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Sailors, Beware! (1927)

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A con artist (Garvin) and a midget dressed as her infant son, are unmasked aboard a ship by a steward (Laurel.)


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Title: Sailors, Beware! (1927)

Sailors, Beware! (1927) on IMDb 6.9/10

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Cast overview:
Chester Chaste, cabdriver
Purser Cryder
Anita Garvin ...
Madame Ritz


A con artist (Garvin) and a midget dressed as her infant son, are unmasked aboard a ship by a steward (Laurel.)

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Plot Keywords:

two reeler


Short | Comedy





Release Date:

25 September 1927 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Sailors, Beware!  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Marks the first known appearance of Oliver Hardy's famous 'tie-twiddle'. See more »

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User Reviews

The thief wore diapers.
28 October 2004 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy appeared in a substantial number of films together before they were officially teamed by producer Hal Roach. In fact, Roach (a very shrewd businessman) always kept Stan and Ollie under separate contracts to his studio, intentionally dating the contracts so that Hardy's would expire (and be renewed) six months after Laurel's. This clever gambit prevented Stan and Ollie from leaving Hal Roach Studios simultaneously and negotiating a better deal for themselves as a team elsewhere. This also explains why Roach produced 'Zenobia' as a solo vehicle for Hardy: because Laurel's contract had expired and he had not yet renewed.

During the period before their official team-up, the Roach shorts that co-starred Laurel and Hardy tended to give them separate footage (as in 'Flying Elephants'), or to feature them as rivals rather than allies. Still, the strong chemistry between Stan and Ollie shines through, often quite hilariously, even when they're foiling each other rather than working together.

'Sailors Beware' is one of the "pre-team" Laurel & Hardy team-ups. Not only is this a very funny movie; it's also a very interesting example of how Stan and Ollie play *against* each other as antagonists. As they're not yet a team, they're still using 'funny' character names instead of their own monickers.

Stan is Chester Chaste (ouch!), a cab driver who picks up a fare: a stylish brunette (Anita Garvin) with her baby in tow. Mother and infant are in a hurry to get to the quayside, to board the Miramar, a luxury liner. Stan's passengers board safely, but then Stan's cab gets caught in a cargo hoist -- with Stan inside, of course -- and gets yanked aboard the ship. By the time Stan gets out of his cab, the ship is underway ... with Stan shanghaied.

Oliver Hardy, in a role definitely subordinate to Laurel's, plays the ship's pompous purser. As far as he's concerned, Stan is a stowaway. He puts Stan to work, to pay his passage.

Meanwhile, it turns out that the brunette is Madame Ritz, the notorious jewel thief. And the 'baby' is in fact her husband and accomplice Roger ... a midget! Roger is played by midget actor Harry Earles. In several silent films, including this one, Earles played a midget who impersonates a baby ... and his disguise is astonishingly convincing. Just occasionally, the adult Earles actually did play a genuine baby on screen, sometimes as a stunt double. Regrettably, the arrival of talkies ruined Earles's acting career: he had a thick German accent, was getting a bit too old for nappies, and the talkies revealed that he had no real acting ability. He ended his screen career as one of the Munchkins: the one with the dark blue shirt in the Lollipop Guild trio.

Madame Ritz and her faux infant have boarded the ship with the specific intention of robbing the wealthy passengers. If a baby gets caught in the act of snatching a pretty bauble and stuffing it into his pram ... well, surely it's an innocent mistake, yes? There are several hilarious set-pieces in 'Sailors, Beware' ... and the implausible comedy is made funnier by the fact that Earles's baby impersonation is indeed so realistic. In one scene, the 'baby' suckers Stan into a crap game and proceeds to swindle him. I laughed at this, but I found it too contrived: Stan's character in this movie doesn't seem *quite* dumb enough to fail to suspect that a baby who can shoot craps isn't really a baby.

But this is the sort of humour that can't stand up to analysis. 'Sailors Beware' is very funny, and an interesting example of Laurel and Hardy -- as opposed to Laurel & Hardy -- playing against each other. It doesn't hurt that Anita Garvin is quite sexy here, as usual. I'll rate this comedy 7 out of 10.

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