Laurel and Hardy in “Thicker Than Water”

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As able a comic quartet as ever breathed: Jimmy Finlayson, Oliver Hardy, Daphne Pollard and Stan Laurel

Today is the anniversary of the release date of the classic Laurel and Hardy comedy Thicker than Water (1935).

The comedy is divided into four sections. In the first Laurel, who rooms with Hardy and Mrs. Hardy (Daphne Pollard) causes major confusion when he gives the furniture money (given to him by Hardy to pay furniture man Jimmy Finlayson) back to Hardy as his own rent. The second segment is a priceless dish washing routine, predictable, and thus all the more hilarious. Then Laurel persuades the hen-pecked Hardy to stand up to his wife and take all his money out of the bank to buy new furniture. The boys go to an auction and accidentally end up in a bidding war against each other to purchase a cuckoo clock, which ends up costing them $290. They immediately destroy the cuckoo clock. Mrs. Hardy is so made she clobbers Ollie with a frying pan. In the last segment, Ollie is in the hospital recovering from the attack. For some unknown reason, the doctors give Ollie a blood transfusion, using Stanley’s blood. The two wind up with reversed personalities, each comedian playing the other.

Too many priceless bits of business in this comedy to count. But here are two of my favories. In one, when Hardy has been hit over the frying pan, he waves goodbye to Stanley as he falls unconscious. In another, Stanley, eager to avoid Mrs. Hardy’s retribution, reaches over and pulls the film frame into the next scene at the hospital. I want more gags like this in the world!

For more on comedy film history see my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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For more on show biz historyconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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