Busy Bodies

Busy Bodies (1933) starring Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Charlie Hall

Synopsis of Busy Bodies

Being employed as carpenters, Stanley and Oliver stumble through a hilarious parade of self-inflicted mishaps, only to retreat hastily … and drive their car into a band saw! It’s a very funny short film – one of their very best. It’s a “talkie” film, with lots of sound effects that complement the mayhem in the wood shop.

Review of Busy Bodies

In short, Busy Bodies is one of Laurel and Hardy’s funniest short films. It builds up slowly, to a crescendo of comedy. It has no “slow moments”, and is enjoyable from beginning to end.

On the way to work

Busy Bodies begin with Stan and Ollie driving to work in their car. Stan starts the “radio” as Ollie drives in a good mood. Soon, it’s revealed that their “car radio” is actually a phonograph record under the hood. They arrive at their wood shop, where Ollie plays a prank on poor Charlie Hall. And the slapstick begins building to a crescendo, as first Ollie, then both, walk into a board. And following the rule of three, Ollie does it one more time.

Slapstick at work

The slapstick builds slowly and surely, as Ollie takes the nail that Stan drove to hang up his coat. Nailed into a water pipe, of course! After having a saw blade fall on his head, they both get hard to work. And Ollie fights with a jammed window – but with Stan’s help, gets caught in it. “Would you mind opening the window? Not that one, this one!”

But, asking Stan for help is simply begging for trouble. After consulting a blueprint (for the Boulder Dam), Stan rotates the window, climbs on top of it, and knocks them both into poor Charlie Hall again. And they start a slapstick fight, with Charlie winning. At first … But Stan uses his own cleverness to get even with Charlie.

Soon, Stan unwittingly cuts out the seat of Oliver’s pants. And “helpfully” glues it back on. And they’re soon fighting again, with saw and glue. Which Oliver gets the worst of, of course. And the simple task of hanging up another man’s coat gets Ollie assaulted by a door multiple time. And then comes the task of trimming Ollie’s new “beard”, courtesy of the glue & a paintbrush. An extended, very funny, scene. Which ends with Oliver taking a wild ride that has to be seen to be appreciated.

The not-so-great escape

And, after a falling ladder & destruction of a shed that Buster Keaton would have been proud of, the boys escape in their car — only to run it through a giant band saw, sawing it in half! But, at least their phonograph still works! And the short ends with Ollie chasing Stan.

Editorial review of Busy Bodies courtesy of Amazon.com

Carpenters drive to and “work” at a planing mill. Relying heavily on pantomime (Stan speaks only 24 words!), as well as violent but unhurried slapstick, this rates as one of Laurel and Hardy’s finest shorts.

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