Laurel & Hardy in THE TREE IN A TEST TUBE (1943) – Stan and Ollie in color


The Tree in a Test Tube, while not Laurel & Hardy’s greatest comedic achievement, is at least cute and shows them in character. That’s more than you can say for most of L&H’s movie work from the 1940’s.

This was a short subject sponsored by the U.S. Government to show the importance of wood products in contributing to the war effort. Laurel & Hardy appear in the short’s first half, as ’40s funnyman Pete Smith exhorts L&H (off-screen) to display the many wood products they have on their persons. L&H hold up various wood-derived items, one by one, as Smith makes cutesy comments about most of them (“We want to see your junk, er, your nice things!”). L&H’s part was obviously shot silently — reportedly, on a lunch hour at Fox — with Smith’s voice-over added later.

The movie’s biggest novelty is that it was shot in early color, the only L&H movie other than The Rogue Song to be so filmed. The color in question — 16-millimeter Kodachrome — doesn’t show The Boys to best advantage, but at least their pantomime is funnier than most of the stuff in their Fox movies.

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