Block-Heads (1938)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Buddy Film, Reunion Films, Military Comedy  |   Release Date - Aug 19, 1938 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 55 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Hal Erickson

Twenty years after the Armistice, doughboy Stan Laurel continues guarding a trench in France--simply because no one told him the war was over. His rescue coincides with the first wedding anniversary of his old pal Oliver Hardy. Heading to town to pick up a gift for his wife (Minna Gombell), Ollie discovers that Stan has been located and is now residing at the Veteran's Home. The two buddies share a warm reunion, whereupon Ollie invites Stan home to enjoy a "big thick juicy steak" prepared by Mrs. Hardy. As a result of Ollie's hospitality, Stan inadvertently wrecks Ollie's brand new car; the boys spend half the afternoon trudging up and down 13 flights of stairs; Ollie gets into a fight with belligerent Jimmy Finlayson; Mrs. Hardy angrily walks out on her husband; the boys manage to blow up the kitchen while preparing their own meal; and Hardy's beautiful next-door neighbor (Patricia Ellis) ends up minus her dress in Ollie's steamer trunk, with both Mrs. Hardy and the neighbor's husband, big-game hunter Billy Gilbert, converging upon our bethumped heroes. Essentially a remake of the 1929 Laurel and Hardy two-reeler Unnaccustomed as We Are, Block-Heads is a brilliant parade of virtuoso comedy turns. The best bits of business include the mountain of bean cans representing Stan's two decades in the trenches; the "white magic" gags involving Stan's pulling down the shadow of a window shade, producing a glass of water from his pocket and smoking his thumb like a pipe; and an uproarious "black" joke involving Ollie's mistaken belief than Stan has lost a leg in the war. The film sustains its high level of humor for 56 of its 57 minutes, faltering only in its disappointing closing gag (borrowed from the 1928 short We Faw Down). Among the writers of this chucklefest was former silent comedian Harry Langdon. Erroneously announced in 1938 as Laurel and Hardy's final feature, Block-Heads was indeed the last of the team's genuine classics.




friendship, homecoming, reunion, wife, veteran [military], war