|Written and filmed January-February,
1931. Released by MGM, April, 1931. Produced by Hal Roach. Directed by
James Horne. Two or three reels (two versions exist).
Cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Charlie Hall, Harry Bernard, Laughing Gravy.
STORY: It is a cold winter night, and Stan and Ollie have a little secret they're trying to hide from their ill-tempered landlord: a little scruff of a dog named Laughing Gravy. Their many attempts to hide the yapping pooch are not very successful. The landlord finds, however, that he cannot kick the boys out of their apartment, as his building has been quarantined. "This is more than I can stand," says Landlord Hall as he walks off-camera to shoot himself (twice, according to the soundtrack!).
For over fifty years, American prints of this film existed only in two-reel form, though rumors abounded that an alternate ending, and an additional reel of footage, had been shot. In the mid-1980's, an English print was discovered of the long-lost third reel. The alternate ending has the boys packing to leave their apartment, just as Stan receives a telegram which states that he is to receive a huge inheritance from a deceased uncle -- providing he sever all ties with Ollie, whom his uncle felt was responsible for Stan's deplorable condition. Ollie is outraged that Stan won't share the contents of the telegram with him, but is humble and understanding when he does read it. Stan decides to stay, mostly so he won't have to leave Laughing Gravy behind. Most newer prints of the film contain the missing reel, not to mention two consecutive endings.
This is one of those L&H films that has no plot. It's just
Stan, Ollie, a dog and a landlord. I t may not be one of their funniest
(I think Angora Love, which this is a remake of, is funnier), but that little dog and the Boys' concern for it, make Laughing Gravy one of their warmest and most endearing short films.
The "lost footage", where Stan gets a letter telling him about an inheritance he will get if he "severs all ties with Oliver Hardy", is pretty jarring, especially since the LeRoy Shield background music is one of the film's strongest points, and in the "lost" scene it drops out completely. At one point, using two VCRs and a CD of The Beau Hunks playing Shield tunes, I added appropriate themes into the scene and almost makes it fit right in with the rest of the short. Almost.
The debate on whether this scene should be in Laughing Gravy is an interesting one. Laughing Gravy flows better without it, but the scene itself is played so well, and is such a consious (perhaps overly conscious) attempt at exploring the Boys' relationship that I'm glad it's there. The Essential Laurel and Hardy boxed set offers the lost scene as an extra at the end of Laughing Gravy, with - you guessed it - Beau Hunks music playing in the background.
Copyright © 2012 John Larrabee, John V. Brennan