Series: Laurel and Hardy feature
Director: George Marshall
Producer: Hal Roach
Dialogue: H.M. Walker
Music: LeRoy Shield
Photography: Art Lloyd
Editor: Richard C. Currier
Sound: James Greene
Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Donald Dillaway, Jacquie Lynn, Mary Carr, James Finlayson, Richard Cramer
Released: 17 September 1932
Length: 7 reels
Production No.: F-2
Filming dates: May 2-28, 1932;
retakes June 21,23 and July 4-9, 1932
Pack Up Your Troubles
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|It's 1917, and war has broken out. Stan and Ollie are sitting quietly on a park bench minding their own business when they spot a recruiting officer (Tom Kennedy) approaching. Wanting to avoid being involved in the conflict Ollie suggests they act nonchalantly to avoid being detected. Having seen their ruse to get out of service duty the officer accosts them behind a bush and stops just short of calling them both cowards.
Hardy for the moment wins the upper hand when he reveals to the officer an armless jacket sleeve implying he is severely disabled, which works briefly until Kennedy gives Ollie some money to get himself a coffee as way of an apology. The ploy would have worked had it not been for Stan accepting a similar offering by way of revealing he has two hands rather than the one that was suggested. Needless to say they are recruited on the spot!
Their first day in training is under the supervision of an extremely frustrated drill sergeant (Frank Brownlee) who soon tires of the boys inability to follow a simple instruction and condemns them to labouring duties.
The Boys are told to remove some garbage bins from the kitchen but unsure of where they are to be disposed. Sarcastically, the ill-tempered chef Pierre (director George Marshall in a cameo - see 'Facts' section) advises them to deliver the rubbish to the General. They do this exact thing and end up in a cell for their troubles, along with the chef they ratted out.
|Stan and Ollie then find themselves in the thick of it when they are called into action in the trenches. Awoken by their commanding officer, the boys are seen sharing a bunk with their feet on a hot water bottle which Stan later empties into his helmet to wash with. Turns out it wasn't water in the bottle but coffee, which Stan throws away - straight into the face of the officer who then gives Ollie a boot up the backside for his troubles. They do their duty of course, and unwittingly capture a whole troup of German soldiers when the tank they are driving gets caught in a string of barbed wire. Hailed as heroes, they return to the States but without their pal Eddie, who has been killed in action, leaving behind his young daughter who is placed with a bully foster parent (Richard Cramer). As our heroes have been enlisted with the responsibility of locating Eddie's parents so that they can turn over the little girl into their care, they begin with finding the child.
A confrontation between them and the brute who is holding the little girl takes place. The boys reclaim the child and leave to pursue her grandparents.
However, they are presented with a considerable hindrance: their only link to the girl’s grandparents is the surname of Smith!
The first stop is a humourous – if not confusing – conversation with a cop (James C. Morton in a more-than-memorable debut appearance with Laurel and Hardy).
|Puzzled, the cop thinks he can get more information from the young girl, but quickly realises she is equally as (un)helpful! Of all the scenes James C. Morton has appeared in with the boys this is probably the most remembered.
The search for Mr. Smith continues and after two failed attempts they reach the home of 311 Chester Drive where a wedding is in progress. In what is probably the film's standout scene Billy Gilbert plays the father of the bride when the knock at the door brings a sudden halt to the proceedings. Announcing they have Eddie's baby, Stan and Ollie are oblivious to the fact that their Mr. Smith no longer resides at the house, but by co-incidence there is a gentleman by the name of Eddie - the groom. It is suggested that he is the father to the child and in the confusion the wedding is cancelled, the guests leave and the groom's father threatens to teach his son a lesson. Ollie, a hero in the eyes of the host then makes the fatal mistake of asking "What seems to be the matter Mr. Smith?" Two blasts from Gilbert's shotgun answers his question.
Back at their apartment Ollie is busy ironing when Stan comes home after a day out searching for the most unlikely candidates to be the correct Mr. Smith. Soon thereafter a tired Stan starts to fall asleep to the sound of a bedtime story of Goldilocks and the three bears, as recited by the small child. It's a charming scene, which was originally written for Hardy to play, but he unselfishly felt that Laurel would be better suited and gave it to him instead. It is slightly long but Stan handles it really well with his timing of facial expressions which must have been quite difficult to do given the unpredictability of the takes involved.
Meanwhile, the child welfare authorities are alerted to the 'theft' of the child and senior officer Charles Middleton is sent to investigate. He finds Laurel & Hardy running a mobile food wagon and demands they hand over the child to the authorities but they flatly refuse. Concerned, the boys decide to quickly get out of town by seeking a quick loan at the local bank. During an audience with the bank manager they offer their wagon as collateral but are laughed at. A moment of sarcasm from the bank manager leads to an innocent theft of money from under his nose which prompts a police search for the boys.
They are found at their apartment by a detective who then escorts them off to be presented to the bank manager whom they robbed. Just as the boys are about to be carted off the bank manager sees a photograph of them with their soldier friend Eddie Smith. It turns out that Eddie is the banker's son and through a sheer quirk of fate his daughter is now finally united with her grandparents. Mr. Smith orders the release of the boys and invites them to join him and his wife for dinner. When news of the extra dinner guests reaches the chef he is none too pleased and comes out to voice his disapproval. It's none other than Pierre, the same guy who threatened to catch up with the boys again one day after they grassed him up for his instruction to send the garbage to the General earlier in the film. Needless to say, he chases them out of the house, carving knife in hand!
James C. Morton steals the film with this great scene.
|Ollie: "Pardon us officer but could you happen to tell us where Mr. Smith lives?"
Ollie: "Yes sir"
Cop: "Smith, Smith, let me think. What Smith?"
Stan: "It's Eddie's father"
Cop: "Eddie who?"
Ollie: "Why, the father of this child"
Cop: "What's his name?"
Cop: "Why, the father of this child; that's who you're looking for isn't it?"
Ollie: "Oh no sir"
Ollie: "The man we are looking for is the father of the father of this child"
Cop: "Oh, now I understand you. It's the grandfather who is lost?"
Ollie: "Oh no, he's not lost"
Cop: "No? Well what are you looking for him for?"
Stan: "We're not looking for him we're just trying to find him"
Given that Stan and Ollie never seem to have any joy when playing against actor Richard Cramer it is a wonderful moment to see them totally destroy him here. During a confrontation where Ollie comes to relieve Cramer of responsibility of the child he gets smacked in the mouth for his troubles. This leads to a well co-ordinated counter attack from the boys who work together to turn the tables on the bully and leave him in a heap (I love how Stan closes the door first - magnificent little touch!) Watching it is very satisfying given that in their last film Cramer played the unforgiving judge.
• Copyrighted September 23, 1932.
• Ray McCarey is credited as co-director on the film's credits. However, it is widely accepted that his involvement was virtually non-exisistent, therefore I have not credited him in my credits.
• The role of Pierre the chef was originally intended for another actor, but when he didn't show up for shooting director Marshall stepped in to do the scene himself because he wanted to keep the production moving.
• The scenes involving Joe's Junk Yard were shot at Hal Roach's ranch in November 1932. If you look closely enough you can see the Our Gang schoolhouse during the scene where Stan and Ollie are putting the sail up.
• The opening scenes with Tom Kennedy trying to recruit Stan and Ollie were shot at Sunset Park in Beverly Hills, bordered by West Sunset Boulevard, North Canon Drive and North Beverly Drive. It was the first public park in Beverly Hills, opening in 1915 (so would have already been well known to the Roach folks in 1926). In 1952 it was renamed for that city’s first honorary mayor, as Will Rogers Memorial Park.
• Charley Rogers plays the butler to James Finlayson in this film, just as he did the previous year in Our Wife.
• In the opening scene (which is missing on some prints) the boy offering the newspapers to the public is outside a shop called Nedicks.
• In the scene where Stan is driving the tank and capturing the German soldiers, it is obvious that a few of the men aren't actually caught up in the barbed wire but are merely holding onto it from the outside.
• When Ollie asks the cop about the location of Mr. Smith they are standing outside the Rusk building.
• A hot cake and coffee would cost you 20 cents if you bought them from Laurel & Hardy's food wagon.
• The brand of cigars Stan and Ollie are selling from their wagon is Silver's.
• Charlie Hall's contribution is one line of dialogue and six seconds of screen time.
• When the policeman catches up with the Boys to hand them back the money they have dropped, they are standing by the steps. Look on the right-side of the steps and you can see the shadow of the microphone arm moving.
• Ellinor Vanderveer does a neat trick - she walks out of the Hathaway home after the wedding has been called off, but shows up between Grady Sutton and Billy Gilbert inside the house in the next shot.
What the experts say
• "Perfect. The best Laurel & Hardy feature in my opinion." ~ Lord Heath.
Eddie the groom
Miss Hathaway, the bride
Parkins the butler
|James C. Morton
Old lady with letter
Assistant welfare officer
|C. Montague Shaw
Policeman who returns money
Mrs. Smith (Eddie's mother)
The wrong Mr. Smith
|William J. O'Brien
|Fred Kohler Jr.
|SHOT ON LOCATION
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|ALTERNATIVE TITLE CARDS
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Laurel And Hardy: The Magic Behind The Movies by Randy Skretvedt (book)
Lou Sabini (identification of Fred Kohler Jr as the soldier)
Randy Skretvedt (for identification of the park)
Matthew Lydick (identification of Otto Fries)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Edgar Sherrod)
Rick Greene (lobby cards)
Jerry Murbach (stills)
Irv Hyatt (still)
Jeff Veroff (lobby card)
This page was last updated on: 18 September 2019