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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Never go full retard

Author: Thomas ( from Berlin, Germany
26 June 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

But this is exactly what Laurel and Hardy are doing in this 1929 17-minute short movie. Just like James Finlayson co-starred frequently with them and who is on par acting-wise with the possibly most famous duo in film history. This is obviously in black-and-white and was co-directed by multiple-Academy-Award winning director Leo McCarey. The premise is as simple just like the execution. With the exception of the first scene when they try to sell a tree to a woman, the entire film takes place at the same location, in front of a house. Laurel and Hardy are Christmas tree salesmen and they clash with a man who does not want to buy one and is not afraid of showing them. The situation escalates more and more and quickly the duo is about to wreck the poor guy's home, while he "only" destroys their car. The policeman who comes to help really does nothing apart from giving everybody a couple bad looks and crying with them in the end when they all get along with each other again? Hey it's Christmas after all. Or do they really? This is a decent short film. The only question i asked myself is why was this released in April when there was actually Easter and not the Holidays. Doesn't matter though. I was nicely entertained. Thumbs up.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A good Laurel and Hardy short, but there are many greater ones

Author: BigStar303 .
19 May 2015

First let me say that I bow to no one on earth in my love for Laurel and Hardy. They were the greatest comics in cinema history, in my view. Yes, better than Chaplin, yes even better than Keaton (though I consider Keaton more of a film artist than a comic — in that realm, he's untouchable).

So I feel fully qualified, knowing The Boys' oeuvre backwards and forwards, to state that this film, while good, is overrated.

I used to believe that its status as the absolute apotheosis of their film career (and perhaps in all of film comedy) was simply a matter of a statement being repeated again and again until it becomes the truth without regard to its actual substance.

This still may be so, though I would think at least some of the reviewers here may not have read every book on Laurel and Hardy that exists, as I maybe this really is their unaided view.

In any case — this is a one-joke film. There are some amusing bits, but there is very little of the character exploration and development that goes hand in hand with the slapstick and marks the best Laurel and Hardy comedies. Once the game is on with Fin, it's simply a series of ever-escalating spasms of childish destruction.

They did this sort of tit-for-tat mutual destruction bit much more deftly in other films — and most of those films have additional L&H delights going for them that this one-trick pony does not.

To me, the ultimate test is the laugh quotient. There are a great many Laurel and Hardy films that can literally put me on the floor, collapsed in helpless laughter. This is not one of them.

I know that I may be virtually alone in my view of "Big Business," but that's OK. To those who are new to Laurel and Hardy, I just want to say that there are many other films in their canon that are superior to this one.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The 15th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival, David Jeffers for

Author: rdjeffers from Rockaway Beach, OR
15 September 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Yuletide Mayhem

Saturday July 17, 2010, The Castro, San Francisco

"Merry Christmas!"

Two salesmen who refuse to take "no" for an answer meet their match in an equally stubborn homeowner.

Only Stan and Ollie would attempt to sell Christmas trees door-to-door in sunny California. Their failure is of course inevitable, as is the havoc they wreak on the home of unfortunate Jimmy Finlayson, who has the temerity to rile them up! By the time a policeman finally arrives, the house and their truck are all but demolished as a neighborhood crowd watches from the street. Stan pitches breakable objects out a window to a batting Ollie on the lawn, while Finlayson gleefully dismantles their truck, one piece at a time as the cop observes unnoticed.

A popular Hollywood myth claims Hal Roach arrived on the set late in the day to discover the cast and crew of Big Business had destroyed the house next-door to the one he purchased for the film!

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Unexpected pleasure

Author: Igenlode Wordsmith from England
25 June 2006

Based on what I'd heard about it, I didn't think I was going to enjoy this part of the programme much; destruction derbies really aren't my thing, and while I used to love Laurel and Hardy as a child, I've been a bit disappointed recently on re-viewing their work. Well, I was wrong!

Admittedly the funny bits of this film consist almost entirely of smashing things up, but somehow it's the completely childish and almost innocent way in which it's done that raises the laughs: Hardy attempting to dig up the lawn one shovelful at a time, Finlayson rolling vainly on the ground in a Christmas-tree-tantrum. And then, of course, there's the mass hysteria of the ending...

I don't think I can possibly have enjoyed it as much as the ladies next to me (who were in non-stop whoops for the last ten minutes), but I definitely found it very much funnier than I was expecting.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

the Goldberg Variations of silent comedy

Author: grizzledgeezer from United States
15 October 2013

Seriously. Laurel & Hardy take a basic comedy situation -- malicious property destruction -- and riff on it for 20 minutes, proceeding from minor damage to a Christmas tree, to the dissection of a car, to the destruction of a house. It's particularly enjoyable watching them confronting common enemies (rather than each other), which shows off their distinct comedic styles to better advantage.

It's ironic that "Big Business" was made in 1929, as Hollywood was transitioning to sound. Laurel & Hardy's sound films are much inferior (even the Oscar-winning "The Music Box").

"Big Business" is perfect visual comedy, and if you're not rolling on the floor, you are badly humor-impaired. I wish I could give it an 11. Just thinking about it gets me laughing.

PS: The reviewer who complained that this is a "one-joke comedy" misses the point. Of course it is! A single idea is taken to its logical (???) conclusion. Which is why I compared it to Bach.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant comedy

Author: tbyrne4 from United States
4 December 2011

I had the pleasure of seeing this Laurel and Hardy short recently at the Old Town Music Hall theater in El Segundo, Ca. Totally brilliant comedy has Laurel and Hardy as Christmas tree salesmen in Los Angeles going door-to-door trying to peddle their flimsy products. They come up against a particularly cantankerous older man and hijinks ensue.

The genius of this one is the way the situation builds upon upon a single small incident until things reach truly catastrophic proportions. When you think it can't get any worse, it does. And when you think they've gone far enough, they go even further.

Watching this with a large audience of all ages really was proof that great comedy is timeless. Everyone in the theater was roaring with laughter by the time it was through. Just wonderful.

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4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Absolutely Brilliant

Author: wwe2508 from London, UK
4 February 2004

I'm doing a project on Stan Laurel for ICT and bought the "Way Out West" DVD to help me.

As well as the film itself, I saw that there was also a silent movie called "Big Buisness". I have never seen a silent in my life, and thought that it was the BEST PIECE OF COMEDY I HAVE EVER SEEN!!!

I will definitely watch more silents from now on.

God bless Laurel & Hardy!!

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:


Author: stotty (
30 October 1999

Wonderful silent comedy and one of laurel and hardy's best.The twenty minutes running time consists mainly of a tit-for-tat exchange of mass destruction played out with great verve by the two stars and Finlayson. Star performances,writing,directing and editing combine brilliantly to create this classic.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Mutual Assured Destruction.

Author: Robert J. Maxwell ( from Deming, New Mexico, USA
13 November 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In this twenty-minute silent short, Laurel and Hardy are door-to-door Christmas tree salesmen. They make the mistake of knocking on James Finlayson's door. Finlayson doesn't want a tree but in closing the door he catches one of its branches, which requires Hardy to ring the doorbell again. It happens again. Then it happens with Laurel's overcoat.

One thing leads to another and Finlayson demolishes Laurel and Hardy's Model T Ford, while they do their best to flatten his home.

It was to become a fairly regular routine in Laurel and Hardy's movies and has been imitated in other comedies since then -- one man standing there, watching with interest, as a second man deliberately assaults him with a can of paint or a pair of scissors. (See "The Great Race" for at least one example.) An amusing diversion.

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A Hilarious Symphony Of Destruction.

Author: FerdinandVonGalitzien ( from Galiza
7 January 2007

For German aristocrats, California it is a very strange land, certainly… a place in where never rains is very suspicious for a Northern aristocrat accustomed to the cosy cold or the fresh north wind in their old bones. Due to the sunny, inconvenient weather during the whole year in such a place, is there is a point trying to sell Christmas trees, for example, to those warm-climate people? … Besides, who would like to buy a Christmas tree at this time of the year??...

In the film, there are two Christmas tree sellers with that particular conviction (fortunately the aristocracy have invented the back door in order to not be bothered by such unexpected visits). There is no chance of Christmas spirit in California… it is a terrible fact to have such a strange employ in that place. It is not a big business at all, certainly with all of the heat and tension that it is in the air. Irreconcilable attitudes arise between seller and buyer, no agreements are reached and it all ends up in with the police being called in as the neighbors bear witness to such destructive points of view and noisy selling methods.

Those bizarre Californian behaviors and persuasive methods, can be seen in "Big Business", a Hal Roach short comedy directed by Herr James W. Horne and supervised by Herr Leo McCarey, which starred by Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. It is a perfectly well-paced short film and a hilarious symphony of destruction.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must give orders to the servants not to allow trespassing sellers in the Schloss area to come around.

Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien

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