Series: Laurel and Hardy @ 20th Century Fox
Director: Malcolm St. Clair
Producer: Sol M. Wurtzel
Screenplay: Scott Darling
Photography: Lucien N. Andriot
Editor: Norman Colbert
Music direction: Emil Newman
Art directors: James Basevi, Chester Gore
Sound: E. Clayton Ward, Harry M. Leonard
Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Vivian Blaine, Bob Bailey, Douglas Fowley, Noel Madison, Lee Patrick, Robert Emmett Keane
Company: 20th Century Fox
Released: 05 June 1943
Length: 75 minutes
Production No.: 608
Filming dates: February 15 - late March 1943
Available on BLU-RAY & DVD:
|Laurel and Hardy a couple of travelling musicians who are driving their T-Ford car along a lonely, dusty road in the middle of a desert when they run out of gas. An apologetic Stan takes the blame for their sudden predicament. The boys get out of the steaming car when Stan notices a couple of skeletons by the side of the road. Envisioning the bones to be themselves if their situation doesn't improve soon, Stan fetches a glass of water from the trailer. In the blistering heat, everywhere Ollie attempts to sit results in him burning his rear end. Stan pulls out a telescope and sees a burnt-on (Ford) insignia on Ollie's pants before spotting a gas station in the distance. Unfortunately when they get there (with a little help from a mule), the station is closed. After failing to flag down a couple of passing motorists, one man does stop to lend his help. He is conman Chester Wright (Robert Bailey) and he has a solution to the gas shortage by inventing "The Little Wonder Gas Pill", a pill that supposedly turns water into gasoline. Chester dupes them by switching a canister of water for a canister of gasoline and then proposes the boys join him later in town to make some money with him. In Medvale, Stan and Ollie pitch up their bandstand and start playing to the curious crowd whilst Chester tries to pitch his invention to potential punters whom he is trying to con. Naturally not everybody is convinced and one elderly gentleman (Francis Ford - brother of legendary film maker John Ford) asks for a demonstration. It later turns out that he is a mark and in on the con. An angry patron warns the crowd not to part with any more money and brands Laurel & Hardy as crooks.
Chester steps in, pretending to be the law and whisks the boys away in their own car. Chester soon realizes he has accidentally taken a woman's purse and stops the car, vowing to return it to her. The woman, Susan Cowan (Vivian Blaine) has hopped a ride onto the back of the trailer (not at all dangerous!) and takes back the purse before she and Chester retreat into the back of the trailer where he finds a photograph in her purse. He identifies one of the people in the picture as being a crook, who it turns out has swindled Susan's mother out of $10,000. Chester and Susan visit the attorney who is supposedly holding the money in his safe and find that the envelope in the safe contains nothing but cut-up pieces of newspaper.
Posing as Colonel Waterson Bixby, Hardy checks into the Hotel New Orleans with Stan posing as Potts, his valet. Chester asks for a large amount of 'money' to be put in the hotel's safe and makes sure his comments are overheard by Henry Corcoran (Robert Emmett Keane) - one of the men whom he is trying to expose. Corcoran tells his girlfriend to do her bit in seducing the Colonel but she mistakes him for Stan when she lures him into her room pretending to be faint. Ollie shows up shortly afterwards doing his Colonel routine and they sit down for some drinks with Stan hiding underneath the sofa. Meanwhile Chester and Susan formulate their own plan to nab the other members of the gang. But when the woman's husband walks in on them Ollie poses as a sheriff and makes a fake arrest along with Chester. Susan takes a job as a nightclub singer/entertainer working for the ringleader of the gang on his showboat, whilst Stan is talked into posing as Susan's rich aunt Emily who has turned up to see the Colonel. We are bored to tears when Susan halts the film with a completely time-filling song as the film continues to slide further downhill.
Ollie tries to negotiate a deal with one of the gang members Mr. Bennett who advises 'Aunt Emily' that if she invests $5,000 into the sceme he will match it and they can go into business with one another. Bennett goes to gang leader Tony Queen (Noel Madison) to ask him to front up the money for the con. Chester advises Stan and Ollie on what to do next and how they need to do an envelope switch with the money in order to seal the deal, but warning them they are dealing with a dangerous mob should anything go wrong. Bennett arrives at the hotel with his associates and the deal is done. Stan (Miss Emily) somehow manages to pull off the switch but he and Ollie are caught by the gangsters as they try to flee the apartment.
The gang round up Susan with Stan and Ollie but cannot find Chester, who has vanished with the money. Tony orders Stan and Ollie to be watched down into the boiler room whilst Susan is forced to perform in his nightclub (YAWN!). Down in the basement Stan and Ollie manage to escape their captor when he takes a gas pill for indegestion and floats away. Tony (who is now a sexual predator/creep) is trying to seduce Susan in her dressing room when Ollie sees them through her window. Ollie slips a pill into a conveniently placed glass and tells Susan to get Tony to drink it. Stan and Ollie find themselves on the dancefloor and have to mingle in but they are spotted by a couple of bouncers and have to flee. The boat is accidentally launched from the dock and all the patrons run out screaming. The boys take control with steering the boat as other ships almost ram into them. Chester shows up and gets a frosty reception from Susan until he explains that he took the money and wired it to her mother that morning. Stan and Ollie get a wet ending however, when they dive off the ship to avoid the angry gangsters who run up onto deck to get them.
Stan: "You know Ollie, I was just thinking"
Ollie: "What about?"
Stan: "Nothing, I was just thinking."
Gets me every time!
• The opening scenes of the film was filmed in the desert of Palm Dale, California, USA. The trees seen in the scene are joshua trees.
• The music played over the opening credits is called "I've Gotta See For Myself".
• Ollie utters the famous phrase "well here's another nice mess you've gotten me into" after their car breaks down in the desert. The line comes just after 2 minutes into the film. Maybe that is a record? He says the line again on 64 minutes after he gets covered in coal. Is this the only time Ollie uses the line TWICE in the same film?
• The license plate on the trailer is 125318.
• The printed signs on the L&H trailer are "A Syphony In A Nutshell", "Original Zoot Suit Band" and "We Play For Victory".
• After Stan looks through the telescope he sees the "Ford" insignia burnt into Ollie's pants. In reverse, the sign appears to read "Brat".
• Despite the film being watered down with sub-plots, the opening 8 minutes feature just Laurel & Hardy in the desert without any other actors in the scenes. To be fair there is really nothing wrong with the first ten minutes of the film.
• The IMDb wrongly lists Cy Slocum as the bouncer - he is in fact Charlie Phillips.
• When Stan, dressed as Aunt Emily, says the line "we've been left holding the bag" he then sneezes and his earrings fly out. You can see the fishing line attached to them in the preceding shot. Also, in the final scenes Stan is hoised up into the air when he is dancing with Ollie and you can see two cables attached to his dress.
• Late in the film when the gang member takes the gas pill and rises into the air, you can see the cables attached to him.
• When the bouncer rushes at Ollie on the dancefloor, he picks up Stan who kicks the guy backwards and into a table where guests are sitting. The guy on the left of the table is none other than long-time L&H co-star Chet Brandenburg.
• The name of the boat is the SS. General Fremont.
• Weak. To be fair, the first 15 minutes are pretty decent and very watchable as it has a focus on the two principals. But the film screeches to a halt at around half-hour when Stan and Ollie have their scene in the bedroom with Lee Patrick. It is painfully over long. However, it's not as bad as you think. Some of the Laurel & Hardy scenes are actually quite good and work well. Occasional touches of their former meticulous, comical routines are reminiscent when Ollie tries to explain the envelope switch to Stan. The film suffers from a messy script, too many songs and a rather unsatisfactory storyline. I gave serious consideration as to how I would rate this film out of 10, with me hovering between a 4 and a 5 but ultimately I settled for a four.
|Robert Emmett Keane
Dice game operator
Jimmy O'Grady, henchman
Henchman Joe Taylor
Barker for bearded lady
|Hal K. Dawson
Hotel desk clerk
|Virginia De Luce
Skeptical old timer
Angry carnival patron
Samuel L. Cass
|Carl M. Leviness
Hotel clerk's assistant
Dance hall bouncer/
Carnival barker for Fatima
Mrs. Audrey Cowan (Susan's mother)
[according to IMDb, but I suspect
he is mistaken for Francis Ford]
|CREDITS (click image to enlarge)
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From The Forties Forward by Scott MacGillivray (book)
Brent Seguine (identification of Carl M. Leviness)
Richard Finegan (identification of Syd Saylor)
Jesse Brisson (idenitifaction of Mike Lally, Harrison Greene, Gordon Carveth, Charlie Phillips and Chet Brandenburg)
This page was last updated on: 03 February 2022