Sugar Daddies heralded the start of a new era for all at the Hal Roach Studios, as it was the first film to be distributed under the newly negotiated deal with Hollywood giants MGM. As Randy Skretvedt explains, unlike Roach’s previous distributors Pathe Exchange, MGM could throw a LOT of money at Roach’s new projects and they also had a hand in practically every part of the movie business, from the making of the films, to their distribution, to even owning the movie theaters that would screen them.
So, I have to think that these must have been exciting times at the studio, full of optimism and potential. It’s such a shame then that the first film Roach handed over to MGM for release was Sugar Daddies. Whilst it’s a fairly pleasant farce, it’s not particularly funny, managing to raise only the occasional amused chuckle.
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Sugar Daddies is yet another standard ‘Roach All-Stars‘ picture, which is headlined by Stan and James Finlayson, with Ollie supporting quietly in the background. As noted in a number of reviews, the film is practically a re-hash of ‘Love ‘Em and Weep’, with a number of similarities. In addition to Finn, Noah Young returns to the line-up and once again plays a very convincing heavy, this time brandishing a revolver with which he plans to threaten Finlayson, with the purpose of extracting an extortionate amount of money.
Ollie plays the part of Fin’s butler and Stan plays Fin’s attorney, who is called early on in the film, in order that he might be able to extricate Fin from last night’s alcohol induced marriage to Noah Young’s sister.
The boys have little to do together throughout the film with perhaps the best scene at the beginning, where Ollie answers the door to Stan and gets rapped on the nose by Stan’s knocking umbrella handle for his trouble. Stan then steps inside and there follows a nice bit of business where Ollie tries to take Stan’s hat against his wishes.
Ollie is well recognisable, despite some rather fetching sideburns, but Stan looks like he’d just walked off the set of his 1924 solo film ‘West of Hot Dog‘, with his slick back hair and little round pince-nez style glasses, a world away in looks and behaviour to the Stanley character that he’d been successfully creating.
The film ambles along and the only other part particularly worthy of mention are the scenes leading up to the finale. Noah Young, his sister and her daughter are giving chase to our three boys and the pursuit ends up crashing through a ‘House of Fun’, which provides a number of small laughs along the way. These scenes were reportedly (see Skretvedt) filmed on location at the Pike Amusement Park in Long Beach, California.
Yet again, no attempt was made in this film, to use Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy as a team. But, Sugar Daddies would prove to be the last time that would happen…