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  • Comic drag routines are a matter of taste, and despite the skill of the comedian involved such sequences can easily cross the line into vulgarity, but for my money the silent two-reeler That's My Wife offers the best of Laurel & Hardy's female impersonation scenarios, thanks to the skill of Stan Laurel and the Hal Roach Studio's crack team of gag writers. The premise that constitutes the plot (i.e. Ollie's uncle will leave him a fortune only if he is happily married) is familiar from many a comedy of stage and screen, and is far-fetched to put it mildly, but the creative team was drawing upon basic elements of stage farce: an absurd demand provokes panic and a hastily contrived deception, which in turn causes bigger complications, which eventually snowballs into disaster. When this formula works as well as it does here, the pay-off is rich.

    We know from the opening sequence that Mrs. Hardy (Viven Oakland) is sick and tired of dealing with Stan, her perennial house-guest. She leaves in a huff, just as Ollie receives word that his Uncle Bernal (William Courtwright) is coming for a visit. The eccentric old man has vowed to leave the Hardys enough money for a fine new home—IF they are happily married. Since his uncle has never met Mrs. Hardy, Ollie figures that Stan can play the role for one evening. Stan isn't happy about the scheme, but goes along with it. To dismay of both men, however, Uncle Bernal insists on taking them out to the Pink Pup nightclub, where the masquerade must continue in a public setting.

    Stan Laurel ventured into drag on several other occasions, but never so amusingly as in That's My Wife. His reactions throughout are priceless. After a somewhat slow opening the gags in the film's second half are non-stop, and the laxity of the censors in those days before the Breen Office was established allows for some surprisingly risqué material. Case in point: the extended running gag in the nightclub, when jewelry has been dropped down the back of Stan's dress and Ollie attempts to retrieve it. Despite the boys' efforts to be discreet, they are interrupted again and again by other patrons in increasingly embarrassing positions, reminiscent of the repeatedly interrupted pants-switching routine in 'Liberty.' This climaxes in a spectacular humiliation when they accidentally wind up on stage before the entire assemblage, instead of the advertised floor show "Garrick and Lucille in The Pageant of Love." The result? Two middle-aged men, one obviously in drag with wig askew, grappling on the floor doing God knows what. Even today, a startling sight. And yet despite it all, Stan and Ollie retain their childlike innocence, even when engaged in a blatantly dishonest scheme to grab money that, according to the uncle's stipulation, they don't deserve.

    Casting note: the drunk in the restaurant who flirts with Stan is played by Jimmy Aubrey, a one-time colleague of both Stan and Charlie Chaplin in the Fred Karno troupe of English music hall players. Subsequently Aubrey starred in his own series of short comedies, which often featured Oliver Hardy in support, but by the late 1920s he was no longer a top-billed comedy star. He has a nice featured role in this film, but worked only sporadically at the Roach Studio. (He's a drunken lodge brother who gets paddled in L&H's 1933 feature Sons of the Desert.) He wound up playing sidekicks in Westerns and doing comic bits in movies for decades. Aubrey lived a very long life, dying at the age of 94 in 1983. Unfortunately he was embittered in his later years, and had nothing good to say about any of his onetime colleagues, including Stan and Ollie!
  • Undoubtedly the most hilarious Laurel & Hardy of all - but that's just my opinion. The first time I saw this film I was literally crying from laughter, especially during the lost necklace/dance sequence in the restaurant. Laurel in drag as Hardy's wife is absolutely priceless! No matter how many times I see it, I still laugh out loud, thank heaven for DVD and for Laurel & Hardy for leaving us with so much laughter and happiness!
  • This is a good Laurel and Hardy comedy, of the kind that gradually picks up energy as it goes along, so that by the end of it Stanley and Oliver find themselves in a thoroughly chaotic predicament. It's one of several movies that feature Laurel dressing as a woman, with this one probably the most extensive and resourceful of those sequences.

    It starts off with Oliver's wife storming out just before his rich uncle arrives, with the express intention of meeting his nephew's wife. With Stanley doing his best to impersonate her, things start to get complicated quickly. The early stretches move a bit slowly at times, but then things pick up quickly once the group heads out to eat at an upscale restaurant.

    Laurel gets most of the good moments here, and even as he portrays how clumsy his character is, he shows how versatile he himself could be at physical comedy. Jimmy Aubrey joins in the disorder as a confused fellow diner, and William Courtright, as the uncle, adds an assortment of facial expressions that comment on the situation as things unravel.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Some of the reviews for this film describe it as the team's best or near-best. While I wouldn't go that far, it is a very good and enjoyable film and is among the better silent shorts they made.

    The film begins with Ollie's wife walking out because Stan has been living with them for two years and Ollie won't throw him out of the house. Only moments later, Ollie's rich uncle stops by the house to meet Ollie's wife. With timing only found in films, it's the same uncle that promised to put Ollie in the will as long as he's happily married. Desperate to keep up appearances, Ollie panics and has Stan pretend to be the wife! This isn't the first time nor the last when Stan went in drag. Oddly, he looked rather convincing and this provided some laughs. My favorite of these cross-dressing scenes was actually from one of the last of the Laurel and Hardy films, JITTERBUGS. While not an especially good film, the scenes with Stan playing a lady were priceless.

    Aside from the cross-dressing, another plot element involves a stolen necklace that is dropped down Stan's dress by the thief. He and Ollie spend perhaps too much time trying to get the jewels out of the dress, as the gag seemed a bit too over-done--though it was still funny and rather risqué.

    Overall, some good laughs and well worth a look. For the team's best silents, though, try BIG BUSINESS or SHOULD MARRIED MEN GO HOME?.

    FYI--The "Pink Pup" nightclub seen in this film is also featured in THEIR PURPLE MOMENT and you see the outside of it in THE BATTLE OF THE CENTURY--two other Laurel and Hardy films.
  • That's My Wife (1929)

    **** (out of 4)

    Hysterical Laurel and Hardy film has enough gags for two films. Hardy's wife leaves him because she can't stand Laurel living with them. This causes a problem because Hardy's rich uncle is coming over to meet the new wife. With nothing else to do Laurel dresses up as the wife and everything goes to hell. This is now one of my favorite shorts from the duo because of the non-stop physical gags ranging from Laurel falling down a flight of stairs to a crazy scene involving a dance floor. This short is also something new because it adds quite a bit of sexual, Pre-Code laughs including the boys trying to give Laurel breasts and another scene where the two appear to be having sex.
  • Stan Laurel is once again called upon to slip into women's clothing in this silent short. Responsible for Ollie's wife leaving him, he must don some of her clothes to convince Ollie's wealthy uncle that he is Ollie's wife to avoid him losing an inheritance. Like all of the boys' movies, the story is merely a reason to involve Stan and Ollie in increasingly ridiculous situations, and the gags work pretty well here. Forced to go out on the town by the wealthy uncle, Stan has a stolen necklace dropped down the back of his gown at a nightclub, and Ollie's attempts to retrieve it provide plenty of laughs - especially when they emerge shame-faced from a telephone booth after being discovered by some guy wanting to use the phone. Two-thirds of the way in a priceless final gag is quietly and cleverly set up. One of the boys' better silent films.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Quite a funny comedy short, in which Stan spends most of his time dressed as a facsimile of Ollie's recently run off wife. This is for the benefit of Uncle Bernal, who has promised Ollie and his wife a substantial sum and new house, on the condition that Ollie must have a current wife.......You see, Mrs. Hardy(Vivian Oakland) got fed up with tolerating long term house guest Stan's peculiarities, and gave Ollie an ultimatum: Either he goes or she goes. Actually, she had already made up her mind to leave, whether Stan left or stayed. After they took turns smashing a couple of vases, to add to the 2 potted plants Mrs. Hardy toppled, Stan announced that he was leaving too. He went upstairs to pack his things. But, just then, Uncle Bernal rang the bell. He especially wanted to see Mrs. Hardy before leaving the pair his proposed gift. Unfortunately, Ollie feels he can't tell him that she isn't home, because Stan is making noise with the dresser drawers. (Actually, he could have explained that Stan was a guest). So, Ollie tells Uncle that he will tell her to come down. He hurriedly tells Stan that he has to pretend to be his wife, dressing in the clothes, shoes, etc. she left behind. Finally, Stan is ready, slips and bumpety bumps down the stairs, to land in a heap. No matter, Uncle invites them to go to a restaurant for dinning and dancing. ........At the restaurant, Ollie soon slips and falls backwards. Stan immediately falls on him crosswise(why?). This is a repetition of a similar event in "Two Tars", except that it was a woman who slipped. .......The 3 are seated, and soon a drunk at a nearby table starts ogling Stan. He hits Stan with a couple of sugar cubes, and a piece of a roll. Stan throws something back, but it hits a passing waiter, making him fall into his delivery. This is the second time this waiter has fallen since they arrived, and he will fall a third time before the film is over. The drunk now presents Stan with a bouquet from his table. He swipes a chair from the next table, causing a man there to fall on the floor. That man swipes the chair back, causing the drunk to fall on the floor and that same waiter to fall over him. The drunk finds another chair and sits down. Ollie gets increasingly irritated with his passes at Stan, so he dumps his bowl of soup, including the bowl on the drunk's head, the drunk then leaving. Ollie then takes Stan's soup, explaining that she's on a strict diet..........Just then, a waiter steals a diamond pendant from a customer. But, it's soon noticed missing, and the manager announces that all will be searched. The waiter gets cold feet, and slips the pendant down the back of Stan's dress. Stan immediately senses that something is amiss, and squirms around. Uncle suggests they dance. They do, but a very eccentric dance with Ollie trying to pull something out of Stan's dress. Hilarious! They continue when they are the accidental stars of a floor show. Finally, Uncle has had enough, and says he will leave his fortune to a cat and dog hospital. Eventually, the pendant is found on the floor. As they leave the restaurant, that drunk has a surprise for Ollie. Can you guess what it is?
  • Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were comedic geniuses, individually and together, and their partnership was deservedly iconic and one of the best there was. They left behind a large body of work, a vast majority of it being entertaining to classic comedy, at their best they were hilarious and their best efforts were great examples of how to do comedy without being juvenile or distasteful.

    Although a vast majority of Laurel and Hardy's previous efforts ranged from above average to very good ('45 Minutes from Hollywood' being the only misfire and mainly worth seeing as a curiosity piece and for historical interest, and even that wasn't a complete mess), Along with 'Two Tars', 'Liberty' and 'Wrong Again', 'That's My Wife' is one of the best and funniest Laurel and Hardy short film up to this point of their output, one of their best from their overall early work and very nearly one of my personal favourites of theirs. Their filmography, apart from a few bumps along the way, was getting better and better and 'That's My Wife' exemplifies this.

    Slightly too slow to start with, but very quickly picks up and hardly anything to criticise here.

    Once again, 'That's My Wife' is non-stop funniness all the way, its best part being the riotous ending. There is insane craziness that doesn't get too silly, a wackiness that never loses its energy, the lack of vulgarity (despite that being the biggest traps of portraying female drag in comedy) that is a large part of 'That's My Wife's' memorability and the sly wit emerges here, some of the material may not be new but how it's executed actually feels fresh and it doesn't get repetitive.

    Laurel and Hardy are on top form here, both are well used, both have material worthy of them and they're equal rather than one being funnier than the other (before Laurel tended to be funnier and more interesting than Hardy, who tended to be underused). Their chemistry feels like a partnership here too, before you were yearning for more scenes with them together but in 'That's My Wife' we are far from robbed of that.

    'That's My Wife' looks good visually, is full of energy and the direction gets the best out of the stars, is at ease with the material and doesn't let it get too busy or static. The supporting players are solid.

    Concluding, great. 9/10 Bethany Cox
  • A very conventional L & H plot. A rich uncle is looking to give the Hardys a large amount of money if they are happily married. Unfortunately, the wife takes off in the opening scene. When the uncle shows up, Ollie gets Stan to pretend to be the wife. This then becomes a steamroller as they try to pull off the charade. There are some particularly funny scenes in a night club. We know things will never work out for these guys. But Stan is a hoot.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Yes, it's true -- and not for the first time. Laurel is an unwelcome guest in the Hardy household. "He's untidy," says the wife, threatening to leave. But if she leaves, Uncle Bernald won't leave them any money. She leaves, smashing some vases on her way out.

    Uncle Bernald appears at the door. He asks to meet the Little Woman, whom he's never seen. Laurel dons a dress, wig, and heels, and a barbell for a bosom. They visit the Pink Pup nightclub and there follows a good deal of slapstick, especially involving an expensive necklace that has been dropped into Laure's dress. It must be retrieved. Hardy tries to shake it out of Laurel on the dance floor but is remonstrated with. No matter where the pair hide -- in a phone booth, behind a stage curtain -- they are always exposed and taken for a man and woman up to glandular affairs. Disgusted with the display, the uncle walks out and plans to leave his money to a dog and cat hospital. Hardy's lost his wife and his fortune. What else can go wrong? A waiter dumps a plate of soup on his head.

    It's an amusing silent divertimento, if not one of their funniest. Many of the situations have been used for gags before and will be used again. But there are some laughs in it and it's worth catching. Essential for Laurel and Hardy fans.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are the most famous comedy duo in history, and deservedly so, so I am happy to see any of their films. Stan is living with Ollie and his wife (Vivien Oakland), and she wants him out otherwise she leaves, and just before she does, Ollie reminds her they will lose a fortune from Uncle Bernal (William Courtright), she doesn't care. Soon enough, the Uncle is knocking on the door expecting to see the happy couple, so Ollie gets Stan to dress as a woman, his wife, and a stupid and clumsy one at that, to satisfy the Uncle and hopefully get the fortune, only to be told they have to go with him to dinner. So they go to a restaurant where Stan is still trying to look like a woman, only to have a Drunk (Jimmy Aubrey) trying to get his attention to flirt, and when he comes over Ollie pours soup on his head. Then Stan sees a guy swipe a necklace from a woman on another table's neck, and he drops it down Stan's back, and it is up to Ollie to try and get this object out, making them both hilariously ridiculous. In the end, the Uncle finds out the truth, and says he will give the money to a dog and cat home, and the picture ends with Ollie getting a bowl of soup on his head from the Drunk. Also starring Charlie Hall as Waiter (possibly the one that keeps having his face going into cakes). Filled with wonderful slapstick and all classic comedy you could want from a silent black and white film, it is an enjoyable film. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were number 7 on The Comedians' Comedian. Good!