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A paperhanger and his helper arrive at a sanitarium to do a job. The chubby paperhanger leaves most of the work to his thin assistant, who tries gamely but usually makes a mess. Various patients at the asylum interrupt and complicate the work, and, to the dismay of the lazy boss, a nurse is attracted to the helper. Amidst all the paste, ladders, brushes, and the images of circus and jungle animals on the wallpaper, is there any way this job gets done to the satisfaction of the sanitarium's director? Written by
Stick around long enough, and Oliver Hardy gets a better comic partner...
This is one of a few films in which a younger Oliver Hardy was paired with a a then-as-now relatively unknown comic called Bobby Ray. It's apparent watching this film that Hardy was essentially playing second banana to a far inferior comic actor. Bobby Ray should have ample opportunity to build a character here, but all we get is the cookie-cutter "goof" that the title card tells us he is. Hardy creates character with every gesture, and it's apparent that he's already developing that bossy but comically fastidious (look at him deal with the woman that's interested in Bobby) persona that would be later so successful paired with Stan Laurel.
Here Hardy and Ray are a paperhanger and his helper, respectively (hence the title of this short's edited one-reel version, "The Paperhanger's Helper") who are hired to put up wallpaper in a sanitarium. Of course, this leads to plenty of crazy-people gags. There are also plenty of getting-drunk-by-accident gags, things-that-look-similar-get-accidentally-switched gags (they end up papering the walls with circus posters), and somebody-gets-covered-in-glue gags. The material they are given is not necessarily bad, it's just totally generic. I suppose for a film supposed to be carried by a characterless comic such a Bobby Ray that's not terribly surprising.
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