The Second Hundred Years Written and filmed June, 1927. Released by MGM, October, 1927. Produced by Hal Roach. Supervised by Leo McCarey. Directed by Fred Guiol. Two reels.
Cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, James Finlayson, Tiny Sandford, Ellinor Vanderveer.   

STORY: Posing as painters, Little Goofy (Stan) and Big Goofy (Ollie) escape from prison. They elude the cops by painting everything in sight, and wind up exchanging clothes with some visiting Frenchmen who are then arrested for walking around in their underwear, while the Boys have a good time at a high society shindig.

Legendary director Leo McCarey (THE AWFUL TRUTH, GOING MY WAY and the Marx Brothers' DUCK SOUP) is the man most often credited with the inspired notion of making Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy a permanent team. Throughout the twenties, he worked his way up through the ranks of the Hal Roach Studios so that, by 1926, he was Vice-President in charge of comedy production. Enthusiastic about the possibilities of the L&H team, he began supervising the production of their films starting with The Second Hundred Years. Until he left the Roach Studios in December of 1928, he directed four of their comedies, contributed to the scripts of several more, and personally supervised the production of all of them. It is no exaggeration to say that Leo McCarey, next to Stan Laurel and possibly Hal Roach, was the man most responsible for teaming Laurel and Hardy and developing their brand of comedy.

One famous Laurel trademark inadvertently stemmed from this film.  Portraying prisoners, the boys were required to shave their heads.  As Stan's hair grew back, he had a difficult time getting it to behave. Others found his unruly hair so funny, he decided to keep it as a permanent trademark of his screen character.

JB: A fun, silly little film with great sight gags, The Second Hundred Years is a perfect early example of the logic found in Laurel and Hardy films.  One sequence leads smoothly to the next, so that it is entirely plausible that while the boys begin the film as prisoners, it is inevitable that they wind up at a high society party.  This may seem like a little thing, but many screen comics often filmed two-reelers as if they were two separate one-reelers, with the first half having little to do with the second.  The Three Stooges come to mind, as I think of films in which they have an occupation in the first half, receive a telegram or phonecall, and suddenly, in reel two, they are cowboys instead of barbers.  The better screen comics usually made sure their short films followed a logical progression. 

Copyright © 2012 John Larrabee, John V. Brennan

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