Nuts in May (1917)

Genres - Comedy  |  
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Stan Laurel's film debut is apparently no longer in existence, although parts of it were apparently used in Mixed Nuts, which was released in 1925. The plot to this not-terribly-original two-reel comedy was virtually nonexistent; Laurel plays an insane asylum inmate who believes he is Napoleon Bonaparte. He escapes wearing the classic Napoleon hat and a business suit, and proceeds to stir up trouble. While he was already using the name of Stan Laurel in vaudeville, he is still billed under his real name, Stanley Jefferson here, and his common-law wife, Mae Laurel, is co-starred under her real name, Mae Dahlberg. The film was produced by Isadore Bernstein, who had been a general manager for Universal Studios, and was now independently producing dramas. When he decided to add a couple of comedy units, Laurel was his choice for one of them. As it turned out, this film was both the first and last comedy Laurel made for Bernstein. It premiered at the Hippodrome; United Artists mogul Charles Chaplin and Universal Studios head Carl Laemmle were in attendance. They were both checking out Stan to see if they wanted to sign him. When Chaplin decided against forming a second production unit at UA, Laurel signed a contract with Universal instead.