Laurel and Hardy in “The Big Noise”


Today is the anniversary of the release date of the Laurel and Hardy film The Big Noise (1944), directed by Mal St. Clair.

This is one of the team’s last and worst films. They play two janitors at a detective agency who pretend they are detectives. They get a job transporting an experimental bomb to Washington. But the script isn’t well constructed. Most of the movie has them farting around the house of the bomb’s eccentric inventor beforehand, full of exceedingly lame original inventions that are supposed to be funny. And of course there is a house next door full of boring spy villains who want to steal the bomb.

Ollie is particularly off form, with none of his usual charm in evidence. His character simply seems mean and grumpy the whole time. One wonders if he was directed to be that way, or if his bad experience at Fox led him to simply act in that manner. Neither of the comedians seems as though he is allowed to talk or act as they had during their halcyon days at Hal Roach. This was the third year into their contract with 20th Century Fox and the focus in the film seems largely all about the other Fox actors and the stupid Fox script.

In the end they wind up somehow in a plane and drop the bomb on a Japanese submarine. They float on a piece of detritus, Stan plays concertina and the fish in the ocean dance to it. Too little too late!

To learn more about comedy film history, including the films of Laurel and Hardy, please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube,

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