Air Raid Wardens (1943) starring Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Edgar Kennedy
Synopsis of Laurel and Hardy’s Air Raid Wardens
Air Raid Wardens – Proving themselves inept in a series of failed businesses, shortly after opening a bicycle shop Laurel and Hardy go off to enlist, only to be turned down by every branch of the armed services. Returning home, the local newspaper publisher encourages them to do their patriotic duty in Civilian Defense. The boys do so, after agreeing to share their shop space with a radio shop, not realizing that the proprietor is a Nazi saboteur seeking to destroy the local magnesium plant.
Review of Air Raid Wardens
Frankly, I’m not sure whether to classify Air Raid Wardens as a comedy or as a World War II propaganda film. As a comedy, it’s mediocre at best. The first laugh-out-loud moment doesn’t come until thirty minutes into the picture, when the boys engage in a fight with Edgar Kennedy, as a man who refuses to put our his house lights during an air raid drill. The fight is actually funny, but there are far too few funny moments to qualify this as a good comedy.
On the other hand, given its historical context, it does work as a patriotic film, designed to elicit support and patriotism among the Allied audiences. There’s a speech given by Stan Laurel, as the boys are being thrown out of the Air Raid Wardens (after Edgar Kennedy’s character has falsely accused them of being drunk while on duty), where he elicits patriotic sentiments … “whatever Uncle Sam asks us to do, we’ll do it.” It’s a very touching moment.
The film ends on a positive note, as Laurel and Hardy realize that the man they’ve allowed to share space in their shop is a Nazi saboteur, they track them to their hideout, ineptly send for help, get captured, escape, and manage to alert the entire town to the magnesium factory in the nick of time, with the boys themselves capturing the ringleader. It’s not that it’s a bad film, or not worth watching; it’s simply that it’s not a standard Laurel and Hardy comedy. There are some funny moments, such as when the boys are plastering posters over anything that’s not moving (or in Oliver Hardy‘s case, Stan papers him anyway), when the boys “help” the town banker during a drill, and a few other moments, such as the running gag of Stan stepping on a bicycle horn, etc.
Lesser Laurel and Hardy films are still worth watching, however. I rate Air Raid Wardens 2 clowns out of 5.
Funny movie quotes from Air Raid Wardens
Stanley (Stan Laurel): Burglars!
Oliver (Oliver Hardy): I don’t want any.
Oliver (Oliver Hardy): [inside the open car trunk] This is a job for the detectives.
Stanley (Stan Laurel): Maybe we should turn ’em over to the FHA.
Oliver (Oliver Hardy): Yeah. Shhh!
[they get out of the car trunk.]
Stanley (Stan Laurel): This must be the hide-in.
Oliver (Oliver Hardy): Hide-out! Come on.