Film Review by Dean Duncan Sep 10, 2015

This is a major accomplishment, all the way through. So many wonderful things!

Ollie calls Stan on the phone. “Is that you, Stan?” “Yes,” Stanley says, and hangs up. Ollie calls back, and then keeps doing so as the implacable Stan finds a thousand minutely graduated ways to not answer properly. As usual, as always, this is at the same time an absurdist provocation, and the dearest demonstration of comic resourcefulness.

The boys are going out on the town. More specifically, they are going out on the town to get drunk. This unseemly objective is explored and executed most exquisitely. Their drunken enactments are also finely graded and differentiated, and they resolve into not one but two scintillating comic cadences. The first is that they make a dispiriting discovery. Watch what they do! The second involves a gun, and a very emphatic gunshot. Here’s one of those Hal Roach specials, which is to say that crew members on these films could enact destruction like it was nobody’s business.

There’s something else. As so many have observed, as everyone knows, Stan & Ollie are a lot like little children. The drunk part of this film notwithstanding. They are often confused and perplexed. Because they are inexperienced, and they haven’t learned how to do so many important things that need to be done. Because they are inexperienced they are also easily frightened. They are afraid of the waiter in this restaurant. They are afraid people in uniform, of authority figures, of every adult. They’re always trying to negotiate their way through, bravely, though they don’t understand the rules of the game. With all this they understandably can become impatient or upset, quite easily. But they get in an out of their fits of pique, their bad moods so very quickly! Yes, Absurdism. But is this Camus, or is it Kierkegaard? L&H constantly find themselves in some extremity. But they may also be on the brink of some apotheosis. After all, of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.