Early to Bed is surely the strangest movie in Laurel and Hardy’s silent-film canon. When L&H act out-of-character in other silent movies, there can always be some feeble excuse attached to it, e.g., they were in their Pathe period and hadn’t “kept” their characters yet. But by this point, L&H had established their characters and were all the more popular because of them — and still comes this strange little number.
Ollie inherits a fortune, Stan wonders what is to become of him, and Ollie keeps Stan on as his butler. That’s a bare outline of the movie’s synopsis, and that’s also all the thought the moviemakers seem to have put into it. After that comes a protracted routine where — for no good reason other than Ollie is drunk — Ollie abuses Stan like crazy and then wonders why he doesn’t want to take it anymore. This seems the very definition of passive-aggressive behavior, more than a few decades before the term was even coined.
Most L&H movies aren’t noted for their directors, since Stan Laurel was the uncredited director for most of them anyway. But Early to Bed‘s credited director was Emmett Flynn, who never made another film with The Boys. If this was one of Flynn’s few major film credits, it’s easy to see why.