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Chickens Come Home (1931) starring Laurel and Hardy is a remake of an earlier silent film, Love 'Em and Weep (1927), that also featured the comedy team. But Love 'Em and Weep can't be considered a true Laurel and Hardy film. The boys were not teamed in the movie and while Stan played a starring role, Ollie took on a bit part and is barely recognizable. The idea of remaking the popular comedy as a sound film with Laurel and Hardy in the lead roles seemed like an obvious winner.
In Chickens Come Home, Ollie finds himself cast as a successful businessman who's decided to run for mayor. Unfortunately his past catches up with him -- in the form of a blackmailing ex-flame (Mae Busch) and a compromising photo. His partner Stan is naturally there to help. He tries to distract the girlfriend while Ollie and his wife (played by Thelma Todd) throw a party. Of course, Stan and the ex (who Stan must now claim is his wife) turn up at Ollie's party. The ensuing havoc involves a gun, fainting -- and a couple of really angry wives.
Stan plays the same role in Chickens Come Home that he had in Love 'Em and Weep. Mae Busch also reprises her role as the blackmailing girlfriend - in the earlier film Busch had top billing. Ollie's part in Chickens Come Home had originally been played by James Finlayson in the silent version. Finlayson does appear in Chickens Come Home as well - this time as the butler. Love 'Em and Weep had featured Charlie Hall as the butler, and Ollie, behind glasses and a thick mustache, as a party guest. While Love 'Em and Weep wasn't a true Laurel and Hardy pairing, it was still significant to the boys' future work. The film featured the first L&H appearance with three actors who would become their regular co-stars - James Finlayson, Mae Busch and Charlie Hall.
Chickens Come Home was written and filmed in December 1930-January 1931 and released by MGM in February. The film sometimes draws unfavorable comparison to Laurel and Hardy's more famous shorts because of its longer, three-reel length and the duo's separation through most of the movie. Nonetheless, Chickens Come Home was popular enough to get special foreign treatment. Like many Laurel and Hardy films, it was released in a special international version. Subtitles were not popular with overseas audiences so often Laurel and Hardy would read their lines phonetically in another language. For Chickens Come Home the boys created a Spanish version entitled Politiqueras that starred Italian actress Rina Liguoro in Mae Busch's role. Spanish actress Carmen Granada and US born Linda Loredo took over the parts of Mrs. Laurel and Mrs. Hardy respectively. Politiqueras ran longer than the original at 56 minutes and featured new scenes not included in Chickens Come Home.
Producer: Hal Roach
Director: James W. Horne
Screenplay: Hal Roach, H.M. Walker
Cinematography: Jack Stevens, Art Lloyd
Film Editing: Richard Currier
Music: Marvin Hatley, Leroy Shield
Cast: Stan Laurel (Stanley), Oliver Hardy (Oliver), Mae Busch (Ollies blacksmith), Baldwin Cooke (Office Worker), Norma Drew (Mrs. Laurel), James Finlayson (Butler).
by Stephanie Thames