You're Darn Tootin'

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You're Darn Tootin'
L&H You're Darn Tootin 1928.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by E. L. Kennedy
Produced by Hal Roach
Written by H.M. Walker (titles)
Starring Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Cinematography Floyd Jackman
Edited by Richard C. Currier
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s)
  • April 21, 1928 (1928-04-21)
Running time 20 min.
Country United States
Language Silent film
English (Original intertitles)

You're Darn Tootin' is a 1928 Laurel & Hardy silent comedy short, produced by Hal Roach. It was shot in January 1928 and released April 21, 1928, by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The title is an American idiomatic phrase akin to "You're darn right!"

Plot[edit]

When the orchestra leader strides onstage and makes his way to his podium, the audience at the bandshell applauds — and it's the last moment of harmony in the film. Of course, Laurel and Hardy establish themselves as the epicenter of the difficulties: somehow, they get out of synch with the other musicians, so when the conductor taps his baton for the band to stand up, The Boys sit down; another tap, and the band sits while The Boys stand up. Up and down, down and up — it takes a look-that-could-kill from the maestro to wilt the two back into their chairs.

He gets the music rolling then, and it seems to proceed well: the group plays a passage, then the soloists stand and contribute — a trumpet first, then a trombone, until the clarinetist is called upon for his solo — and the cutaway shows him still sorting through his music charts with his friend, Mr. Hardy. Another up-close-and-personal staredown gets a bleat from Stan's woodwind that blows the hat off the maestro and is unmistakably a sour note — even though it's a silent picture. Touchingly, Ollie stands and provides the needed solo line from his French horn for his friend.

Stan's performance is dealt another blow when his clarinet comes all apart in his hands, then a particularly robust riff from the trombonist behind him blows his music from its stand over to the conductor's podium and under his feet. Stan plucks the music — the French horn music — from Ollie's stand, sending him over to retrieve the sheets from under the maestro's stomping foot. When Ollie returns with the charts, he sees that they are for b-flat clarinet, and there is a musical twist on the wrong-hat swap. The kerfuffle over the music causes all the music stands (and several musicians) to tumble over like so many dominoes.

Back at their boardinghouse, The Boys settle in for a hearty meal — the pleasure of which is blunted when they find a note from the landlady: "In the excitement of having a job, you have overlooked 14 weeks board bill." Ollie tucks it away for postprandial attention, but then the top falls off the pepper shaker and befouls his soup; he swaps his bowl with Stan's, and the salt shaker top falls off and ruins this second bowl. The landlady asks a boy at the table how the concert was, and he says, "It was great — after they was fired," pointing at The Boys. Wordlessly, they rise slowly from the table and are met at the door by the landlady, who is holding the totality of their worldly goods: one clarinet, one French horn — and two derbies.

A title card announces: "Re-financing — In business for themselves" and we pick them up on a street corner, instruments in hand. Even without the benefit of a soundtrack, the visuals alone are convincing that they are as sorry a duo as they were cogs in the ensemble: the exaggerated, uncoordinated foot stomping, the attempts to play the first note together, the rapid unraveling of the effort. You do not have to hear them to know how bad they are.

Passing pedestrian is The Boys' last hope for earning money from their art. He crosses them up, though, listening, enjoying, but departing without contributing

Sadly, they are unaware that their difficulties here are just an overture to those upcoming. First, a policeman comes by and asks if they have a license. "We have no dog," a befuddled Ollie answers — and the resulting bum's rush from the officer finds them seeking out a new corner. The new locale doesn't ease the musical discord, though, so a friendly drunk offers to serve as conductor, until his zeal with his walking stick raps Stan on the knuckles. The cop's return sends them off yet again, and first Stan, then Ollie, fall into manholes. To add incendiary to insult, Ollie gets a blowtorch to the backside by an irate subterranean worker.

One last try to earn a living through music: The Boys play a selection directly to a cross-eyed passerby who pauses, listens, digs in his vest pocket as if for a coin — then strides away without contributing when they pass the hats, both of them. It is too much for Ollie: he takes Stan's clarinet and breaks it over his knee, which in turn is too much for Stan, who kicks the French horn under a passing steam roller. Ollie picks up his squashed instrument, blows into it, and pronounces it "Flat."

The Boys then enter into an atypical extended tit-for-tat routine against one another, escalating from shin-kicking through hanky-tearing, then jacket-ripping, button-popping and hat-stomping. A man emerging from the ABC Restaurant finds himself involved, and the melee quickly widens to some two dozen well-dressed adult male participants. It takes a surreal turn with the de-pantsing first of Hardy by Laurel, then of everyone by his adjacent combatant, until all are displaying their (impressively white) BVDs — including the policeman.

From the swirling maelstrom of boxer shorts, we cut to a solitary king-size gentleman, alone in the frame, with his arms up, his pants gone and his chubby pale legs peeking out from gleaming white shorts: "I've been robbed!" he cries. It's instantly clear what happened when we see Stan and Ollie — walking together, finally in synch, in the enormous trousers — tipping their derbies at the audience as they exit the shot.

Production and exhibition[edit]

  • The film was originally released in the UK under its working title The Music Blasters.
  • The final US release title was supplied by H. M. "Beanie" Walker.
  • The short was directed by fellow film comedian Edgar Kennedy, here billed as "E. Livingston Kennedy".
  • Scenes from this film were featured in several silent film compilations of the 1960s produced by Robert Youngson.
  • The film was shown on the BBC Four programme Paul Merton's Silent Clowns in full with an original, specially composed, musical score.

Cast[edit]

Climax of Depantsing. Director Edgar Kennedy would soon become one of The Boys' most prickly of on-screen antagonists; he staged this classic L&H finale. Promo photo.

Critical reputation[edit]

L&H scholar Randy Skretvedt has written stirringly about You're Darn Tootin', its place in the L&H canon, and the poignancy of the canon itself:

"You're Darn Tootin' is the first clear statement of the essential idea inherent in Laurel and Hardy. The world is not their oyster: they are the pearls trapped in the oyster. Their jobs hang by rapidly unraveling threads. Their possessions crumble into dust. Their dreams die just at the point of fruition. Their dignity is assaulted constantly. At times they can't live with each other, but they'll never be able to live without each other. Each other is all they will ever have. That, and the hope for a better day — which is about the most profound philosophical statement ever to come from a two-reel comedy."[1]

Prolific film critic Leslie Halliwell liked You're Darn Tootin' as well: "...though early in their teaming [it] shows Stan and Ollie at their best in a salt shaker routine and in a surreal pants-ripping contest."[2]

L&H Encyclopedia author Glenn Mitchell contrasts the expanding-mayhem finale with earlier scenes:

"You're Darn Tootin' contains what is in many respects the best of Laurel & Hardy's huge street battles. So good is this climactic sequence that other sections tend to be ignored: the opening bandstand segment is timed to a musical beat...."[3]

Silent film maven and movie-stills webmaster Bruce Calvert says:

"This classic Laurel and Hardy comedy is famous for the pants-ripping scene at the end, but the other parts of it are just as funny.... The final pants-ripping scene is not funny just because so many men lose their pants, but because Laurel and Hardy come up with inventive ways to pull more innocent bystanders into the fray."[4]

Writing in the 1960s, early L&H analyst William K. Everson appraised You're Darn Tootin':

"The boarding house [dinner] is a charming sequence with Hardy's fruitless efforts to charm and cajole the landlady.... The shin-kicking, pants-ripping finale is one of their best and most meticulously constructed sequences of controlled savagery, similar to and in many ways better than the great pie fight [of The Battle of the Century]."[5]

The Sons of the Desert[edit]

Chapters, called Tents, of The Sons of the Desert, the international Laurel and Hardy Appreciation Society, all take their names from L&H films; the You're Darn Tootin' Tent is in Mobile, Alabama.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Skretvedt, Randy (1996). Laurel and Hardy: The Magic Behind the Movies. Beverly Hills, CA: Past Times Publishing. ISBN 0-940410-29-X, p.117.
  2. ^ Walker, John, ed. (1994). Halliwell's Film Guide. New York: HarperPerennial. ISBN 0-06-273241-2, p.1342.
  3. ^ Mitchell, Glenn (1995). The Laurel & Hardy Encyclopedia. London: Batsford Books. ISBN 0-7134-7711-3, p. 296.
  4. ^ http://www.allmovie.com/work/153126
  5. ^ Everson, William K. (1967). The Films of Laurel and Hardy. Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press. ISBN 0-8065-0146-4, p. 63.

External links[edit]