Series: Laurel and Hardy

Director: Lewis R. Foster
Producer: Hal Roach
Dialogue: H.M. Walker
Photography: George Stevens, Len Powers, John MacBurnie, Jack Roach
Editor: Richard C. Currier
Sound: Elmer Raguse

Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Edgar Kennedy, Mae Busch, Thelma Todd
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 04 May 1929
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: L-23
Filming dates: March 25-30, 1929; retakes April 1, 1929
Rating: 6/10

Unaccustomed As We Are

Available on DVD:

Ollie has brought Stan back to his apartment with the promise of a lovely dinner. Only problem is, he hasn't told his wife, whom he expects to cook it for him! After Ollie has a rather prolonged introduction to Mrs. Kennedy on the landing he invites his friend into his apartment. The much-praised Mrs. Hardy isn't what Stan was expecting. She is moody, blunt and unaccommodating of Stan. Ollie is bashful when he introduces Stan to her and is taken aback when she point blank refuses to cook any dinner for him. A loud argument ensues where nobody can hear anything Ollie or his wife are saying. When Stan offers to make a comment, Mrs. Hardy slaps him down immediately. Realising the futility in trying to reason with his wife Ollie attempts to drown her moaning out by putting on the victrola.
It does the job, and even Stan finds some comfort in the tune as he bends his legs in time with the music. Finally, Mrs. Hardy snaps and storms out, leaving Ollie and Stan to it. Not wanting to be beaten by her absense Ollie presses on with his promise to give Stan a dinner and so begins preparing the table. Stan tries to help but only ends up causing more problems for Ollie, who sends him into the kitchen to light the oven. Yeah, this doesn't go well either. Stan cannot find a match to light it so he consults Ollie but fails to mention he has left the gas on. Ollie discovers this the hard way as he enters it with a lighted match in his hand and leaves it just as quickly - through the air. The commotion arouses the concerns of Mrs. Kennedy who just lets herself into Ollie's apartment and offers to assist.
This offer of kindess results in disaster for them all (but benefits us viewers!) as her dress catches fire and is pulled off by Hardy. Those legs! Mr. Kennedy tells the boys she will pop over to her apartment to get some more clothes on but as she opens the door she sees her policeman-husband across the hall and about to enter their apartment. She panics but Ollie tells her he is happy to explain what has happened. That is until his own wife is seen returning and he quickly shoves Mrs. Kennedy into his bedroom and into a large trunk. Mrs. Hardy is remorseful and tells Ollie she has come back to cook Stan dinner but Ollie isn't having any of it. Mrs. Hardy erupts at Stan, blaming him for breaking up her marriage, all of which is heard by Mr. Kennedy outside. And just like his wife, he exercises a lack of manners and enters the Hardy's apartment without knocking first and breaks it all up.
When he discovers what Ollie is trying to do with smuggling a girl out of the apartment in a trunk he surprisingly offers some helpful advice! Of course, he doesn't realise that the girl in the trunk is actually his own wife who has heard everything he has said. Kennedy tells the boys to take the trunk to his apartment where he will deal with the woman inside. That doesn't end well for him, by the way! All the while Ollie, his wife and Stan sit down to dinner and hear the commotion coming from across the hall from the Kennedy's apartment. A few minutes later Kennedy once again lets himself into Hardy's apartment and calls Hardy outside for a beating. Stan is next. But before Kennedy can get to him, Mrs. Kennedy assaults her husband and leaves him crumpled up on the floor. Ollie comes back out into the hallway to find Stan standing over the badly-wounded cop (see favourite bit) and looks on in astonishment before Stan bids him goodbye. As Stan leaves he trips and tum bles down the stairs.

Favourite bit
In the final scene, Stan is called out into the hallway by Officer Kennedy to receive the same treatment as Ollie - a beating.  However, Mrs. Kennedy sneaks up from behind and smashes a vase over her husband's head, knocking him out cold.  Stan returns to Hardy's apartment, grabs his hat and leaves - without a scratch.  Ollie, astounded, walks out into the hallway to see Kennedy in a heap, believing that Stan had beaten him up!

Copyrighted December 10, 1929.
This was the first talkie produced by Hal Roach, and thus the first time audiences got to hear Laurel and Hardy speak.
Released simultaneously as a silent film with intertitle cards. See here for all of them. While on the subject, there are a staggering 21 cards within the first 3 minutes of the film, slowing it down drastically!
The title of the film refers to the "unaccustomed" venture into making a sound film for the first time.
Per the RCA Victor archives, the master disc (MVE-51725) for reel one of Unaccustomed As We Are has this noted in the ledger: "Record MVE-49037 'Liberty' used at beginning of reel no. 1." While watching both films (and presuming whoever mastered them used the original sound), it is clear that the intro music for Liberty has indeed been dubbed onto the soundtrack for Unaccustomed As We Are though it does seem to be either sped up for the latter or slowed down for the former.
The entire story of the film is quite stretched out to fill the two reels it occupies. A simplified version of the exact same routine was later re-worked into "Block-Heads".
The silent version of the film is approximately 2½ minutes shorter. One of the reasons for this is the scene with the victrola, as it was obviously designed for use in the sound version.
This film was shot concurrently with Our Gang' first sound short, "Small Talk". The Our Gang film was filmed during the day, whilse the L&H film was shot during the night, as both sets had to share the recording equipment.
On a table in the hallway, at right of the frame, can be seen a bust of Shakespeare, apparently bronze. This same bust can be seen atop a cabinet in the Warden's office in "Pardon Us".
On the wall just above the victrola can be seen a painting of a Venetian-like scene. This painting had earlier appeared in "We Faw Down" and is even more prominent in "Brats", where it is located on the wall behind the pool table.
The walls and doors seen in the apartment can be glimpsed as part of the nightclub set design used in "Their Purple Moment" and "That's My Wife", and are also visible in Our Gang's concurrently-filmed "Small Talk". Presumably, the Laurel and Hardy set was on the same soundstage used by the Our Gang unit, and possibly the two sets were contiguous, thus minimizing the necessity of moving the sound equipment about.
The tune heard from the victrola is an orchestral arrangement of "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" by Leon Jessel.
Above the sideboard is a painting of a forest scene, which can also be seen above the fireplace in Billy Gilbert's home in "The Music Box". To its right is a long tapestry, situated at a slight diagonal angle, which can also be seen hanging in the foyer of James Finlayson's house in "Our Wife".
The first line of dialogue is spoken by Oliver Hardy. The last line is spoken by Stan Laurel.
The Kennedy's live in apartment 724, and the Hardy's live in 725.
In the opening scene where Ollie talks to Thelma Todd on the landing, she can be seen to be wearing a black shoulder strap on her right shoulder. It is later revealed this is her negligee.
In the introduction scene between Stan and Thelma Todd, Ollie refers to her by her name, "Mrs. Kennedy" a total of six times.
There is a victrola just inside the front door of the Hardy's apartment, a painting on the wall just above it and two framed portraits on the adjoining wall.
Ollie confesses that prior to bringing Stan back to the apartment, they were downtown playing pool.
Mrs. Hardy refers to Stan as a "bum" and a "peanut" - right within his earshot. Talk about a hostile hostess!
Ollie claims to have known Stan for five years.
When Mr. & Mrs. Hardy are arguing at the beginning and neither can be heard, Ollie repeatedly pats Stan on the shoulder in a sign of affection for his friendship with him.
The victrola has been playing for a full 22 seconds before Mrs. Hardy even realises it is on.
When Mae Busch kicks Stan in the pants (just after she has stormed out but briefly returns), as she raises her leg to kick him, quite a considerable amount of her left leg can be seen!
Mae Busch and Thelma Todd never appear on-screen together at the same time. The closest they get is when Thelma climbs inside the trunk just as Busch walks into the bedroom. They miss each other by a mere second.
One of Ollie's most popular lines, "Why don't you do something to help me?" began here. He first says it after tripping over Stan's legs whilst preparing the dinner table.
When Ollie goes to strike a second match and realises it is a nail, listen to the ripping sound affect. It doesn't quite correspond with Ollie's actions on-screen.
When Mrs. Kennedy enters the Hardy apartment (after Hardy's second exit from the kitchen), we hear a knock (presumably on the door) and then she appears. Now, given that she wasn't actually invited into the room, she appears very quickly after the knocks. She would have had to have opened the door and walk across the room to where Ollie was standing - this would have taken a few seconds. The scene in real time suggests that Mrs. Kennedy was already in the room when the knocks were made by somebody off-camera. There is no other logical explanation for this.
A big thank you is in order for Oliver Hardy when he pulls off Thelma Todd's dress when it catches fire!
Edgar Kennedy was 16 years older than Thelma Todd, who play husband and wife in the film.
As Mrs. Hardy is about to re-enter the apartment, Ollie takes Mrs. Kennedy into the bedroom to hide. Stan physically jumps into the room. Both Mr. Kennedy and Mrs. Kennedy enter the Hardy's apartment without invitation.
Mrs. Hardy makes spaghetti for dinner.
A total of 5 sets are used in the film: Kennedy's living room; Hardy's living room; the hallway; Hardy's bedroom and Hardy's kitchen.
My opinion
For a first sound film this is nothing special but naturally holds an important place in cinematic history. The story is rather basic, the performances are stiff and the dialogue is slow at times. The highlights include Thelma Todd's dress catching fire and her clothes being ripped off, as well as the unexpected ass-kicking Edgar Kennedy receives off-screen at the hands of his wife and then Hardy thinking it was Laurel who did it. All in all this is a bland film but an important one which paved the way for what was to become a wonderful journey of sound short films made by Laurel and Hardy.

Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Edgar Kennedy
Mr. Kennedy
Mae Busch
Mrs. Hardy
Thelma Todd
Mrs. kennedy

CREDITS (click image to enlarge) INTERTITLES (from SILENT version) (click image to enlarge)

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Laurel And Hardy: The Magic Behind The Movies by Randy Skretvedt (book)
Steve Wright (information regarding sound discs)

This page was last updated on: 13 May 2023