Hoboken to Hollywood (1926) starring Billy Bevin, Vernon Dent
You likely know someone who laughs at everyone else’s misfortune – especially when he causes it. In a nutshell, that’s the character that Billy Bevan plays here. He’s ordered by his boss to head out to their California office, hence the title. He calls up his wife, packs their car, and starts driving to California. Along the way, he runs (literally) into another couple relocating to California — Vernon Dent (of Three Stooges fame) and Thelma Hill. From the beginning, Billy’s helpful advice causes grief (and slapstick violence) to Vernon Dent — backing into his motor home and leaving him dangling off a cliff (a funny scene), breaking Vernon’s axe on a petrified tree, drenching Vernon with the juice of a cactus (a very funny scene, with Vernon playing his part to the hilt), convincing them that they’re under attack from the ‘Hop-Eye Indians’ and so on, finally arriving in California.
Spotting a mud hole in the road, Billy ‘helpfully’ checks the depth with a stick, informs Vernon Dent that the water is only up to his ankles, and watches as Vernon’s motor home sinks, almost totally submerged — at which point Billy simply drives over the motor home on his merry way, leaving Vernon and his people behind, without a care.
Finally, the self-important Billy Bevan arrives at the California branch office. He announces his arrival as the new assistant manager. And the manager turns out to be none other than Vernon Dent! Vernon rolls up his sleeves and thoughtfully closes the door to the office so Billy’s family (and the audience) can only imagine the carnage going on inside. Until the door opens and out staggers Billy, disheveled, with his bowler hat broken over his head. In a final twist of irony, Billy is handed a telegram, ordering him back to Hoboken as soon as possible! Billy, his wife, and mother-in-law make their way out to their care, which proceeds to collapse, leaving Billy with another laughing fit.
In all, I truly enjoyed Hoboken to Hollywood. Even though I found the main character to be dislikable. Vernon Dent makes an admirable fall guy, and the audience cheers with him when Billy finally gets his comeuppance. The pace is quick, and the slapstick humor is still funny after all these years.