Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan



Like most people of my generation, I grew up with B-western cowboy heroes like Ken Maynard and Hoot Gibson and Bob Steele, and comedies from the Little Rascals and Laurel and Hardy on the black and white TV. I think it was because they were out of copyright, in the public domain, and so the stations could fill their after-school hours until the local news with stuff they didn’t have to produce or pay for. I thought the cowboys were okay, but I loved the comedies. Unlike some of the other, more academically studied comics, they made the transition from silent to talkies easily. In fact, they were probably better with sound—though I once watched a compilation movie of their best silent moments and it was terrific. They were at their peak in this one. They are soldiers in the trenches in WWI. Ollie goes over the top, and Stan is told to stay there and guard things until relieved. Twenty years later he’s still there, shoots at a passing plane, and the pilot informs him the war is over. (It was kind of poignant, I thought, that in another year another “Great War” would begin, even worse than the first one.) He’s reunited with Ollie, and there is a very funny bit concerning Ollie’s misunderstanding, thinking Stan has only one leg. A truck dumps a load of dirt, burying Ollie up to his neck in his convertible. Then there’s shenanigans at Ollie’s apartment. As usual, when Ollie is married in a movie, he’s the one that wears the apron in the family. Stan sometimes lives in an alternate universe and is able to do things other people can’t. The best bit of that sort is when he forms a pipe bowl with his fingers, stuffs some tobacco in there, lights it with a match, and then sucks on his thumb and blows smoke. Hilarious!