Series: Stan Laurel

Director: George Jeske, Hal Roach
Producer: Hal Roach
Photography: Frank Young
Editor: Thomas J. Crizer

Stars: Stan Laurel, James Finlayson
Company: Pathé Exchange
Released: 20 January 1924
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: L-6
Filming dates: October 11-20, 1923
Rating: 3/10


Available on DVD:

It's parade time at the 372nd Infantry but one of the soldiers, Smithy (STAN LAUREL) is absent - he ordered breakfast in bed. The sergeant (JAMES FINLAYSON) is ordered to go and find him. Smithy is in his tent, having just woken up and is quickly ushered into marching duty. Smithy is then ordered to go and collect his civilian clothes from the mess hall, but he switches them with someone else's. When he returns to the parade ground to report to the sergeant we see that his clothes are now two sizes too big. The bewildered sergeant stares at Smithy, who is laughing at himself for some weird reason (whilst I am crunching my teeth together watching it). Smithy is greeted (with a handshake, no less) by the superior officer (EDDIE BAKER) whilst engaging in a kicking exchange with the sergeant behind his back.
Smithy heads for an employment line where several men are queuing up alongside a fence. After offering to light everybody's cigarettes with his own, Smithy manages to squirm his way to the front of the queue (before he puts on another of those bloody infuriating false laugh moments). The joke is on him though, as he has in fact joined the BACK of the queue! Just then the President of the company shows up in his limousine and takes pity of Smithy, invites him into the office and promptly offers him a job. Smithy's first assignment is to deliver a note to the foreman on a building site, who promptly puts him to work. The clumsy Smithy has to take a roll of felt up a ladder to the roof whilst trying to keep his hat on his head but he keeps falling down and failing miserably (this goes on for a while!)
We see a brief shot of the general manager (GLENN TRYON) leaving the office before we return to Smithy on the building site dropping his roll of felt onto the head of... wait.... the sergeant? What? Well that was poorly explained in the script! Smithy climbs down from the roof as the sergeant climbs up via a different ladder. They manage to miss one another until Smithy climbs back on the roof and drops a hammer down on the sarge below. The sergeant climbs back up onto the roof only to have Smithy knock him back down with the roll of felt again. It doesn't end there, oh no. It continues. The boss has to go out but leaves a letter for his second-in-command, Mr. Smith, with the secretary. Meanwhile Smithy is pratting around on the roof, now get covered in tar which is intended for the roof tiles. This goes on and on and on....
...and on. The film switches bewteen Marvin Loback trying to hold up a long flimsy wooden plank whilst Smithy prats about on the roof getting covered in tar. Smithy then decides to saw through a piece of wood to fill a gap in the roof but in doing so he is completely oblivious (thicker than the plank itself) that the sergeant is standing on it. The sergeant and the foreman give chse as Smithy runs off and climbs through and up the house they are building. Smithy runs backwards and forwards across the roof for absolutely no reason whatsoever until the sergeant climbs up there. A young boy hands Smithy a letter from the owner (it is actually intended for the similar-named Mr. Smith) giving him control of the construction site. Smithy's first instruction to the foreman is to fire the sergeant, who doesn't take the news well. When the mistake is realized by the owner he confronts Smithy but the foreman defends him for having built the house as instructed. Well, not quite as instructed. It collapses. Later, Smithy returns to the army... only to find the sergeant waiting for him.

Favourite bit
I bet I'm the only one who felt just a little bit sorry for James Finlayson when he gets fired from the job. Stupid film.

Copyrighted January 9, 1924.
Released as "The Home Wrecker" in the UK.
The film begins and ends with almost the exact same shot.
THIS and THIS and THIS are examples of why I do not like these Stan Laurel solo films. Every time. Makes me cringe.
When the sergeant chases Smithy off, Smithy stops briefly to shake hands with the superior officer (EDDIE BAKER). Surely an officer of such high ranking would not accept a handshake from a regular soldier? Yet in the same scene the officer salutes his sergeant. Strange.
The on-screen credits from the film on this page are taken from the DVD. However, the opening card shown is the main title card. But at the top of this image is the word "presents", which would indicate there would have been another card that preceded this one?
The scene where the men queue up for the job is for the Woodhead Bros. Contractors. I believe this is on the premises of the Hal Roach Studios.
There is a beautiful shot of the short-lived Heinz 57 reference in the Baldwin Hills seen when the guys are up on the roof.
My opinion
Watching Stan Laurel pratting about scene after scene, repeating the same routine and making that ridiculously horrible 'laughing at himself' gesture all the time really grates my cheese. The middle section of the film is tediously long and overstretched. The film is poorly edited, poorly explained and horribly un-entertaining (whatever that means!)

Stan Laurel
James Finlayson
William Gillespie
The boss
Eddie Baker
Jack Gavin
Ena Gregory
George Rowe
Glenn Tryon
Mr. Smith
Chet Brandenburg
Man in employment line/
Marching soldier
Ed Brandenburg
Marching soldier
Charlie Hall
Jack Ackroyd
Billy Engle
Man in employment line
Sammy Brooks
Man in employment line
Sam Lufkin
Man at employment line window
Marvin Loback
Fred Karno Jr.


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

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Laurel Or Hardy by Rob Stone (book)
Peter Mikkelsen (still)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Charlie Hall, Fred Karno Jr, Ed Brandenburg, Chet Brandenburg)

This page was last updated on: 01 August 2022