Laurel and Hardy

You can always drop another brick. Laurel and Hardy in “Dirty Work” (1933)

Dirty Work is unusual in that it features classic and careful clowning that has to be shoe-horned into a bizarre plot about a mad (is there another kind?) scientist.

Stan and Ollie arrive at a big house to clean the chimney. This ought to be an adequate plot summary. That’s all you need for twenty minutes of sublime comedy. But it so happens that this particular house happens to be owned by a lunatic who has been working for decades on a rejuvenation formula.

There are some pleasant interactions with the snooty imperturbable butler who calmly absorbs the scene of desolation and pronounces that somewhere an electric chair is waiting. The catchphrase de jour, incidentally, is “I have nothing to say to you.”

Everything that can go wrong with a chimney cleaning job does of course go wrong. There’s something delicious about the way that Ollie closes the skylight…

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