260. Brats (US 1930)

Director: James Parrott

Starring: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy

Music: Marvin Hatley, Leroy Shield

Cinematography: George Stevens

Screenplay: Leo McCarey, Hal Roach, H.M. Walker

FACT: Cinematographer George Stevens went on to become one of Hollywood's great directors.

 In one line: Laurel and Hardy babysit two very familiar children

 

Summary

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy babysit their identikit children while their wives are at play. The strange children fight, squabble, bicker and eventually destroy the house by leaving the bath taps on.

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Brats is often considered a minor L and H effort. I don't know why - the profundities and life-enhancing moments in their films are always in the detail, rather than the cumulative effect of the narrative. There ARE underlying themes to be found in Laurel and Hardy, but you're only really reminded of them when a real-life event reminds you of an incident or quote from one of their films.

Brats, then, is just great, and there's loads to take away from a tremendous twenty minutes of stupidity and violence.

I can rarely play pool without thinking of Stan placing a cuboid shaped marshmallow on the edge of the table - right next to where the cue chalk should be - and it's one of the great delights of Laurel and Hardy to see one of the duo persevering with the impossible until logic/commonsense kicks in. It's an age before Oliver Hardy realises he's chewing the chalk, and a further age before he actually thinks that it might be an idea to stop chewing the chalk - because, as he's rightly surmised, it's NOT a marshmallow.

Olly's pool room is (obviously) too small and there are glass cabinets aplenty to be destroyed when Stan pulls the cue back to get some power in his shot.

Hardy as the Olly-child looks very disturbing without his moustache,  and as is usual in their films, Olly's arse is smacked, thrashed and shot at (when the Stan-child takes aim at crudely animated cartoon mouse).

My favourite part of the film is Olly the man singing the almost moving 'Go to Sleep My Bay-hee-bee' to Olly and Stan junior. Olly's lilting refrain has the two children drifting off to sleep until Stan the Man joins in with a completely off-key inappropriate ending.

Other highlights include: Stan telling off Olly for shouting at the children and giving his friend some modern parenting skills regarding kindness and kind words, only for his wisdom to be negated by the violence that ensues from his liberal approach; the completely wrong scale of the relative body sizes of the children in comparison to the adults (see picture at the very top); and (again obviously) Olly having his arse burned by liniment, thus precipitating a full bath that overflows and destroys the house.

Still funny and almost eighty years old!

9/10