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Laurel and Hardy: Early Silent Classics, Vol. 3 [DVD]
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Tree in a Test Tube
This short educational film, produced by the United States Department of Agriculture, offers a look at just how many products are made from wood, and stresses the consequential importance of forest cultivation. The film is best remembered today for a cameo appearance by Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, in which the comic team show off a number of wood-based items; it was the first and only time Stan and Ollie appeared in a full-color film. Pete Smith, who was best known for his short comedies for MGM, serves as narrator. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

This is one of the more well-known Stan Laurel solo comedies, but in truncated form -- much of the Army footage is usually left out. It actually begins with Smithy (Laurel) as a private, making life miserable for his irascible sergeant (James Finlayson, who had a special talent for irascibility). When he finally enters civilian life, he has a hard time finding a job but finally lands work on a construction crew. But Smithy is no better at building a house than he was in the army -- he can barely get a roll of tar paper up to the roof. To make matters even more interesting, his old sergeant winds up being one of the workers, too, and once again he finds himself at the mercy of Smithy's eternal ineptitude. The owner of the firm decides to promote a certain Smith (Glenn Tryon) to foreman, but the secretary (Ena Gregory) thinks he means Smithy, and hands him the letter containing the promotion. Smithy has a field day with his new title, and immediately fires his old sergeant. The freshly built house keels over into a heap and Smithy (along with his old sergeant) both rejoin the service. Some of the jokes in this two-reeler wound up in the Laurel and Hardy silent, The Finishing Touch. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

Along Came Auntie
Once again, Oliver Hardy offers fine support to Glenn Tryon, who had his own comedy series at the Hal Roach studios. Vivien Oakland plays Tryon's wife. Left alone while her husband is on vacation, she is being plagued by bill collectors. To make some money, she takes in a boarder, but the man who answers her ad happens to be her first husband, a musician (Hardy, wearing a big moustache and curly, tousled hair). Tryon arrives home, not only surprised to find the boarder, but also surprised to discover that his wife had been married before. To complicate matters, Vivien's wealthy aunt (Lucy Beaumont) is coming to visit, and she hates divorce. Since she has told Vivien that she will get no money if she has dumped her first husband, Vivien is forced to pretend she is still married to Hardy, while Tryon plays the boarder. After a lot of weird antics, the aunt starts thinking that her niece and the "boarder" are having an affair. Eventually the truth comes out. According to Rob Stone's book, Laurel or Hardy, there was an unused ending in which Hardy winds up married to the aunt. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

The Stolen Jools
Short Kilts
Although Putting Pants on Phillip was one of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy's first efforts as a team, it wasn't the first time that Laurel wore kilts in a Hal Roach comedy. This two-reeler, made when he was still a single, is about two feisty Scottish clans, the MacGregors and the McPhersons. The MacGregor son (James Finlayson) tells his family that they have been invited to the McPhersons for dinner, but apparently he's mistaken; when they arrive at the McPhersons', they're told to wait while the family finishes their meal. The McHungry family joins the festivities, but when a game of musical chairs gets out of control, the MacGregors and the McPhersons have a row. The McPherson son (Laurel) refuses to allow the feud to come between him and his sweetheart, the MacGregor girl (Ena Gregory). They elope, as do the MacGregor son and the McPherson daughter. The feud ends as a result of the two marriages, but starts up again with yet another game of musical chairs. As the youngest McPherson, Our Gang member Mickey Daniels has some amusing moments when he makes life difficult for his big brother, Stan. This was Laurel's last film for Hal Roach for about a year -- after this completion of this film, he moved over to Joe Rock's production company. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Oliver Hardy
    Oliver Hardy
  • Stan Laurel
    Stan Laurel
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