Series: Laurel and Hardy feature

Director: Gordon Douglas
Producer: Hal Roach
Screenplay: Charley Rogers, Felix Adler, Gilbert Pratt, Harry Langdon
Photography: Art Lloyd
Editor: William H. Ziegler
Sound: Warren B. Delaplain

Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Richard Cramer, James Finlayson, Ben Turpin
Company: United Artists
Released: 03 May 1940
Length: 5 reels
Production No.: F-29
Filming dates: November-December 1939
Rating: 5/10

Saps At Sea

Available on DVD:

Stan and Ollie work at a horn-testing factory where the employees frequently suffer from nervous breakdowns due to the excessive noise. Employee Eddie Borden is whisked out of the workplace and into the back of a waiting ambulance right at the beginning as the boss demands faster productivity from Ollie who is assigned to make his horn a "g-minor". The constant honking of horns around him cause him to explode with anger, tipping over the entire workbench and then fending off half-a-dozen workmates who try to overpower him to calm him down. He is told to go home and see his doctor. After a mix-up of jackets (a worn-out routine they frequentley used), they get into to their car outside where further agitation is received by Ollie when Stan honks the horn to clear the way of a truck which has parked in front of them. When the horn sticks Stan eventually takes a tool and hits the car, causing the engine to drop out into the road. He does get the car moving - backwards into the glass window of a store and into its employees!
Later, in their hotel apartment with Ollie resting on the bed and Stan walking around on tip-toes, Ollie tells him that he needn't be so quiet but Stan confesses he is walking funny because he has a nail in his shoe. Dr. Finlayson telephones for Mr. Hardy, but Stan answers the phone with a banana to his ear before disconnecting the call. The doctor arrives at the apartment shortly after a lady and child have come to pay their respects to Ollie (this is the set-up scene for the mama doll which follows). The dazed doctor (from having the door slammed in his face) comes in and inspects Hardy, and after a soaking from the poor plumbing in the kitchen and a scare with the child's dolly, he gets Ollie to take a lung test by blowing into a balloon. Stan takes over with the help after relinquishing his banana and manages to get his friend to blow so much air into the contraption that it explodes. The doctor determines his patient is suffering from a rare condition called hornophobia and advises Ollie to get some peace and quiet, some fresh air, maybe an ocean voyage - and a strict diet of goat's milk.
When Ollie confesses his dislike of the ocean Stan comes up with an ingeniuos idea: why don't they rent a boat moored to the dock and live on it for a while. Ollie agrees and then goes to take a bath to relax, but finds the taps do not correspond with his actions, which in turn gives him a soaking. Ollie then vents his anger in a telephone call to the cross-eyed plumber (Ben Turpin) as Stan sits and peels a banana endlessly until he realises there is nothing inside it before Ollie asks him (if he isn't too busy) to fix him a cup of coffee. Stan turns on the gas stove and the place explodes due to the faulty wiring. Ollie has had enough and goes to confront the plumber in person. He meets his neighbour (Mary Gordon) in the hallway who also complains to him of the problems in her apartment with the electrics.
In Ollie's absence, Stan has his music professor (Eddie Conrad) pay him a visit for a horn lesson. They are in mid-session when Ollie bursts into the apartment (sporting a black eye) and throws the professor out. Furious, Ollie gets straight on the telephone to reception to complain when Stan emerges from a cupboard and hits him out of the window with the door. Dangling precariously from two storeys up, hanging onto the telephone chord, Stan rushes downstairs to catch Ollie in the car but instead he reverses it into the hotel lobby (Charlie Hall and Patsy Moran are the receptionists) as Ollie falls.
The second half of the film has the boys renting a boat which is tied to the dock. Stan has brought along a goat and his trombone so that he can continue to practice. Stan offers to get Ollie some goats milk and demonstrates how he is going to do it - by holding the cup in one hand and pulling the animals tail with the other hand! Ollie does the job himself but he is butted into the sea by the creature. A wanted criminal (Richard Cramer) by the name of Nick Grainger has escaped from prison and on the run, according to the latest newspaper headlines which we see him reading on the street corner. A suspicious policeman begins to follow him. Back on the boat, Stan reads a nursery rhyme to send Ollie to sleep, unaware that his own bunk has been occupied by the goat. So Stan has to get comfortable in Ollie's bunk, which he does by waving his foot under Ollie's nose, causing him to sneeze and wake up.
When Stan is ordered back into his own bunk the goat takes one sniff and promptly vacates the cabin! Out on the docks and under the cover of darkness the criminal Nick eludes the pursuing cops when he boards the boys' boat and hides under some coverings, but unfortunately he chooses the wrong boat as the goat gnaws away the rope that ties the Prickly Heat to the docks and sets the vessel free onto the open sea. The next morning as the boys prepare to go ashore for breakfast (oblivious they are now lost at sea) they are accosted by Nick, who starts running the show and dictating things. Initially Stan and Ollie are unconcerned with their new unwanted guest but then they see the newspaper headlines (conveniently brought on board by the stranger) and immediately begin adhering to his orders. His first request is breakfast, but despite the boys' pleas of not actually having any food on board Nick still makes them cook something for him. Down in the cabin Stan and Ollie improvise with objects available to them and conjure up what appears to be a delicious looking meal unaware that Nick has overheard their scheme and instead forces them to eat it. Help is at hand however when back on the shore the captain who rented the boys their boat notifies the harbor patrol they are missing and a rescue is launched.
Meanwhile on the Prickly Heat, the boys are tucking into their far-from-delicious food under the watchful eye of Nick and the watchful barrel of Nick Junior when Ollie suddenly begins choking. With Nick distracted Stan quickly grabs his trombone and starts to play. This enrages Ollie to the point where he throws his 'coffee' into Nick's face and pummels him over the head with his cup before launching a violent and sustained attack on him. The harbor patrol arrive in the nick of time to rescue Stan and Ollie and remove Nick. The policeman (Harry Bernard) enquires how they managed to subdue the criminal and Stan demonstrates his trombone skills. Of course this drives Ollie wild and he lashes out at the officer. The boys, back on dry land are last seen being led to the police station to be reunited with Nick.

Favourite bit
Forced to cook a meal comprising of soap, sponge and string for their stowaway criminal guest Nick Grainger (Richard Cramer), the boys are then forced to consume it as well under the watchful eye of Nick and Nick Junior. The facial expressions coupled with the sound effects have of course been seen before (Stan trying to eat the fruit in Sons Of The Desert is a perfect example), but this scene is the standout moment in an otherwise dull venture for Stan and Ollie.

Copyrighted April 26, 1940.
This was the last film Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy made together at the Hal Roach Studios.
The film was reissued in the early 1950s as two separate short subjects, "Where To Now" and "Horn Hero".
Oliver Hardy proposed to his future wife Lucille on the set of this film.
The sign on the doctor's desk is James Finlayson's real name (the H. stands for Henderson).
The name of the factory where Stan and Ollie work is Sharp & Pierce Horn Manufacturing Company.
When we first see inside the horn factory (the second scene of the movie) look at the guy at the end of the workbench next to Stan & Ollie's table (Ed Brady); he is quivering like a leaf!
At the factory when Ollie explodes he says "horns to the right of me, horns to the left of me". He indicates his left as we see it from our perspectives as his right, and visa versa. I am not sure whether this was deliberate for the camera or the fact that his character is meant to be dumb!
Stan works at the horn factory whilst wearing gloves, whereas Ollie doesn't.
When Stan and Ollie leave the horn factory they find their car (mounted on the sidewalk). But in the opening shot of the film the car is parked in the road.
When Stan honks the car horn outside the horn factory it lasts continuously for 40 seconds.
Stan puts on his glasses to speak in the telephone conversation with Dr. Finlayson.
This is the only Laurel & Hardy feature that doesn't list any supporting cast members in the opening or closing credits.
When Fin presses his hands on Ollie to do the lung test (as Ollie blows into the balloon), his right hand is rather low, don't you think?
In the scene where Stan walks into the closet (just after Ollie has got off the telephone to Ben Turpin), he pulls the switch for the light, which doesn't work. He then strikes a match on the wall. If you look closely you can see two similar marks that are already there, which indicate he had rehearsed or filmed this scene prior to the take.
When Ollie barges into the apartment to get rid of the music professor he pushes through the door. Watch how the walls shake.
As Ollie is on the telephone by the window, Stan opens the closet door and pushes him out of the window. As Ollie dangles precariously above the ground, watch how the reflection in the windows suddenly change (which would indicate a second cut).
There is a rather strange camera movement when Stan runs out of the apartment with the bedding to break Ollie's fall from the window. As Stan runs away from the camera down the hallway, the camera suddenly pulls back. Seems unnecessary?
Among the items the boys take on board the boat Ollie has a bag of golf clubs.
The rented boat is called the Prickly Heat.
The goat's name is Narcissus.
The improvised meal the boys cook for Nick consists of: string = spaghetti, bar of soap = grated cheese, sponge = meatballs, cotton belt = bacon, red paint = tomato sauce, talcum powder = biscuits, coffee = tobacco.
The reward for the capture of Nick is $5000 dead or alive, according to the piece in The Evening Blade newspaper.
The IMDb has JACK LLOYD listed as being in the film - despite the fact he died 7 years before the film was made. You gotta laugh. The same site also lists CONSTANTINE ROMANOFF, which I also dispute.
My opinion
It's okay, a long way off from being remembered as a classic Laurel & Hardy film but there are some decent scenes.

Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Richard Cramer
Nick Grainger
James Finlayson
Dr. Finlayson
Ben Turpin
Cross-eyed plumber
Charlie Hall
Desk clerk
Harry Bernard
Harbor patrol captain
Patsy O'Byrne
Francesca Santoro
Little girl with doll
Harry Hayden
Mr. Sharp
Patsy Moran
Switchboard operator
Gene Morgan
First policeman
Mary Gordon
Mrs. O'Riley
Eddie Borden
Berzerk employee
Robert McKenzie
Captain McKenzie
Eddie Conrad
Professor O'Brien
Jack Hill
Pedestrian/Man beneath auto
Ernie Alexander
News boy
Claire James
Jack Egan
Ambulance attendant #2
Pat Lane
Ambulance attendant #1
Ed Brady
Horn factory employee
Sam Lufkin
Horn factory employee
Jack Raymond
Horn factory employee
Chuck Callahan
Bud Geary
Horn factory employee
Walter Lawrence
Chester Bachman
Harry Evans
Horn factory employee
Carl Faulkner
Harbor policeman
Russell Meeker
Jack Green
Jack Perrin
Police officer
Harry Anderson
William Brady
John Davidson
Dix Davis
Theodore Henderson
Bob Lafferty
Pat McKee
Byron Munson
Wally O'Connor
Allen Pomeroy
Charles Regan
Vinegar Roan
Ed Schaefer
Charles Stone
Al Thompson
James C. Morton
[according to the IMDb - disputed by me]
Constantine Romanoff
Horn factory employee*
[according to the IMDb - disputed by me]


CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

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Laurel And Hardy: The Magic Behind The Movies by Randy Skretvedt (book)
Chris Seguin (trivia)
Paul Mular (posters)
Steve Rydzewski (Two's Company card)
Rick Greene (poster and 8 lobby cards)
Steve Massa (identification of Ed Brady)
Richard W. Bann (identification of Duke York, Jack Egan, Bud Geary and Dan Dailey)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Pat Lane, Chuck Callahan, Jack Raymond, Walter Lawrence)

This page was last updated on: 23 October 2023