That's My Wife
Hal Roach/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
2 reels

Series: Laurel and Hardy
Released: 23 March 1929
Prod. No. L-18
Filmed: Dec. 11-16, 1928
My rating: 5/10

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

Cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, William Courtright, Vivien Oakland

Plot summary:
A not-very-happy Mrs. Hardy (Vivien Oakland) packs her bags after she is fed up with their houseguest, one Stan Laurel, who dropped in to stay for five minutes and is still there two years later (she also complains that he is untidy because he eats grapes in bed). She issues her husband the obvious ultimatum: either he goes or she will. Ollie reminds her that if she leaves then they will not receive any money from their rich Uncle Bernal, who has stipulated that the couple should remain together. What seems like an unusually calm (for a Laurel/Hardy wife) discussion, the opening scene ends with the touch of unexpected destruction of two house plants which are perched just inside the front door as Mrs. Hardy walks out forever.
More destruction is only a scene away though when Mr. Hardy throws down an ornament onto the floor out of sheer annoyance of the situation, followed by a similar-style smashing of a vase by Mr. Laurel to quite shocking comical effect. This leads to a little push-n-shove match between the two friends which ends with Stan issuing Ollie an ultimatum of his own: "just for that, you go! Or I'll go!" The absolute nerve of some people!!
The doorbell rings and Ollie is stunned to see the aforementioned Uncle Bernal at the door. Put on the spot, Uncle Bernal insists on seeing Mrs. Hardy (who by this time is long gone). Ollie consults Stan who is upstairs readying himself to leave after their little dispute and talks him into dressing up as the wife in order to convince the wealthy uncle of Hardy's happy marriage, as per terms of his conditions of the will. Quickly scrambling together some of his wife's clothes, Ollie pushes Stan into dressing up whilst downstairs the uncle has noted a lot of broken ornaments which have been shoved behind the sofa. Hardy does briefly go too far with the scheme when he forces Stan to wear a rubber dumbell down his dress to represent breasts!
The uncle suggests they go out for a meal and a dance, insisting he won't take 'No' for an answer. Soon after they arrive at the nightclub Stan's "breasts" become dislodged and fall onto the floor, causing both himself and then a waiter to fall over on the device. Stan's scratching of his tights is observed by a drunken Jimmy Aubrey, who makes a nuisance of himself by inviting himself over to their table and blatantly flirting with "her". When the uncle asks why Ollie doesn't take charge of the situation, he does so by pouring a bowl of soup over the drunken man's head. Meanwhile a shifty waiter (Harry Bernard) seizes an opportunity to relieve a rich woman of her jewels without her knowing. When her husband complains, the waiter overhears and slips the necklace down the back of Stan's open dress as he passes in order to get rid of the evidence.
Aware of the sudden discomfort, Stan alerts Ollie to the problem and the pair go off in an attempt to retrieve whatever it is that is down his dress. They are caught in compromising positions in obscure locations by various patrons and staff alike. Unaware the property has been found and returned to its rightful owner, Ollie continues to feel up Stan and is oblivious to the fact they have made their way to the main stage where the curtain has been drawn up for the main entertainment for the evening. Having witnessed the entire spectacle, the uncle doesn't seem surprised to learn that 'Mrs. Hardy' is actually a man dressed up and leaves the premises vowing to leave his money to a dog and cat hospital instead. Outside, Ollie remarks that things couldn't possibly be any worse - until from the side of the screen the drunk who was pestering them earlier in the evening returns for a bit of karma and lets Hardy have the bowl of soup he left with. Stan laughs, and Ollie sees the funny side of the joke as the film ends on a high.

My favourite bit:
It has to be the very last frame of film when Hardy sees the joke at having a bowl of soup placed over his head is a really good ending. I think what makes it special is the rarity of his reaction, one of accepting defeat which is quite unusual for Ollie. Stan mocks him of course, and it just makes for a really special moment, albeit very brief.

My opinion:
Available on DVD:

•Copyrighted March 11, 1929.
•Released with a synchronized soundtrack.
•Ollie treads on Stan's sock three times within the first 5 minutes of the film.
•The Hardy's have a piano tucked away in their living room.
•When Stan descends the stairs in a rather unceremonious fashion, he (or rather a stuntman) is clearly seen on what appears to be a skateboard.
•The name of the establishment the trio frequent is called the Pink Pup.
•Waiter Sam Lufkin takes three pies to the face, the reactions to each are identical.
•A reissue version of the film from Film Classics exists on 8mm with some footage not available in other prints:
-First, it has a different opening title than that to what we are used to seeing. Then there is a shot of Babe not seen in any other version of the film. It is a stationary shot of him next to his piano. You see his hand and fingers banging on the keys. You hear the banging on the Vitaphone soundtrack of the other editions but it made no sense as to why you hear it. With this footage you can see why. There is an additional title card as his wife descends the staircase. Then the footage continues as we know the film today. [courtesy Stan Taffel]

Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
William Courtright
Uncle Bernal
Vivien Oakland
Mrs. Hardy
Jimmy Aubrey
Harry Bernard
Charlie Hall
Carl Leviness
Sam Lufkin
Dorothy Christy
Tom Mintz






Laurel And Hardy: The Magic Behind The Movies by Randy Skretvedt (book)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Carl Leviness)
Stan Taffel (information on rare print, plus screenshots)

This page was last updated on: 11 February 2021