A Remake Chronicles Extra by Adam-Troy Castro
My love for Laurel and Hardy is well-known, which is why it’s so wonderful, really, that I once, sort, of, got to meet the characters they played.
If you love Laurel and Hardy too, enough to treasure their shorts, you will know that neither character really bullied the other. Sometimes they fought, in those remarkably gentlemanly slow-motion fights where one would pour maple syrup down the other’s pants and the other would lead him over to a circular saw and dismember his hat, but once the point was made and the scales were evened, neither kept the abuse up. (The humor came from neither one being satisfied with letting the other have the last word.)
Still, Hardy was always YELLING at Laurel.
And if you love their short films, you will be baffled by one that doesn’t fit the usual pattern: One Good Turn, where Laurel gets so exasperated at Hardy that he throws a violent fit, throwing stuff at Hardy until Hardy seeks cover in a shed that collapses on top of him.
Not at all what they usually did. More Three Stooges than Laurel and Hardy.
Why would they depart from their formula so dramatically?
Well, there is a home movie that exists, that I have seen, of Stan and Babe at Stan’s home, where Babe affectionately picks up Stan’s pre-school daughter and places her on his lap. The little girl starts screaming and squirming. Babe Hardy laughs indulgently and puts her back down. Even in the five second clip, he is visibly confused over what he did to upset her. This is an actual clip. It is included as a DVD extra in some of their compilations.
As it happens, the little girl grew up, became a woman, and still remembered that very day. She remembered being very conflicted about her Uncle Babe, even though she knew, knew, that he loved her.
The explanation is that she couldn’t reconcile that nice man who adored her with the fuming, mean man who she had seen, on film, yelling at and slapping around her father.
In real life, the little girl’s ambivalence toward her Uncle Babe went on for months, breaking Babe’s heart, until somebody in one of the two families twigged to what was upsetting her.
So that short where Stan acts out of character and wallops the hell out of Ollie?
That was them, tailoring the story as a gift to Stan’s daughter.
And from then on, everything was okay.