Series: Laurel and Hardy

Director: Malcolm St. Clair
Producer: Sol M. Wurtzel
Screenplay: Scott Darling
Photography: Joseph MacDonald
Editor: Norman Colbert
Music: David Buttolph

Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Doris Merrick, Arthur Space, Veda Ann Borg, Bobby Blake, Frank Fenton, James Bush
Company: 20th Century Fox
Released: 22 September 1944
Length: 74 mins
Production No.:
Filming dates: March 11 - April 20, 1944
Rating: 4/10

The Big Noise


The patent office in Washington D.C. are inundated with invention ideas from an eccentric inventor, Alva P. Hartley (Arthur Space), all of them are deemed ridiculous. At Hartley's home, we are introduced to his elderly, wheelchair-bound father (Robert Dudley) and his mischievous young son Egbert (Robert Blake). Egbert has placed a prank call from the next room, pretending to be the patent office. When the figure of a dark-clothed man is seen lurking outside the window, Hartley makes the decision that he needs private detectives to safeguard his latest invention, a bomb.
Stan and Ollie are janitors who are working at the detectives agency when the telephone call comes through from Hartley. Ollie takes the call and upon hearing of the top-class treatment they would receive, accepts the job - despite lying that he and Stan are in fact detectives. Stan is nervous about the assignment, but after a pep talk from Ollie, he agrees to play along. Back at the Hartley house, we are introduced to Aunt Sophie (Esther Howard), a middle-aged woman with a reputation for many marriages resulting in dead husbands. Detective Stan and Detective Ollie walk along the street to the house of their new employer, encountering a wet signpost along the way.
They arrive at the inventor's home and are welcomed in by Egbert, who uses the aide of a practical joke voice at the main gate. At the front door, Hartley welcomes the boys into his house, with Ollie tripping over their baggage in the process. Hartley hangs a rare Van Dyck painting on the wall when he notices Ollie's soiled suit (from the wet paint on the lamp-post). The inventor then offers to clean the clothing using his own made vacuum cleaner. The suit looks spotless again. Intrigued by the wonderful invention, Stan fiddles with the controls and knocks the switch from suction to blowing. The sucked-up paint is then extracted onto the valuable painting on the wall, The Height Of Spring, rendering it worthless. It's not the best of starts for the new 'detectives', but they are quickly forgiven.
As spies try to sneak a peak through a window, Hartley introduces Stan and Ollie to his latest invention, a devastating bomb he calls 'The Big Noise' and warns that it must be handled with the utmost care.  The boys are then shown to an empty room and told this is where they shall stay.  Called 'The House of Tomorrow', it is five rooms in one, as Hartley pushes buttons on the wall to reveal items that pop out from under the walls and floor, including a bed, table and the like.  Ollie gives Hartley a whistle and tells him to blow it if their services are required.
Next door, the spies are gathered as one of their members reports back with his findings.  They discuss their plans when a telegram arrives which threatens to throw a spanner in the works.  Back at the Hartley residence dinner is served in pill form by the eccentric inventor.

Favourite bit

Copyrighted August 10, 1944.
The original name of the movie was Good Neighbors.
The scene on the train is a reworking of Berth Marks (1929).
The Region 1 Fox DVD features a feature-length commentary track by Randy Skretvedt.
The accompanying music over the opening credits is called The Sappy Sleuths, written by David Buttolph.
Stan and Ollie work for the Jones Detective Agency.
The telephone number for the Detectives agency is Walbrook 27622.
The boys' first appearance is after 4 mins 20 seconds.
Hartley lives at 32 Elm Road.
Ollie believes that 'Habeas Corpus' is a town in Texas. In actual fact we all know better... it is the name of an earlier film they made!
When Stan and Ollie lose their hats outside the Hartley gate they attempt to put them back on but keep getting the hats mixed up. Listen carefully, after the second failed attempt a muffled laugh can be heard off camera.
When Hartley hammers his picture on the wall Stan thinks it is somebody knocking on the front door and offers for the unseen person(s) to "come in". Surely, being a guest in someone else's home he would have no authority to offer somebody to just walk in in through the front door?
'The Big Noise' is the official name for Hartley's bomb invention.
When Ollie makes a gesture with his hand to suggest that all inventors are slightly eccentric, it is a homage to Hal Roach, who used to use the same expression in real life.  An earlier example of Ollie doing this can be seen in Wrong Again.
The dinner scene with the eccentric inventor serving food in pill form, is almost reminiscent of Jack Barty's mad butler in Oliver The Eighth.
What the experts say
"Very mediocre." ~ Lord Heath.

Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Doris Merrick
Arthur Space
Alva P. Hartley
Veda Ann Borg
Mayme Charlton
Robert Blake
Egbert Hartley
Frank Fenton
James Bush
Robert Dudley
Esther Howard
Aunt Sophie
George Melford
Mugridge, the butler
Philip Van Zandt
Dutchy Glassman
Harry Hayden
Mr. Digby, of the Patent office
Selmer Jackson
Mr. Manning of the Patent office
Julie Carter
Cab driver
Edgar Dearing
Motorcycle cop
Jack Norton
Drunk train passenger
Ken Christy
Train passenger
Charles C. Wilson
Train conductor
Francis Ford
Train station attendant
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - Dell Henderson
Train passenger
Louis V. Arco
German officer
Beal Wong
Japanese officer



(click any image to enlarge)


From The Forties Forward by Scott MacGillivray (book)
Jim Clewer (some screenshots)

This page was last updated on: 18 December 2019