Hardy, a newly married and newly successful
businessman, is suddenly visited by an old flame from the past, who
threatens blackmail. Stan, his friend and business associate, is
told to keep the vamp at bay—but she descends on the Hardy home
nevertheless, and the complications that ensue defy a logical
explanation to the automatically suspicious Mrs. Hardy.
A meticulous re-working of Love 'Em and
Weep, one of the earlier films in which they appeared together
(though not as a team), Chickens Come Home is a fine example of
Laurel & Hardy's control over their own work, and of the sophistication
they could bring to basically knockabout material. Although there
are one or two fine sight-gags, the comedy is again largely situational.
One of the well-developed gags common to both versions is of the wife's
arrival in her husband's office while the vamp is hiding in the
bathroom. The silent version handled it all as a good, if
unsubtle, visual gag; the sound equivalent tones down the rather
outlandish elements of the vamp hiding, and concentrates more on the
husband's efforts to keep his wife out of the bathroom.
When he finally succeeds, and Mrs. Hardy is about to be eased out of the
office, Laurel breaks in with "Wouldn't you like to wash your hands
before you go?"
Hardy essays what was originally the
James Finlayson role; Laurel repeats as the friend; and Finlayson
here is cast as Hardy's butler, a nebulous role for Charlie Hall in the
original. The expanded part in this new version gives Finlayson
some fine opportunities to vary his traditional relationship with Hardy.
Always his enemy, he was also usually his employer, a man of property.
As the butler, he still manages to be Hardy's superior, for in
overhearing Hardy's compromising phone calls, he is put into a unique
position for blackmailing. With a knowing wink at the audience and
a scowl of disapproval for his employer, he manages to be on hand
whenever the phone rings, hand outstretched for the bribe which may
ensure his silence.
One of the better Laurel & Hardy films of
its period, its only real flaw is its padded length; indeed, of all
their three-reelers, only The Music Box really justifies the