Written and filmed August-September, 1929. Released by MGM, November, 1929. Produced by Hal Roach. Directed by James Parrott. Two reels.
Cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Tiny Sandford, James Finlayson, Dick Sutherland, Ellinor Vanderveer.  

 STORY: Prisoners in a labor camp, Laurel and Hardy are predictably dangerous with picks and axes in hand. After Stan ruins Ollie's lunch, The Boys succeed in chopping down a tree -- unaware that it contains a watchtower with a guard on duty. Governor Finlayson pays a visit to the camp, where Stan attempts to fix his leaky car radiator by filling it with rice. The radiator explodes, and everyone winds up hurling ricey goo at one another.


JL: Not that I dislike it, but I've always found it pretty run-of-the-mill, despite what Charles Barr says.  The opening sequence with the apple and the wall seems forced and uninspired, and there's a thousand pie-fight-type routines in film comedy that put to shame the rice malarky at the end.  The best stuff is the middle third, but they did similar gags (playing with tools and picks and axes) much better elsewhere.  But I'll allow that chopping down the tree with the guard in it is a great bit. 

JB: There's nothing wrong with The Hoose-gow, but there's not a whole lot that is particular memorable or original.  Like several of the early talkies, there are moments where the comedy catches fire, and there is also a good running gag involving Stan, an axe or a pick, and Ollie's jacket.  The Hoose-gow ambles along with Laurel and Hardy doing stuff they've done before and would do again.  The rice fight is the last of their mass-hysteria scenes.  And any film that has Laurel and Hardy involved with salt and pepper shakers is worth seeing.

     As far as I can tell, this film contains the earliest appearances of two of Ollie's pet phrases: "Why don't you do something to help me?" and "No, no, no, no, NO!", so, in that sense, The Hoose-gow may not be hysterical, but it is historical.

Copyright © 2012 John Larrabee, John V. Brennan

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