Stan and Ollie are down on their luck and beg at an old lady's house for food. While they are eating they overhear a villainous landlord (Finlayson) threatening to evict her if she does not...
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Oliver's plans to marry his hefty sweetheart go awry when the girl's father gets a load of her intended groom. They then elope in a tiny car much too small for their combined dimensions, ... See full summary »
Oliver's in trouble with his wife after missing a payment on their furniture, having given the money to Stanley, who used it instead to pay Mrs. Hardy for his room and board. While doing ... See full summary »
The Hardys, hoping to avoid having the Laurels drop in and spoil their quiet evening, pretend not to be home when the couple inevitably call. But their subterfuge is discovered, and to make... See full summary »
In the dead of winter, street musicians Stanley and Oliver aren't getting much business in a run-down neighborhood, and then their instruments are smashed in a run-in with a formidable ... See full summary »
Ollie is running for mayor when an old flame (Mae Busch) tries to blackmail him with a old photo ('just the same old apple-cheeked boy'). Stan's attempts to help Ollie keep the blackmailer ... See full summary »
After far too many break-ins on his watch, an ineffective policeman approaches the unsuspecting vagabonds, Laurel and Hardy, with a preposterous proposition; one that would get him off the hook. But, are the boys up to the task?
Oliver's house is in a shambles after a wild party, and his wife is due home at noon. He calls Stanley to help him fix the place up, and the typical catastrophies ensue. Somehow, however, ... See full summary »
It's the morning of Oliver's wedding to oil baron Peter Cucumber's daughter. While waiting for the taxi to take them to the ceremony, Oliver and his best man Stanley become absorbed in a ... See full summary »
On their way to the train station with their wives for a vacation in Atlantic City, Stanley and Oliver get a phone call from a fellow lodge member who tells them a surprise stag party in ... See full summary »
James W. Horne,
Mrs. Hardy is irate that her husband Oliver spends more time with his friend Stanley than with her. Oliver decides to adopt a baby, hoping that it will keep his wife occupied so that he and... See full summary »
Stan and Ollie are down on their luck and beg at an old lady's house for food. While they are eating they overhear a villainous landlord (Finlayson) threatening to evict her if she does not pay the mortgage. Not realizing that they are hearing a rehearsal for a play, the boys decide to auction their car to help. In the confusion surrounding the auction, Stan finds himself in possession of a fat wallet and Ollie accuses him of stealing the old lady's money. When the truth is revealed, Stan exacts painful retribution.Written by
Stephen Harrison <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I've always loved Laurel & Hardy, no matter which of their films I'm watching. Their best movies are delightful, and even in their lesser efforts I find that their impeccable teamwork and special idiosyncrasies usually carry the day. Over and above the comedy it's their relationship I savor, and for that reason I've always found One Good Turn a rather disturbing short. If you care about Stan and Ollie as buddies this one can even be a somewhat traumatic experience, for in this film the pressure of unemployment and homelessness put a serious strain their friendship, causing not just the usual knockabout quarreling, mind you, but a genuine crisis that leads to a misunderstanding, hurt feelings and, worst of all, a rift in their partnership that is left unresolved at the end. When I first saw this short as a kid it left me upset, and watching it again today I remember why.
Normally at the beginning of an L&H comedy we find a fairly stable situation: the boys are workers of some sort, or suburban husbands who've assigned themselves a home fix-it project. Gradually, of course, and despite their best efforts, things unravel. But when One Good Turn opens their situation has all but unraveled already. Stan and Ollie are homeless and broke, though they still own a car, and it appears that the car and a pup tent are their only shelter. They're camping in a field, and right off the bat Ollie is irritated with Stan, who is cooking their soup and hanging up their laundry. Within minutes Stan has managed to ruin the soup, wreck their clothes and destroy the pup tent, so the guys are reduced to going door to door, begging for a handout. At the first home they visit a nice old lady answers the door, and Ollie explains that they are "victims of the Depression" and asks her for buttered toast.
The guys were often broke and struggling to get by in their movies, starting with their earliest appearance as a team in Duck Soup back in 1927, but outright panhandling is not typical of them, and the blatant appeal for sympathy in citing the Depression is even more unusual, not to mention dicey. (Topical references of any sort are rare in their films.) The old lady is receptive and quick to oblige, which makes the boys' subsequent behavior all the more exasperating. Ollie offers to work for their meal but is plainly unhappy when Stan volunteers his friend's services as a wood cutter. They accomplish very little, and to make matters worse, when they sit down to the meal the old lady has kindly provided they quarrel and wind up in a childish food fight. Any laughter the sequence provokes is tempered by our awareness of that wasted food. Did viewers laugh at this in 1931? As it happens, the old lady is active with the local community theater group, and when she rehearses a scene in the next room with a colleague (an enjoyably hammy Jimmy Finlayson) Stan and Ollie mistakenly assume that the dialog they overhear is real, and that she is going to be evicted from her home. Happily, at this juncture the boys' good-hearted spirit reasserts itself, and they venture into the nearby town to sell their car, and raise the cash to save their benefactress from financial ruin. But due to a misunderstanding Ollie jumps to the conclusion that Stan has stolen the old lady's money, and so he marches his "one-time friend" back to her house to make a full confession. When the mistake is revealed, the worm turns as Stan exacts a violent revenge on his embarrassed, remorseful ex-pal.
Wow, that's kind of a heavy storyline for a Laurel & Hardy two-reeler. I guess it's a testament to the skill of the cast and crew that One Good Turn has its funny moments despite the dark atmosphere. Thematically this film reminds me a little of L&H's silent short Early to Bed, in which Ollie inherits a fortune, Stan becomes his butler, and Stan finally rebels against Ollie's relentless abuse. That one leaves me a little queasy too, but there it's the sudden arrival of unexpected money that causes Ollie's bad behavior, and in the end, the boys reconcile. Here, it's the LACK of money and shelter that sours the mood. The tone is harsh from the outset: Ollie is irritable with Stan even before he destroys what little they have, everything deteriorates from that point, and in the end they haven't reconciled at all. Laurel & Hardy fans will certainly want to see this film, and perhaps some will enjoy it more than I do, but if you're like me you may want to follow it up with one of their happier efforts such as Way Out West, in which the boys actually succeed at their given task and are still friends at the final fade-out.
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