The Big Noise


1h 14m 1944

Brief Synopsis

Although they are only janitors at a detective agency, the boys pass themselves off as sleuths and are engaged to guard an inventor delivering a new bomb. They outwit enemy agents after the bomb and wind up sinking a Japanese submarine.

Film Details

Also Known As
Good Neighbors, The Servant Problem
Release Date
Oct 1944
Premiere Information
New York opening: 22 Sep 1944
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Arcadia, California, United States; Beverly Hills, California, United States; Chatsworth--Iverson Ranch, California, United States; Monrovia, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 14m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,652ft (7 reels)

Synopsis

After registering many outrageous devices with the U.S. Patent Office, wealthy career inventor Alva P. Hartley adds his latest discovery, a powerful explosive, to his list of submissions. When Alva complains to his father about the War Department's tardiness in acknowledging his latest invention, which he calls "The Big Noise," his son Egbert overhears the conversation and decides to play a joke on his depressed father. Disguising his voice, Egbert calls Alva on the telephone and, posing as the director of the Patent Office, feigns interest in the explosive. He cautions Alva to guard the explosive carefully, and the elated inventor promises to send a sample of the substance to Washington. Alva then places a call to a trusted detective agency and asks to have two detectives come to the house. Instead of speaking with an agency official, though, Alva inadvertently talks with two janitors, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. The boys, who have been going to detective night school, see the job as an opportunity to better themselves, and accept it. On their way to the Hartleys', Ollie becomes covered with paint while climbing a freshly painted street lamp to look at the sign. When they arrive, Alva attempts to clean Ollie by demonstrating his paint removal contraption, but Stan undermines the process by fiddling with the device, and paint splatters all over Alva's priceless new paintings. Later, while Alva shows the two supposed detectives his explosive, jewel thief Dutchy peers through the window to plan a robbery. When Dutchy sees the bomb, he tells his cohorts, ringleader Charlton, his wife Mayme and Hartman, that they should steal it and sell it to a foreign government. Although Hartman is interested in the scheme, Charlton and Mayme reject it as unpatriotic. Meanwhile, Stan and Ollie are befuddled by their quarters, in which the furnishings are operated by a set of buttons. The boys eventually settle down but are amazed by the appearance of Alva's sister-in-law Sophie, who walks in her sleep. Sophie nearly detonates the bomb, and Alva chastises the two "detectives" for their carelessness. In the house next door, where the thieves are now staying, Charlton and Mayme plot to finagle an invitation to Alva's home by introducing him to Mayme's lovely niece Evelyn. When Evelyn arrives, she mistakes the Hartleys' home for Mayme's, and Alva is immediately taken with her. After escorting Evelyn to the correct house, Alva invites the family to dine at his home, and the gang plans the robbery. Their scheme is foiled, however, when Alva receives a call from a real Patent Office worker, who asks him to bring the explosive to Washington, D.C. without delay. Upon learning of Alva's plan, Dutchy and Hartman tie up Charlton and Mayme and go to the Hartley home to steal the device. Alva is warned by Evelyn, but the couple is captured by the robbers and taken to Stan and Ollie's room. The boys have already hidden the bomb in Stan's concertina, however, and Stan tricks Dutchy and Hartman into entering the closet. Believing that Stan and Ollie have a decoy bomb, and that he has the real one, Alva loudly tells them to take the train to Washington. The crooks follow Stan and Ollie's train by automobile, although Alva soon discovers that they are carrying the real explosive. When the boys try to change trains to continue their journey, they must instead hitchhike to a nearby airfield, where the crooks pick them up. Stan and Ollie elude their captors, but are forced to hide in an apparently abandoned airplane. They are amazed when the plane, which has been equipped with a remote control device, takes off, and soon find themselves under fire from practicing anti-aircraft gunnery units. The boys don parachutes and make their escape, and as they are gliding down to earth, Ollie spots a Japanese submarine and orders Stan to drop "The Big Noise" on it. After the enemy vessel has been demolished, Stan and Ollie sit on a buoy while awaiting rescue, and Stan entertains the fish with a song on his concertina.

Film Details

Also Known As
Good Neighbors, The Servant Problem
Release Date
Oct 1944
Premiere Information
New York opening: 22 Sep 1944
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Arcadia, California, United States; Beverly Hills, California, United States; Chatsworth--Iverson Ranch, California, United States; Monrovia, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 14m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,652ft (7 reels)

Quotes

I'm famished.
- Oliver
We'll start with the turkey. (He uncovers a tray holding a number of pills.) Will you have light meat or dark?
- Alva P. Hartley
Could I have another joint?
- Stanley
Here you are, Junior.
- Alva P. Hartley
Gee, the neck as usual. I'm getting capsule-happy now.
- Egbert

Trivia

Notes

The working titles of this film were Good Neighbors and The Servant Problem. According to a September 1943 Hollywood Reporter news item, Ben Stoloff was originally scheduled to direct the picture. Studio publicity notes that Helene Reynolds, who was originally cast as "Mayme," was released from her contract with Twentieth Century-Fox and replaced in the picture by Veda Ann Borg. According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, scenes in the film were shot at the following locations in California: Monrovia, Arcadia, Beverly Hills and the Iverson Ranch in Chatsworth. The film marked Sol Wurtzel's last picture with Twentieth Century-Fox as a contract producer, although the studio continued to release films made by Wurtzel's independent production company. The picture marked the first appearance of the popular World War II-era song "Mairzy Doats" in a film.