Series: Laurel and Hardy

Director: James W. Horne
Producer: Hal Roach
Dialogue: H.M. Walker
Photography: Art Lloyd
Editor: Richard C. Currier
Sound: Elmer Raguse

Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Mary Carr, James Finlayson. Billy Gilbert
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 31 October 1931
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: L-2
Filming dates: June 15-26, 1931
Rating: 6/10

One Good Turn

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Available on BLU-RAY & DVD:

Stan and Ollie are down on their luck sleeping rough and eating food heated up over a fire. As Ollie washes his clothing down by a brook Stan attends to cooking their supper behind a bush. It doesn't take long though before things bad. Stan trips on a line attached to the tent and brings it down into the fire, setting it ablaze. In a desperate attempt to put out the flames Stan repeatedly uses a small cup to fetch water from a pump handle and throws it over the fire. After several failed attempts to extinguish the flames Stan has to resign himself to confessing to Ollie of the situation. It gets worse: Stan's last act of innocent sabotage is to throw their cooking pot of soup over the fire on one last resort to quell the flames. With the tent gone, no food and their clothes now shrunken on the washing line Ollie has no other option than to tell Stan they are going to have to humiliate themselves by begging for food (again).
The boys drive to a house where an elderly lady is hosting a group of people (which includes Lyle Tayo, Snub Pollard, Gordon Douglas, Dorothy Granger and James Finlayson) for the rehearsal of a play. After Ollie establishes that there are no dogs in the yard, and Stan finally figures out how to open the gate they knock on the door, where Ollie pitches his plea for some food. One wrecked trashcan and doormat later and the kind lady agrees to make them something to eat. When Ollie asks the kind lady if they could work off their meal for her Stan suggests that Ollie could chop some wood for her - to which she gratefully agrees to. As she prepares their meal Ollie forces Stan to chop the wood as it was his suggestion. Stan's attempts to do so end in failure as the chopped half of a log flies up into the air and hits Ollie on the head. As things begin to boil over between the pair of them the lady welcomes the boys into her home for their food.
Just then there is a ring of the doorbell. The lady answers the door to one James Finlayson, who is there to foreclose the mortgage on her house. Of course, this is an extension of their previous scene together in rehearsing their play but the boys in the kitchen do not realise this as they overhear the conversation. The elderly lady cries out that she has been robbed and as she slumps over her table sobbing Ollie decides to take charge of the situation by telling Stan they need to raise the $100 needed for her to keep her in the house and so they sneak out the back and head off into town. Stan and Ollie park their car in a street where Ollie appeals to a crowd of onlookers by telling them the story of the elderly lady's predicament and asks for them to bid $100 for their only worldly possession - their car.
A drunken bystander (Billy Gilbert) steps up and bids the money Ollie needs, pulling the cash out of his wallet before accidentally placing it into Stan's jacket pocket. As Ollie begins to close the bidding, an elderly gentleman asks Stan the time to which Stan replies loudly "1:25". Stan's shout closes the auction and Ollie, believing this is the new higher bid, accepts $125. When the crowd disperses Ollie realises what has happened. He notices the wallet in Stan's pocket and demands an explantion. When Stan is unable to provide an answer Ollie assumes his friend has stolen it from the old lady and begins a relentless verbal assault on him which transcends into violence and their car being completely wrecked. Eventually Ollie drags the protesting Stan back to the old lady's house and tells her Stan stole her money. The lady explains what the boys overheard was a rehearsal of a play and that no money is missing. Stan unleashes his fury and chases Ollie out into the yard and is relentless in his assault on him. After the sustained attack a wayward log which Stan chops fails to land on Ollie and instead hits himself on the head. This gives Ollie the advantage, who rises from the stricken shed and chases Stan off.

Favourite bit
There can only be one scene which qualifies for this award: Stan unleashing a furious assault on Ollie at the end is unmissable. Wrongly accused of theft, Stan gets his revenge on his friend by chasing him with an axe through the back yard and into a log shed. When Ollie refuses to surrender, Stan chops down the shed and it comes crashing down on his head.  Still not content, Stan starts to chop wooden blocks so they fly up into the air and conveniently land down hard on Ollie's trapped head. It's a rare victory for Stan and done in style too!

Copyrighted October 5, 1931.
Also released with Spanish subtitles as "¡Salvad a las mujeres!" (Save The Ladies!), which was a compilation made by Roach to release in the foreign market this one and Come clean together as a long movie.
There are sources that list William Gillespie as being in the film. I have studied the scenes carefully for all the background actors, particularly in the auction scene and he is definitely not there and therefore I have not listed him in this film.
The ending of the film was Stan's idea.  His daughter Lois, who would have been 3 years old at the time, was upset that Ollie kept 'getting' her father in their films, so Stan came up with the scene where he got the better of Ollie for once just to convince her they were just pretending to hurt one another.
The registration of the boys' car is: 6M 28 5*.  (* the last letter/number after the 5 is unreadable).
In the opening scene where Ollie is washing his clothes by the brook, there is a small waterfall behind him to the left.
The boys have a candle sticking from the mouth of a glass bottle in their tent.
When Ollie throws down Stan's hat at the dinner table, it lands upright.
The calendar in the kitchen is set to May 1931.
The elderly lady makes the boys six sandwiches.  Stan takes 5 of them.
Despite Stan's clumsy behaviour at the table, it is an insulting waste of food for Ollie to deliberately pour the sugar and milk down Stan's clothing in retaliation for Stan spilling the coffee.  Not only this, but Ollie deliberately throws the sandwich on the floor as well.  For two men who claim to be starving and in desperate need of food this seems to be very rude of them.  But surely not as rude as the end scene where Stan takes an axe and smashes down the lady's wooden shed in the back garden!
Mary Carr's character in the play is Christine DeMandville.
During the auction of the car, the scene takes place in front of J.W. Burns, a sporting goods store for golfers.
When Stan and Ollie return to the old lady's house after the car auction Ollie just barges in through the back door without even knocking.
Stan's prolonged assault on Ollie involves two punches to the face, a poke in the eye, two kicks to the shins, three kicks to the pants and two chopped logs to the head.
My opinion
Pretty average film with a basic plot. The finale is quite shocking and very much welcomed but it comes at the end of a film which by all accounts is slightly better than bland.

Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Mary Carr
Christine De Menville
James Finlayson
Lyle Tayo
Community player
Dorothy Granger
Community player
Gordon Douglas
Community player
Snub Pollard
Community player
Billy Gilbert
Baldwin Cooke
Auction passerby
Ham Kinsey
Auction passerby
Charles Lloyd
Auction passerby
Dick Gilbert
Car auction onlooker
Bob Minford
Car auction onlooker
Edna Hall
Car auction onlooker
Retta Palmer


CREDITS (click image to enlarge) FILM CLASSICS CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

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Laurel And Hardy: The Magic Behind The Movies by Randy Skretvedt (book)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Edna Hall)

This page was last updated on: 30 August 2023