Another Fine Mess

Film Review by Dean Duncan Sep 10, 2015

Another Fine Mess features spoken titles at the beginning, long before the more celebrated use of that technique in Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). So that’s kind of interesting. This one’s a three-reeler, which means that it lasts nearly a half an hour. All sorts of things edged these makers of short comedies toward the feature film format. Good things resulted, as well as less good things.

One of the best things here is the array of felicitous disguises or impersonations, and the amusingly preposterous circumstances that made them necessary. Stan is pretending to be a butler. “What is it Hives?” asks Ollie. Stan is also Agnes, the maid. That is alarming. S/he shares a little dialogue scene with the late/lamented Thelma Todd. He pulls it off so wonderfully, and makes us wonder what he might have accomplished if he’d chosen dialogue over knockabout.

Let’s acknowledge and appreciate the contributions of the redoubtable Jimmy Finlayson. As the film concludes the boys are required to make their escape. They do so dressed as a wildebeest, riding a bicycle built for two. That’s not something you can say about too many movies. That whole thing concludes, as do so many Roach films, with a wonderfully groan-worthy gag.