Hal Roach Studios (1926) Two Reels
Cast: Harry Myers, Euginia Gilbert, Stan Laurel, Max Davison, Charlotte Mineau, Fred Malatesta, Ernest Wood
Producer: Hal Roach
Director: Fred Guiol
Harry Myers plays a playboy who learns he will lose his inheritance unless he is married. Fortunately Myers had secretly eloped overseas and is bringing his new wife home by ocean liner. All he will need to do is produce his new wife to the executor of the will. But after his wife misinterprets a telegram for Myers as a mistress waiting for him back at the port she walks out on him. Now with no proof that he was married Myers comes up with a plan to dress his butler ( Stan Laurel ) up as a woman and have a fake wedding ceremony with him in front of the executor of the will.
Originally Oliver Hardy was cast as the butler and Stan Laurel was assigned to direct the movie. And then came the accident. A woman friend was incapacitated with a twisted ankle and Hardy decided to drop by her house and cook her dinner. While removing a leg of lamb from the oven Hardy dropped the pan and burned his arm with boiling hot grease. Hardy further injured himself when he decided to run out of the house and scream outside as not to disturb his friend, but then managed to trip on some rocks while running and fracture his leg, landing him in the hospital for several weeks. At the time Hardy was preparing to act in two movies for Roach, and now with him out of commission the studio was put into a bind. Roach was on a tight schedule to produce a set number of movies for their distributor. Now one actor down they had to scramble to find new actors to take Hardy’s place. And the studio did have a spare actor on the set, Stan Laurel. The problem was that Laurel was still under contract with producer Joe Rock. While he was allowed to work for Hal Roach as a director he could only work as an actor for Rock. Roach pressured Laurel to ignore his contract and take the role of the butler. Fred Guiol was brought in to take over as director. This would have been the fourth Hardy movie to be directed by Laurel but instead it turned into something more important.
By now Laurel was content to continue his career as a film director and give up acting for good. But Roach was apparently so pleased with Laurel’s acting in this film that he immediately asked him to reprise the butler character in another movie “On The Front Page”. Joe Rock did notice his contracted star was now acting in Hal Roach movies and sued. This lead to litigation between Rock, Laurel, and Roach which eventually ended in a settlement and with Laurel now under contract with Roach Studios as an actor, paving the way for the invention of the Laurel & Hardy team. Incidentally, this movie was included on many early Laurel & Hardy filmographies due to the appearance of Leo McCarey on the television show “This is your life” where he suggested that both Laurel & Hardy were in the same movie. While Laurel would later tell John McCabe that Hardy did not appear in the movie due to his injuries others would go on believing for years that both appeared on screen in the film. McCabe also includes it in his filmography but notes that Laurel replaced Hardy. Laurel & Hardy were known for recycling old movie plots. For instance their first talking movie “Unaccustomed as we are” would be remade as “Blockheads” and “Angora Love” would be remade as both “Laughing Gravy” and “The Chimp”. “Get ‘Em Young” seems to be the earliest example of a recycled plot as it was somewhat reused three years later in the short “That’s My Wife” with Laurel once again dressing up as a woman, this time pretending to be Hardy’s wife.