Laurel and Hardy

The Golfing One. Laurel and Hardy in “Should Married Men Go Home” (1928).

The Hardys are enjoying a rare moment of Sunday marital contentment as they snuggle on the sofa and defy the outside world. They attempt and fail to hide from Stan when he arrives to drag Ollie out to play golf. When Ollie informs Stan that they intend to stay in, Stan just invites himself in and makes himself unashamedly at home himself, with the casual but predictable consequence that he starts to destroy the living room piece by piece. Ollie ups the ante by destroying the record player in a fashion that I don’t fully comprehend. Eventually, Mrs Hardy is happy for the pair of them to go and play golf, just to spare what’s left of her furnishings.

At the golf club only foursomes are permitted. Fortunately their arrival coincides with that of two young ladies, one of whom is the delightful Clara Bow lookalike Viola Richard. After some eyelid fluttering and tie-fiddling, the ladies secure their escorts and they proceed indoors for soft drinks (it’s still Prohibition of course). The guy behind the non-alcoholic bar is the inevitable Charley Hall and the boys don’t have enough to buy four drinks. A familiar routine is played out that they would repeat in an improved form with the advent of sound.

The third and final section of the film consists of the actual golf-playing. Edgar Kennedy arrives wearing a bad wig which is obviously not designed to withstand the rigours of moderately breezy golfing. In one of Kennedy’s best scenes, a piece of turf displaced by a a golf club is confused with the wig. The film ends with a mud fight which involves everybody within a mile radius. Somehow a mud fight isn’t quite as satisfying as a pie fight, but there you are.

The stakes are reduced for this effort. Stan and Ollie are not at risk of penury or homelessness or being murdered by their wives. They are merely to be embarrassed at a golf club. Even the financial shortfall in the clubhouse is resolved by staking Stan’s watch. There are many Laurel and Hardy silent films which succeed so well on their own terms that you don’t really regret that they weren’t made a few years later with actual talking. But Should Married Men Go Home? doesn’t really have enough strong visual gags to sustain it as well as some of its contemporaries, whereas a bit of sustained dialogue would have enlivened some of the slower scenes. This film is a bit “caption heavy” – which has to be regarded as a relative weakness in a silent film.

That said – it’s a Laurel and Hardy film, and I can watch it again and again and again.

This is one of many Laurel and Hardy movies officially directed by James Parrott. James Parrott was the brother of Laurel and Hardy’s dear friend Charley Chase but would become a ruinous alcoholic and prescription drug addict Laurel and Hardy were anxious to help out James any way possible so they set him up in a director’s chair time and tiem again – even though much of the real directing and final editing was the work of Stan Laurel. When Parrott died in 1939, Chase followed him to the same graveyard only a year later.

Here are some other Laurel and Hardy silents I’ve been pondering.

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