Today is the anniversary of the release date of the silent short Hat’s Off (1927), starring Laurel and Hardy.
Part of his film was remade in 1932 as the Oscar winning sound short The Music Box (1932), which is today one of Laurel and Hardy’s best known pictures (if people have only seen a few Laurel and Hardy pictures, The Music Box is usually among them.) Sadly, NO ONE today has seen Hat’s Off — it’s one of the few Laurel and Hardy comedies that have been lost. No copies are known to exist. Luckily there were reviews and publicity back then so we have a rough idea what it consisted of. Whereas in The Music Box the boys carry a piano up an impossibly long flight of stairs, in Hat’s Off, they carry a WASHING MACHINE up the (very same) impossibly long flight of stairs. The difference is the titular climax to the film. In Hat’s off, as they are wont to do, the boys get their hat’s mixed up, and in consternation throw each other’s hats down. It escalates into one of their famous “tit for tat” battles, with bystanders getting drawn in, until great piles of hats are lying on the ground. The film also featured Jimmy Finlayson as their boss, and Anita Garvin as their customer. The film was remade yet one more time as It’s Your Move (1945) starring Edgar Kennedy.
To learn more about comedy film history please check out 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
To learn about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.