action on screen. See here for screenshot.
What the experts say
• "My personal favourite Laurel and Hardy sound short film." ~ Lord Heath.
|Charles K. French
Mr. Holliday (dinner guest)
|CREDITS||ALTERNATIVE TITLE CARDS|
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Laurel And Hardy: The Magic Behind The Movies by Randy Skretvedt (book)
This page was last updated on: 21 February 2020