Series: Laurel and Hardy

Director: James Parrott
Producer: Hal Roach
Dialogue: H.M. Walker
Photography: George Stevens
Editor: Richard C. Currier
Sound: Elmer Raguse

Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Edgar Kennedy, James Finlayson
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 1930
Length: 3 reels
Production No.: L-29S
Filming dates: October 30 - November 12, 1929
Rating: 5/10


Available on DVD:

See also Night Owls
A spate of burglaries in the neighborhood has caused the chief of police (Anders Randolf) to issue Officer Kennedy an ultimatum: either make an arrest or he will lose his job. Kennedy is encouraged by his fellow officers to stage a crime himself. The two gullible candidates are Stan and Ollie who are asleep on a park bench. Kennedy wakes them and threatens them with ninety days in jail unless they agree to carry out his blackmail demands. He tells the boys that he wants for them to burgle the chief's house and then allow themselves to be caught in the act before Kennedy arrests them in order for him to get back onto the chief's good side. Despite having reservations about the strange proposal, Stan and Ollie have little choice than to do as they are told.
They are lead to a back-alley where a row of dustbins provide ample evidence of their whereabouts owing to the amount of times they are kicked over, fallen upon and trashed. Officer Kennedy leaves them to their devices as Stan climbs the boundary wall to the property, aided by a nervous Ollie. One well-timed feline and a pair of ripped pants later, the two of them end up falling through a greenhouse on the other side of the wall, waking both the police chief and his servant (James Finlayson). Fin goes to the window to investigate the disturbance and observes two cats walking across the wall. Ollie suggests he and Stan pretend to be cats in order to cover their presence so they both begin making meowing noises. The butler throws a slipper at them, hitting Ollie on the head. But when he does it a second time Stan retaliates by throwing the slipper back, much to the bemusement of the servant! Fin throws a third, which this time is countered by Stan wanting to chuck a brick back before Ollie stops him and hurls the brick over the wall, hitting Officer Kennedy on the head and knocking him out cold.
Stan and Ollie make their way to an open window and Stan climbs into the house through the conveniently-left gap. Ollie hands him a match to light their candle but Stan holds it too close to the curtains, setting them on fire briefly before some quick thinking (and even more conveniently-placed water in a goldfish bowl) by Stan puts out the flame with one swift motion. Ollie signals for Stan to go and open the front door, which he does, but then closes it behind him, leaving them both stranded on the outside once again. Eventually they do manage to navigate the window and both get inside the house to begin their thieving, unaware that Kennedy is incapacitated.
When the bumbling crooks begin to collect items for their haul they make so much noise they wake the servant (again), who comes to investigate. The boys resume their business downstairs with Ollie telling Stan they will sit and wait for Kennedy to show up and how they should not make any noise. So Stan drops the bag with all the stolen stuff sending the sound of a loud clatter through the room just before Ollie leans back to start off a pre-programmed piano. Unable to stop the noise, the chief comes downstairs to catch them both at the piano and points his gun at them. Three officers run into the house to arrest the boys before Kennedy finally makes his appearance as well. Stan and Ollie are hauled into the back of a police car and taken to jail but with a stroke of luck they grab hold of a tree branch and lift themselves to safety. But when another car comes along shortly after they lower themselves into back seat not realising it's the chief. The car swerves into a pond and that's the end.

Favourite bit
Stan has just climbed up onto the wall when a cat runs across his fingers, scaring the life out of him and causing him to panic and fall. It's a split second facial expression that does it every time for me!

Blink and you will miss it.

The credit roll at the beginning of the film it states a copyright year of 1929.
This is the Spanish version of Night Owls, making it the first foreign-language short to be released by the studio.
Laurel and Hardy's first scene isn't until 2 minute 47 seconds into the film.
The differences between Night Owls and Ladrones
Having watched the two films side-by-side I was able to determine that for pretty much all of (but not quite all) the scenes featuring Laurel and Hardy were shot twice and there is very little footage from Night Owls incorporated. Some other small differences were also observed, as I have highlighted here:
[1] Firstly, Night Owls is 2-reels, and Ladrones is 3-reels. DVD running times: Night Owls [20:45] and Ladrones [36:08] - a huge difference of 15 minutes 23 seconds.
[2] Opening credit rolls have different styles of art deco backgrounds. These can be compared here: Original credits and Spanish credits. Anders Randolf's name appears in the Night Owls credits but not in the Ladrones credits.
[3] The opening scene is shown in the same interior location but at a different angle and with different cast members. Ham Kinsey is sitting down at a desk in Ladrones, but he does not appear in Night Owls. In Night Owls the police chief approaches the front desk and slams his newspaper against it; in Ladrones the police chief is seen walking in from the street and kicking the door open. Also, in Night Owls there is a close-up cutaway shot to the police chief but in Ladrones we remain in medium shot throughout the same scene.

[4] The newspaper headlines are obviously different.

[5] When Kennedy finds Stan and Ollie asleep on the park bench: In Night Owls Ollie gets up immediately, but in Ladrones he takes several seconds to get up. In Ladrones when Kennedy asks them if they know they can get 90 days for this Stan replies "Si, Senor" whereas in Night Owls neither of them speak. In the same scene in Ladrones Stan speaks up to say that he understands Kennedy's proposition but Ollie tells him off for interrupting by waving his hand at him. In Night Owls, Ollie simply lowers his right arm in Stan's direction to tell him to be quiet.

[6] As Kennedy introduces himself to Stan and Ollie, in Night Owls they all shake hands but in Ladrones they only shakes hands after the deal is done and everybody stands up at the end of the scene.
[7] When Kennedy falls over the dustbins, in Ladrones the police chief tells Fin to see what the noise is. In Night Owls there is no dialogue and fin simply goes to the window to see.
[8] In the scene where the window falls on top of James Finlayson's head his reaction and double-take is significantly longer in Ladrones.
[9] After Stan and Ollie return to climb the wall, Stan gets on top and Ollie eventually climbs up after him. This scene is a bit longer in Ladrones.
[10] When Fin opens the window to see what all the noise is he sees the two cats walk across the top of the wall. In Night Owls we see two cats in separate shots walking from right to left; and in Ladrones we see the two cats walking from left to right. But if you look closer at the two shots you can see it is the same shot but reversed.

[11] After Stan throws the slipper back and it hits Fin in the face, Fin then throws it back but it smashes the window. In Night Owls he quickly pulls the blind down but in Ladrones there is a reaction shot of him at the window before he pulls the blind down.
[12] When Stan gets up off the grass and before he steps on the hose, in Ladrones he first steps on Ollie's hand. Also after Ollie gets his face full of water from the hose, his reaction shot is much longer in Ladrones.
[13] Just before Stan and Ollie walk up to the house Ollie steps on a rake and it hits him in the face. This scene is only in Ladrones.
[14] As Stan starts to climb through the window he slips and lands on Ollie's foot. Only in Ladrones.
[15] Stan burning the candle on the curtains is a few seconds longer in Ladrones.
[16] After Stan has climbed through the window he then walks through the house to the front door. In Ladrones this scene is extended to show him knock over - and catch a statue next to the door.
[17] When Stan gets back into the house a second time and comes to the front door to call Ollie, in Night Owls Ollie makes an angry dash for Stan but in Ladrones he takes a tip-toe walk towards him before seeing the rake, retreating and then running at Stan.
[18] There is a much longer scene (extra 2 minutes worth) in Ladrones after Stan and Ollie finally get into the house. Ollie falls through the window and ends up getting a pot stuck on his head. Stan tries several times to get it off by smashing ornaments over it, without much luck before hitting it with a fire shovel to smash it. See here. On the Laurel And Hardy: The Essential Collection DVD, this scene runs from 24:01 - 25:59.
[19] Another extended scene in Ladrones is when Stan and Ollie are hiding at the bottom of the stairs as Finlayson goes to wake up the chief. In Ladrones, Stan gets up and steps on Ollie's hand. Also in the Ladrones version there is more footage with Finlayson talking with the chief and after he leaves the bedroom he has some dialogue by himself. [20] The scene where Ollie sets off the piano and the two of them try to keep it quiet is much longer in Ladrones.
[21] The endings are completely different. In Night Owls the police chief comes downstairs to find Kennedy with the sack of stolen goods in his hands, but in Ladrones the police chief catches Laurel and Hardy at the piano and calls for the police. A short while after, Finlayson comes downstairs armed with his rifle and lets three policemen in (one of which is Charles McAvoy in his first film for Hal Roach). Kennedy follows shortly afterwards. The boys are then escorted in the back of an open-roof car with Kennedy to the police station but they make their escape when grabbing a tree branch which lifts them out of the car. When another car comes by they drop down into the back seat only to discover it is the police chief and his servant. The car then swerves and ends up in a pond as the film finishes.
My opinion
The Laurel and Hardy scenes are different and better for what it's worth, but that doesn't make the film any better.

Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Edgar Kennedy
James Finlayson
Enrique Acosta
Police chief
Bob O'Connor
Desk officer
Baldwin Cooke
Ham Kinsey
Man at desk
Charles McAvoy
Police officer
Bob Minford
Police officer


CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

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Laurel And Hardy: The Magic Behind The Movies by Randy Skretvedt (book)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Bob Minford)

This page was last updated on: 16 March 2021