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It's Prohibition, and the boys wind up behind bars after Stan sells some of their home-brew beer to a policeman. In prison, Stan's loose tooth keeps getting him in trouble, because it sounds like he's giving everybody a rasp- berry. But it earns him the respect of The Tiger, a rough prisoner, and the boys manage to slip away during The Tiger's escape attempt. They disguise themselves in blackface and hide on a cotton plantation, but are recaptured when the warden happens by. Back in the big house, they find themselves in a hail of bullets, caught between the state militia and gun-toting prisoners, when The Tiger tries another escape. Written by
Paul Penna <email@example.com>
Stan and Ollie Go to Jail. There's Big Laughs at the Big House!
It's the midst of the Great Depression as well as Prohibition. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy have decided to brew their own stuff, and what they can't drink, they'll sell. Well, they made the mistake of selling some beer to two undercover cops and the boys are incarcerated. They're taken to a brutal and unfriendly prison. They are taken before the warden who speaks nicely to them. But then Stan's loose tooth, which makes a buzzing noise whenever he speaks goes off. The warden is insulted and has them sent to their cell at once. The boys soon meet their new cell mate, evil, wild-eyed The Tiger. The next day at the prison school, Tiger gets Stan and Ollie in real hot water with the teacher, who wasn't having much success teaching his class when really he didn't know too much himself, so Stan and Ollie are sent to solitary confinement, a.k.a the hole. When they get out some time later, The Tiger and his men were plotting a jail break and were going to use two flunkies to lead the way. Ollie and Stan were selected. The jail break was aborted by the guards just in time, however Stan and Ollie had successfully escaped. They hid out in a cotton field a few miles from the prison. There, they put on blackface and disguised themselves as migrant workers. They fit right in.
That evening, Ollie serenades the gang with "Lazy Moon" while Stan dances. The next day, Stan and Ollie were working in the cotton fields when who should drive by but the warden and his daughter! Their car had broken down outside the fields and Stan and Ollie were eager to help. They were still wearing blackface so the warden didn't recognize them. They practically take the engine apart before they realize the car was out of gas. So when they fix the car, the warden happily thanks them and offers them work, but then Stan's tooth gave them away. The boys are returned to prison and thrown into the hole...Again; Stan is sent to the prison dentist, Dr. Jentyl, to fix his tooth. The dentist accidentally "fixed" Ollie's tooth first, but then he finally finds the right mouth and removes Stan's trouble...Or did he? The warden, meanwhile, received a tip that The Tiger and his large gang were planning a big escape. He put extra guards on duty. That evening in the mess hall, Tiger and his men secretly began passing out hand guns. Stan was passed a semi- automatic-- which he quickly set off. The prisoners scramble and the guards all begin firing. The prisoners fire back. Stan and Ollie were caught in the middle of a war zone.
Tiger and his men overthrow the guards and then go back for Stan and Ollie. Stan kept setting off the semi-automatic to keep them back, but eventually it ran out of ammo, but luckily the state militia came to the rescue; Stan and Ollie were commended for their part in apprehending Tiger and his men and so they were pardoned. The warden wished them luck and any help he could offer and all seemed well, until Stan offered to sell him a case of brew and his tooth buzzed again. The warden angrily chased the boys out of his office.
Well, now. Pardon Us, Laurel and Hardy's first talkie feature! Though they also starred in The Rogue Song of 1930, but they were actually secondary characters and unfortunately no known print of The Rogue Song exists today. But Pardon Us was the first feature in which Laurel and Hardy were headlined, and they played themselves. Also in the cast is Walter Long as the evil, wild-eyed Tiger, James Finlayson as the wacky, no-nonsense schoolteacher, veteran of the silent era Wilfred Lucas plays the yuppie warden, Tiny Sanford is the brutal prison guard and Laurel & Hardy veteran Charlie Hall is the dentist's assistant. This movie is rare today, and includes some material that just wouldn't fly if it were made today, such as the scene where Stan notices an African American cell mate and an Asian cell mate and comments, "Look, Amos and Andy". I don't get that, but I'm sure it's a joke. And when they are fixing the car, wearing blackface, Stan calls Oliver "Sambo". So it's dated. Big deal. It was 1931. That kind of stuff was common back then. Nobody from this film is alive today, unfortunately. But anyway, if you should be lucky to catch this film, see it! It's very good. Very well done. Classic Laurel & Hardy fare! I recommend Pardon Us! It's guilty of sheer comic brilliance in the first degree!
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