As pre-team Laurel & Hardy Pathe comedies go, Sailors, Beware! is pretty enjoyable. L&H are hardly a team, but they do have some funny moments on screen, together and otherwise. That’s more than you can say for a number like Flying Elephants.
Hardy plays Mr. Cryder, an aggressive ship’s purser who blatantly flirts with every female passenger (including Lupe Velez, who is introduced to the story with a camera pan up her leggy profile). Laurel is Chester Chaste, a taxicab driver who inadvertently gets shanghaied onto Cryder’s ship and has to deal with his brusque captain. The ostensible main plot involves a midget disguised as a baby (Harry Earles) who uses a baby doll as a hiding place for the goods stolen by his wife (Anita Garvin). Happily, not much is made of this tired plot. Instead, the movie keeps cutting back to Laurel and/or Hardy. Laurel has a great scene where he thinks he’s entertaining the baby by throwing dice with him, only the “baby” makes bets with Laurel and then ends up continually rolling sevens with his loaded dice. Hardy is mistakenly hit with buckets of water and spends a wonderful minute on-screen doing Ollie-like reactions, including coming this close to a tie-twiddle.
The only painful part of the movie is its weak ending, wherein the midget beats up Ollie (yeah, sure). For a movie that’s not really Laurel & Hardy, Sailors, Beware! is enjoyable enough while we’re waiting for L&H to become a team.