Series: Laurel and Hardy

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

Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Edgar Kennedy, James Finlayson, Anders Randolf
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 04 January 1930
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: L-29
Filming dates: October 30 - November 12, 1929
Rating: 5/10

Night Owls


See also Ladrones
A spate of burglaries in the neighborhood has caused the chief of police (Anders Randolf) to issue Officer Kennedy an ultimatum: either make an arrest or he will lose his job. Kennedy is encouraged by his fellow officers to stage a crime himself. The two gullible candidates are Stan and Ollie who are asleep on a park bench. Kennedy wakes them and threatens them with ninety days in jail unless they agree to carry out his blackmail demands. He tells the boys that he wants for them to burgle the chief's house and then allow themselves to be caught in the act before Kennedy arrests them in order for him to get back onto the chief's good side. Despite having reservations about the strange proposal, Stan and Ollie have little choice than to do as they are told.
They are lead to a back-alley where a row of dustbins provide ample evidence of their whereabouts owing to the amount of times they are kicked over, fallen upon and trashed. Officer Kennedy leaves them to their devices as Stan climbs the boundary wall to the property, aided by a nervous Ollie. One well-timed feline and a pair of ripped pants later, the two of them end up falling through a greenhouse on the other side of the wall, waking both the police chief and his servant (James Finlayson). Fin goes to the window to investigate the disturbance and observes two cats walking across the wall. Ollie suggests he and Stan pretend to be cats in order to cover their presence so they both begin making meowing noises. The butler throws a slipper at them, hitting Ollie on the head. But when he does it a second time Stan retaliates by throwing the slipper back, much to the bemusement of the servant! Fin throws a third, which this time is countered by Stan wanting to chuck a brick back before Ollie stops him and hurls the brick over the wall, hitting Officer Kennedy on the head and knocking him out cold.
Stan and Ollie make their way to an open window and Stan climbs into the house through the conveniently-left gap. Ollie hands him a match to light their candle but Stan holds it too close to the curtains, setting them on fire briefly before some quick thinking (and even more conveniently-placed water in a goldfish bowl) by Stan puts out the flame with one swift motion. Ollie signals for Stan to go and open the front door, which he does, but then closes it behind him, leaving them both stranded on the outside once again. Eventually they do manage to navigate the window and both get inside the house to begin their thieving, unaware that Kennedy is incapacitated.
When the bumbling crooks begin to collect items for their haul they make so much noise they wake the servant (again), who comes to investigate. The boys resume their business downstairs with Ollie telling Stan they will sit and wait for Kennedy to show up and how they should not make any noise. So Stan drops the bag with all the stolen stuff sending the sound of a loud clatter through the room just before Ollie leans back to start off a pre-programmed piano. Fortunately for them the sound of the piano disturbs Kennedy from his comatose state just in time for him to charge into the house as the boys dive out the nearest window. The chief enters the room, catches the officer with the sack of goodies in his hand and proclaims him to be the neighborhood thief who has constantly eluded the law. A lucky escape for Stan and Ollie it would seem... except for Ollie's pants, which take yet another indignant ripping as the boys flee back over the wall from whence they came.

Favourite bit
Stan has just climbed up onto the wall when a cat runs across his fingers, scaring the life out of him and causing him to panic and fall.  It's a split second facial expression that does it every time for me!

Blink and you will miss it.

Copyrighted January 6, 1930. However, during the credit roll at the beginning of the film it states a copyright year of 1929.
Also filmed in Spanish as Ladrones, making it the first foreign-language short to be released by the studio.
Anders Randolf died less than six months after this film was released.
This is the sound short with the least amount of spoken dialogue by Stan and Ollie.
This was the eighth and last time Edgar Kennedy appeared in a film with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.
Laurel and Hardy's first scene isn't until 1 minute 57 seconds into the film.
When Ollie shakes hands with Kennedy at the beginning, Ollie uses both hands.
As the boys and the officer approach the alleyway a bell is heard chiming twelve times.
Look at the way those dustbins are stacked before Kennedy falls into them. Who stacks dustbins that way?
After the chief is woken up in the middle of the night, instead of trying to go back to sleep he instead sits up and starts reading a book. Odd.
With 42 burglaries in the local neighborhood don't you think it odd that the chief of police went to bed and left his downstairs windows open? The first one is open slightly, but enough for Stan to get into - the second is just ridiculous!
Did Stan even stop to consider that there may have been a fish in the bowl of water he chucks at Ollie after he sets the curtains on fire?
When Ollie chases after Stan there is a garden rake on the grass. This was used as a gag in the Spanish language version.
When Fin falls down the stairs look at the vase - when it breaks away you can see some kind of line which is attached to it which pulls it apart.
The word 'Safeway' is printed on the bag the boys use to burgle the house.
When Finlayson comes downstairs to investigate the noise initially he ends up shooting the large vase and it explodes. But later when Ollie is sneaking around inside the house the vase is back in its place and complete again.

What the experts say
"Relatively poor. There are a couple of well-timed gags but there is nothing at all special about this. Slow, methodical and takes an eternity getting to its conclusion." ~ Lord Heath.

Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Edgar Kennedy
Officer Kennedy
James Finlayson
Anders Randolf
Police chief
Harry Bernard
Baldwin Cooke
Charles McMurphy


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

This page was last updated on: 07 June 2020