Series: Laurel and Hardy

Director: Lloyd French
Producer: Hal Roach
Photography: Kenneth Peach
Editor: Bert Jordan
Sound: Warren B. Delaplain

Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Lucien Littlefield, Sam Adams
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 25 November 1933
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: L-16
Filming dates: August 7-19, 1933
Rating: 7/10

Dirty Work

Available on DVD:

We open in the home of eccentric scientist Professor Noodle (LUCIEN LITTLEFIELD) and his sarcastic butler Jessup (SAM ADAMS). The Professor is working on a new formula to rejuvenate an adult human being by up to thirty years. The cuckoo clock interrupts his announcement, which is acknowledged by a casual nod by the butler as if to indicate the bizarre behaviour of his employer. A ring of the doorbell brings forth two chimney sweeps, Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy. The butler shows them in and directs them to the fireplace where Boys set about their work. They first cover up the open fireplace with a blanket as Ollie crawls underneath it in order to feed the sweep up through the inside of the chimney breast. Of course Stan manages to pull the whole thing down, taking with him the entire mantle piece ornamants that were sitting on top to weigh it down. Ollie has already had enough and proclaims to be going up on the roof to stay as far away from Stan as possible. Stan takes off his jacket and Ollie attempts to do likewise but has difficulty and so asks Stan to pull the sleeve for him. Off comes Ollie's jacket, complete with shirt sleeve. Already it appears that it's going to be a long day for the Boys!
Ollie asks the butler for directions to the roof and is told access is possible via a closet upstairs. Stan, who has come out into the hallway to listen, is abruptly pushed back into the living room and the door closed firmly behind him as Ollie makes his way up onto the roof. Further attempts by Stan to reattach the blanket over the fireplace fail as it once again comes crashing down on him and causing the clock to chime continuously before he finally smashes it with a shovel (nice way to treat someone else's belongings isn't it?!) Up on the roof Ollie receives the chimney brush into his face courtesy of Stan, which causes him to fall backwards and through the open roof door. He recovers, closes the door, then pulls Stan up through the chimney - which is some doing considering he would have had to travel up through two storeys plus the attic to the roof! A surprised Stan asks what Ollie wants and he is told in no uncertain terms not to push up the pole until he is asked to, before dropping him back through the chimney stack back down to the ground floor. Upon Stan's acrimonious landing he snaps one of the pole extensions in half and has to improvise to feed the sweep through to Ollie so he has the right length. A mounted rifle on the wall does the trick. As he feeds it up the chimney Stan pulls the trigger. Ollie naturally gets well out of the way and a dead bird comes back down to Stan!
To add insult to injury Stan then feels it necessary to make a trip up onto the roof (though no explanation is offered why). As he opens the roof door guess who is standing on the other side of it? The momentum sends Ollie flying (rather athletically in a 45 degrees angle) off the roof and through a glass greenhouse down on the ground. Water hoses spray his wounded body from all angles as he calls out for Stan to open the front door and let him in. Stan again attempts to use the shotgun as an extension to push the pole up to Ollie who has returned to the rooftop but another lapse of care from him fires yet another shot off, this time blowing a hole in Ollie's hat! A tug-of-war with the pole then takes place with Stan pushing it up and Ollie trying to push it back down. Eventually Stan wins and brings Ollie back down to the ground floor via the quick route along with a ton of soot. As Ollie sits on the ground he is struck on the head by a series of bricks which fall from inside the chimney.

Stan tries to engage Ollie on conversation with regards to the remark but he "still has nothing to say" before underlining his statement with a swift brick to Stan's shin.  Stan retaliates with the threat of further violence, forcing Ollie to cower back into the fire place where he is met with an avalanche of disturbed bricks upon his already-sore head!
Having concluded they have already made enough of a mess Ollie calls time on their stay and decides to start clearing up so they can leave.  He holds the sack and Stan begins to shovel up the dust, soot and carpet (!).  Ollie continues to belittle him over his carelessness and in an uncharacteristic piece of sarcasm Stan replies "I have nothing to say".  Ollie responds by clonking him over the head with the shovel.  They resume with Stan shoveling up the mess; sometimes getting it into the sack, sometimes getting it poured into Ollie's trousers.  Cue clonk number two (see "favourite bit").  Meanwhile elsewhere the butler has gone to take a bath whilst the mad professor continues to work on his potion.  Taking a goose from a basket and putting it gently into a large vat full of water the scientist adds a drop of formula and turns the bird back into a duckling (though shouldn't that be a gosling?).  Ecstatic with his triumph, Professor Noodle turns his attentions to trying the formula on a human being and seeks out his butler for the experiment.  When he cannot be found Ollie offers his assistance instead and the boys are led into the laboratory (front room) for a demonstration on the duckling.
Both men look on in amazement (Ollie overdoes it a bit) as the professor turns the bird back into an egg.  When this is concluded he declares the next one will be a human demonstration.  It's at this point Stan looks at Ollie as if to say let's get out of here quick.  Ollie suspects if they hang around much longer they may get a bit too involved.  The mad scientist runs upstairs to fetch the butler whilst Stan and Ollie wait downstairs to contemplate what will happen next.  Stan spots a large carp and decides to try the experiment himself (why is that such a bad idea, we are thinking?)  Stan warns Ollie to be careful not to put too much formula into the water in case he makes the duckling too young.  Ollie agrees and Stan fetches him an eye-dropper to measure out the proper quantity but as he goes to hand it over Stan accidentally shoves Ollie head first into the water, along with all of the remaining formula.  Moments later Ollie emerges from the tub as a chimpanzee.... and has nothing to say!

Favourite bit
Stan's clumsiness lands him in trouble more than once throughout the course of the day.  When he dares to talk back to Ollie during the clearing up routine he gets a clunk over the head with the shovel for his troubles,  Later, as Stan is distracted by a painting on the wall he accidentally shovels more and more soot into Ollie's pants.  In anticipation of Ollie's reaction to this he stops work, hands Ollie the shovel and removes his own hat so that he can be punished again!  It's the hilarious thought of what is going through Stan's mind at the time that really makes me laugh here!

Copyrighted August 7-19, 1933.
The name of the chimpanzee is 'Jiggs'.
During the filming of this both Stan and Ollie reconciled with their respective wives.
According to the butler the professor had been working on his invention for over 20 years.
The cuckoo clock reads 3 o'clock, which is when Stan and Ollie arrive. However in the next scene when they are preparing the fireplace with the sheet Ollie removes a clock from the mantle and it reads ten minutes to one.
When Stan replaces the blanket over the fireplace for the second time he briefly grips the top of it with his teeth.
The clock on the mantle that Stan pulls down continually chimes for 21 seconds before he hits it with a shovel.
When Stan pushes the pole with the brush up into Ollie's face, causing him to fall backwards on the roof, it is clearly not Oliver Hardy who does the stunt. Also, did you notice where Ollie's hat lands as he falls through the open roof door? Convenient!
When Ollie flies off the roof and into the greenhouse he falls face first. When we next see him his is lying on his back. The logistics of which do not add up.
Six bricks initially fall on Ollie's head when he sits in the fireplace.
As the boys are clearing up Stan comments on the painting above the fire place which features an ocean scene. He says "I wonder if there's any fish in there?" In real life Stan was a keen fisherman.
When the mad scientist is looking for his butler he asks Ollie "Where is Jessup?" Hardy replies "About 35 miles south-east of Augusta, Georgia." He should know, he was born not far from there!
No money or wages are paid for the (poor) work the boys done on the chimney. Mind you, it was probably held back to pay for all the damages and repairs needed!!
It's Ollie who takes the fish out of its tank for the experiment.

Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Lucien Littlefield
Professor Noodle
Sam Adams
Jessup, the butler
The chimpanzee

CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

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Laurel And Hardy: The Magic Behind The Movies by Randy Skretvedt (book)
Rick Greene (lobby cards)

This page was last updated on: 09 August 2023