Laurel and Hardy in THE SECOND HUNDRED YEARS (1927) – Here’s another nice prison you’ve gotten me into!

secondhundredyears

The Second Hundred Years is gratifying early Laurel & Hardy — characterizations intact all the way through. The Boys are prisoners who happen upon a way out: they see some painters on the prison wards and decide to impersonate them in order to sneak out. When they finally get off the prison grounds, they’re followed by a suspicious policeman. In order to (ostensibly) throw the cop off-track, they paint everything in sight. As pointed out by another movie critic in a different context, they act like little kids who announce “I’m a painter” and demonstrate their expertise by acting like Picassos wherever they go–a perfect demonstration of their child-like qualities.

Eventually, The Boys are forced to pose as foreign dignitaries visiting their old prison. While this allows for some nice comedy (including a Stanley dinner-table routine repeated by Anita Garvin in From Soup to Nuts), this leads into the movie’s only bummer — its weak ending. As soon as L&H are found out to be phonies, they immediately fall into convict lock-step and allow the warden (Tiny Sandford, here credited as “Stanley Sandford”) to usher them back to their old cells. Any guys who manage to escape from prison and pose as foreign-speaking emissaries surely deserve better than that.

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