Series: Laurel and Hardy

Director: Charles Rogers
Producer: Hal Roach
Photography: Art Lloyd
Editor: Bert Jordan
Sound: William Randall

Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Mae Busch, Charlie Hall
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 05 January 1935
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: L-21
Filming dates: December 10-20, 1934
Rating: 8/10

Tit For Tat

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Laurel and Hardy have ventured into the world of electrical supplies and are now open for "big business". After receiving some encouraging words from a passing police officer, Stan and Ollie go over to their neighbours, the Halls, who have a grocery store next door to theirs. Ollie tries to break the ice with Mr. Hall but things turn sour when Hall remembers a previous altercation between them and tells them to leave. Ollie offers to bury the hatchet but Hall is having none of it. The boys return to their store to fund a 'customer' leaving with an item in his hand - who even has the cheek to say hello to them as he steals their stock! Back at the grocery store Mr. Hall proudly boasts to his wife of his triumph.
Outside, Ollie ascendeds a ladder to put the lightbulbs on their sign but when Stan comes up from the basement from beneath the sidewalk he ends up sending the ladder - with Ollie on it up and onto the Hall's first floor balcony ledge. A group of people with nothing better to do crowd around to watch the spectacle. Mrs. Hall finds Ollie on her ledge and after a brief explanation from him she escorts him downstairs into her shop. Desperately in need of an explanation of what he has just witnessed, Mr. Hall abruptly confronts Hardy outside the electrical store but Ollie stands mute. Stan volunteers his silence too, which provokes Hall into shoving him into the lightbulbs on the ground. The first blow is struck! The boys make their way to the grocery store for an apology but Hall resorts to violence. Ollie counters by dispensing Hall's cash register draw into the owner's face. Hall follows Stan and Ollie back to their store where matters begin to escalate further with a pair of heated tongs. This spells war - and the boys are quick on Hall's tail as he leaves their store.
Without a spoken word or explanation, Ollie picks up Hall's wooden spoon, scoops up some potato and hits him in the face with it; and to rub it in both guys steal more marshmallows as they leave in silence. Poor old Charlie has obviously seen enough mickey-taking with his stock so sprinkles some alum on the marshmallows and makes his way over to the electrical store in a rage. This time it's Hall's turn to be destructive in silence as he peels away a selection of pocket watches off the display counter and mixes them in a blender. The silent acts of vandalism continue as Ollie then tips a jar of honey over the cash in Hall's register. This is immediately followed by Hardy's hat being sliced with a meat slicer. Now it becomes apparent that nobody is willing to back down and Hall gets a tub of lard poured over his head.
A furious Hall storms over and unleashes a violent retaliation and destroys their entire shop. It looks like a major victory for the grocer, but Stan and Ollie aren't done with him yet as they follow him back to his store. They make one last attempt to settle the feud but before Ollie can speak they both receive a portion of potato to their faces. They respond by shoving Charlie into a crate of eggs and tipping about 200 more over his head. At this point, fortunately for everybody involved the cop has seen enough and walks in to put an end to it. He asks who started the war and it becomes obvious very quickly that the grocer is to blame, although he denies it. The cop makes Hall apologise and he reluctantly shakes Ollie's hand. Ollie then kisses Mrs. Hall's hand before Stan tries the same. A swift kick to the rear from Mr. Hall and Stan's hat flies off (well caught by the cop). The Halls go back to their business, the boys return to their store to find practically their entire stock loaded onto the back of a truck courtsey of their store thief. The last laugh is with the cop - who makes the mistake of stealing a marshmallow as he leaves the Halls' store.

Favourite bit
The tit for tat sequence of events escalates to the point where both Stan and Ollie tip a large tub of lard over Charle Hall's head. Not content with this act, they make sure of the effect by banging on the side of the drum to ring their victim's ears too! There is so much going on in this film with mindless acts of childish behaviour that it's hard to keep up with it all, but this was my funniest scene!

Copyrighted January 29, 1935.
The story of this film continues from the events of Them Thar Hills (1934).
The official name of the store is L&H Electric Co.
The lettering in the window of Laurel & Hardy's store reads:
-Learn to prepare cold cookery dishes, frozen desserts, iced beverages. (on the left of the window)
-Attend daily lecture demonstrations. Join weekly... [cannot read the rest] (on the right of the window).
When Stan and Ollie first go to Hall's store there are two people walking out of the shop. One of them is Baldwin Cooke. Why does he seemingly offer the boys a dirty look?
Of the four main chartacters in the film, only one is American (Hardy). Stan Laurel and Charlie Halll are British, and Mae Busch is Australian.
The opening credits mis-spell Charlie Hall's name as "Charley".
Charlie Hall and Mae Busch are wearing jackets which bear the insignia "Hall's Groceries".
When we first see Mae Busch she is stocking the shelf with Baby Ruth Butterfingers.
This was one of the biggest parts for Charlie Hall in all of his films for Hal Roach.
One of the lines Charlie Hall comes out with is "no beating around the bush with me" - to his wife, played by Mae Busch. I wonder if this was deliberately added to the script?
In the scene where Mae Busch and Ollie come down her stairs there is a cushion at the foot of the stairs. Seems an odd place for it?
There is a risque piece of dialogue when Ollie and Mrs. Hall come downstairs from her bedroom and he says to her "I've never been in a position like that before!"
When Ollie pours the honey into Hall's cash register, Stan is decent enough to screw the lid back on after use.
Bobby Dunn enters the electrical store 5 times throughout the film, stealing various items of stock in the process.
Watch Charlie Hall's smirk as he slaps down the cut off top from Ollie's hat back on to his head.
There are sources that claim Viola Richard is in the film. I think this is extremely unlikely. Initially when I reviewed the film I considered that this might have been her but I doubt it. This is open to opinion. Another source claims she appears in Our Gang's Sprucin' Up (1935) the same year but this is also unconfirmed.
When Charlie Hall swings the first light in the electrical store it sets off a chain reaction with all of the lights being smashed. Many of them begin swinging BEFORE they are struck by the preceeding light. A total of 6 lights are smashed in the sequence.
When Charlie Hall leaves the electrical store after his light-swinging victory, look on the far left of the screen at the crowd of onlookers who have gathered and you can see Jack Hill (again, only this time wearing a different hat).
After Charlie Hall smashes the lights in the electrical store and leaves, the cop (James C. Morton) returns and is seen taking notes as the feuding neighbours continue to try and outdo one another. This is reminiscent of Tiny Sandford in Big Business, when he played a cop who observed the carnage unfolding between the boys and James Finlayson.
When Ollie kisses Mae Busch's hand in the final few seconds of the film, it is my observation that his mouth does not actually make contact with her hand at all.
The marshmallows that Stan and Ollie keep helping themselves to are "Snow Clad Marshmallows". During the course of the film Ollie helps himself to 4 marshmallows and Stan helps himself to 3. The cop also has one.
My opinion
Superb comedy from Laurel and Hardy as they were approaching their final days in the short reels category for the studio (only two more followed). The momentum builds nicely and escalates into a bizarre yet somewhat satisfying finale of chaos, over-reaction, complete destruction of property and goods, not to mention the personal indignities suffered by all involved. It's silly childish nonsense which is just satisfying to be a mere witness to. One of their best.

Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Mae Busch
Mrs. Hall
Charlie Hall
Mr. Hall
James C. Morton
Baldwin Cooke
Bobby Dunn
Jack Hill
Viola Richard
Dick Gilbert
Sammy Brooks

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CREDITS (click to enlarge)

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Laurel And Hardy: The Magic Behind The Movies by Randy Skretvedt (book)
Rick Greene (poster)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Dick Gilbert, Sammy Brooks)

This page was last updated on: 01 May 2023