"They Go Boom" was one of almost a dozen Laurel & Hardy shorts released in the banner year of 1929. This was the year they transitioned to sound (several of the shorts released that year were silent--'Bacon Grabbers', they're greatest silent-in my opinion-was also their last) and the period of adjustment is interesting to watch. For one thing the Marvin Hatley music is missing which lends the film an eerie sort of voyeurism--because the dialogue consists mostly of grunts, threats and moans it's a bit like living next door to a dysfunctional couple whose argument you can't here but whose terrible vibe permeates the building. (Yes, that happened to me once...) The music-free ambience also makes the one-set film feel a little more like a live vaudeville sketch. The film could essentially have been silent--none of the talk is of any importance and in some ways it might have better--the music track would have covered some of the less inventive gags, the cutting would have been snappier etc. Hardy has yet to find the subtlety in his voice that would soon project dismay as well as outrage--here he is all threats and yells and anger. But there are pleasures to behold here as well. For one thing, the rooming house they live in is as sad and charmless as the Kramden apartment and is a little window on poverty living of the era. Likewise the various 'homeopathic remedies' that Stan uses in his  attempts to help Ollie (who is very ill with a cold which he fears might turn to pneumonia and kill him--as indeed pneumonia might have in 1929) are fascinatingly primitive. Mustard powder mixed in hot water? A back plaster rub? And what is 'painting the throat? The bed gag at the end is wonderfully accomplished and Charlie Hall, once again playing their pissed off landlord, is very...Charlie Hall (short, English and filled with hatred). By the way, the title is a play on a popular Eddie Cantor song that was a hit earlier in that year called 'I Fall Down and Go Boom'. Dig it below...

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