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With the police hot on their trail, Stan and Ollie attempt to change clothes in their getaway car, only to find themselves struggling to balance atop the girders of an unfinished skyscraper. Will they return to ground level in one piece?


Leo McCarey


Leo McCarey, H.M. Walker (titles)

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Cast overview:
Stan Laurel ... Stan
Oliver Hardy ... Ollie
Tom Kennedy ... Prison Guard
Sam Lufkin Sam Lufkin ... Getaway Driver
James Finlayson ... Store Keeper
Jack Hill Jack Hill ... Officer
Harry Bernard Harry Bernard ... Worker at Sea Food Dealer
Jean Harlow ... Woman in Cab (as Harlean Carpenter)
Ed Brandenburg Ed Brandenburg ... Cab Driver


Two escaped convicts (Laurel & Hardy) change clothes in the getaway car, but wind up wearing each other's pants. The rest of the film involves their trying to exchange pants, in alleys, in cabs and finally high above the street on the girders of a construction site. Written by Herman Seifer <alagain@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Short | Family


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Release Date:

26 January 1929 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Criminals at Large See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Hal Roach Studios See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono | Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The building under construction in 1928 that served as a location for the climactic scenes in this short was the Western Costume building at 939 South Broadway, Los Angeles. The building still stands (as of 2018) just South of the United Artists Theatre building (1926). While The Boys are on the girders, views to the South show the then-new Western Pacific Building (1925) at 1031 South Broadway; the triangular block of buildings at South Broadway where Broadway Place once cut an angle from Tenth Street (now Olympic Blvd.) and Broadway to Main Street (the entire block, including Broadway Place, has been replaced by an apartment complex); a large sign advertising the Sunday Examiner newspaper, atop the 10-story Los Angeles Railway Building (1925), which is kitty-corner across the street from the Herald Examiner headquarters; and in the distance, the twin steeples of St Joseph's Catholic Church (1901-1903, destroyed by fire in 1983) at 12th and South Los Angeles Streets. See more »


The rope attached to the girder is at first looped around it but in the next shot it's just draped over it. See more »

Alternate Versions

The original print of this film is probably lost. The available version is a Film Classics reissue with credits replaced (and with one name misspelled). The quality of the images changes throughout the entire film because most of it is lifted from a Robert Youngson compilation. See more »

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User Reviews

And laughter for all
22 August 2014 | by StevePulaskiSee all my reviews

Laurel and Hardy are prison escapees, desperately trying to change out of their convict-attire to much less noticeable street clothes. In their frantic dressing, they realize they are wearing each others pants and, in their distracted haze, are chased by a policeman into a construction site, where they flee police-sight by riding an elevator to the top of an unfinished building. Twenty stories into the air, Laurel and Hardy are now stranded on the pillars of the building, frantically trying to switch trousers while avoiding the large drop to their death.

Such is the premise for Leo McCarey's comedy short Liberty, which adheres to the silent comedy principles of "thrill-comedies," which are comedies that bear a great deal of suspenseful elements intended on making the audiences laugh one minute before gasping the next. One of the most famous examples - one I also happened to review too - was Harold Lloyd's Never Weaken, from 1921, which Liberty seems to borrow quite a bit from. However, unlike the darker undertones Never Weaken provided, Liberty is much more carefree and comedic, as well as manic.

Its manic qualities are precisely what kept Laurel and Hardy in the business for so long, with Liberty coming later in the game for their silent shorts. If not for the incredible stunts of the short, which Laurel and Hardy performed at their own risk, the music and overall writing/directing pace unleashed by McCarey and H.M. Walker (who would later direct the Marx Brothers' superb comedic masterwork Duck Soup) make Liberty enough to be immersing on terms outside its contributions to a genre so significant in the early days of film.

Starring: Stan Laurel and Olive Hardy. Directed by: Leo McCarey.

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