|We Faw Down|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Leo McCarey|
|Produced by||Hal Roach|
|Written by||H.M. Walker|
|20 minutes; 2 reels|
English (Original intertitles)
We Faw Down is a 1928 two-reel silent comedy starring Laurel and Hardy and directed by Leo McCarey. It was shot in August and September 1928, and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on December 29 of that year, with synchronized music and sound effects in theaters wired for sound.
The plot line was later reworked into one of Laurel and Hardy's most celebrated films, Sons of the Desert (1933).
The Boys (Stan and Oliver) are trying to attend a poker game. When they get a phone call telling them their absence is holding up the game, Oliver tell their wives they have a business engagement at the Orpheum Theater. They then sneak off to their poker game. En route, they gallantly stop to assist two young ladies retrieve a hat that has blown under a parked car. They end up being soaked by a passing street-cleaning vehicle while trying to retrieve it. The girls invite them up to their apartment while their clothes dry. One of the females becomes very amorous with Stan. They all proceed to get buzzed from beer. A large boyfriend of one of the females appears at the apartment, sending the duo scrambling out the back window, in full view of their wives who have already seen a newspaper headline announcing that the Orpheum Theater had been gutted by a fire. The boys return home and are quietly grilled to explain what they saw at the show. After their attempt to describe what they saw, they too see the newspaper headline about the Orpheum Theater fire, thus destroying their alibi. Their wives chase them through an alley with a shotgun. One blast of causes about a dozen cheating husbands to scurry out of various windows with fright.
This is the first Laurel and Hardy film with Leo McCarey in the director's chair after more than a year guiding the team's characters' development as "Supervisor." He would go on to direct their best silents, and eventually to win Best Director Oscars for the feature films The Awful Truth (1937) and Going My Way (1944).
A contemporary account says that the basic story was contributed, unusually, by Oliver Hardy, who had heard similar gossip from his laundress. Critic/historian William K. Everson makes a different contention, tracing the story back to the Mack Sennett comedy Ambrose's First Falsehood.
Interior shooting took place at the Hal Roach studio; exteriors were shot both on the Roach back lot and on several locations in Culver City.
The original Victor sound discs for We Faw Down were thought lost until the 1990s, when a set was discovered. Certain European DVD editions feature this original synchronized score, but American DVDs (Region 1) still have music cannibalized from other Laurel and Hardy Victor soundtracks.
This short is better known for what got cut out of it than for what remained in it. As originally scripted and shot, the team flee the girls' apartment having pulled on each other's pants, then dart from spot to spot in town trying to find a private place to rectify the situation. An irate husband, a suspicious cop — even a belligerent king crab — all conspire to thwart the swapping of the pants. Though excised from We Faw Down, the footage would be used for their next film Liberty.
Ten years later, Stan Laurel would dust off his final shot concept from We Faw Down to end the feature film Block-Heads (1938).
Critic Leslie Halliwell is terse, even by his own standards of brevity: "Moderate star comedy, later elaborated in Sons of the Desert." Laurel and Hardy Encyclopedia author Glenn Mitchell is likewise succinct: "Typical of their matrimonial comedies," he writes. Bruce Calvert is a silent film expert and a film-still guru. Writing at Allmovie.com, Calvert says of We Faw Down: "While this film is only an average comedy, it is still worth a look. Laurel and Hardy's explanation of the "show" and why they didn't know about the fire, is priceless." Laurel and Hardy scholar Randy Skretvedt unearthed the scripts for many L&H shorts, and the promise of some of the unfilmed gags in the We Faw Down script left him a less than ardent supporter of the final film. "All that We Faw Down proves is that even [Leo] McCarey could not always save a film from mediocrity.... [it's] amusing but nothing to rave about."  William K. Everson was the first to deconstruct the L&H canon, and his 1967 essay delivered a split-decision: "We Faw Down is, on the whole, rather draggy and pedestrian, though it has isolated gags that are among their best. Particularly amusing are the two flirts' attempts to inject some life into their two pickups.... The best gag of all, however, is the.... brilliant and untoppable climactic gag."
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