Sunday 8 August 2021

From the archive: "Laughing Gravy"

Laughing Gravy is The One With The Dog. (It's also the name of the dog.) 21 minutes, overseen by sure-handed Hal Roach employee James W. Horne, in which Laurel and Hardy attempt to hide their pet pooch from the landlord of their boarding house. It's a fine example of how this duo (and the creatives working hell for leather behind the camera) could find trouble in just about every inch of the one location, from Ollie plummeting into a water butt to Stan climbing the chimney to retrieve the restless dog from the roof. (The latter puts his bowler hat on just to go to the front door, like a soldier helmeting up before entering the combat arena.) Plenty of action and gags, along with one hall-of-fame comic pause as the stars stop to examine the landlord-shaped hole that has suddenly opened up in their kitchen door. Often overlooked in these shorts: some lovely, subtle acting, too, particularly in the closing sequence, where the promise of money threatens to split our heroes up, the dog is caught in the L&H equivalent of a tug-of-love custody battle, and Ollie slants his own bowler while trying to ascertain the details of the financial arrangement - a gesture as indelible and touching as any John Wayne swagger or Marlon Brando muscle flex.

(March 2005)

Laughing Gravy screens on Talking Pictures TV at 5.20pm tonight.

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