After ‘The Lucky Dog’ (1921), it was another five years before the boys would appear in front of the cameras together, or in the same film at least. By 1925 both Stan and Babe were contracted individually to the Hal Roach Studios. Babe was still appearing in various guises in front of the camera, while Stan was mostly plying his trade behind the scenes as a writer and director.
Given the amount of films that were being churned out of the Roach Studios at that time, it was inevitable that the boys would cross paths eventually. That said, during the five years after filming ‘The Lucky Dog’, the boys were only involved in three other film projects together, Ollie acting and Stan directing. That was until August of 1926 when they were finally cast to appear in the same film together once again.
This time, however, unlike ‘The Lucky Dog’, this new film, entitled ‘45 Minutes From Hollywood’, was not a ‘Stan Laurel Comedy’, but had Glenn Tryon in the lead role. Tryon was being championed by Hal Roach, in the hopes that he would one day rival his old star, Harold Lloyd. Unfortunately for Roach and Tryon, that didn’t quite work out, but it did provide an opportunity to bring Roach’s two future megastars back together, even if they were only used as supporting players.
Stan had the smallest role of the two, playing a hotel guest and looking fairly unrecognisable, with a huge, bushy moustache. Babe on the other hand, also sporting equally bushy facial hair, had a larger part to play as a hotel detective, who spent most of his scenes in a state of undress, with only a shower curtain wrapped around him to preserve his modesty.
There was actually a good and quite interesting reason for Stan to be hiding behind a huge moustache, for hiding he was. The reason was simply that he was under contract with producer Joe Rock and for legal reasons he wasn’t allowed to appear in front of the camera until his contract was up. Hence the disguise. Rock had been happy for Stan to work for Roach behind the cameras, writing and directing, but Stan must have gotten restless and craved the limelight. It was risky and Laurel and Rock ended up suing each other, even though they had been and continued afterwards to be, good friends.
Despite both the boys being finally given a film to appear in again together, they weren’t cast as a team – far from it! In actual fact they don’t even share a scene, being kept apart by a bedroom door.
The film was a Hal Roach ‘All-Stars’ comedy and as such the it features very small cameos by other stars from the studio, such as Theda Bara, Our Gang and I’m sure there’s even a quick glimpse of L&H regular Tiny Sandford as a railway guard towards the start.
On the whole it’s a pretty forgettable affair, as Randy Skretvedt accurately puts it
“45 Minutes From Hollywood is interesting for about 45 seconds”.
There are a few funny moments from the boys, especially Ollie’s reaction to his jealous wife (some familiar territory for us here) and also the scene where a cat runs up his curtain/towel in the hotel lobby is good for a laugh or two.
It’s the kind of film you re-visit once in a blue moon, for posterity’s sake, but then you quickly realise why you haven’t had it on regular rotation. It’s nice to see it, now and again, for posterity’s sake, but I have to admit, it’s not a film I’ll be watching again in a hurry.
Do share your thoughts in the comments. Maybe I’m being too critical…?!