|This obscure little comedy is today notable only as the first joint screen appearance by Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. The film itself has a clouded history; for years, it was assumed the film was made in 1917, probably due to Stan Laurel assigning it that date in a 1950s interview. Author Randy Skretvedt's research has determined that the film was more likely made in late 1920 or early 1921, citing the availability of all involved parties as evidence, as well as the fact that a 1920 California license plate can be spotted on a car in the film. Records of the film's distribution are so sketchy, it is possible that it may never have been released at all.|
JL: This is definitely a case in which historical importance takes precedence over artistic merit. As Stan and Babe were comic performers who worked for many studios in the late teen and early twenties, it was perhaps inevitable that their paths should cross. Their chance joint appearance in this film (gunman Hardy's first onscreen words to Laurel are "Put 'em both up, insect, before I comb your hair with lead") suggests little of what was to transpire some seven years down the road, though a few hints of their chemistry are evident. A typical and trifling silent comedy, it boasts a few special effects (use of double-exposure and a bit of primitive animation), as well as a few Keatonesque sight gags (speeding streetcar stops on a dime before hitting the daydreaming Stan) suggesting that some care and expense went into the production. Not particularly brilliant, but an endlessly fascinating curio.
Copyright © 2012 John Larrabee, John V. Brennan