Chimney sweeps Stanley and Oliver go about their job, reducing Professor Noodle's living room to a shambles in the process, while the mad doctor works in his laboratory perfecting his "...
See full summary »
Stan and Ollie take a trip into the mountains ('the high multitude') so that Ollie can recover from gout. Bootleggers have dumped their moonshine in the well from which the boys sample ... See full summary »
Stan and Ollie give evidence which convicts vicious gangster Butch. They plan to leave town and advertise for a traveling companion to share expenses. Butch's girl replies to the advert and... See full summary »
Ordered out of town by angry Judge Beaumont, vagrants Stanley and Oliver meet a congenial drunk who invites them to stay at his luxurious mansion. The drunk can't find his key, but the boys... See full summary »
Novice policemen Stanley and Oliver, eating lunch in their patrol car, nearly have their spare tire stolen by a thief and his sassy partner. They then miss the broadcast address of a ... See full summary »
Barbershop owners Stanley and Oliver both answer a personal ad from a rich widow seeking a husband. Oliver hides Stanley's reply and mails just his own. When Oliver receives a proposal of ... See full summary »
Mrs. Hardy is irate that her husband Oliver spends more time with his friend Stanley than with her. Oliver decides to adopt a baby, hoping that it will keep his wife occupied so that he and... See full summary »
Door-to-door greeting card salesmen Stanley and Oliver call upon Mrs. Pierre Gustave, a woman distraught over her husband's neglect. They agree to her plan to reclaim her husband's ... See full summary »
Oliver's house is in a shambles after a wild party, and his wife is due home at noon. He calls Stanley to help him fix the place up, and the typical catastrophies ensue. Somehow, however, ... See full summary »
Chimney sweeps Stanley and Oliver go about their job, reducing Professor Noodle's living room to a shambles in the process, while the mad doctor works in his laboratory perfecting his "rejuvination formula." Cackling with glee, the Professor demonstrates his success for the boys, dropping a duckling into the vat and winding up with an egg. There's a somewhat different type of regression, however, when Stanley accidentally knocks Oliver into the formula. Written by
Paul Penna <email@example.com>
"Is this the home of Professor Noodle? We've come to sweep his chimney!"
This is an unusual Laurel & Hardy comedy with something of a split personality: at times it feels like two movies made in different styles spliced into a single short. Happily, each portion is funny in its own right, and the boys' seemingly effortless clowning carries the day and synthesizes the film's disparate elements into an entertaining whole. While I've never heard any Laurel & Hardy buff cite Dirty Work as an all-time favorite, it's nonetheless one that everybody seems to like.
Our story is set in the home of Professor Noodle, who represents one element of the story-line: a wildly over-the-top parody of Mad Scientist tales. This marks a rare venture into sci-fi territory for L&H; Abbott & Costello and The Three Stooges tangled with mad doctors far more often than Stan and Ollie. In any event, the professor is obsessed with creating a rejuvenating serum that can make people younger, while his sardonic butler, Jessup, expresses skepticism with rolled eyes and the occasional dry quip. Meanwhile, Stan and Ollie are chimney sweeps who show up at the Professor's home the very day he perfects his solution. "Their" portion of the film consists of characteristic (but first-rate) slapstick involving the chimney, the roof, shovels, and a number of unfortunate mishaps. If you don't enjoy watching the boys screw up a task then you probably won't like Dirty Work, but for fans of the team this movie is a feast. The highlight comes when Ollie plummets through the chimney, lands in the fireplace, and is then pummeled with bricks that fall onto his head with maddening, rhythmic precision, one by one. I also like the shot of Ollie tumbling off the roof into a greenhouse; the process work is so rudimentary I suspect it was something of an inside joke, in the way that W.C. Fields' movies would boast the world's worst rear projection screens.
The slapstick stuff is great fun, but it's the mad scientist motif that makes this film memorably offbeat, and two supporting players deserve a tip of the bowler hat: prolific character actor Lucien Littlefield is terrific as Professor Noodle, delivering his overripe lines with relish and cackling with glee, while Sam Adams is a stitch in the less showy role of Jessup the butler. As great as Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were in their prime, it's always worth noting that their supporting players at the Hal Roach Studio gave their films an enormous boost. So too, usually, did the background music of Le Roy Shield, but Dirty Work marks a rare occasion from this period that a Roach comedy has no musical accompaniment at all after the opening credits. Mood music might have enhanced the proceedings, but the lack of it is no great flaw. This is a highly enjoyable comedy, a prime example of what made Laurel & Hardy so popular in their day -- and long beyond it.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?