Heading for a newly inherited island, the boys are shipwrecked and marooned on an atoll which has just emerged from the sea. Along with their cook, a stowaway and a girl who is fleeing her ... See full summary »
Stan is young sailor whose girl gets kidnapped by rough sea captain. Stan dresses in drag and seduces the captain and the captain's wife catches him. Stan and his girl beat a hasty retreat ... See full summary »
A female secret agent has gotten ahold of a new type of explosive gas. She has to avoid the efforts of two men who are trying to steal it. They succeed in doing so, but the gas turns out to... See full summary »
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William V. Mong
A gruff sea captain, who absolutely detests the word "ghost," is having trouble manning his ship because of the rumor it's...well...haunted. He inveigles Stanley and Oliver into helping him... See full summary »
Fight manager (Hardy) takes out an insurance policy on his puny pugilist (Laurel) and then proceeds to try to arrange for an accident so that he can collect. When a pie delivery man (Hall) ... See full summary »
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
This short comedy was produced for the Hal Roach Studio at a time when Roach was trying to find a new star comic to replace the departed Harold Lloyd, who left his employ in 1923. Jimmy Finlayson, Glenn Tryon, and Tyler Brooke were each given a try-out but failed to make the grade as a leading player, although of course Finlayson later found his niche as a great foil to Laurel & Hardy. Wandering Papas was a vehicle for Australian comic Clyde Cook, a goofy little guy in baggy pants who looked like a cross between Finlayson and Ben Turpin.
Cook was a former stage clown, and I must confess that while watching him in this short I was reminded of the clowns at Ringling Brothers shows, the ones who'd perform vigorous pratfalls, slop buckets of suds on each other, and chase each other around the ring, but without making me laugh -- past the age of 6, anyhow. You get the sense that what you're watching is supposed to be funny, but somehow it isn't, and I think it's because this sort of clown lacks an identifiable personality. He exists to be funny and for no other reason, thus, no matter how well executed, the comedy feels hollow.
Consider the early scene where Cook, who plays the chef at a railroad construction gang's camp, goes to a nearby lake to catch fish for supper. Cook dutifully performs his allotted gags (trying to catch a fish with flypaper, etc.) and executes some good falls, but somehow it doesn't register. Then he goes hunting for rabbit, but comedy-wise the results aren't any more effective. Compare the sequence to Buster Keaton's The Balloonatic, a short comedy released a couple of years before this one. When Buster goes fishing and hunting, it's funny. His gags are stronger, but the real difference is that Buster has a recognizably human persona and his behavior is dictated by the demands of his character. Clyde Cook, on the other hand, does whatever he or his gag writers thought might get a laugh. When he catches a skunk instead of a rabbit he doesn't know the difference (what is he, a moron?) and takes it back to camp with predictable results, but the whole routine feels lame. Cook, unlike Keaton, lacks personality.
Perhaps as insurance the folks who made this film cast Tyler Brooke in a supporting role. As noted above, Brooke was another up-and-coming comic that Hal Roach hoped to promote to stardom, but he isn't given much to do in Wandering Papas. (And by the way, if anyone has a theory concerning the meaning of the title I'd like to hear it). Brooke serves as love interest, romancing the daughter of a surly guy who lives near the construction site. In the end, the lovers elope and wind up on a runaway train with the angry father and our lead comic, Cook. The chase finale is nicely handled. The train rolls wildly along a mountain track and then derails in such a way that Cook and the angry father are dangling from a railroad car over a chasm. The sequence is well-edited and suspenseful, but it might have been something really special if we cared more about the fate of these characters; that's the difference between light entertainment and classic comedy.
Speaking of comedians with personality, there's one other supporting player of note: Oliver Hardy, who plays a construction worker. Hardy, who looks incredibly boyish here, has a good scene with Cook in the dining hall when he requests more flapjacks simply by giving the chef a series of eloquent looks. Within a year or so of appearing in this film, Hardy would begin making some of the last great comedies of the silent era in collaboration with the director of Wandering Papas, the one and only Stan Laurel.
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