Helpmates (1932) Laurel and Hardy film, starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy
The Laurel and Hardy film Helpmates begins with Oliver Hardy remonstrating someone for their bad behavior – “I used to have such high hopes for you!” – as the camera pans back to let the audience see that he’s talking to his mirror, chewing himself out for misbehaving while his wife is away visiting her mother in Chicago. He had a wild part and totally trashed his house. A telegram arrives with the news that his wife will unexpectedly arrive home by noon. In a panic, Oliver calls Stan Laurel to come and help him clean up this mess. After a very funny telephone conversation, where Stan explains why he wasn’t at Ollie’s party last night, Oliver tells him to get over there immediately. Almost before Oliver has a chance to hang up the telephone, Stan is knocking at his front door.
The remainder of the film deals with Stan and Oliver’s attempts to clean up the house, with a building crescendo of comedy as Stan’s attempts to help become more and more destructive. Oliver becomes frustrated and lights the gas oven improperly, turning on the gas first instead of lighting the oven. The result is an explosion that demolishes the living room and kitchen, as well as Oliver’s derby hat.
A running joke throughout the short film is the repeated damage or wholesale destruction to Oliver’s suits as they become get stained with soot, soaked with dirty water, and covered in flour, until he has no choice but to go meet his wife at the station in his only remaining suit – something left over from a costume party. Impossibly enough, without Oliver’s “guidance”, Stan manages to restore the house’s interior to its proper appearance. Deciding to make a welcoming fire in the fireplace, Stan tries to start a fire. When the logs don’t catch fire, he uses a container of gasoline or kerosene to drench the fire wood, unintentionally spilling some on the carpet as well. He then moves towards the wood with a lit match …
Oliver returns home, without his wife but with a black eye. He walks through the front door, only to fall into a small hole – from which he sees the smoldering remains of what was once his house, as Stan futilely tries to extinguish the ruins. Stan leaves, as there’s nothing else for him to do. “No, I guess not.” On the way out, Ollie asks him to close the door, as he wants to be alone. Adding insult to injury, it begins to pour rain down on Oliver, as he sits in the ruins of his home, soaked, trying to hold on to his dignity.
Helpmates is a very funny short Laurel and Hardy film, which my children and I laughed out loud often while watching, and I hope that you do also. I rate it 4 clowns out of 5.
Funny movie quotes from the Laurel and Hardy video Helpmates
Ollie (Oliver Hardy): Why weren’t you at the party last night?
Stan (Stan Laurel): I couldn’t make it. I was bitten by a dog.
Ollie (Oliver Hardy): I can’t understand you. Spell it.
Stan (Stan Laurel): A dog bit me. B-I-it me. Bit me.
Ollie (Oliver Hardy): Where?
Stan (Stan Laurel): [Rolls up sleeve and puts the telephone to the injured area] They had to take me to the hospital last night and they said I might have hydrophosphates.
Ollie (Oliver Hardy): Listen, I’m in a slight predicament. My wife’s coming home at noon today unexpectedly. And just look at this house.
Stan (Stan Laurel): [sees the mess] What’s the matter with it?
Ollie (Oliver Hardy): What’s the matter with it? You never met my wife, have you?
Stan (Stan Laurel): Yes, I never did.
Ollie (Oliver Hardy): What do you mean “Yes I never did”?
[shows him wedding photo]
Ollie (Oliver Hardy): That’s my wife.
Stan (Stan Laurel): Isn’t she sweet.
Ollie (Oliver Hardy): Charming.
Stan (Stan Laurel): Where is your wife?
Ollie (Oliver Hardy): She’s in Chicago with her mother.
Stan (Stan Laurel): Is she having a nice time?
Ollie (Oliver Hardy): Sure she’s having a nice time, she’s been gone for more than a week, I- I don’t care whether she’s having a nice time or not! What I mean is that if she comes home and sees the house like this, she’ll know that I’ve been throwing a wild party!
Ollie (Oliver Hardy): Get this house cleaned up! Do you know that my wife will be home at noon!
Stan (Stan Laurel): Say, what do you think I am? Cinderella? If I had any sense I’d walk out on you.
Ollie (Oliver Hardy): Well it’s a good thing you haven’t any sense!
Stan (Stan Laurel): It certainly is!
Ollie (Oliver Hardy): Do you realize that this is the only suit I’ve got left? It’s enough to make a man burst out crying.
[Stan starts to cry]
Ollie (Oliver Hardy): Shut Up! Don’t you realize my wife will be home at noon?
Ollie (Oliver Hardy): [shouts] Hello!
Mrs. Hardy: Don’t you yell at me. I’m not deaf!
Ollie (Oliver Hardy): Oh, hello, honey baby. Where are you?
Mrs. Hardy: Where am I? I’m down here at the railroad station. And if I stay here much longer they’ll put me in the roundhouse.
Trivia for Helpmates Laurel and Hardy film
- The studio actually built a five-room facade on an empty lot in Culver City, and then burned it down to shoot the final scenes of this short.
- At one point Stan Laurel gives out a phone number, and it was his own personal number at the time.