Here’s a look at two classic Laurel and Hardy shorts that illustrate why the pair are timeless masters of mirth!
Perfect Day (1929) – Only Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy can turn a Sunday picnic into a disaster movie. Uncle Edgar, played by Edgar Kennedy, is suffering from the gout in his foot, so it is well wrapped. Laurel & Hardy start a ruckus in the house and Kennedy’s foot keeps getting bumped. Even the dog grabs it and won’t let go. After destroying all the sandwiches while packing the food, the boys and their wives, plus Uncle Edgar and the dog, all pile into the car.
Trouble with the car, including two flat tires with Stan trying to use a car jack, keeps them stuck. Then there is an altercation with a neighbor and bricks start flying. Back in the car, and it won’t start. Ollie is cranking and Stan flips the spark advance lever to cause a huge explosion. Ollie tells Stan to throw out the clutch, so he rips out the pedal. You get the picture. When they finally get moving, there is a big puddle to drive through. You can guess what happens.
Blotto (1930) – I hesitate to say this is one of my favorites because where will it end? I have too many favorites as it is. Stan and his wife, played by Anita Garvin (whom I have had the pleasure to know personally), are at home. Anita is playing solitaire and Stan wants to go out with his friend, Ollie. She forbids it so the boys work up a scheme to go to the Rainbow Club.
Anita has a hidden bottle of liquor and the boys plot to take it with them. She finds out and replaces the contents with cold tea and Tabasco. At the club, the boys order their two cents plain and pour in the booze. Amidst some wonderful entertainment at the club, they get blasted and have a great time. Then they see Anita at another table, with her new double barrel shotgun.
Blotto includes Tiny Sanford as one of the waiters, in a non-speaking role. Tiny made over 130 films, and over 50 Hal Roach films, and can be seen in many of Charlie Chaplin‘s classics. The singer at the club is played by Frank Holliday who was also in It Happened One Night (1934) and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936).
The best part of Blotto is watching the emotional reaction of the boys to the booze, the singing, and finally the realization that they got blotto on cold tea. Stan goes through crying fits and then laughing fits, and I dare you to keep a straight face whilst watching.
One other item to mention as you watch Hal Roach movies, listen to the music. Roach used the same music in many Our Gang, Laurel and Hardy, Charley Chase and other movies of the time. Most of it was written by T. Marvin Hatley and Leroy Shield. My guess is that the same tunes made it less expensive to make so many movies, but there is also a continuity created. You know you are watching a Hal Roach comedy.
Allen Hefner has been interested in movies since an early age, attending the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, PA for every Saturday Matinee during his youth, when 50 cents bought you a two-reeler (usually The Three Stooges or Laurel and Hardy), a few cartoons, and a feature film. As a member of The Sons of the Desert,he was privileged to enjoy the company of many film buffs, and to meet many stars of the past. Write to him anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit Bit Part Actors.
Although Perfect Day and Blotto aren’t currently available on DVD, you can check out an assortment of Laurel and Hardy classics here.