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A cook for bridge constructors is told to collect food for dinner-Ritz style trout, Palmer house rabbit and a 15cm frosted cake. He sets off into the wide open spaces to collect the food, coming into contact with a mad hermit, who hates anybody seeing his daughter, before returning to cook dinner. Written by
It seems that after the departure of its big star in Harold Lloyd, Hal Roach Studios looked to a number of comics for a replacement. One of them was the Australian former acrobatic clown Clyde Cook, who stars in this film. It's the second of his films that I have seen, and while presumably his acrobatic training has enabled him to be admirably up to the task of performing Lloyd-esquire stunts on screen, he doesn't project much of his own character. His skeletal face and expressive eyes make him look quite memorable, but he doesn't DO anything that makes an impression, and tends just to go through the paces of what's given him in a businesslike way.
This short lacks much of a coherent plot, and sees Cook playing a cook (possibly an intentional joke?) for a bunch of bridge-builders who have camped out near a hermit who's daughter has fallen in love. The hermit business seems there only to facilitate one brief gag in which Clyde thinks the daughter's kisses are for him, and they aren't.
In a film so formless one might expect a bevy of creative gags to make up for it, but here -- while a few of the gags are rather good (ie catching fish with flypaper) -- they are spaced out a bit and rarely milked. Stan Laurel is the director and I don't blame him for this so much as the writers who should have been responsible. In fact I give Laurel credit for a very nicely handled thrill-stunt sequence at the end with a dangling train. Most of the gags are of a pretty surreal, impossible nature, eschewing greater realism in comedy that Roach Studios became known for.
Oliver Hardy is in this as well, collaborating with future partner Stan Laurel though both are not on screen, and once again proves himself a subtler comic actor by orders of magnitude than anyone else around him. The sequence where he puppy-dog-looks Clyde into giving him more pancakes (which he tries to get back during grace) is the funniest in the movie and only work's because of Hardy's facial expressions.
There are a few good bits here making this decent viewing, but it's mostly a very forgettable short.
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