Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pardon Us

Pardon Us; Comedy, USA, 1931; D: James Parrot, S: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Walter Long, James Finlayson

During the prohibition, all alcohol drinks are forbidden, so Laurel and Hardy decide to make their own home brew. Since they offer their first glass to a police officer, they land in jail. The duo has to share their cell with four criminals. They manage to escape and disguise themselves as African-Americans working on a field. Since Laurel whistles because he has a hole in his tooth, he is recognized by the warden. In prison, they discover a plan for mass escape and stop it, so the warden releases them on freedom.

The first feature length film by the legendary Laurel and Hardy, if the running time of barely 60 minutes can be called that way, "Pardon Us" is a spoof and an ironic commentary on the prohibition era. This comedy is an obvious example how the duo works the best in comedy shorts (stand out "Big Business", for example) than in overstretched feature length films, but maybe the main problem lies in rather thin jokes: i.e. Laurel has a hole in his tooth and thus always whistles when he talks (which starts to become lame after a while) or when Hardy slips on a soap and falls into the prison pool, so he wants to hit Laurel with a towel, but accidentally hits the prison guard. Ironically, the funniest dialogue is delivered precisely by two supporting characters, an inmate and the teacher ("Who was Columbus?" - "The mayor of Ohio." - "What did he do?" - "He died." - "...And who killed him?" - "Cock Robin!") and not by the two main stars. A light comedy, however the comic duo still occasionally breaks through with their charm, like in the fun scene where they disguises themselves as African-Americans, but Hardy has a white cheek on one side.


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