Pack Up Your Troubles
Pardon Us (1931) was the duo's first feature but it had originally been planned as a short subject. Pack Up Your Troubles was their first movie designed to be a feature-length comedy and everyone realized this one would have to contain more than a string of gags. While developing the story, the writers borrowed and combined elements from two Charles Chaplin movies, Shoulder Arms (1918) with its World War I setting and The Kid (1921) that mixed comedy and pathos pairing a comedian with a child. Stan and Ollie enlist during World War I and with their usual luck and competence end up on KP duty. An Army buddy of theirs is killed in battle and, after the conflict, Laurel and Hardy return home to care for his daughter and bring the orphan to her grandparents. The only problem is that Eddie Smith, the friend's name, was very common, leaving the pair to invade one home after another looking for the proper Smith.
Stan Laurel's daughter, Lois, was originally cast to play the orphan girl but by the time shooting began in May 1932, she was considered too old for the role and Jacquie Lynn, later to star in the Our Gang comedies, was substituted. The battle scenes were shot outside Hollywood using a World War I vintage tank that Hal Roach Studios got on loan from the 160th Tank Corps of Salinas, California.
One scene shot for the movie was only seen in the premiere print. The orphan girl is seen living with a stepfather played by Rychard Cramer who cruelly beats his wife and the child, a scene unpleasant enough to kill the lighthearted comedy of the rest of the movie. Despite being cut, the footage survived and was edited back into the film in 1994.
Pack Up Your Troubles also features several actors that would become famous later. The Welfare Association officer that seeks to take the child away from Laurel and Hardy is Charles Middleton, later "Ming the Merciless" in the Flash Gordon series. The wedding Stan and Ollie interrupt in their search for the correct Eddie Smith has Grady Sutton, later to play "Og Oggilby" to W. C. Fields' The Bank Dick (1940) as the groom while Billy Gilbert, best known as the process server in His Girl Friday (1940) plays his best man. Sharp-eyed viewers should scan the wedding party for a glimpse of 22-year old Paulette Goddard as a bridesmaid. Also making an unscheduled appearance in the film is the director, George Marshall, as the Army cook who has it in for Laurel and Hardy. Marshall, one of the most prolific movie directors in history, proved his ability to quickly solve problems by stepping into the role after the actor originally cast failed to show up.
Pack Up Your Troubles was enough of a success to be remade later with Abbott and Costello as Buck Privates Come Home (1947). But for Laurel and Hardy, who at the time were best known for their comedy shorts, Pack Up Your Troubles launched their feature film career.
Directors: George Marshall, Raymond McCarey
Dialogue writer: H.M. Walker
Producer: Hal Roach
Cinematographer: Art Lloyd
Editor: Richard Currier
Music: William Axt, Marvin Hatley, Leroy Shield
Cast: Stan Laurel (Stanley), Oliver Hardy (Oliver), Donald Dillaway (Eddie Smith), Jacquie Lynn (Eddie's baby), George Marshall (Pierre, The Cook), James Finlayson (General).
by Brian Cady