Friday, 20 June 2014

On The Loose (1931)

A minor and not very funny Hal Roach short, On The Loose would more than likely have been forgotten completely were it not for a cameo appearance in the dying moments by Laurel and Hardy.

Zasu Pitts and Thelma Todd play two young housemates, who are sat at home, complaining that their boyfriends never take them anywhere other than Coney Island. The next day the pair are walking down the street when a car goes by, splashing them with mud. The driver stops and offers to buy them some new clothes, and take them, along with his friend on a date  - to Coney Island. Things do not go well, with badly aimed darts, angry husbands, and assorted other mishaps.

As well as Roach behind the camera, Laurel and Hardy stalwart H.M Walker is credited with the script, which initially left me wondering whether Roach was trying to create a female version of Stan and Olly, especially when Pitts and Todd climb into bed together. However, the similarities stop there and it soon becomes apparent that the jokes and the performers are not in the same league.

Five minutes in (a quarter of the film) and there has been some movement forward with the plot, but not much has actually happened, whereas by now Stan and Olly would have at least torn some clothes, banged their heads or poked an eye out. Certainly nothing makes you more appreciate their timing and chemistry, than the all too brief appearance they make in the closing minutes, which is much funnier than anything that has gone on previously. Stopping by the ladies house to ask them on a date, they beat a hasty retreat under a hail of cheap fairground ornaments, after revealing they want to take Pitts and Todd to, where else, but Coney Island.