17 September 2006 | theowinthrop
A Lovely Day's Drive?
TWO TARS has gotten a deserved reputation as being one of the funniest of the Laurel & Hardy short comedies (and certainly among the best of their silent comedies) due to the last half of the film. Initially Stan and Ollie are on furlough from the navy, and meet two young ladies (Thelma Hill and Ruby Blaine). After some typical Hardy small talk (in which he drops his close relationship to Secretary of the Navy Curtis Wilbur), he and Stan decide to rent a car and take the girls for a drive in the country. Unfortunately their car ends up in a traffic jam.
Keep in mind that this was only 1928, and the expansion of American automobile use (from the days when the car was only the toy of the rich or the object of early racing figures like Barney Oldfield and Edward Vernon Rickenbacker) dated back only to 1914 when Henry Ford's Model T was put on the assembly line. By 1928 nearly 15 million of Ford's car was on the road - and there were other car companies too. And here we have a film (a short film comedy) which is about a traffic jam. Modern problems are always mirrored in the movies.
The series of confrontations L & H have are with equally grumpy motorists like Edgar Kennedy (whose front tires and fenders the boys manage to pull off in timed unison). Cars backs are dumped off, or they are reduced to accordions on wheels. Every possible disaster that could befall a 1928 car is shown. And the police are fairly powerless to do much, except to watch in amazement (at the conclusion) of the parade of mangled cars. And it is, surprisingly, very funny indeed.