Be Big

Film Review by Dean Duncan Sep 10, 2015

“No man is bigger than the excuses he can make to his wife. So remember. Be big!”

Is it sufficiently remarked upon that the L&H films of this period made really effective, really imaginative use of sound? Notice the two doorbells at the beginning here, or the sound the telephone makes. Stan and Ollie have a really resourceful discussion about the fun they’re about to have, without really using any words. Frequently sound cues will be happening out of frame, or off-screen. This device is formalistic, meaning that it calls attention to the utilization of the elements of the medium. It also serves to expand the scope or expanse of the setting, and at the same time of the world the film is creating. And let us not forget the unexpected sound that we hear when Stan pries that tack out of Ollie’s bottom.

Speaking of which, Be Big¬†features a number of instances where Stan doesn’t understand, or learn a lesson that is at hand. But Ollie suffers for it. Child and parent!

Even more, I wish to emphasize and pay tribute to this completely gratuitous belly burning harness contraption. Why is he in it? I don’t know! But there’s Stan, who doesn’t really need any weight shaken off, positively luxuriating in the healthful vibrations that the apparatus provides. No explanation, and none needed, really. Comic bounty, comic grace even, in two dear senses of the word.