Watch YOU'RE DARN TOOTIN' in the link above
YOU'RE DARN TOOTIN' is a film I have very similar feelings about as IN THE SWEET PIE AND PIE. I'm not too hot about the beginning, but the film gets better as it goes on and it has an absolutely classic ending. The latter has arguably the greatest pie fight in film history while the former has one of those classic Laurel and Hardy reciprocal punishment gags that builds into every man in town getting involved, the bit of business here being clothing being torn.
I say the beginning is not so hot because it's one of those bits that I just don't find very funny. Stan and Ollie are clarinet and French horn players, respectively, in a band, and basically they play bad music, get their sheet music mixed up, and eventually the chairs of the entire orchestra end up falling to the ground. It just doesn't come off well for reasons I can't exactly pinpoint. Perhaps it's a sequence that would have benefitted better with sound. After all, part of the humor is the fact they are bad musicians who are messing up the orchestra, perhaps hearing the cacophony would've added to the humor? Hard to say. Even the whole bit of Ollie trying to get his sheet music off from under the stomping foot of the conductor comes off flat, and that on paper should work in a silent comedy. For whatever reason, this bit just doesn't catch fire with me.
The whole short doesn't really catch any fire until they are thrown out of their house for not being able to pay rent and are out on the street trying to earn money as street musicians. There are some funny bits thrown in, especially the stuff involving the sewer man holes. I love the camera set ups and the way you see a comedian just plummet into a hole from what seems like out of nowhere. They don't set an expectation at all, these falls are very sudden. It's especially funny watching Ollie's legs flail in the air as he's stuck in that man hole.
The clothes ripping sequence, however, is the real reason to watch this short. On paper, this kind of thing should not work, as ripping off clothes can be very one dimensional, but these Laurel and Hardy films are great at taking simple premises like this and making them work through genius timing, build up, and variation. Things start out with Stan and Ollie alone taking turns ripping each other's clothing apart with great intensity and a desire to top one another. My favorite bit here is the variation when they ruin their hats, I won't give away the punchline in case anyone watches this short for the first time. Eventually, the whole town gets involved, and it's a pile of bodies tearing off each other's clothes. It builds like a symphony, and the ending gag with Stan and Ollie getting away, which again I won't spoil for first time viewers, is a classic.
One more thing I'd like to add is if I seem a little rough lately on the Stooges for having gags that while funny, sometimes seem sidetracked, it's from watching these Laurel and Hardy films. Even a film like YOU'RE DARN TOOTIN', not an all-time classic but a good short, is better constructed than SING A SONG OF SIX PANTS. Every gag in this film either advances the story or if not doing that, at least builds the tension a little. When that classic finale happens in YOU'RE DARN TOOTIN', it feels like a major tension reliever due to everything that previously transpired. I don't get that same feeling of tension you'd expect when your business can be shut down the next day in this week's Stooge short. In the Stooges defense, they had much less time and lower budgets to work with than Laurel and Hardy, which is a shame. Pro-Stooges, however, SING A SONG OF SIX PANTS is a consistently funnier film than YOU'RE DARN TOOTIN', even if nothing tops the finale of the latter. Essentially the pros and cons of both films balance out, so I also rate this film an....