Two Tars (1928) starring Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Edgar Kennedy, Charlie Hall, Thelma Hill, Ruby Blaine
Two Tars is a classic Laurel and Hardy short film, dealing with a basic concept. Stan and Ollie are two sailors on leave, who simply want to go on a date with their respective girlfriends. They rent a car and get stuck in a traffic jam. It’s the tit for tat escalating destruction between the irate motorists that make this a comedy classic.
After driving their rented car, and Stan narrowly avoiding hitting a pedestrian, Oliver takes over the wheel — and hits a street lamp. Shortly afterward, they try to pick up two young ladies, Ruby and Thelma, after trying to help them get a gumball out of a stubborn machine. This involves Ollie pushing Stan out of the way so he can show the “right” way to fix it. Ollie promptly gets his finger caught, and eventually breaks the machine open. And get in trouble with the store owner (Charlie Hall). Hall begins by pulling the various hidden gumballs out of Oliver’s shirt, etc. Only for Stan to try and threaten him (“You’re flirtin’ with death, son.”). Only for Charlie to slip and slide on the spilled gumballs. Despite trying to impress the girls, it’s the girls who hand Charlie Hall a beating. And the foursome is on the road.
On the road, they quickly wind up in a bumper to bumper traffic jam, where one ill-tempered motorist’s push leads to Stan’s shove. Soon, the escalating mayhem is in full force, with:
- headlights flying
- Stan pouring wet cement on someone’s head
- getting their tire punctured
- wheels being pulled off cars
- Stan getting run over
- Stan pulling someone’s radiator off
- tearing a car door off
- having their own car pulled apart, etc.
It’s a hilariously funny routine, with a food fight with tomatoes, cars being overturned, etc. It continues to escalate until a motorcycle police officer pulls up and arrests Stan and Oliver. Who laugh as the results of the carnage drive by. After the officer’s motorcycle is run over, they head for the hills, with the officer trying to get someone to “Follow them sailors!”. And they do, without the officer, following them into a train tunnel, complete with train! And Laurel and Hardy drive out afterward in what’s left of their car.
Trivia for Two Tars
- Originally titled “Two Tough Tars.”‘
- Thomas Benton Roberts, playing the part of the Motorist with Tomatoes, was a prop man and carpenter on the Roach lot. The tomato rubbed in his face had been previously cut open and filled with ketchup, so it would film better.
- Thomas Benton Roberts created several breakaway cars for this film, including one that fell apart when a certain wire was pulled.
- Ruby Blaine, who plays one of the girls picked up by Laurel and Hardy, had been a professional wrestler in the Los Angeles area.