Series: Larry Semon/Babe Hardy

Director: Larry Semon, Norman Taurog
Producer: Albert E. Smith
Titles: Edward L. Moriarty
Story: Larry Semon, Norman Taurog
Photography: Hans L. Koenekamp

Stars: Larry Semon, Norma Nichols, Oliver Hardy
Company: Vitagraph
Released: 16 July 1921
Length: 2 reels
Production No.:
Filming dates: May 1921
Rating: 4/10

The Fall Guy

The film begins with a masked robber (Oliver Hardy) holding up some people by the side of the road. He quickly jumps into his car and speeds off. The sheriff (Frank Alexander) is quickly on his tail as he pursues the villain whilst riding on the back of the chasing car. He stops off at the roadside where the robbery took place to speak to the victims. Meanwhile, Hardy drives his getaway car and parks it inside a farm house. The sheriff is close behind and also stops at the farm in his uncontrollable car, which assumes a mind of its own, bouncing all over the place. After the driver drives off in the car, Hardy, who has changed out of his villains' clothing, goes to help the sheriff up off the ground.
Two men are driving along a country road in their car. They are Larry Semon, relaxing casually in the passengers seat and strumming on a small guitar, and driver Peter Gordon. But when the camera pulls back to reveal a wider shot, we see they aren't driving the car at all and in fact it is being pulled by a donkey with reins! The driver dangles a bunch of carrots in front of the animal's face to get its attention before jumping on its back. The donkey is excited and finds some energy to pull the car (with Semon in it) up a steep hill. The donkey and car become separated and the car rolls back down the hill and crashes into the rocks.
Larry sits at the bottom of the hill scratching his head after being spilled out of the car when all of a sudden Hauber gets a nasty kick in the pants and in typical over-exaggerated fashion, is sent flying through the air by the horse's rear legs and down the hill to be reunited with Larry. The two men get back into their rather beaten-up car but every time Larry attempts to sit down, the engine stops. He even tries sneaking up on the car and jumping on quickly, but nothing works. This routine goes on for a while before Larry finally accepts defeat.
Larry comes up with the novel idea of swapping hats with Hauber in the hope the car may respond to his new identity. The trick works all but briefly before the two men swaps seats and get the car moving. They drive along the road, bouncing up and down in their seats courtesy of a broken back axle and an oblong-shaped wheel.

Favourite bit
Very clever.

The film was released on Larry Semon's 32nd birthday.
When the sheriff's car arrives at the farm at the beginning of the film, you can see some attachments underneath the car which lead off into the doorway on the right of the screen. This is what is controlling the motion of the stationary vehicle as it bounces all over the place. When the car drives off, the cables are missing from the shot.
When the donkey is pulling the car up what appears to be a steep hill, it is of course a flat piece of ground made to look steep by the angle of the camera.

Larry Semon
Larry, the fall guy
Norma Nichols
Prima Donna
Oliver Hardy
Gentleman Joe (a.k.a. Black Bart)
Frank Alenxander
Pete Gordon
Larry's driver
William Hauber
Bar patron
Al Thompson
Bar patron
Frank J. Coleman
Bar patron (in drag)

(click any image to enlarge)

Laurel Or Hardy by Rob Stone (book)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Pete Gordon, William Hauber and Frank J. Coleman)
Jorge Finkielman (lobby card cleaning)

This page was last updated on: 06 June 2022