Friday, January 14, 2011

Short Films are Easier to Review: Laurel and Hardy's 'Dirty Work'

God bless you, Turner Classic Movies! Wait, let me check the YouTube... DAMN YOU, YouTube! Oh well. Close enough. That's the way it is these days. No longer enough to have the whole version as it was intended. Then again, sometimes the highlights are enough. Man, I ain't seen Dirty Work in a long time. I guess it wasn't one of my favourite Laurel and Hardy shorts. I try to reject the modern thinking that it's The Music Box or nothing; not that The Music Box isn't good, mind you. It's just the one every one likes now, the ICON if you will. But, how many amongst you can say you've been to that staircase? I can! ICON! Got a photo of it somewhere... aw, man! I gotta look through old dusty photos now? Good grief!
Anyway, I must be in a giddy mood, because even the plot of Dirty Work is just funny to me. We start with a good comedy name: Professor Noodle. He's working on the ol' Fountain of Youth formula, with his butler Jessup faithfully by his side. You know, the one from Nutty Professor 2. Well, Noodle's nutty in the unpleasant way. You might have trouble enduring it! These days, if everyone isn't acting low key and half-asleep like Steven Wright, it can be off-putting for some. The boys enter the picture under the guise of chimney sweeps. Needless to say, you'd probably be better off hiring The Three Stooges to sweep out your chimney. Needless to say, all hell breaks loose as they get started. Between the surly butler and the chimney, Stan and Ollie get pushed around pretty good.
I guess there aren't a lot of great lines in this one, but Ollie's is pretty memorable: "I have nothing to say." The acrimony between them of course culminates in Them Thar Hills when Ollie's been reduced to simply telling Stan to shut up. The other classic line is delivered by the butler after he's consumed in a giant wave of cocoa powder: "Somewhere, an electric chair is waiting!" He storms off to take a bath. For some reason, the piano getting wrecked was a big laugh for me. LOL! I'm a sick boy, I know.
Of course, even the short comedies need a big idea: finding the Fountain of Youth, and the old assumption that one rogue scientist can do it. Something to do with blocking free-radicals or certain letters in the genetic code. Krulwich! Anyway, Professor Noodle eventually perfects the youth formula... the old coot measured the half drop with a pair of scissors right! In his glee, he turns to the boys to give them a demonstration. Not at all concerned about the chimney mess! I think when I was a kid, I was puzzled that Stan and Ollie weren't impressed by the formula working. I was a pretty sick kid, too. Now I'm struck by the wisdom of their reaction: Ollie swallows, Stan of course looks confused... The Professor, having turned a duck into a duckling, then said duckling into an egg, exclaims "Now! A human demonstration!" Ollie goes, "Well, we'll be seeing you!"

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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