LAUGHING GRAVY, to me, is a better version of the ideas that they were trying to convey in both ANGORA LOVE and BELOW ZERO. Starting with ANGORA LOVE, which it is more directly related to, the goat in that short was basically just following them around because Stan gave the goat something to eat and ends up getting them in trouble with the law. Here, the dog is clearly theirs, which I prefer, since it is more clearly their own fault for bringing in an animal that doesn’t belong, as opposed to the silent version where they’re basically forced to keep it. I felt BELOW ZERO, on the other hand, was an ambitious, yet overly-cruel short. This meets a nice blend between cruelty and comedy, allowing us to both laugh at the moments we’re supposed to laugh at, yet also feel bad for them during the moments we’re supposed to feel bad for them at. Some gags are carried over from ANGORA LOVE, notably the bath scene, and they transition to sound quite nice. It’s a very well paced film.
As for the endings, I must admit that I prefer the three-reel ending as well. The first one is a bit too sudden and the reason for the quarantine is never really explained. The three-reel ending is a bit sudden as well, and story-wise, I think it may have made a bit more sense as the ending to THE LAUREL-HARDY MURDER CASE, but still, this does also keep up with the short’s already slightly more dramatic tone and is a pretty emotional scene. Well, for the most part. I do think the closing gag kind of ruined it, but not to the point that I’d mark down the short for it.
The Spanish version, LOS CALAVERAS, combines both this and BE BIG! into one feature film, which is a pretty odd choice. I could see THEY GO BOOM and LAUGHING GRAVY being combined into a feature, but here, the only connection is one title card. In addition to Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Hall reprises both his roles as the bellhop in BE BIG! and the landlord in LAUGHING GRAVY, and Anita Garvin returns to play Mrs. Laurel. Linda Loredo once again does pretty well as Mrs. Hardy and the few additions they make can actually be pretty funny, such as Hardy being caught in the weight loss belt. I also like how Charlie Hall is suddenly kinder to Laurel after reading his letter; this was something I was expecting in the English version and I thought they took advantage of it pretty well.
Hardy faking his sickness is weaker in this version than in BE BIG!, but otherwise, the gags actually still do play out pretty well. I guess they must have adjusted somewhat to the foreign language formats as far as comedy goes, even if the delivery in lines still isn’t as good. If you’re curious to see any of the Spanish versions of Laurel and Hardy films, I’d say that this and LADRONES are the ones to check out.
English Version: 10 out of 10
Spanish Version: 8 out of 10