Laurel & Hardy were in their prime when they appeared in Scram!, a terrific two-reel comedy that's funny from the start and builds to an uproarious finale of drunken mayhem. This is the one where Stan and Ollie are vagrants, ordered to leave town by an ornery judge (the magnificently irascible Rychard Cramer) who harbors a special hatred for drunks. When the boys come to the assistance of an intoxicated playboy (the supremely sozzled Arthur Housman) who has lost his car keys he rewards them with an invitation to his home, then takes them to the wrong address. Through a series of unfortunate misunderstandings the guys wind up sporting silk pajamas in the boudoir of the lady of the house (Vivien Oakland) and proceed to get her quite merrily intoxicated, only to learn, belatedly but in the most unmistakable fashion, that they are in the judge's house and the lady is his wife. Mayhem ensures, but it's strangely "innocent" mayhem where the guys are concerned.
Sounds nightmarish, doesn't it? Actually it's hilarious, really one of the best Laurel & Hardy shorts of all. Something I admire about their characters is their sincerity, the sense that they're just being themselves and never straining for a laugh. I love the way Ollie politely addresses the judge as "Your Highness," just as I love the way Stan always blurts out precisely the wrong thing at times like this. And it's amusing as ever to watch as the boys try to break into a house the hard way, in their time-honored fashion. But as wonderful as they are, a few words should be said on behalf of the supporting players in these comedies. Some of the key members of the stock company (i.e. Jimmy Finalyson, Mae Busch, Charlie Hall, etc.) appear frequently and often deserve co-star status, but the three main supporting players seen here, while not so well known, each make a major contribution toward the success of this short. Rychard Cramer is so scary in his brief appearance as the judge in the opening scene that his angry words seem to echo long after he's gone -- foreshadowing his return, which plays like something out of a Noir melodrama or even a horror movie. The perpetually hammered Arthur Housman is given a rare opportunity to perform an extended version of his drunk routine, and more than holds his own opposite Stan & Ollie. But it's Vivien Oakland who gets the best sequence, a prolonged and hilariously pointless laughing jag with the boys that makes the boudoir finale the highlight of the film. This scene is a guaranteed laugh-provoker that defies the viewer NOT to join in the hilarity.
At a time when most of their contemporaries were still struggling to adjust to the new technology of talkies, silent comedy vets Laurel & Hardy had already mastered the new medium and were funnier than ever. Their voices suited their screen characters perfectly, their comedy was enhanced by the delightfully bouncy music of Le Roy Shield and Marvin Hatley, and the supporting roles were filled by a crew of distinctive, gifted players who look like they're having the times of their lives. All these years after the films were made, that sense of fun still comes across.
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Ordered out of town by angry Judge Beaumont, vagrants Stanley and Oliver meet a congenial drunk who invites them to stay at his luxurious mansion. The drunk can't find his key, but the boys find a way in, sending the surprised woman inside into a faint. They revive her with what they think is water, but is actually gin, and all get tipsy in the process. Outside, the drunk realizes he's at the wrong house and stumbles off. Eventually, the real homeowner arrives, none other than Judge Beaumont.
Uploaded by: FREEMAN
July 30, 2022 at 07:29 PM