|Written and filmed May-June, 1929. Released by MGM, August, 1929. Produced by Hal Roach. Directed by James Parrott. Two reels.
Cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Edgar Kennedy, Kay Deslys, Isabelle Keith, Buddy the Dog.
STORY: Stan and Ollie plan for a lovely afternoon picnicking in the country with their wives and Uncle Edgar. They destroy a huge platter of sandwiches, inflict various painful indignities on Uncle Edgar's gouty foot, and are thoroughly confounded by a flat tire. They never make it more than a block from home, where their car sinks slowly into a huge mudhole.
JL: For me, the first bona-fide sound classic. I love this one from start (the sandwich platter business cracks me up no matter how many times I've seen it) to finish, and it's one time where they built on a single basic gag (getting that car to run) and kept it fresh and varied all along. The original script for this film has them making it all the way to the picnic grounds, but they kept adding gags as they went and figured it was funnier if they never made it farther than the nearest corner. Definitely in my top ten.
JB: A wonderful film, the first sound film in which they really hit their stride. All the gags are beautifully timed including the sandwich gags you mentioned, and despite the basic premise and subsequent milking of said premise, the film goes by in a flash. Even the ending, which seems to be a tacked-on gag, since they were supposed to go to the picnic, is a perfect L&H ending.
JL: In Randy's book, I think there's a quote from a 1929 reviewer who said that the sound of the clutch clanging on Stan's head provoked the loudest laugh he had ever heard from an audience. It's a gag we would take for granted these days, but using sound for laughs was such a new concept in 1929, that this simple little thing was another indication of Stan's talents (assuming he conceived it). Wouldn't work on stage, radio or any medium other than sound film. Like the record-playing bit and Stan's tumble down the stairs in Unaccustomed, their ability to take full advantage of the new medium was another reason they made the transition to sound so successfully.
Copyright © 2012 John Larrabee, John V. Brennan