THE SOUND SHORTS (1929-1941)

The Sound Shorts    Laurel and Hardy had every right to be apprehensive about the talkies. After all, in 1929, sound films were still considered a bit of a novelty by many, and the new technology had hastened the demise of many a silent actor's career. The Roach Studio was outfitted for sound in January of that year, even though Roach played it safe and planned a shooting schedule for the coming year which was comprised of an equal mix of sound and silent films. By the end of the year, however, it was obvious to all that sound was here to stay. The limitations initially imposed by the new technology were quickly ironed out, and even those who had fought sound's hasty encroachment now resigned themselves to making the new medium work for them.

     Stan and Babe needn't have worried, as their voices matched their personalities -- beautifully, hilariously so. Wonderful as their silents were, it took sound for Laurel and Hardy to realize their comic potential. True, many of their sound shorts were sparse on dialogue, heavy on visual gags. But even these films could boast an extra dozen or so laughs over their silent counterparts thanks to the occasional "Ooooooooh!!", "Doh!" or "What happened?"; not to mention the frequent banging, clanging, crashing and splashing that adorned their soundtracks.

     By the mid-30's, the Hal Roach Studio was forced to accomodate the economics of a Depression-ridden America. People demanded more bang for their entertainment buck (or dime), and double-features were rapidly replacing the established movie-goer's fare of a feature preceeded by cartoons, newsreels and short subjects. In 1935, Laurel and Hardy had no choice but to abandon the short comdies and devote their energies exclusively to feature films, a circumstance they always regretted. The two and three-reeler sound shorts that Laurel and Hardy made for Hal Roach from 1929 to 1935 comprise their strongest extended body of work. Along with perhaps half-a-dozen of their features and a like number of silents, they are the films upon which their reputation is built. (NOTE: Their 1941 appearance in the short film The Tree in the Test Tube is included here for completeness, as are their cameos in other short films).
- JL, JB

Shorts listed by filming date

Unaccustomed As We Are
Berth Marks
Men O' War
Perfect Day
They Go Boom
The Hoosegow
Night Owls

Below Zero
Hog Wild
The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case
Another Fine Mess
Be Big

Chickens Come Home
The Stolen Jools (promotional short)
Laughing Gravy
Our Wife
Come Clean
One Good Turn
Beau Hunks 
On The Loose (Zasu Pitts/Thelma Todd)
Any Old Port

The Music Box
The Chimp
County Hospital
Their First Mistake
Towed in a Hole
Twice Two

Me and My Pal
The Midnight Patrol
Busy Bodies
Wild Poses (Our Gang)
Dirty Work
Oliver the Eighth

Going Bye-Bye!
Them Thar Hills
The Live Ghost
Tit for Tat

The Fixer-Uppers
Thicker Than Water


On The Wrong Trek (Charley Chase)

The Tree In a Test Tube