AIR RAID WARDENS(1943)
Written September 1942. Filmed Dec. 1942 - Jan. 1943. Produced by B.F. Zeidman for MGM. Directed by Edward Sedgwick.
Cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Edgar Kennedy, Horace McNally, Daisy the Dog.
STORY: Entrepreneurs Laurel and Hardy become air raid wardens to do their bit for the war effort. Though they prove to be rather hapless civil servants, they do manage to capture a nest of Nazi spies. Good for them!
Oh, MGM tried, they really tried. They brought back Edgar Kennedy, they
brought in Daisy Bumstead to pinch-hit for Laughing Gravy, they gave
the Boys a shop not unlike the one they owned in Tit for Tat --- but
with all this, they neglected to provide much in the way
of comedy. Edgar Kennedy's few scenes with Laurel and Hardy look
like they are going to build to something really good --- yet it never
really happens. There is another scene where Stan has to sign his name.
Randy Skretvedt in LAUREL AND HARDY: THE MAGIC BEHIND THE MOVIES picks
apart the flaws in this scene perfectly. All of Laurel and Hardy's
mannerisms and quirks are written out, and instead, what we are left
with is Stan, in closeup, struggling to write his name. "It's like
being asked to laugh at someone who is mentally retarded," says
Skretvedt, and that could be applied to a couple of these post-Hal
We also get a goodly amount of self-pity, with Stan and Ollie uttering dialog along the lines of "We're no good", "Uncle Sam doesn't want us", "Please kill us", etc. (No, they don't actually say "Please kills us"). Ollie can almost get away with this stuff --- there is even about one minute of the Boys talking to each other in the alley behind their shop that looks like it's going to develop into a L&H version of MARTY --- but Stan doesn't know how to play pathos scenes. That is no fault of his --- Stan is a brilliant comic actor but rarely had to play straight scenes.
You can have fun with drinking games to these late Laurel and Hardy films - have a drink if the boys are dressed in outlandish costumes, or if there is a funny invention, or they are manaced by gangsters. AIR RAID WARDENS adds "if they battle Nazis" to the drinking game. In these late Laurel and Hardy films you never know where you'll find a Nazi next. Probably standing right next to a gangster. Holding a funny invention.