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Double Whoopee
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Double Whoopee

Double Whoopee (1929) is one of the best-known of Laurel and Hardy's silent two-reelers produced at Hal Roach Studios in the late 1920s. The short boasts a larger cast than usual, and is a particular showcase for the always underrated talents of Oliver Hardy. The setup is elaborate: The staff of a swank Broadway hotel is all atwitter due to the imminent arrival of the monocled, uniformed Prince (Hans Joby aka Captain John Peters). His taxi arrives, but it is Stan and Ollie who walk into the lobby and are mistaken for the Prince and his Prime Minister. After signing the register (Stan makes his mark with an "X"), the boys hand the hotel manager (William Gillespie) their letter of introduction, for "...your new doorman and footman. These boys are the best we could do on such short notice." Stan and Ollie are sent away to get into their work uniforms while the real Prince pompously gives a speech to the staff. When he turns to reenter the elevator, the car is gone and he falls down the shaft to the grease pit below. The new doorman (Ollie) and footman (Stan) have caused the trouble by calling the elevator after their change of clothes. On the job, the boys cause more havoc for the hotel staff, the local cab driver (Charlie Hall), a policeman (Tiny Sandford), and hotel guests, while the Prince takes several more trips to the grease pit.

In his well-regarded 1966 biography, Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy, John McCabe points out that "Double Whoopee contains two Laurel and Hardy trademarks that were to stay with them for all their lives in film. They are simple things, like all their trademarks, but they are oddly endearing. The first is the you-after-me-Stanley mannerism which Ollie always employs when entering or leaving a room. ...The second trademark is Ollie's superb use of any writing instrument. ...Ollie removes his glove ceremoniously, takes pen in hand and after three or four rococo curlicues in the air, signs his name with a flourish truly Napoleonic, pauses, lifts the pen lightly for a moment, and then thrusts the nib down sharply to make a period indelible through eternity."

William K. Everson (in his book, The Films of Laurel and Hardy) notes that Double Whoopee is a particular showcase for Oliver Hardy: "Because of the basic set-up - Hardy, a resplendently uniformed doorman a la Emil Jannings in The Last Laugh (1924), over ingratiating to guests, trying to instill dignity for the new profession into Laurel, and at the same time keep him in his place as his own subordinate - there is an even wider field than usual for Hardy's pantomime of face and body, and he [tends] to rather dominate Stan on this occasion."

The most famous scene in Double Whoopee occurs as the boys assist a beautiful young socialite out of her cab and into the lobby. (Ollie: "Might I presume that you would condescend to accept my escortage?") Stan absent-mindedly shuts the door of the cab on the girl's long skirt, which instantly tears away as the cab leaves, revealing a killer pair of legs in black stockings. The legs belong to Jean Harlow, already sporting platinum blonde hair in only her second year in pictures. She appeared in a handful of Hal Roach shorts, including a few featuring slow-burn master Edgar Kennedy, as well as two others starring Laurel and Hardy, Liberty and Bacon Grabbers (both also 1929). Harlow's appearance in Howard Hughes' Hell's Angels (1930) the following year caused a sensation, and she never looked back at her career in shorts. The Hal Roach staff, however, couldn't resist "casting" Harlow in the Laurel and Hardy sound short Beau Hunks (1931), in a photograph of "Jeanie-Weenie" - the girl that jilted Ollie, causing him to join the Foreign Legion to forget!

Producer: Hal Roach
Director: Lewis R. Foster
Screenplay: Leo McCarey (uncredited)
Cinematography: Jack Roach, George Stevens
Film Editing: Richard C. Currier
Titles: H. M. Walker
Cast: Stan Laurel (Stan), Oliver Hardy (Ollie), Jean Harlow (Swanky blonde), Ed Brandenburg (Bellhop), William Gillespie (Hotel manager), Charlie Hall (Cabdriver), Captain John Peters (Prince), Ham Kinsey (Cabdriver), Sam Lufkin (Man poked in eye), Charley Rogers (Prime Minister), Tiny Sandford (Policeman), Rolfe Sedan (Desk clerk)
BW-20m.

by John M. Miller

VIEW TCMDb ENTRY

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