Written and filmed December, 1927 - January, 1928. Produced by Hal Roach. Supervised by Leo McCarey. Directed by Edgar Kennedy. Two reels.
Cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Anita Garvin, Tiny Sandford, Edna Marion, Ellinor Vanderveer.   

STORY: Stan and Ollie are waiters at a ritzy dinner party. Predictably, they are more adept at spilling things than serving them.

JL: A funny picture, but most of the bits played better when they recycled them twelve years later in A CHUMP AT OXFORD. In the later film, there is a better sense of character and more careful setup for the gags.  It also had Stan drunk and in drag, which added an extra kick to the "serve the salad undressed" business. From Soup to Nuts is a fun, slapsticky twenty minutes, but the gags definitely take precedence over the characters. Stan and Ollie mess things up and fall down a lot, but there's little time for any insight in to their relationship. Stan again seems a bit smarter than his later self, barking orders at Ollie and coming up with an ingenious solution to Anita Garvin's troublesome maraschino cherry. (It is Miss Garvin, by the way, who steals the film.)

JB: Your observation about Stan seeming smarter than usual goes back to my point that Stan and the writers couldn't quite nail down who Stanley was at this early juncture. Perhaps this was because Ollie's character is probably quite close to the real Oliver Hardy (except for the difference in intelligence). Oliver Hardy had no pressing desire to be a comedian --- he was happy just to be in pictures, and his performances are a delight because they are so effortless --- they are just a natural extension of his own personality, with a little comic exaggeration. Stan, however, was a comedian, and had been searching for a character for years, much like Harold Lloyd. At this point, he had not yet found it completely. This is not to say that the early Stanley was not funny --- just not fully developed yet. It would take sound to bring him into focus.

Copyright © 2012 John Larrabee, John V. Brennan

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