|The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (1930)
Run time: Passed 30 min
Genres: Comedy | Short | Crime
Director: James Parrott
Writers: H.M. Walker
Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Frank Austin
It looks like the boys won’t need to fish off the end of the pier to feed themselves any longer when Stanley’s rich uncle Ebenezer Laurel dies, leaving a large estate. But when he and Oliver arrive for the reading of the will, they learn that Ebenezer was murdered, and that Stan, along with all the other relatives, is a prime suspect. Written by Paul Penna <email@example.com>
Release Date: 6 September 1930 (USA)
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A LAUREL & HARDY Comedy Short.
Hoping to inherit the $3,000,000 left by the murdered Ebenezer Laurel, the Boys find themselves spending a terrified evening in haunted Laurel Mansion, full of things that go bump in the night & the usual (disappearing) suspects. Who will be left to solve THE LAUREL-HARDY MURDER CASE?
An elaborate little film, somewhat longer than usual, with lots of fine Gothic touches. It's a shame it has such a weak ending. Highlight: the bat under the sheet. That's Frank Austin as the creepy butler & Fred Kelsey as the police detective.
This is another L & H short that deviates in some way from the general pattern of them; but this time, the central tennet is drastically different: the boys are implicated in a frankly absurd murder case. Dell Henderson’s wonderfully creaking, slow turn, is a comic parody of horror movie ‘housekeepers’ and butlers before Universal horror really took off. I like the way an authority figure is sent up (as often in L & H); this time a bumbling, melodramatic detective, the actor hamming it up for all it was worth. There’s barely a bone in this film’s skeleton that isn’t light and giddily brittle; only the early scene of Ollie musing on his friendship with Stan, the two of them sitting by the waterside, really seems like a typically L & H scene. And beautifully played and written it is too. It has that comic pathos that is entirely relinquished by the film from then on.
The remainder of this picture spirals off into the most obvious, overplayed silliness; but I loved it. Laurel and Hardy in a creaking, almost chuckling set, standing in for a haunted house; absurd, devilish do propagated by a leering, comatose housekeeper; predictable gags; a bat or two. Just bring it all to mind, and smile… give it a viewing some day, and I’m sure you’ll be amused. "The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case" is a wonderfully enjoyable short; and a refreshing variant within their very consistent, fine work during this pre-feature length era.
***SPOILERS FOR EMILY***
This is one of Laurel & Hardy’s weaker short film entries from Hal Roach Studios. It suffers from a repetitive script and an ending that feels so tacked-on that I can’t help but wonder if the crew realized they were filming a mess with no good resolution.
The byplay between Stan and Oliver is the bright spot, though some of the gags in the bedroom scene are a little too hokey to get much of a laugh – that has to be the fakiest fake bat I’ve EVER seen in a movie.
The opening scene, with the Boys fishing off the pier, contains most of the movie’s funniest material. You can always find something good about even the weakest Laurel & Hardy film.
Whilst sleeping on a pier, Hardy notices that a man called Laurel has died and that his $3million estate will be divided at the will reading that night. They go to the will reading but find that the police have set it up to get all the relatives together to find who has murdered old man Laurel. The pair must stay in the old house with all the relatives knowing a murderer (and a ghost!) may be among them.
I have always enjoyed Laurel and Hardy although some of their stuff isn’t as consistent as you’d hope. Happily I found this to be very enjoyable even if it did start to spin off into being a horror spoof rather than the murder case of the title. The main humour involves pratfalls and running scared from various things that could be ghosts etc, but it does have some nice touches (the usual looks to the camera from Hardy) as well as some real nice lines. `$3,000,000′ exclaims Laurel `is that more than a thousand?’ `don’t be foolish,’ retorts Hardy `it’s TWICE as much!’. The self-mocking humour helps lift the comedy above the level of people just falling down.
Both leads are excellent and I have always enjoyed Hardy’s work to involve the audience by giving them looks of frustration at Laurel’s foolishness! Laurel of course is just as good with double takes and god physical work. The support cast are not really worth a mention as you may not even notice they are there behind the dominant leads.
Overall I laughed out loud plenty of times during this short. The comedy may be basic routines that you’ve seen before but it’s done so well and with so many nice touches that you’ll enjoy it. The only weakness is that the plot is far from your mind for the most part and is weak when the film needs an ending.