Busy Bodies (1933)
Busy Bodies (1933)

Genre: Slapstick and Short Running Time: 19 min.

Release Date: October 7th, 1933 MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Director: Lloyd French Actors: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Dick Gilbert, Charlie Hall, Tiny Sandford




ressed in their signature suits and bowler hats (which double as both vagabond clothing and when they have respectable jobs), Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy drive to work at the sawmill – a decidedly dangerous place for these buffoons to frequent. And, sure enough, it’s only a matter of seconds before their faces collide with wood beams (more than once, even before they officially begin their shift). It’s impressive how much damage they can cause – and absorb – doing simple activities like pounding a nail or opening a window.

Although the classic comedy duo’s slapstick gimmicks are regularly repetitive, there’s an amusing variance in their careers and the specific ways in which they accidentally hurt one another. Extensive routines are crafted from simple contraptions, while considerable incompetence complicates incomplex tasks (or when they morph into stranger bits, such as when a paintbrush’s glued-on bristles require a barber-shop shave). These moments are hilariously executed – and made funnier when Hardy demonstrates his periodic displeasure by glaring at the screen, communicating with the audience through the fourth wall.

Unlike in some of their other shorts, “Busy Bodies” allows the lead duo to be the only source of humor. They don’t have to share the laughs with fellow comedians supplying additional comic relief. And the climax here, momentarily paralleling the factory sequence from “Modern Times” before finding Laurel and Hardy’s car getting sawed in half, is magnificently chaotic, destructive, and creative.

– Mike Massie

  • 7/10