Movie Review: Hog Wild (1930)
“Amnesia! Mr. Hardy was beginning to forget things but Mr. Laurel had no fear of losing his memory-As a matter of fact, Mr. Laurel never had a memory to lose.”
Hog Wild (1930)
Director: James Parrott
Cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Yola d’Avril
Synopsis: Stan and Ollie struggle to erect a roof aerial.
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Apart from the opening scene in which Oliver Hardly embarks on a lengthy complaint about being unable to find his hat – when it is, of course, perched firmly on his head – Hog Wild, like most of Laurel & Hardy’s early sound movies, features relatively little dialogue. This wasn’t because the duo had doubts or problems with sound – in fact, unlike a number of their counterparts whose careers expired during the transition to sound, the boys’ voices were so perfectly suited to their respective physiques that sound added another dimension to their act – but because Hal Roach was keen to maintain their popularity overseas. In order to ensure this, he would film alternative versions of their shorts in French and Spanish (and sometimes German) and have Laurel & Hardy speak their lines phonetically; thus, keeping dialogue to a minimum was something of a necessity.
Having bluffed his way through the recovery of his hat without admitting to finding it on his head, Ollie is prevented from attending an appointment with Stan when his wife insists that he erect a radio aerial on the roof of their house, a job he has been promising to complete for months. As incompetent as he is, Ollie knows enough to accept Stan’s offer of help with this task with the condition that “you really help me!” but it’s not long before Stan’s well-intentioned assistance results in broken windows, a destroyed chimney stack and an Ollie-sized hole in the roof. Their joint struggle with the aerial finally comes to an abrupt conclusion with an unexpected drive through Los Angeles with Ollie swaying precariously from atop the fully-extended ladder which has somehow become lodged in the back of Stan’s car.
Hog Wild’s pleasing blend of verbal and visual humour demonstrates just how smoothly Laurel & Hardy had negotiated the advent of talking pictures, even if it doesn’t quite compare to their better shorts. The drive through LA provides a spectacular finale featuring tantalizing glimpses of Los Angeles long before it became the sprawling metropolis it is today, but Laurel & Hardy were always at their best when focusing on the small touches, and the film’s funniest moments can be found in the timing of the final brick to land on Ollie’s head after he falls from the roof into a goldfish pond, or the tortuous route by which Stan finally figures out the most efficient way to shuttle water from the pond to Ollie’s burning derriere.
(Reviewed 14th December 2016)