Cant Sleep: Bed’s on Fire

Our next podcast will be about Arthur Stanley Jefferson and Oliver Norval Hardy, with special guest Stephen C. Horne joining the discussion. So we’ve been looking at lots of the Hal Roach shorts.

THEY GO BOOM is positively Lynchian, especially when, at the climax, the boys’ bed is overinflated with domestic gas and rises like an impossible cake, bearing its occupants ceilingwards with an ominous HISSSSSS.

Nightmarish. We anticipate some comic invention will introduce a spark and cause the dirigible to explode and, for once, fulfill the title, but it’s not as logical as all that. Ollie sneezes and that alone is enough to ignite the holocaust.

Also good to see diminutive Mancunian Brummie Charley Hall as the landlord, anticipating his identical role in the classic LAUGHING GRAVY. While Edgar Kennedy and James Finlayson are excellent foils, making the “normal” people the boys interact with seem as daft as the central duo, Hall is genuinely a force of evil — he could surely have portrayed a convincing psychopath. His shortness ought to give him a Yosemite Sam absurdity, unlike the more imposing Walter Lang, who always brought the fear of actual mayhem with him, but in fact Hall is even scarier than Lang. He is simply malign.

There’s something slightly off about this one, though, since the major plotline, Ollie having a cold, makes him TOO pitiful. His natural dominance and self-importance need to be in play to make his awful mishaps truly funny. He can’t be merely a victim, he has to be somewhat full of himself. Here he’s just full of phlegm.

2 Responses to “Cant Sleep: Bed’s on Fire”

  1. chris schneider Says:

    Your phrase about Charley Hall makes me think of Polonsky — Farce of Evil!

  2. Tell Them Charley Hall is Here.

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