Yesterday I posted ‘Putting Pants On Phillip’ (1927),, the first film in which Laurel and Hardy are paired as a team even though they play characters unassociated with each other prior to their on-screen meeting. Today’s silent L&H, ‘Do Detectives Think?’ (also 1927) is their following film and the first time they are a bona fide comedy team. Although there are curious differences in the team’s as yet unformulated screen personas with those that later developed, there are also interesting similarities already falling into place; Ollie’s insistence on always being first at performing the task at hand (always leading to disaster) as well as Stan’s crying routine, which is elaborated on quite thoroughly here. The beautiful, oversized art deco house set became a trademark of the Hal Roach studio interiors and the whole routine of them being scared outside at night which results in their finding indoor shelter that proves to be worse is the stuff of several of their other later shorts (‘Blotto’, ‘Scram’, etc). Even the plot mechanism–a blood-thirsty convicted murderer vowing vengeance when he gets out of jail–turns up again eight years later in ‘Going Bye-Bye’. As for the quality of this short, it’s surprisingly brisk, funny and well organized. Much of the action is racing-around-the-house stuff so it’s not especially sophisticated and there’s a terrible moment where the brutal killer, wielding a huge blade, storms into James Finlayson’s bathroom while Finlayson is taking a bath; the unthinkable occurs when he realizes he’s facing a killer with a knife while nude in the bathtub and gives his unseen genitalia a look of horror in anticipation of what might be coming (he winds up disappearing down the drain somehow). This is also the movie that established L&H’s longtime costumes–the famous rumpled suits and hats. Apparently this is simply what detectives wore at the time but of course it soon became something else–the permanent uniform of the greatest comedy team ever devised.


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