Written and filmed May, 1928. Released by MGM, October, 1928. Produced by Hal Roach. Supervised by Leo McCarey. Directed by Emmett J. Flynn. Two reels.
Cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy    

STORY: The Boys are homeless vagrants, until Ollie receives word that he's inherited a fortune from a deceased uncle. He buys a sumptious mansion and makes Stan his butler. After a night of indulging in too much champagne, Ollie returns home intent on playing a series of cruel practical jokes on Stan. Stan retaliates by breaking nearly everything in the house.
Early to Bed

Other than Brats, in which they double as their own children, this is the only official Laurel and Hardy film to feature the boys as the only cast members.  

JL: Having only seen brief excerpts from this one, I'm not one to judge it.  But I find it interesting that there seems to be less agreement about Early to Bed than perhaps any other L&H film.  I sometimes wonder if the critics were watching the same film: 

Randy Skretvedt (in Laurel and Hardy: The Magic Behind the Movies):
"...a clinker...This film does nothing more than examine Stan and Ollie's relationship; perhaps it had to be made, so the comics could clearly define their characters for themselves and for their audience. From this point on, Laurel and Hardy's undying friendship is pretty much a given in their work. But if Early to Bed is a necessary and meaningful film, it's not a particularly funny one."

William K. Everson (in The Films of Laurel and Hardy):
"Although a lesser Laurel and Hardy, Early to Bed contains good gags, amusing titles, and an interesting variation on the usual relationship between them."

Charles Barr (in Laurel and Hardy):
"Early to Bed is an extraordinary tour-de-force...One isn't surprised to find it generally written off as uninventive and uncharacteristic...They don't play their normal roles...The film has few gags and even these are mostly very direct, scarcely gags at all."

So it's characteristic, it's uncharacteristic, it examines their relationship even though they don't play their normal roles, it's a clinker, it's a tour-de-force, and it has good gags that are scarcely gags at all.  I simply must see this film!

JB: It's almost as if they had made this film a year before, lost it, and then, in the middle of a series of pure Laurel and Hardy films, they discovered Early to Bed sitting on a shelf somewhere and released it.  It really feels like a throwback to the earlier silents, before Laurel and Hardy became "Stan and Ollie".  One of their least typical comedies. After a recent viewing of this film, I now agree with Mr. Skretvedt. Despite some fun moments, this film is a clinker. 

Thanks to Dave Heath, of Another Nice Mess: The Films of Laurel and Hardy (http://lordheath.com) for the use of the above picture.

Copyright © 2012 John Larrabee, John V. Brennan

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