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Author Topic: Night Owls (1930) - Laurel and Hardy  (Read 4128 times)

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Offline metaldams

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Night Owls (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
« on: August 23, 2015, 07:33:20 PM »
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  • http://www.lordheath.com/index.php?p=1_144_Night-Owls
    http://www.laurelandhardycentral.com/nigh to.html
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0021182/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x26g1nu_night-owls-b-w-1930-laurel-hardy_shortfilms

    Watch NIGHT OWLS in the link above

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x26gfac_ladrones-b-w-1930-laurel-hardy_shortfilms

    Watch LADRONES in the link above



          NIGHT OWLS is the first of about half a dozen or so Laurel and Hardy films where a foreign language version is also available in addition to an English version.  Hollywood was still learning how to deal with the international market as far as talkies go, and since dubbing and subtitles had not been mastered, simultaneously shot versions of the same film in a foreign language, usually with different supporting actors, would also be made.  Laurel and Hardy would appear in these and learn their lines phonetically, making for some hysterically awkward line readings.  These foreign language versions are also interesting because they tend to run longer and have different gags.  These will be discussed. 

          There is a lot to enjoy in NIGHT OWLS, a film I like better than the average fan, but not quite going to give a ten.  Edgar Kennedy makes his last Laurel and Hardy appearance until 1943, leaving Hal Roach in 1931 to work for other studios and eventually star in his own short series for RKO.  The close-ups of his face as he is ridiculed for being a bad cop are quite expressive the same way Stan and Ollie are expressive when they get close-ups.  Edgar will be missed, a shame he did not stick around for when the boys really hit their talkie stride. 

          The plot around the film revolves around the boys desperate good faith they can rob the home of the police chief and Kennedy will get them out of it.  If they don't rob the home, Kennedy will turn them in for loitering.  In turn, Kennedy catching Stan and Ollie as robbers will make him look good to the police chief.  It's all a bit convoluted, but the set up serves the point of making Stan and Ollie thieves while still being likable. 

          The main gags revolve around the boys climbing over a wall and then trying to get inside the police chief's house.  These are drawn out silent comedy gags which work perfectly.  Essentially, Stan and Ollie were silent comedians working in talking films, not silent comedians trying to make talking films (see Keaton - MGM).  Plenty of long periods of silence, and frankly, dialogue is not needed.  I love the way they milk the gag of getting into the house, finding multiple combinations of one getting in, only for the other to be stupid enough to prevent both from being inside.  Oh, and the whole cat thing?  Hysterical!  In the Spanish version, there's a shot where Ollie cracks an unscripted smile while doing this routine, I can't blame him.  Love the way Stan, much later in the film, brings back the occasional meow at the most inappropriate moment.

          The Spanish version is fifteen minutes longer, and while usually the supporting players are different, here Edgar Kennedy and James Finlayson maintain their roles.  The English players get the simplest of lines to learn.  The ending is completely different.  I enjoy both endings for different reasons.  The English version has a better visual gag involving Stan but a simple, quick ending.  The Spanish version has a more cliched sight gag ending but with a better build up and more interesting plot.  Hey, it's cool both these versions exist.

    9/10




    Offline Big Chief Apumtagribonitz

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    Re: Night Owls (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #1 on: August 24, 2015, 02:33:28 PM »
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  • Much better dialogue, what there is of it, better sound in general, including sound effects, smoother action and editing, and finally we get The Cuckoos.  A good one.  I'm going to see the Spanish version next - not speaking Spanish, I don't know if I would recognize it, but supposedly there's a Spanish version of one of them, maybe not this one, where Stanley says (phonetically) " I have to go now, " but what he ends up saying is idiomatic Spanish for " I have to go to the bathroom now. "  As I get it, this caused general hilarity in Spanish-speaking countries and lines around the block at the ticket offices.

    Offline Signor Spumoni

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    Re: Night Owls (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #2 on: August 24, 2015, 03:53:00 PM »
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  • A couple of years ago, a new broadcast TV channel started, and they showed - - as such channels always do - - very good stuff at first.  "Night Owls" was among those early offerings (as was a silent L & H film).  I was pleased to watch "Night Owls" again for the Moronika forum.  This is a lot of fun, although, as Metal said, not quite a ten.  As an aside, I see the story editor was H. M. Walker, my favorite writer of silent movie title cards. 

    As noted by Metal, Kennedy's face is expressive, one might say eloquent.  He made a perfect policeman in many movies, and does so here.  I like his idea of how to get in the good graces of the chief, an idea born to fail.  The gags of getting over the wall are fun, as are the thuds one hears whenever anyone hits the "ground."  An indoor set always makes that sound when hit; I suppose film and TV makers thought audiences wouldn't notice or care.  Anyway, it adds to the fun.  I like L & H's cat imitations after they fall into the cold frame.  I especially like Fin's reaction when the shoe he throws at the presumed cats comes flying back in the window at him.  I have always loved Fin, possibly because I am quite the fan of reaction comedy. 

    I also like the bed lamp on Anders Randolph's headboard.  I had bed lamps like that for years until they were no longer available, and his is much nicer than any I owned.

    It's funny the way that neither Fin nor Randolph seems very much concerned about all the strange noises from downstairs, particularly as Randolph is the chief.  Things really get wild when Olly's bottom starts the piano.

    I hope to watch the Spanish version next, though I won't understand a word.

    Offline Seamus

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    Re: Night Owls (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #3 on: August 25, 2015, 11:27:57 AM »
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  • As noted by Metal, Kennedy's face is expressive, one might say eloquent.  He made a perfect policeman in many movies, and does so here.

    This is true.  Nobody can push a policeman's cap pensively to the back of his head and look perplexed like Kennedy.


    I especially like Fin's reaction when the shoe he throws at the presumed cats comes flying back in the window at him.  I have always loved Fin, possibly because I am quite the fan of reaction comedy. 

    There's also the other great shoe-throwing bit where the window closes at the last second just before Fin releases the shoe, causing it to smash through the glass.  The scene immediately cuts to a shot of Stan getting beaned by the shoe, then returns to a shot of a panicky Fin pulling the blind down over the damage before the chief can see it.  It's a nice triple-gag that all happens within about 1.5 seconds.  Gave me a big chuckle.

    It occurred to me that I haven't watched any of the available Spanish language versions of the L&H shorts.  I'll definitely give them a watch this time around.  It'll be fun to see the alternate takes.



    Offline Signor Spumoni

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    Re: Night Owls (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #4 on: August 25, 2015, 04:01:19 PM »
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  • This is true.  Nobody can push a policeman's cap pensively to the back of his head and look perplexed like Kennedy.


    There's also the other great shoe-throwing bit where the window closes at the last second just before Fin releases the shoe, causing it to smash through the glass.  The scene immediately cuts to a shot of Stan getting beaned by the shoe, then returns to a shot of a panicky Fin pulling the blind down over the damage before the chief can see it.  It's a nice triple-gag that all happens within about 1.5 seconds.  Gave me a big chuckle.

    It occurred to me that I haven't watched any of the available Spanish language versions of the L&H shorts.  I'll definitely give them a watch this time around.  It'll be fun to see the alternate takes.

    You're right about Kennedy's being the master of the cap shove and perplexed look.  He is among the performers who comes to mind when I watch (more or less) modern movies or TV programs.  I see someone do some bit of business and think, "Ah, but Edgar Kennedy [or whomever] would have done that so much better!" 

    I just watched the Spanish version of this.  I've seen a number of other films in languages I don't understand and which have no subtitles, and find they have a unique entertainment value.  This was fun particularly because I just saw it in English and because of Stan's "I have to go,"/"I have to go to the bathroom" line.  I think I saw where that happened, and it was very funny because of his expression.  I saw Olly's fleeting smile; thanks for pointing us to it.  Thanks for telling us about the Spanish version of this, Metal.  I'll be sure to watch more Spanish "Gordo Y Flaca" movies soon.

    Even though I do not understand Spanish, I could tell that the Americans had awful accents.  It was obvious that they learned their lines phonetically.  But because of their mastery of physical comedy and because they were, in Metal's words, "silent comedians working in talking films," the egregious line readings didn't really matter.  If I were a Spanish-speaker, perhaps I would have found their line readings part of the fun.

    I like the silent ending about as well as the American ending because I didn't expect it, although the very last gag seemed unnecessary.

    Offline metaldams

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    Re: Night Owls (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #5 on: August 25, 2015, 05:30:25 PM »
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  • Enjoy reading everyone of your comments.

    As far as the foreign language versions go, I have only watched them with subtitles which are available on DVD.  Perhaps I should watch them without subtitles, might make a unique experience.  Interestingly enough, in October TCM will be running a double feature in theaters across the country of DRACULA (1931) and the Spanish DRACULA, perhaps the most well known English-Spanish early talkie combination.  Needless to say, I'm psyched for the opportunity to catch these films on the big screen.

    Big Chief, I believe the big day's getting closer!

    Offline Big Chief Apumtagribonitz

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    Re: Night Owls (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #6 on: August 25, 2015, 07:43:13 PM »
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  • I can't believe you remembered.  It's this weekend, and we're spending it with family.  My wife's bringing my surprise gift, which of course she bought under my meticulous direction, and I've decided that as we gather 'round the TV the first one is going to be Hog Wild.  Where is My HAT?!!?

    Offline Signor Spumoni

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    Re: Night Owls (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #7 on: August 25, 2015, 08:18:12 PM »
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  • It's none of my business, and I'm not asking, but enjoy it!

    Offline Big Chief Apumtagribonitz

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    Re: Night Owls (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #8 on: August 25, 2015, 10:52:02 PM »
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  • I won't be mysterious, Signor, my birthday is this weekend, and since my wife and I have a long-standing policy of informing each other exactly what our presents will be, I'm getting the new L&H digital collection.  Metal has known this for a few months, as have I, obviously, but I've been an iron man insofar as not peeking before my B-day.  I've been discussing the shorts up to now by memory or from what's on YouTube, but from now on it will be from the finest presentations possible.  I'll be running some of them for my relatives at the party, and I'll know from their reactions where to thin the herd.  Of my relatives, that is, not the flicks.

    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: Night Owls (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #9 on: August 26, 2015, 04:51:26 AM »
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  • I won't be mysterious, Signor, my birthday is this weekend, and since my wife and I have a long-standing policy of informing each other exactly what our presents will be, I'm getting the new L&H digital collection.  Metal has known this for a few months, as have I, obviously, but I've been an iron man insofar as not peeking before my B-day.  I've been discussing the shorts up to now by memory or from what's on YouTube, but from now on it will be from the finest presentations possible.  I'll be running some of them for my relatives at the party, and I'll know from their reactions where to thin the herd.  Of my relatives, that is, not the flicks.

    Ah, yes, the two great posters, born in the last days of August.  [pie]
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    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: Night Owls (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #10 on: August 26, 2015, 05:01:31 AM »
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  • I watched this short, the first one I have gotten to watch in quite a while.  I guffawed thoroughly throughout the short.  The cat routine was a work of art, but the shoe-throwing took it to new heights.  Ollie lost his clothes in an incredibly gracious matter.  I need not say any more because all has been said.

    My only complaint is the fact that Stan and Ollie were unharmed after falling through glass windows, yet Edgar Kennedy was knocked out for 10 minutes from getting plunked by a brick.  Now, a brick hitting him like that probably would in reality knock him out or, worse, kill him, but Stan and Ollie got away with something that really should have cut them to pieces.

    In spite of this it was full 10/10 in my book.
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    Offline Seamus

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    Re: Night Owls (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #11 on: August 26, 2015, 08:55:04 AM »
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  • Interestingly enough, in October TCM will be running a double feature in theaters across the country of DRACULA (1931) and the Spanish DRACULA, perhaps the most well known English-Spanish early talkie combination.  Needless to say, I'm psyched for the opportunity to catch these films on the big screen.

    Hadn't heard about this!  I saw TCM's theater screening of JAWS a couple months ago, loved seeing that one on the big screen.  Noticed they did DOUBLE INDEMNITY not long after, but wasn't able to make it out to that one.  Hope TCM keeps these big screen presentations of older films coming.

    I'll also mention, if only to make Metaldams jealous, that I attended a SON OF FRANKENSTEIN and BRIDES OF DRACULA double feature last month at an old theater in downtown Columbus a couple months ago.  Their annual summer movie series always includes a vintage horror double feature on the bill, which is mandatory viewing for me.  So great watching these old favorites on a big screen with a room full of people.  Lugosi and Atwill got some big laughs from the crowd (I think they recognized the YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN connections).


    Offline Signor Spumoni

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    Re: Night Owls (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #12 on: August 26, 2015, 02:39:36 PM »
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  • I won't be mysterious, Signor, my birthday is this weekend, and since my wife and I have a long-standing policy of informing each other exactly what our presents will be, I'm getting the new L&H digital collection.  Metal has known this for a few months, as have I, obviously, but I've been an iron man insofar as not peeking before my B-day.  I've been discussing the shorts up to now by memory or from what's on YouTube, but from now on it will be from the finest presentations possible.  I'll be running some of them for my relatives at the party, and I'll know from their reactions where to thin the herd.  Of my relatives, that is, not the flicks.

    You certainly did not have to tell what your posts meant, but thank you for doing so.  In advance, I'll wish you many, many happy returns, and a wonderful birthday.  With L&H in attendance, it's sure to be fun. 

    I love your comment on "thinning the herd."  :)

    I concur with your and your wife's policy of specifying the gifts you prefer.  I do the same with one or two friends.

    Offline Signor Spumoni

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    Re: Night Owls (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #13 on: August 26, 2015, 02:41:08 PM »
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  • Ah, yes, the two great posters, born in the last days of August.  [pie]

    Oh, they were both born this month?  Too bad we don't all live close enough to give them a pie party.

    Best wishes for many, many happy returns and a happy birthday to you, too, Metal.

    Offline Signor Spumoni

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    Re: Night Owls (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #14 on: August 26, 2015, 02:48:37 PM »
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  • I watched this short, the first one I have gotten to watch in quite a while.  I guffawed thoroughly throughout the short.  The cat routine was a work of art, but the shoe-throwing took it to new heights.  Ollie lost his clothes in an incredibly gracious matter.  I need not say any more because all has been said.

    My only complaint is the fact that Stan and Ollie were unharmed after falling through glass windows, yet Edgar Kennedy was knocked out for 10 minutes from getting plunked by a brick.  Now, a brick hitting him like that probably would in reality knock him out or, worse, kill him, but Stan and Ollie got away with something that really should have cut them to pieces.

    In spite of this it was full 10/10 in my book.

    You're right, of course, about the way L&H escaped harm after their fall.  Yet I find that a lot of the uneven application of physics, in slapstick, is part of what makes me laugh.  It's similar to the way that extremely (clumsily) obvious footage of stuntmen or dummies makes me laugh, too.  When I watch a lot of things, it's like MST3k in that anything is fair game for ridicule or comment.  I grew up that way, long before MST3k was a notion in someone's head.   

    Offline metaldams

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    Re: Night Owls (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #15 on: August 26, 2015, 02:55:31 PM »
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  • Oh, they were both born this month?  Too bad we don't all live close enough to give them a pie party.

    Best wishes for many, many happy returns and a happy birthday to you, too, Metal.

    I'd say thanks, but I'm a Christmas Eve baby.

    Offline metaldams

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    Re: Night Owls (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #16 on: August 26, 2015, 02:59:33 PM »
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  • Oh, and yeah, good observations from Paul about the threshold of pain differences between Kenndy vs. Laurel and Hardy.  Obviously, Kennedy being knocked out makes the plot while a dead Stan and Ollie wouldn't make much of a film.  If I really gave it some thought, I bet I'd find a zillion examples where guys should be dead in one film and barely get hurt with a similar gag in another film, or even the same film.

    Offline metaldams

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    Re: Night Owls (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #17 on: August 26, 2015, 09:44:22 PM »
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  • Hadn't heard about this!  I saw TCM's theater screening of JAWS a couple months ago, loved seeing that one on the big screen.  Noticed they did DOUBLE INDEMNITY not long after, but wasn't able to make it out to that one.  Hope TCM keeps these big screen presentations of older films coming.

    I'll also mention, if only to make Metaldams jealous, that I attended a SON OF FRANKENSTEIN and BRIDES OF DRACULA double feature last month at an old theater in downtown Columbus a couple months ago.  Their annual summer movie series always includes a vintage horror double feature on the bill, which is mandatory viewing for me.  So great watching these old favorites on a big screen with a room full of people.  Lugosi and Atwill got some big laughs from the crowd (I think they recognized the YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN connections).

    I am a big fan of both of those movies, so I am jealous!  However, I did see FRANKENSTEIN and BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN double feature a few years back on the big screen.

    Offline Signor Spumoni

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    Re: Night Owls (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #18 on: August 27, 2015, 01:41:28 PM »
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  • I'd say thanks, but I'm a Christmas Eve baby.

    My mistake!  I'm sure you've heard humorous remarks all your life about having been born that day, so I'll refrain from making any.

    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: Night Owls (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #19 on: August 28, 2015, 05:01:42 PM »
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  • Oh, and yeah, good observations from Paul about the threshold of pain differences between Kenndy vs. Laurel and Hardy.  Obviously, Kennedy being knocked out makes the plot while a dead Stan and Ollie wouldn't make much of a film.  If I really gave it some thought, I bet I'd find a zillion examples where guys should be dead in one film and barely get hurt with a similar gag in another film, or even the same film.

    As a physicist of sorts, it always gives me a chuckle.
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    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: Night Owls (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #20 on: August 28, 2015, 05:02:05 PM »
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  • Oh, they were both born this month?  Too bad we don't all live close enough to give them a pie party.

    Best wishes for many, many happy returns and a happy birthday to you, too, Metal.

    I shall enjoy my lemon pie.   [pie]
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    Offline Umbrella Sam

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    Re: Night Owls (1930) - Laurel and Hardy
    « Reply #21 on: November 10, 2017, 11:11:37 AM »
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  • NIGHT OWLS has a very interesting premise, in my opinion. It is interesting to see a set-up that starts out involving Kennedy before he even meets Laurel and Hardy. It shows a different side of Kennedy that we’re not entirely used to, particularly when he is made fun of by his colleagues.

    The short works for the most part. Laurel and Hardy work very well off each other when trying to both get into the yard and into the house. I particularly like how the two of them continue getting each other left out of the house, usually through Stan’s incompetence though sometimes also due to Hardy’s anger as well. James Finlayson is in here as well and gets some funny reactions, particularly during the cat scene and when the police chief calls him “old and nutty” (the latter is, without a doubt, my favorite scene in the entire film). At times the short does drag a bit, such as when they try to get over the wall, but for the most part even that works. The ending, though resulting in a good final closing gag, does feel a bit too sudden and though I think we’re supposed to assume Laurel and Hardy escaped, there really is not much of a sense of closure. Still, the short does make for a very entertaining experience.

    Then there’s the Spanish version, LADRONES. This is a longer version of the original short with the English actors actually speaking Spanish, even though they’re not that good at it. Some gags don’t quite feel as energetic as they are in the English version. I don’t necessarily blame the actors or even James Parrott for this; it’s just the result of trying to film multiple versions at once with some being in languages half of the actors don’t even understand. They’re clearly trying, though, and many gags still work pretty well.

    Some gags play out a bit differently than they do in the English version. For example, in the English version, the hand shaking gag occurs early in the Kennedy exchange while they’re sitting down, while in the Spanish version it is done at the end of the exchange while standing up. There are also more gags added to stretch out the length of the short. The original short already felt a bit too dragged out anyway so this makes it feel even slower, though I’ll admit that I thought the rake gag was kind of funny and I really liked when Hardy got the vase stuck over his head and Stan failed to break it off. The ending in this version is longer and also a bit underwhelming, though it is much more conclusive and seeing more of James Finlayson is almost always a good thing, so I’ll say that I prefer this ending over the original.

    As a whole, I consider the English version to be better, though I’m glad that the Spanish version still survives as well.

    English Version: 9 out of 10
    Spanish Version: 8 out of 10