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The Big Noise (1944)

Approved | | Action, Adventure, Comedy | October 1944 (USA)
During World War II Stan and Ollie find themselves as improbable bodyguards to an eccentric inventor and his strategically important new bomb.


(as Mal St. Clair)


(screenplay) (as W. Scott Darling)

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Complete credited cast:
Mayme Charlton
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James Bush ...


Although they are only janitors at a detective agency, the boys pass themselves off as sleuths and are engaged to guard an inventor delivering a new bomb. They outwit enemy agents after the bomb and wind up sinking a Japanese submarine. Written by Herman Seifer <alagain@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Laugh BANG Of A Lifetime ! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

October 1944 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Bomba  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


According to Laurel and Hardy biographer Randy Skretvedt, the film's finale, in which Laurel drops a bomb on a Japanese spy submarine, got cheers from wartime audiences. See more »


When Laurel goes to turn off the light and accidentally sends Hardy's bed into its hiding space in the wall, Laurel's pipe and magnifying glass are on the table. Laurel panics and begins pushing buttons. When he hits the button that spins the table into the floor, you can see the pipe and magnifying glass go flying. When the table returns, you can see they are still not on the table. But when Hardy's bed comes back out of the wall and Hardy falls from the bed, as the camera follows him, the table can be seen and the pipe and magnifying glass are sitting there. See more »


[to Stan, as he pokes Ollie's bulging belly with a pistol]
Dutchy Glassman: If you don't tell me where the bomb is, I'll plug your friend here so full of holes he'll look a Swiss cheese!
See more »


References Let Freedom Ring (1939) See more »


The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze
(1868) (uncredited)
Music by Gaston Lyle
In the score when Stanley and Oliver parachute
See more »

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User Reviews

"The Big Noise" not necessarily "The Big Bomb" it is made out to be.
3 May 2007 | by See all my reviews

Laurel & Hardy play two janitors at a detective agency who take the job of protecting an inventor with a new bomb themselves with predictable results in this late comedy.

This film has been unfairly labeled as one of the worst films of all time. Nonsense. While it is certainly not one of their best films, it is not their worst either. In some ways, it should probably be one of the better late features because it presents the team in their traditional, well-honed personalities rather than forcing them into being cut rate Abbott & Costellos. Some of the gags happily hearken back to earlier shorts. Still, it doesn't quite work. Why? While growing up, "The Big Noise" played frequently on the local UHF channel -- more so than any of the other late, non-Roach features. As a child, I found the film enjoyable, though even at that tender age I found it inferior to the Roach material. Is it the lack of knockabout humor? No. Is it their age? No, I don't think that's the main problem either -- even though wrinkles do work against Stan's persona. Ollie's persona, on the other hand, isn't particularly hurt by his age. (The older I get, the more I find myself concentrating on Hardy. Although he often described himself as Stan's straight man, he was nothing of the kind. He is a talented comedian who remains a joy to watch.)

It was only after a recent viewing have I been able to put my finger on the problem. The problem is the intended audience. In their heyday, Laurel & Hardy were mainstream comedians aimed at a widest possible audience. While children often take great pleasure in Laurel & Hardy films, and I'm sure most of the people reading this comment gained an appreciation for the team in their childhood, their films weren't specifically aimed at children. I think that changed at Fox and MGM. I believe these late films, "The Big Noise" in particular, were aimed primarily at children and were softened in the process.

There is hardly a description of the team that does not use the word "child-like" to describe their antics, but Laurel & Hardy, while they were often naive and innocent, were not children. (Except maybe in "Brats" and "Wild Poses.") Certainly not in the other worldly sense that Harry Langdon's persona could be labeled child-like. They were adult men and as often as not found themselves in adult situations, whether it be drinking bootleg hooch or sneaking out on their wives. Granted, you would never find the sophisticated comedy of "The Thin Man" in a Laurel & Hardy film, but they weren't necessarily childish either. Laurel & Hardy benefited from keeping their foot in the adult world. Just as the Marx Brothers were funnier against the more serious backdrop of an opera. Laurel & Hardy were funnier in real world situations we could all find ourselves in.

While World War II themed storyline of "The Big Noise" is certainly more serious than many of their classic shorts, the boys themselves are more child-like than they were at Roach. By aiming their comedy at children, they lost some but certainly not all of their wider appeal. That's the problem. That's why the film doesn't completely work for me. Still, a child like Laurel & Hardy is better than no Laurel & Hardy at all, so feel free to enjoy this film for its simple benefits regardless of what the critics say.

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