I would like to thank John Achorn who dropped me a note pointing out there were two versions of this short available, an eight-minute cut-down on which I based my original review, and a twenty-minute version recently reissued on DVD by Kino and Lobster. My original review read:
"Once again, the principal joke here is that everyone tries to beat each other to death. This time they use bricks from Fin's brickyard. Back in 1913, Sennet and his Keystone crew had known that a little more was needed for a comedy; that Hal Roach could countenance this sort of production, even in a one-reeler in 1923 is shocking.
"However, as it is likely that taking this sort of mess was part of the price for the brilliantly timed comedy features of Harold Lloyd and the sentimental "Our Gang" comedies that Bob McGowan was directing, it provided an invaluable opportunity for Laurel, Fin and H.M. Walker to be bad and get it out of their systems. There's no reason, however, for you to suffer through this."
And I do urge you to avoid the cut-down. The twenty-minute version has a fuller story and more variation, but still remains violent and largely uninteresting except for the pleasure of looking at leading lady Ena Gregory. She was a WAMPAS Baby Star in 1925, but her career fizzled out, unlike others. Still, neither she nor the poorly organized gags were enough to keep me interested. At this stage in his career, Stan's best works were burlesques like THE SOILERS and ROUGHEST Africa that gave his works a better structure. It would still be a couple of years before he discovered the character of Mr. Laurel that would permit his abilities as a gag constructor to reach their fullest flower. Avoid this unless you have a mania for completism.
A look at both versions might be instructive, showing how the people who did the editing had lost the basics of editing silent comedy. But surely you have better ways of spending a half hour.
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