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After working in the noisy horn factory, just the sound of one drives Oliver into a violent fit. Dr. Finlayson prescribes a long, restful sea voyage, so Stan and Oliver rent a boat and set sail, unaware that escaped killer Nick Grainger has stowed away onboard. To disable the crook, the boys prepare him a meal using string for spaghetti, sponges for meatballs and soap for cheese. But Grainger discovers their plan and decides to make them eat the stuff themselves. Written by
Paul Penna <email@example.com>
Saps At Sea was the last film Laurel and Hardy made for Hal Roach, and is considered by many fans the last real L & H film. Working as horn testers, Ollie can't stand all the noise and has a nervous breakdown. He and Stan are sent home, and Dr. James Finlayson comes to examine him. He tests his lungs with a balloon; by pressing down on Ollie's chest, the balloon fills with air. When Stan helps the doctor, the balloon gets bigger and bigger, finally exploding and breaking the bed.
Meanwhile, the plumbing in the building is all mixed-up. Turn on one faucet, and water comes out of the other one. Turn on the bathroom faucet, and water comes out of the shower, and vice-versa. The woman next door has a refrigerator that plays music and a frozen radio. When Ollie phones the plumber, who should it be but cross-eyed silent star Ben Turpin.
All of this is good comedy, but it's not really Laurel and Hardy comedy. The mixed-up plumbing is more like a Three Stooges short than anything we would expect from Stan and Ollie. This is a truly bizarre world. When Professor O'Brian arrives to give Stan his trombone lesson, he enters with "Buon giorno, signore." He's obviously Italian.
In another scene, Stan starts to eat a banana. He peels back the skin, only to reveal a second skin. Underneath that is another one, so that there's actually no fruit at all. What are we to make of this? We might call it the comedy of the absurd, but it's not Laurel and Hardy, and gags like this appear in no other film, with the possible exception of their disaster Utopia.
Getting back to Dr. Finlayson, he tells Ollie he has "hornophobia," on the verge of "hornomania." In other words, he goes berserk whenever he hears a horn. The good doctor prescribes plenty of rest and a diet of goat's milk. An ocean voyage would be perfect. But Ollie refuses to go.
After he leaves, they decide to rent a boat in the harbor and sleep on it. They also somehow manage to get a goat. During the night escaped convict Nick Granger (Richard Cramer), running from the cops, hides out on the boat. The goat, tied to the dock, chews through the rope and the boat drifts out to sea. (Stan: "Somebody moved the dock.") Now there are three of them on board, or rather four: Stan, Ollie, Nick, and Nick Jr. (his gun). He demands that they cook him some food, but they have nothing to eat themselves, so they make him a "synthetic" meal. They use string for spaghetti, sponges for meatballs, red paint for tomato sauce, a kerosene wick for bacon, and soap for cheese. Coffee is a sack of tobacco. Once again, this may be funny, but it's Charlie Chaplin's comedy (The Gold Rush), not Laurel and Hardy! Is it really a good idea, at the end of their career, to start imitating other comedians?
Since Nick has spied on the boys and knows what they did, we have the following dialog:
Ollie: It's just like mother used to make.
Stan: Oh, she never made any as good as this.
Nick: Well, if it's that good, you eat it. In a scene that's more painful than funny, he forces them to eat their meal.
The funniest scene in the film is when Stan decides to practice his horn, and Ollie starts to beat up Nick. Ollie is terrific as long as Stan keeps blowing, but as soon as the music stops, he can only run away, with Nick in hot pursuit. ("Blow the horn, Stan.") Stan blows so hard that smoke comes out of the bell. And when the trombone falls apart, he struggles to re-assemble it, not an easy thing to do when you're in a hurry.
All things considered, as their last watchable film this is a good effort, but it would have been better had they been true to themselves.
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