Sunday, 8 November 2015

Should Married Men Go Home? (1928)

While never rising to the heights of some of their other silent films, Should Married Men Go Home? is an enjoyable and amusing Laurel and Hardy short

The story comes in two distinct halves, starting with a scene of domestic bliss at the home of Mr and Mrs Hardy, bliss that is soon destroyed by the appearance on the doorstep of Stan Laurel, intent on dragging his friend out for a game of golf. When attempts to avoid him fail, Stan is invited in (through gritted teeth) where he proceeds to cause destructive chaos. When Mrs Hardy packs them both off to the gold course, the pair meet up with a couple of lady golfers, as well as Stan’s oversized hat, a mud-bath, and a toupee that just will not stay in place.

The film is an important milestone in the Laurel and Hardy story, as this is the first time they are billed together as a duo. The performers and film-makers are still finding their feet in terms of pacing and execution of the gags, although it is interesting to see that some of them use film editing, something that helped the pair develop from their theatrical roots to being movie comedians. The characters are still being formed, lacking their hats and tatty suits, and the dynamic of their relationship is subtly different, still being friends, but the idea of Olly wanting to avoid Stan and spend time with his wife would not last.

A couple of the routines would crop up later in talkie films, with Olly's bungled attempts to avoid Stan at home getting a second outing in Come Clean, while Stan's constant undermining of Olly's attempts to preserve their meagre cash reserves at the drug store would be reworked in Men O'War. The latter in particular worked much better with dialogue.

There's plenty of slapstick too, from a piece of turf mistaken for a wig to Olly's disastrous attempt to jump over his picket fence, to the messy anarchic ending, something that would crop up repeatedly in their films. In Battle of the Century it was pies, in You're Darn Tootin' it was pants, here the film ends in a mud bath, as once again Laurel and Hardy cause inadvertent but hilarious chaos wherever they go.