14 September 2009 | hte-trasme
Audience gets a rum deal
There's nothing especially wrong with this short comedy, except for the main thing that can be wrong with a comedy -- there's just nothing very one funny about it. This is the second Larry Semon film I've seen, and one of a series of shorts in which Semon, one of the most popular comedians of the twenties and now barely remember, starred with Oliver Hardy, before his teaming with Stan Laurel, as his support. As in my previous Semon film ("Frauds and Frenzies"), the comic proves that he is a pretty good comic actor who plays a gormless young man quite effectively, but there's just not very much good material here.
The somewhat unnecessarily complicated scenario has Semon as a junior detective rescuing a beautiful woman who has gone undercover to defeat a ring of rum smugglers. There are some of the creative visual moments that Semon is famous for. I give credit for the stunts on the rigging of a boat, and my favorite moment involved the two detectives looking like cardboard robots as they have "disguised" themselves in shipping crates -- but none of it really made me laugh.
Oliver Hardy pulls out all the stop here, flailing his arms and leering menacingly in his "rough bully" characterization, but he doesn't have too much to do except be menacing. Spencer Bell appears in an now-unpleasant racist sequence as a cowardly dock worker that further decreases the appeal of the film. This short isn't really badly made at all, but of you miss it you aren't missing much.