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, Isabelle Keith, Anita Garvin
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 07 February 1931
Length: 3 reels
Production No.: L-37
Filming dates: December 8-13, 1930
Rating: 6/10

Be Big!

Available on DVD:

See also Los Calaveras and Les Carottiers
Mrs. Hardy (ISABELLE KEITH) is just about ready, her bags are packed and she calls after husband Ollie who is merrily singing. He is excited because they are planning to vacation in Atlantic City with the Laurels, who live across the hall. After taking a shower with his hat on, Ollie goes to the front door and cannot resist pressing his own doorbell, just so as he can hear the melodic soft tune it produces. In contrast, the horrible noise that emanates from the Laurel's bell is a horn. Stan comes to the door yielding a toy boat much to Ollie's infuriation. Mrs. Laurel (ANITA GARVIN) brings the rest of his luggage to him: a bucket and spade. Ollie walks off disgusted but not before shoving poor Stan into the wall.
Back in his apartment Ollie receives a telephone call from his buddies at the masonic lodge, inviting him to attend a stag evening in his honour. Ollie has to turn down the offer on account of his planned trip, but Cookie encourages his friend into coming along all the same. Slowly but surely Ollie is talked into finding an excuse and attend and no sooner as he commits himself to changing his plans he has to find a believable excuse for him to remain behind without the wives being suspicious. He feigns a sudden illness. Mrs. Hardy tells him to "be big".
When her back is turned Ollie seizes the opportunity to powder his face to give the appearance that he is pale.  The doorbell rings and Mrs. Hardy opens the door to the Laurels. Mrs. Laurel steps inside and as Stan bends down to pick up the bags he has the door slammed in his face. After eventually being let into the apartment, Stan is quickly suspicious of the story Mrs. Hardy tells of Ollie's sudden illness. When Ollie tries to justify his sudden and unexplained being unwell, Stan offers to call a doctor immediately. Ollie has to stop him and find the opportunity to explain the truth behind his fake behaviour. In the meantime the wives propose postponing the trip on account of Ollie being sick. Ollie will not hear of it and suggests that Stan will stay behind to look after him. Stan has other ideas. A wide-eyed Mrs. Laurel demands he make up his mind, to which he now states he will remain behind. The girls leave and Ollie is left to explain the situation to Stan.
A short while after, Mrs. Hardy returns to collect her fur - only to find it on Ollie's head, which he has placed there in a panic, thinking it was his towel. She leaves and Stan returns to his apartment to fetch his clothes so that he can dress in Ollie's apartment. The boys then begin the incredibly slow process of undressing. The back of the cupboard door has one hook on it, which Stan assumes is his to use! Every time Ollie removes an item of his own clothing he finds that Stan has already occupied the hook with an item of his own. This is repeated for his jacket, waistcoat, tie and then hat. Ollie erupts by throwing each individual item into the closet - and then himself, when he goes to lean up against the doorframe and misses completely!
The wives arrive at the station and are told they have just missed their train and are forced to return home... expecting to see their delighted husbands when they get there. Back at the Hardy apartment, Ollie is sitting in a chair and desperately trying hard to get his right boot on as Stan parades around in the background on a device. After moments of being unsuccessful, Ollie calls Stan over to assist him. Stan tries his best to help Ollie get his boot on but a lack of co-ordination results in them getting nowhere. Ollie then realises Stan is wearing Ollie's boots.

So the procedure of trying to get the boot on is then reversed as he tries to get the boot off again! Stan watches on with his hands in his pockets as Ollie struggles with the footwear. Eventually Ollie orders Stan to fetch a boot jack to help. Stan hammers it into place (and taps the tips of Ollie's toes with it for good measure!) and Ollie frantically resumes until he ends up falling backwards over the chair and snapping the jack in half. Stan has an idea, which he whispers into Ollie's ear. The rocking chair is to be dismantled and the curved legs removed. Ollie thinks this is a good idea. It isn't. Two tugs of the boot from Stan and the chair collapses completely this time, with Stan ending up inside Ollie's jumper. Ollie's dignity is further damanged as Stan then attempts to drag him around the room - and ultimately onto a tack, trying to get the boot off.
Ollie sits Stan down on the bed so that they can get organized. Stan tries once more to remove the awkward boot, but to no avail. Ollie burns his hands on the radiator, the curtains are pulled down and the bedroom window is smashed with the curtain pole. Now Ollie's frustration is really beginning to show. Stan gets all tangled-up in Ollie's clothes as he struggles continuously to remove the boot, almost twisting himself into knots in the process.
Things get worse when Stan steps up onto the bed for elevation but his pulling of the boot sends him into the wall as the bed folds up. Ollie is quick to bring Stan back with a tug on the chord which operates the bed and gets flattened as the weight of the bed with Stan on it comes crashing down onto his back. Ollie struggles to climb out from underneath and takes some deep breaths. This sends his stomach into an exaggerated balloon shape, as Stan looks on is amazement and confusion. Ollie is fed up and orders Stan to put on a boot so that he can demonstrate just how easy it is to get one off. He pulls so hard that he ends up taking a second bath! Soaking wet, Ollie asks what could be worse. Just then the doorbell sounds and Stan answers it. It's their wives. Stan runs back in to share the bad news to Ollie and the two of them jump into the bed and secure themselves into the wall. The ladies grab their shotguns and with precise accuracy, shoot their husbands through the wall with such ferocity that they end up in the street!  That'll learn them!

Favourite bit
Ollie is faking an illness in order to get his wife to go ahead without him on a planned vacation. His plan is to attend a party which has been arranged in his honour by his friends at the masonic lodge. The ploy almost works too. All he has to do now is pursuade Stan to remain behind to look after him (in reality it is so he can accompany him to the party). Ollie does not expect Stan's response;
Ollie: "You wouldn't mind staying and taking care of me would you Stanley?"
Stan: "Well if it's all the same to you, I'd rather go."

Copyrighted February 9, 1931.
Hardy plays a member of a masonic lodge. This was something he was proud of in his 'real' life.
The colorized version of the film completely cuts out the scene with Stan undressing and putting his clothes on the hook in Ollie's apartment.
Ollie's nicknames for his wife are "ducky lover", "angel darling" and "snookums".
At 1:09 on the RHI print, you can see a bit more of the side of Isabelle Keith's right breast than would be expected.
How is it that we can hear the beginning of the telephone exchange between Cookie and Hardy yet we cannot hear the middle part? Doesn't make for good continuity.
The man on the left of the screen who keeps turning around during the telephone call between Hardy and Cookie is Jean De Briac. He had some minor roles in other L&H films.
Stan gets to kiss Anita Garvin, Isabelle Keith and shake hands with Ollie all in the space of three seconds.
The train to Atlantic City departed at 8:45pm.
When Ollie is sitting in the chair trying to get his boot on, there are two rifles in the background on another chair. A rather odd place to leave them lying around don't you think?
Watch for the subtle movement in Ollie's left foot when he tells Stan "when I push, you pull". He deliberately puts his foot on Stan's left boot so that when Stan can lift his leg up and out of the boot to make the gag look genuine.
There is a stunt where 'Ollie' falls backwards on a rocking chair. The beauty of DVD freeze-frames allows us to see it is not Hardy but rather, a stuntman who looks nothing like him!
I find it quite odd that just as Ollie is about to sit back down on the chair after falling off it, Stan calls him over and whispers something in his ear. Given that nobody else was in the apartment, why whisper?
My opinion
Enough material for 2 reels but stretched ridiculously for 3 reels. The middle segment with the boot sequence is painfully slow to watch. As a Laurel & Hardy comedy it is average at best with some funny gags but ultimately the film dies with that bloody boot sequence, which goes from funny to boring very quickly.

Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Isabelle Keith
Mrs. Hardy
Anita Garvin
Mrs. Laurel
Baldwin Cooke
Chet Brandenburg
Cab driver
Charlie Hall
Jean De Briac
Lodge member
Jack Hill
Passerby at train station
Ham Kinsey
Passerby at train station
Spencer Bell

CREDITS (click image to enlarge)


Laurel And Hardy: The Magic Behind The Movies by Randy Skretvedt (book)

This page was last updated on: 07 February 2023