>> Monday, May 14, 2007
USA/B&W-26m./Dir: James Parrott/Wr: Leo McCarey & H.M. Walker/Cast: Stan Laurel (Mr. Laurel), Oliver Hardy (Mr. Hardy), Anita Garvin (Mrs. Laurel)
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy get blotto without actually consuming any alcohol in this 1930 comedy short. The unlikely predicament transpires when Stan and Ollie devise a scheme to attend the opening of a nightclub under the nose of Mr. Laurel’s shrewish wife. Not only must they sneak Stanley out of the house; they must also swipe a bottle of booze that Mrs. Laurel has been hiding since the start of prohibition (being that hooch is hard to come by). What the boys don’t know is that Mrs. Laurel has overheard their plans and has replaced the scarce joy juice with a mixture of cold tea and condiments (pepper, hot sauce, and other items to give the cocktail the proper kick). Stan and Ollie manage to sneak the illicit bottle into the club and get giddy on the phony giggle water. That is, until Mrs. Laurel shows up with a loaded shotgun.
Although Laurel and Hardy were the best-loved comic duo of their day (and the only popular comedians to transition effortlessly from silent films to sound), their comedies have not aged as well as the work of most of their contemporaries. Looking at their work today, the pacing seems a tad slow and the slapstick seems a bit mild. However, once one has acclimated oneself to the pace, their films are undeniably funny, and Blotto is no exception. Hardy’s facial expressions when he first tastes the bogus booze had me falling on the floor, and his follow-up line, “You can certainly tell good liquor when you taste it,” is priceless.
By the way, if the premise sounds at all familiar, Jackie Gleason and his writers stole the concept and many of the gags for the Honeymooners episode in which Kramden and Norton get plowed on grape juice.
Drinks Consumed--Tea mixed with condiments
Intoxicating Effects--The giggles, sauced sentimentality, sneaking sips, brawling, and public disturbance
Potent Quotables--MR. HARDY: Oh say, do you know where we can get a bottle?
MR. LAUREL: Yeah. My wife’s got one. She’s been saving it since prohibition.
MR. HARDY: Won’t she miss it?
MR. LAUREL: No. I’ll blame it on the ice man.
Video Availability--You can find the short on DVD in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Holland, but it is unavailable in the U.S.
Similarly Sauced Cinema--Laurel and Hardy also imbibe (on actual alcohol) in a number of their films including Early to Bed (1928), The Devil’s Brother (1933), Them Thar Hills (1934), The Bohemian Girl (1936), Our Relations (1936), and Swiss Miss (1938).