Series: All Stars w/Laurel and Hardy

Director: Clyde Bruckman
Producer: Hal Roach
Titles: H.M. Walker
Photography: George Stevens
Editor: Richard C. Currier

Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Dorothy Coburn, Edgar Kennedy
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 25 February 1928
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: S-7
Filming dates: December 2-17, 1927
Rating: 7/10

The Finishing Touch

Available on DVD:

Stan and Ollie are assigned the task of building a new house with the owner offering a hefty bonus to the boys as an incentive if they finish before a deadline. They get straight to work. As things steadily get broken, makeshift wheelbarrow ramps are destroyed, nails are swallowed and platforms are sawn in half, a rather frustrated nurse (Coburn) from a nearby sanatarium complains to a passing policeman (Kennedy) that the boys are making far too much noise and tells him to have a word with them. By this time Ollie is already so aggravated by Stan's clumsy chaos that he is chasing him around the perimeter of the property that neither one of them notice the cop's presence. A quiet word in their ears seems to do the trick as the boys begin walking around on tip-toes and trying to be as quiet as possible.
Unfortunately it is short-lived when Ollie falls through the 'repaired' plank of wood whilst carrying a door. The cop goes to speak to Stan, who is carrying a plank of wood which is about 50 feet long all by himself (a clever gag at the time but it did get over-used). Inside the house Ollie treads on a pile of nails in the middle of the floor (I mean, fancy not seeing them!) Stan picks the nails up in his hands, puts them onto a shovel and then empties them into a bucket. He then manages to hook the bucket onto the end of the shovel and becomes confused when he can't find it, whilst Ollie sits in a chair pulling out the nails in his shoe. Ollie then walks into the room carrying a bucket which Stan thinks belongs to him and they begin to argue. He then treads on the nails again before launching the bucket out of the open window, hits the cop, who falls flat on his face in the rubble!
Far from pleased by the cop's inability to take control of the situation, nurse Coburn confronts the boys herself with a no-nonsense attitude and despite giving both of them a good shove she leaves embarrassed when she is convinced her underwear has torn as she bends over. In fact the culprit is Stan deliberately tearing a sheet of sandpaper for the effect in order to get rid of her. With a marginal victory over the nurse, the boys continue to work (separately rather than together!). Ollie puts a handful of nails into his MOUTH (that's not asking for trouble at all is it?) and well.... you can guess how that ends up - and not just once, but three times! The cop tries to remind them to be quiet but makes matters worse when he falls through some wood and crashes to the ground. The nurse is straight over for the kill!
Things escalate to the point where the cop gets covered in glue and roof slats, Stan saws through a plank of wood Hardy is standing on and the porch is destroyed by Hardy stepping onto it. The house is eventually finished and the owner arrives to give the boys their $500 bonus. Bit by bit the whole house begins to collapse (all it takes is for a small bird to land on the chimney to begin the chain reaction of destruction). The owner quickly takes back the bonus and the three of them resort to a football-type passing of the money, throwing it to each other. In the middle of this, the cop is covered in paint and the nurse ends up in a vat of whitewash but nobody seems to care! As the fight between the owner and the boys escalates into throwing rocks at one another, Stan removes the rock which is acting as a brake to the truck they have parked on a slope. The vehicle rolls backwards, destroying the house once and for all.

Favourite bit
The showdown at the end.

Copyrighted February 25, 1928.
The film was released as part of Hal Roach's All Star series and is not technically a "Laurel & Hardy" film.
The location used for the filming was situated at Motor Avenue, Los Angeles, California.
The DVD versions on the "Lost Films" series and the "Kirch/Universal" DVD differ slightly with alternative angles used in some of the scenes.
Stan Laurel clearly had a problem with eye contact with Babe. Every time Stan is facing Hardy, or communicating with him, Stan is looking directly at the rim of Hardy's hat.
When Hardy tells the home owner that "she is built like Gibralter" - the country's spelling is wrong (Gibraltar). Not sure if this was intentional or ignorance on the part of the title card.
My opinion
It's one of the better of their silent films, making full use of a simple idea and extending it through twenty minutes of film time. The pace never lets up and doesn't get stale. Whether it's Stan putting two broken pieces of wood together to make a ramp, Ollie taking repeated mouthfuls of nails because his hands are full, or the cop who twice gets his uniform destroyed by glue and then paint, this is an enjoyable slapstick two-reeler.

Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Dorothy Coburn
Edgar Kennedy
Sam Lufkin
Home owner

CREDITS (click image to enlarge) INTERTITLES (click image to enlarge)

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Laurel And Hardy: The Magic Behind The Movies by Randy Skretvedt (book)
Peter Mikkelsen (help)
Jorge Finkielman (cleaning)

This page was last updated on: 13 March 2023