The Big Noise (1944)

Genres - Comedy  |   Run Time - 74 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Although not nearly as bad as its reputation, this latter-day Laurel and Hardy comedy isn't very good either, merely a rehash of many of the team's old routines that includes the always welcome derby hat confusion and the cramped sleeping car arrangement from Berth Marks (1929). The beloved comedians are beginning to show their age, however, and the supporting cast, which includes a rather irritating Robert Blake, is more a hindrance than a help. Fox starlet Helene Reynolds reputedly walked off the film in midstream, incensed at being dragged into what was decidedly a minor B-movie, and was replaced with that broadest of 1940s broads Veda Ann Borg. The latter, unfortunately, shares no scenes with Stan and Ollie, but only appears in an unnecessary subplot. But despite its flaws -- and they are legion -- The Big Noise is saved for purists by a charmingly non sequitur closing; after dropping a bomb on an enemy submarine, Stan and Ollie are seen sitting contentedly on a buoy in the middle of the ocean, the former playing "Mairzy Doats" on a concertina as a school of fish dances around them. Perhaps this bizarre but completely disarming closing gag is one of the reasons why Stan Laurel later counted The Big Noise as his favorite among the team's Fox comedies.