Our Wife

Film Review by Dean Duncan Sep 10, 2015

This one’s a classic, in a number of very specific senses. It has stood the test of time. It exactly balances form and function, and it’s also equal parts practical and beautiful. It’s perfectly navigable, and wonderful symmetrical. It is a product of Ancient Greece. A Classic, through and through.

There’s a pile of dishes here, in the vicinity. You’ll want to keep a close eye on them. Similarly, the cake, which will subject to a series of indignities. Same with Jimmy Finlayson. He experiences some especially notable compound falls.

You might be sensitive about this part, or you might find it to be appealingly frank and healthful. In Our Wife Ollie (who’s nickname was Babe) is engaged to be married to Dulcy, who was played by Babe London. Oliver Hardy is a big man. Babe London was a very big woman. These facts are comically exploited, and that most emphatically. We see a very big pair of bloomers, for instance. Mr. Finlayson plays Dulcy’s disapproving father, which leads us eventually to an elopement of sorts. This elopement is jeopardized by the fact that the loving couple has procured a very, very small car for themselves. Their attempts to get into it are nearly traumatizing. They manage to get in there. So, almost unbelievably, does Stan. And their great big suitcase too.

The rendering of this traumatic embarkation is really admirable. It is covered in a number of patient, or maybe they’re punitive, long takes. Beyond the tremendous prop men who constructed the car, I believe that there are no trick shots or special effects involved.

Destruction! The L&H films would do this one thing once in a while. This instance of that one thing has to be the greatest, the most apocalyptic of them all. (Although a similar shot in Helpmates [q.v.] is definitely a candidate too.) There’s a big block of ice, and a big man coming towards it. A slip occurs. And this time there’s definitely a trick shot, or I guess you might say a rigged shot, going on. Down goes Ollie, as does the whole, entire room, and every single thing in it. What an amazing stunt, in the most amazingly compound way. Awesome, really. Just beautiful. For the ages. I’m not doing it justice!

Things have been frustrating for our protagonists, as per usual. This time they have been particularly persevering in the way they have continued to move forward toward their objectives, however dimly defined or perceived they might be. These people are engaged in the making of some fairly straightforward comedies. But the optimism implicit in this particular one is really, positively inspiring.

The lovers are rewarded with success. After a fashion. They find themselves a judge who will marry them. I pause to take note of the beautifully nonsensical conversation that Stan has with the judge’s daughter. It’s worthy of Ionesco.

The judge turns out to be Ben Turpin. Look for an image of him, somewhere on the internet. You can see the problem, can’t you? He agrees to perform the marriage, but in doing so he accidentally marries Stan and Ollie, leaving Dulcy bereft.

Life is challenging! How affirmative these sublime filmmakers are in saying so.