Chickens Come Home

Film Review by Dean Duncan Sep 10, 2015

Here’s something new, or unusual. The boys are practically professionals here. Granted, they are “dealers in high grade fertilizer.” But still. Note that we find Stan to have just been in the sample room.

That is a very large pencil! In Chickens Come Home Mae Busch is playing a past indiscretion, as it were. She is amazing! Sharp, shrewish, a little bit of a stock character, but still really formidable in the particular. We’re committed to the boys, so that we mostly want to get rid of her. But viewed from just a slightly different angle, Busch’s character might just start to resemble Virgil’s (or Henry Purcell’s) Dido, or Mozart/da Ponte’s Donna Elvira. Scorn, fury, hell, etc.

Busch is nicely offset by Ms. Thelma Todd, who plays a slightly unlikely Mrs. Hardy. She reminds me of Edna Purviance, sometimes. Somewhat limited, but so lovely! Alas, times two.

At one point we find Stan, wearing a jacket. And its hanger too.

Many have observed how innocent the Laurel and Hardy characters are. Sometimes the Hal Roach filmmakers made hay out of a tension between their innocence, and the not at all innocent situations they got themselves into. Here, quite unusually, it could be that where there’s smoke there’s fire. Chickens Come Home manages a good level of sexual anxiety, even sexual danger. It’s partly in the remarkably unfettered wrestle that happens because of the car key in Stan’s pocket there. Then there’s the piggy back episode. And then the variations to the piggy back episode. This is the dearest of film oeuvres, but once in a while there’s an edge that you can cut yourself on!

P.S. The Spanish language version of Chickens Come Home—bet you didn’t know there was such a thing!—features the ministrations of a comic regurgitator—bet you didn’t know there was such a thing!—named Hadji Ali. Someone let him stay on screen for way longer than he needed to be there, but you can see how it might have happened. What with all of that comic regurgitation. Really does have to be seen to be believed.