Be Big! Written and filmed October-November, 1930. Released by MGM, February, 1931. Produced by Hal Roach. Directed by James Parrott. Three reels.

Cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Anita Garvin, Isabelle Keith, Baldwin Cooke, Charlie Hall.   

STORY: Stan, Ollie, and their wives are preparing for an Atlantic City vacation. A lodge brother phones Ollie to tell him that the gang is honoring Stan and Ollie at a stag party that evening. Ollie pretends to be ill, and tells the girls that he and Stan will join them in Atlantic City the next morning. The Boys don their lodge uniforms, and spend most of the rest of the film contending with Ollie's feet stuck in Stan's too-tight boots.

JB: Be Big! is not quite as bad as many people say, thanks to a good first reel.  The Laurels and the Hardys are all ready for their trip to Atlantic City - Ollie has packed his mustache cup, Laurel has his toy sailboat and his pail and shovel.  But then their lodge brother "Cookie" calls and convinces Ollie to come to the lodge party instead.  Like many of their domestic comedy shorts, Be Big! is sort of a mini SONS OF THE DESERT.

      But a promising beginning leads to two reels of slow bordeom, as they spend most of the rest of the film trying to extricate Ollie's too-large feet from Stan's too-small boots. As in Berth Marks, we are supposed to laugh at how uncomfortable Ollie is.  But seeing somebody in an uncomfortable situations is not automatically amusing, unless the scene is approached with cleverness and solid punctuation. There is none of either to be found here.  It might have worked as a two-minute gag, but it takes over the whole picture.

      And what a waste of Anita Garvin in her final short with the Boys. (She would return later in SWISS MISS and, to much better effect, A CHUMP AT OXFORD).

Copyright © 2012 John Larrabee, John V. Brennan

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