Series: Laurel and Hardy

Director: Lloyd French
Producer: Hal Roach
Photography: Art Lloyd
Editor: Bert Jordan
Sound: James Greene

Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Frank Terry
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 03 August 1933
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: L-14
Filming dates: June 24 - July 6, 1933
Rating: 6/10

The Midnight Patrol

Available on BLU-RAY & DVD:

Stan and Ollie are police officers on night duty. Things are quiet, so they pull up by the side of the road to retrieve their lunch from the police department's telephone box. A call from police headquarters comes through to tell them that somebody is attempting to steal their spare wheel which is mounted on the back of the car. Stan confronts the culprits but this results in their squad car being bricked by them. A second call comes in of a suspected burglary in progress elsewhere. In his quest to find a telephone, Stan stumbles upon a jewelry store with the owner seemingly working late. Stan asks to use the phone whilst the man (Frank Terry) tries to smash his way into the safe right under his nose.
Growing impatient, Officer Hardy enters the store and is quick to realize what Officer Laurel had seemingly missed: the burglary-in-process. Hardy writes the man a summons and orders him to appear in court on the Tuesday. The burglarcomplains that he cannot attend that day due to having his hair cut. After some negotiations they finally all agree on appearing Monday. Stan, however remembers they have a rest day that day, but Ollie begs to differ. After a little squabble, the matter is settled and the man leaves. Ollie asks Stan for the address of the real burglary they are meant to be attending to when Stan realises the street name he wrote down has gone missing. Hardy phones it in and the two leave the store only to discover the cheeky safecracker now trying to make away with their vehicle. Ollie reprimands him further and orders the thief to appear in court tomorrow. Ollie then drives away in the car towards their intended destination - minus the wheels which have been stolen!
Upon arrival at 24 Walnut Avenue they witness a man acting suspicously and entering the big house through the storm door outside. Armed with their guns, the boys follow the suspect inside. It is then revealed the suspected burglar is in fact the owner of the house who has been trying for an hour to get access after being locked out. After confronting the butler, the man retires to bed. Stan and Ollie are in hot pursuit as they follow the intruder through the basement, but have to return to the outside when a locked door thwarts their progress. They are presented with finding an alternative route to regain access to the house. It is decided they should break down the front door, so Ollie takes ten paces back to get a good run-up at it but falls face-down in a pond instead. A second attempt takes place, and once again Ollie gets wet - this time after using the top of a marble bench as a battering ram, but allowing his momentum to fall into the pond with the marble top pinning him under the water.
The third attempt is successful, at least in as much as it gets them into the house - straight through the front door and right through the stairs and down into the basement and into a barrel of sauerkraut. The owner of the house, armed with a rifle, goes to see what all the commotion is before falling through the hole left by the two inept cops. He pleads his innocence but Ollie hits him over the head with a bottle as Stan holds him. The man is dragged into police headquarters in front of their fellow officers only to realise the man they have captured is in fact the chief of police. As the other offices salute their superior, the chief takes a firearm from cop Tiny Sandford, fires two shots and calls for the coroner.

Favourite bit
What a great moment this is: Having severed the cord on the telephone, Stan thinks that if he ties both ends together in a knot then he will miraculously make it work again.  We get it, Ollie gets it (watch his facial expression when he sees what Stan is attempting to achieve), but poor Stan doesn't understand, bless him.  There are many very good gags in this short, but this one for me is the best!

Copyrighted August 3, 1933.
The Myer Siegel sign that appears in the distance at the end of the opening titles sequence reveals this as the then formative Miracle Mile District of Los Angeles.
During the opening credits there are neon signs advertising Pilsner beer (on the left of the screen) and Coca Cola (on the right of the screen as the last credit page is 'wiped' by the windscreen wiper.)
In the opening scene, Ollie (who is driving the cop car) pulls up and parks next to a No Parking sign.  Not only that, he parks right in front of a fire hydrant - an absolute no-no in American traffic laws.
The license plate of their car is 1P 80 43; their car number is 'Car 13'.
Stan marks an X on the front-left tire of the police car after getting out in the first scene.
The address of the property is 24 Walnut Avenue.
At the beginning of the second reel four bells are heard as Laurel & Hardy arrive at 24 Walnut Avenue.
Stan and Ollie argue about their last day off, but at the end of the film they claim it's their first day on the job.
Stan unwittingly closes the door over the phone cord cutting it. In the scene before that, where he opens the phone box to get their lunch, it shows that the phone cord has already been cut.
The marble bench floats.
A series of illogical events happen which prove the plot to be very loose:
-the attempted burglary of the house is reported over the police radio, which means the intruder must have been acting suspicous for some time before the call was made.  Between the time the call reaches officers Laurel and Hardy, they deal with having to make a phone call back to the police station (twice), apprehend a suspected safecracker-at-work and actually driving to the house.  It seems odd also, that during all that time the would-be burglar only just thought of an obvious way to get into the house.  So why then didn't he think of such an obvious entry beforehand?
-It also seems strange that if the house belongs to the police chief then why the police didn't pick up on this information at the time of receiving the anonymous call.  Surely they would have acted on such important information and alerted him at home (obviously not knowing it was him trying to 'break in'.)  Alternatively they could have rung the house in the hope the butler/maid would have picked up the phone (both of whom were at home according to the original script).  Stan and Ollie claim it is their first day on the job - so why then were they given such a huge responsibility such as this?
-As police officers, Stan and Ollie were simply doing their job by acting on the tip off they received to attend the premises of 24 Walnut Avenue to aprehend the criminal whom the police stated was trying to break in.  Why were Laurel and Hardy punished for this at the end of the film?  Personally, they did what they were told to do.  Their actions should have been rewarded because they did actually get the man who the police suspected as being a burglar.  How were they to know who the occupant was, particularly if they were new to the job, as stated in the dialogue.
After the police chief gains access to the house he leaves the storm doors wide open.  Why doesn't he close and lock them?  Strange.
When the police chief berates the servant as to where he was the servant tells him he and the cook had just been out for a little walk. Given that it is 4 o'clock in the morning, I find that a little bizarre!
Officers Laurel and Hardy follow the intruder into the basement of the house but then come across a locked door (which Frank Brownlee has locked behind him after going through it). If this was the case, how did Stan and Ollie not realise the odds on the guy they were following had the correct key to be able to lock himself into the house and them out? Surely it would stand to reason that if the guy they were following walked through the only physical route into the house and had the ability to lock the door behind him then he must have had the correct key for that door - a clue that he was not an intruder.
When Stan is standing in the pond the water comes up to his knees, indicating it is approximately 2 feet deep.
As Ollie falls into the pond for the second time, Stan gets splashed with water from two different angles!
When Stan and Ollie bring the police chief to the station at the end, it would appear that Charlie Hall (who stole their tires earlier in the film) has been picked up. He is behind bars! see here.

My opinion
A slightly above average vehicle for Laurel & Hardy just as they were peaking in their 2-reel shorts run in 1933. It has some good spots, such as the safecracker in the first reel and the police chief's house in the second reel. Some nice comedy moments with an ingenious gag when Stan ties the telephone cord and believes this will repair the broken line. But ultimately it feels like a run of the mill outing for them without any substantially memorable routines. It's okay.

Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Frank Terry
Frank Brownlee
Police Chief Ramsbottom
Charlie Hall
Car thief
Bob Kortman
Hank, car tire thief
Tiny Sandford
Eddie Dunn
Desk sergeant
James C. Morton
Harry Bernard
Jail visitor
O'Reese Corporal
Jack Cheatham
Police officer


CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

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Laurel And Hardy: The Magic Behind The Movies by Randy Skretvedt (book)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Jack Cheatham)

This page was last updated on: 24 June 2023