Habeas Corpus (1928 film)

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Habeas Corpus
L&H Habeas Corpus 1929.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLeo McCarey
James Parrott
Written byLeo McCarey
James Parrott
H. M. Walker[1]
Produced byHal Roach
StarringStan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Richard Carle
Charles A. Bachman
Charley Rogers
CinematographyLen Powers
Edited byRichard C. Currier
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • December 1, 1928 (1928-12-01)
Running time
20 min.
CountryUnited States
LanguagesSilent film
English (Original intertitles)

Habeas Corpus is a silent short subject co-directed by Leo McCarey and James Parrott starring comedy duo Laurel and Hardy. It was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on December 1, 1928


Professor Padilla is a mad scientist whose plans have drawn the interest of the police. His latest scheme is to perform a medical experiment on a corpse. Over the supper table, as Professor Padilla is contemplating a new theory that the human brain has a level surface, there's a knock on the door. Stan and Ollie, by chance, happen to arrive at the professor's home in search of a free meal. The professor offers the duo $500 if they will steal a body from a local graveyard. They think the professor is barmy, but they agree to his offer anyway. The conversation is overheard by the professor's butler, Ledoux, who happens to be a police informant. Ledoux calls police headquarters and is told to go to the graveyard to thwart any theft. Meanwhile, the police arrest the mad professor. At the cemetery, Stan and Ollie get into a series of comical misadventures trying to enter the grounds and while digging up a fresh grave. Ledoux manages to slip into the grave while covered in a white sack. Stan and Ollie take Ledoux from the grave. With Ledoux's "corpse" slung over Stan's back, Ledoux's legs rip through the bottom of the sack—and he walks step for step behind Stan. Stan and Ollie realize their stolen corpse is still alive and begin to run in panic. The chase ends with Ollie and Ledoux falling into a deep, water-filled hole.


Production notes[edit]

Habeas Corpus was filmed on July 16–24 & 30–31, 1928.[2] Although technically a silent film — having intertitles and no synchronized dialogue — it was the inaugural Hal Roach film released with a synchronized music and sounds effects track for theatres wired for sound.[2] The Victor sound discs were thought lost until a set surfaced in the 1990s and was reunited with the film elements.[3]

The concept of men trolling through a cemetery with a dead body was reworked by The Three Stooges in their 1945 film Three Pests in a Mess.[4]


Leo Sulky as Detective on telephone

Horror film author Christopher Workman commented, "One sequence involving the comedy team's attempts to get over the graveyard wall takes up entirely too much running time and mires the proceedings in excessive tedium. Comedic incidents accumulate until the film has reached the requisite running time".[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Workman, Christopher; Howarth, Troy (2016). "Tome of Terror: Horror Films of the Silent Era". Midnight Marquee Press. p. 324. ISBN 978-1936168-68-2.
  2. ^ a b Skretvedt, Randy (1987). Laurel and Hardy: The Magic Behind the Movies. Beverly Hills, California: Past Times Publishing. ISBN 0-940410-29-X. p. 130
  3. ^ Mitchell, Glenn (1995). The Laurel and Hardy Encyclopedia. London: Batsford Books Ltd. ISBN 0-7134-7711-3. p. 122
  4. ^ Solomon, Jon (2002). The Complete Three Stooges: The Official Filmography and Three Stooges Companion. Comedy III Productions, Inc. p. 257. ISBN 0-9711868-0-4.

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