One step forward and two steps back. That’s how I can only describe the team’s development when it comes to Love ‘Em and Weep. Babe’s participation in the film is very limited indeed, with only about 45 seconds or so of screen time and hardly appearing in the same shot as Stan at all. In addition, although Stan is prominent throughout the movie, it’s not a ‘Stan Laurel Comedy’ either.
Despite all that, there is still something very satisfyingly familiar with this picture and the reason for this is the other stars that appear alongside the boys.
Love ‘Em & Weep is the first film to feature Stan and Babe as well as fan favourites Mae Busch, who has the responsibility of the leading role, James Finlayson and also Charlie Hall, who would go on to appear in 47 comedies with the boys, more than any other supporting actor.
Finlayson, as always is the real deal, in fact, I can’t recall ever seeing a film with the Scotsman in, where he hasn’t put in scene stealing, if not movie stealing performances. In this film he plays the part of the wealthy (and married) businessman Titus Tillsbury. Tillsbury enrolls the somewhat reluctant help of employee Romaine Ricketts (Stan) to deal with an old flame (Busch), who has suddenly reappeared at Tillsbury’s office, with an incriminating photo of them both together from years ago. It’s amusing to note what sort of image was considered incriminating to a 1920s audience, certainly compared to today’s standards.
As with many of the boys’ films, this storyline would be re-used and remade four years later as the sound short ‘Chickens Come Home‘, but for that outing, Hardy would be much more prominent , taking over Finlayson’s role as the wealthy businessman and Finlayson, in turn, would take over Charlie Hall’s role as the businessman’s butler.
Using her incriminating photo, Mae Busch forces Finlayson to agree to meet her that very evening to discuss the sale of said photo, over dinner at ‘The Pink Pup’. All seems set and Busch is about to leave, when Finlayson’s wife unexpectedly appears at the office. Busch is forced to hide in Finlayson’s en-suite bathroom, which his wife, played by Charlotte Mineau, needs to use. It becomes quite farcical and stressful for Finlayson as his wife stands washing her hands, with his old flame turned blackmailer, standing just inches away.
Fortunately for Finlayson, the two ladies are kept apart, but Mrs Tillsbury informs her husband that they are to host a dinner party that evening for some very distinguished guests. Aware that he would be unable to get out of this engagement and realising that it would not be wise to leave Busch alone at the restaurant, Stan is instructed to take Finlayson’s place at dinner, with firm instructions to keep her away from Tillsbury’s house (and more importantly his wife) at all costs.
Upon arriving at The Pink Pup, Stan is naturally very nervous. He is after all out on the town with a formidable and conniving woman, who does not appear to suffer fools gladly. All this without his wife’s knowledge too, makes for a very stressful and nervy fellow. There are some very funny moments throughout this film, I particularly like the part where Stan, in his awkwardness falls down the stairs after entering The Pink Pup.
Whilst attempting to placate his bosses blackmailer, Stan is spotted by none other than the neighbourhood busy body/gossip and he immediately realises that word will soon reach his wife, that he’s been courting another woman. To make matters worse, not only is Stan unable to pacify Mae Busch, but he is also seemingly powerless to prevent her from storming over to the Tillsbury residence.
Naturally, chaos ensues on her arrival during the house party, at which a thickly mustachioed Ollie, playing the part of Judge Chigger, and his wife are in attendance. Ollie’s part is restricted merely to an amused witness to the scenes of mayhem and there is not an inkling of the familiar Ollie character in this film. Stan on the other hand seems really to be starting to hone his character, building on the previous two films. His main characteristics are the slow-witted innocence and on a number of occasions, he displays his now trademark cry.
This is actually not a bad film, with Laurel and Finlayson working well together and Mae Busch bounces off both of them effortlessly and with great effect. The real shame is that Babe Hardy was not used more, but his time would indeed come, and when it did, it would be forever.
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