Image of the Week: 26 December 2020

Both 45 Minutes from Hollywood and On the Loose were released on Boxing day, in 1926 and 1931 respectively, though neither were actually Laurel and Hardy pictures!

Stan and Ollie in a screengrab from On the Loose (1931)

While 45 Minutes from Hollywood features both Stan and Babe, it was originally billed as a ‘Hal Roach Star Series’ release. They don’t even appear in the same shot together! Not only that, Stan is virtually unrecognisable in a Finlayson-esque moustache! Why, we hear you ask? Well, dear reader, Stan was still under contract to Joe Rock and this stipulated that while he could write and direct etc, he could not appear in front of the camera. It appears then that this may have been simply a disguise to get around that!

The boys appearance in On the Loose – a Thelma Todd / Zasu Pitts short – was a cameo, lasting only 40 seconds, but these are 40 seconds of typical Laurel and Hardy magic. You can find the film here, and the boys’ entrance is just after the 18:50 mark. For some background to the plot to ensure the clip makes sense, the girls are exhausted having already spent virtually the whole day suffering various indignities at Coney Island (even though the scenes were shot on the Santa Monica Municipal Pier).

Stan and Ollie do not even appear to be in the same shot as the girls, though they are in the same scene! While they exchange dialogue and there are shots of Thelma throwing an ornament in the apartment which lands near Ollie’s head, as well as a shot of the back of a blonde running at them with another trinket (probably a Stan’s-in in a blonde wig), it seems clear though that these are simply cut together.

The next scene is set in the hallway with Stan and Ollie scrambling down a staircase as more knick-knacks are thrown at them. It would appear that Stan and Ollie shot their parts separately and they were cut into the film later. So, some careful camera angles and skilful cutting make for a seamless sequence and at the time, no-one would have been any the wiser ! We however, have the benefit of freeze frame, slow motion and even the pause button!

Even without Stan and Ollie, the film stands up quite well on its own, but is aided and abetted by two things; the delightful Thelma Todd, of course, and the splendid background music – much of which you will be very familiar with indeed!

We know that December and in particular, the period between Christmas and New Year was a busy time for both Stan and Babe, but also the Hal Roach Studio. To see how much work in terms of filming and releases went on over the years, please visit our earlier Blog – Laurel and Hardy at Christmas – for many more details.

We hope that you have enjoyed our brief look at the Laurel and Hardy Boxing Day releases and please feel free to leave any observations of comments in the box below. We’d love to hear from you and all comments will receive a response on this page.

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