Unaccustomed As We Are **1/2 (out of ****)
Ahhhh, it’s nice to hear them talk. This one’s clearly a bit rough, with the new Talkie era just taking effect, but their chemistry at this point has reached perfection. Hardy brings Laurel to have dinner with his wife, but the wife wants nothing to do with it. Favorite moment? Hardy getting blasted out of the kitchen!
Berth Marks ***
Delightful short where L&H play travelling musicians who board a train and try to get some sleep in a cramped bed. Lots of hilarious stuff. Favorite moment? H tries to get up on the bed, fails, and ends up bring L, the mattress, and the giant sheet covering them all down to the ground. The last 5 minutes are a little weak. But really enjoyed this one.
Men O’War **1/2
OK early talkie… has a great gag at the beginning where Laurel & Hardy need thirty cents to buy sodas for two girls they’re attracted to, but there’s nothing that memorable after that… I’m not particularly fond of the shorts where they play sailors…
Perfect Day ***
A little annoying at times, but easily the best L&H sound short yet… mostly one gag recycled for twenty minutes… they’re going on a picnic but can’t get the car to work… a few big laugh-out-loud moments… not a big fan of the “Goodbye” gag but it’s pleasant enough…
They Go Boom! ****
An instant classic… absolutely hilarious… I’ve never seen this one before… H has a cold and L tries to help him… disaster ensues… there isn’t a dull moment in this one… and the jokes get funnier and funnier as the film goes along… the finale involving the mattress was pure genius… I loved loved loved this one!!!
Night Owls **1/2
Pretty weak… the boys have to impersonate burglers… the plot gets in the way on this one and there are very few laughs… there’s a Spanish language version of the movie too… wild!
Very weak… certainly one of their least talkies… nothing much happens… L leaves his wife at home to go to a club with H… bleh.
Cute… their first movie with special effects… L&H play themselves plus their kids… pleasant enough but lacking any real big laughs… best moment is H falling down the staircase in the most bizarre manner possible… it’s fun to watch H play a little boy… enjoyed this one…
Below Zero **
L&H play traveling musicians… nothing real special here…
Hog Wild ***1/2
Hilarious early talkie starts with a really weak opening gag, then just gets funnier and funnier, with L&H on the roof doing some fixing upping… H falls off the roof at least three times… it all culminates into an amazing ending where H is wheeled across town on a ladder… really funny, endearing, definitely one of the best early talkies.
The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case ***
Great fun… doesn’t really amount to much… but it’s always a delight to watch L&H getting frightened one time after another by creepy noises and spooky images… really bizarre twist ending where you find out nothing you watched actually happened!
Another Fine Mess **1/2
This one is pretty famous, but it’s rather lackluster compared to some of their other gems of this period. The boys had done this premise before — and better — in their very first team effort together entitled Duck Soup. This is one case where I prefer the silent film!
Be Big! ***
It kinda drags… it’s imperfect… but I’ll always cherish this short because it’s the only L&H short I owned on VHS while growing up. Dating all the way back to my Roseville days, I owned a two-tape set that featured Be Big and The Flying Deuces. Seeing the film again after all these years was an incredible nostalgic experience. It’s definitely not as funny as I remember it, but it still has its moments. Will always have a special place in my heart.
Chickens Come Home **
A rather stale tale where H is running for mayor but is in danger when a woman from his past blackmails him… only one funny joke in the whole thing… disappointing….
Laughing Gravy ***
Charming… this one has the gag of H freezing to death outside in the snow and falling from a rope into a cold watery barrel… not great but fun… the dog is adorable!
Our Wife ***1/2
Extremely disjointed but very funny… two insanely funny H falling gags… ends with a great gag of trying to fit inside a tiny car… lots of great moments in such a short amount of time!
Come Clean **1/2
Lots of “cute” gags but nothing all that funny… the plot meanders… H wants to have a night alone with his wife when L shows up to cause fuss… too much story packed in…
One Good Turn ***
Not a lot of big laughs until the very end, but what I admired a lot about this one was the surprisingly intricate plot that takes us from beginning to end… their movies are so often about one gag in one setting, but this one has three different locations, with a plot that keeps surprising… enjoyed this one a lot…
Beau Hunks **1/2
Humorous moments… doesn’t have a lot of big laughs… H gets his heart broken and the two register in the army to forget about their women troubles… typical fish out of water stuff… oddly goes on for 35 minutes, when most of their shorts run 20 minutes… can’t wait to watch their first feature Pardon Us!!
Pardon Us **1/2
Really weak… could’ve been a decent short… but stretched to 67 minutes this one just goes on and on… funny bits here and there… especially at the end where they try to save the girl from the burning building. Definitely not one of their finer efforts.
Terrific short… H needs to get his house cleaned up before the wife comes home and asks L to help him… to disastrous results… has at least three or four hilarious falls… one goofy, funny gag after another… last scene is wonderful… one of the classics.
Any Old Port ***
Funny short with L&H helping out a girl who doesn’t want to be married… ends with L in a boxing ring… no big laughs here… but cute little story that moves along at a brisk pace… my favorite moment is H ordering a hearty lunch that includes a bowl of clam chowder, large porterhouse steak, and two generous helpings of apple pie.
The Music Box ****
The famous… the one and only… thee L&H short to show others who have never been introduced to the comedy duo… the bookends at the beginning and end aren’t nearly as funny as the rest of the movie… but that’s the only criticism… was the only L&H short to win the Academy Award for comedy short… the very best!
The Chimp **1/2
Amusing but not one of their best… some good gags at the circus… all of the material with the actual chimp seems a bit forced at times, and the ending falls flat… not bad but lackluster compared to their other 1932 efforts…
County Hospital ***1/2
Perfection most of the way… then flounders in the final reel with an unfortunate use of obvious rear projection… one funny bit after another until then… still a classic, and one of the funniest L&H films for sure…
Pleasant enough but unmemorable short where L&H are sentenced to leave town but get caught up in a drunk man’s wild night of mishaps… I have an aversion to comic actors playing drunk… it just rings false for me… so that aspect to this short didn’t work for me… some great comedy bits throughout, however, including H trying to get inside a mansion… so-so!
Their First Mistake ***1/2
The most homoerotic Laurel & Hardy movie ever made!! H has troubles with his wife because he enjoys spending more of his time with L. The gayest bit in the movie… H: “My wife thinks I like spending more than with you than I do with her.” L: “Well, you do, don’t you?” H: “Let’s not get into that.” WTF?? LOVE IT! Not the funniest short of them all, but it’s a brisk 20 minutes that goes by in a flash. Really love the homoerotic undertones of this one!!
Towed in a Hole ****
Possibly my all-time favorite… L&H fixing up a boat… slow opening five minutes with the two driving… but then transitions into one hilarious moment after another… with falls aplenty… the gag of H throwing the water bucket at L is one of the best… and the sawing that brings H down to the muddy dirt is the duo at their very best… a masterpiece of comedy!!
Pack Up Your Troubles ****
I’m going to have to see if Sons of the Desert still holds up, because for my money, this might be the best L&H feature of them all!! Better in every way than their first feature, Pardon Us. This one has a great story involving finding a home for the daughter of one of their war buddies, plus one insanely funny gag after another. There is nary a dull moment here, and there were even two moments that had me giggling out loud for minutes on end! LOVE IT.
Twice Two **1/2
One of their more frivolous talkies… just an excuse to get L&H to dress up like women… funny bit in the middle where L goes to buy ice cream, but not much of this one is funny… seeing the boys married to each other’s sisters is actually creepy in a way… and the ending falls flat… definitely not one of their best…
Me And My Pal **
Another lame one… not a single laugh… a one-joke premise where H is to be married but everybody gets side-tracked with a jigsaw puzzle…nothing to see here… keep moving…
The Midnight Patrol **1/2
Wow, another disappointment. A little bit better than Me and My Pal, but not much better. The boys play police officers trying to nab the bad guy, when the bad guy turns out to be their very own police chief… a couple amusing moments where H falls into a pool… I always find L&H funnier when they’re playing your normal every-day guys… one trivia note is that this may be the only L&H short where the boys actually get killed in the end!
Busy Bodies ****
The one… the only… the classic… boy, I must’ve seen this one twenty times, maybe more. It’s definitely one of their shorts I would show people who know nothing about L&H. After a slow start (similar to Towed in a Hole), things get jumping once the boys get to work. One absolutely hilarious gag after another, culminating into a marvelous finale that is unable to describe in words. One of the all-time best!
Dirty Work ****
Another one that I just see more and more… the classic where L&H sweep a chimney… sounds simple enough, but boy are there big laughs here… my favorite (and the one my father lost his composure at) is the moment H gets pushed off the roof, falling to the ground below. The way this bit is filmed is so bizarrely hilarious, it has to be seen to be believed. There are so many great gags in this one that it’s easy to lose count. One of the best L&H shorts, for sure!
Sons of the Desert ***1/2
Possibly the shortest feature I’ve ever seen… just 62 minutes… it is definitely one of the best L&H features, but I didn’t find it as consistently funny as Pack Up Your Troubles… lots of great moments though… love H pretending to be sick… and the telephone call with his wife from Chicago… really enjoyed this one… but Pack Up Your Troubles is even better!
Oliver the Eighth ***
This one was very familiar to me… entertaining and short… this one runs only about eighteen minutes… no big laughs but lots of little chuckles… just when things start getting good, it all ends with “it was only a dream”… lame ending for a pretty solid L&H effort!
Going Bye-Bye! ***1/2
Very funny short involving the boys trying to get out of town before the man they put in jail breaks free and comes after them… one hilarious gag after another… the short just zooms by in a blink… really enjoyed this one!!!
The Live Ghost ***
Silly… but better than I thought it would be… L&H board a ship and start believing there’s a ghost out to get them… I’ve always been a fan of the L&H “horror” shorts and this one is a lot of fun… nothing special, but definitely better than many!
Them Thar Hills ***1/2
Pretty great… simple… L&H go up to the mountains for some relaxation and start drinking some “tasty” water from the well… the last five minutes are a riot… apparently there’s a sequel to this… the one and only real “sequel” the boys ever did… looking forward to it!
Tit For Tat **1/2
On to the very last of the L&H shorts… this one is a sequel to Them Thar Hills and is pretty forgettable… amusing throughout but no big laughs… L&H own an electrics store and battle it out with the employer of the grocery store across the street… really short too at only 18 minutes… but I’ll enjoy anything I can with these boys… there are only two shorts to go!
The Fixer-Uppers ***
Amusing short where L&H are selling Christmas cards and get caught up in a woman who wants to cheat on her husband to get him jealous… no huge laughs in this one but a great showcase for the boys… has lots of funny moments… one more short to go!
Thicker Than Water ****
It usually doesn’t work out this way… typically the last of anything is a let-down… color me surprised to find that this final L&H short, one I had never seen before, was a complete joy from beginning to end… in fact it’s one of the most ambitious of their shorts… telling a story that could’ve easily gone on for another thirty minutes… unlike many of their shorts this one has at least five or six set pieces… it all ends with L&H walking out of a hospital as each other, with L impersonating H and vice versa… it’s a genius final gag that ends the L&H shorts in style… I will forever treasure these shorts and look forward to watching the best ones again soon! Now… just seven more features to go!!
The Bohemian Girl ***
Notable for two major reasons: it’s one of the few period films the boys ever appeared in, and it features the last L&H performance by Thelma Todd… the movie isn’t great but has a lot of funny moments… love the daughter’s song she sings toward the end… all in all a mild effort but enjoyable while it lasts!
Our Relations **1/2
This one didn’t hold my attention as much as some of their other features… opens well with a hilarious scene where the boys have only one dollar to spend but come across two beautiful women to eat dinner with, only to find them ordering everything off the menu… there’s a plot involving their twin brothers that is amusing also… but too episodic and gets bogged down in the second half… until a funny last few minutes… mixed on this one!
Way Out West ***1/2
Considered one of their best features, this one certainly didn’t disappoint…while not as many laughs as Sons of the Desert and Pack Up Your Troubles, this one definitely has one of their finest stories, set in the old west where L&H need to deliver a deity and end up serving the wrong person… lots of fun and super short (just 60 minutes!)… I can’t believe the end is near!
Swiss Miss **1/2
One of their clunkier, more scattered features… has a few funny bits… but much of the movie involves other characters besides L&H singing and laughing… we don’t care… not enough L&H getting into trouble like they should be… mouse trap scene is cute…and the best scene is L&H on a drawbridge trying to get a piano across!
Absolutely hilarious… one of their best features… second half isn’t quite as good as the first… but still great… L stays at his post in World War I for twenty years too long and H brings him home… the bit with L’s leg and the moving of H’s car is priceless… a couple explosion gags that bring to mind their older shorts… this one’s only 54 minutes but definitely doesn’t overstay its welcome… probably their best short behind Pack Up Your Troubles, Sons of the Desert, and Way Out West… OK… just two more to go!!
A Chump at Oxford ***
A bit all over the place and episodic but features some fine comedy moments, including one in which the boys are tormented by a dressed-up ghost in a hedge maze… some of the biggest laughs come at the end when L bonks himself on the head and ends up impersonating the role of the head of Oxford… H threatens to leave him behind when L finally goes back to his senses… one of the most endearing endings of any of their features… also an interesting note is that the first twenty minutes were never released in the US, only in Europe!
Saps at Sea ***1/2
Here it is… the last Hal Roach L&H feature… it’s good to know the boys go out with a bang… they would go on to make eight or nine more features with different studios, but Saps at Sea marks the end of their golden years… the first half is better than the second, but there’s a lot of stuff to love here… H’s reaction to the sound of horns… H falling out of his bedroom window with L doing his best to give H a mattress to fall on… their final scene together has them being whisked away to prison… haha, seems like an appropriate finish… loved this film!!
Laurel & Hardy — A Tribute To The Boys
This is a comprehensive 92-minute feature that intermixes clips from all their best Hal Roach features with interview clips of comedians like Walter Matthau and Johnny Carson… great final movie to watch… this has been an absolute pleasure… Laurel & Hardy are the greatest comedy team to have ever lived… and I look forward to watching their films many more times for the rest of my life… LONG LIVE LAUREL & HARDY!!!