Watch LIBERTY in the link above.
First off, this is a thrill comedy, which means there are inevitable comparisons to Harold Lloyd. As far as that goes, I urge all of you to please click the link above and read the wonderful write up the commentators at www.laurelandhardycentral.com
did on this subject. It's so good I don't feel as if I can add much. I'll try anyway. I'll simply say that Harold Lloyd only did a few thrill comedies, but he did several more films where he'd milk a simple gag and have it flow seamlessly from one comic situation to another. Comic storytelling, if you will. Here, on the run from the law, the boys try to get rid of their prison outfits and change into their street clothes. As a variation on the common gag where they put on the wrong hat, here they put on the wrong pants! Well, if you know the difference in waist sizes between both comics, that's very awkward for both men! Anyway, for several minutes, gag after gag stems from the fact they are wearing the wrong pants and need to find a place to change into the right pair. They even manage to sneak a crab into the baggier pair of pants, and said crab manages ways to interject itself at various points in the story. But back to the pants, once they milk every comic possibility from the changing of the pants, it beautifully segues into the scene where they are up on the scaffold, and then we witness a thrill comedy masterpiece. But that idea of milking a gag and telling a story with it? Also very Harold Lloyd.
As for the scaffold stuff, again, you just don't see slapstick like this in talkies. Even though there are camera tricks to assure the safety of the comedians, they make this truly look like they are in danger! I love the way Stan's legs jiggle like jello almost the whole time. I also love the whole bit with Stan balancing himself on the ladder teetering on the wooden plank so many stories above. What a dangerous predicament. There's one part while poor Stan is balancing for his life on that ladder where Ollie just gets on one knee and prays. Also shows the way Ollie cares for Stan, said caring about each other more common in Laurel and Hardy as opposed to any other comedy team. That prayer got the biggest laugh out of me, no doubt the laugh brought on to relieve tension, which is what a great thrill comedy such as this should do.
My commentary is OK, but the laurelandhardycentral.com guys take the cake here, so please read their thoughts too. Also, please watch the YouTube link above if you don't know this film. You'll thank me later.