Short – “Below Zero” (1930) Review, with Laurel and Hardy

Like

Released by Hal Roach Studios | Directed By James Parrot

Below Zero: Would You Like to Eat a Snowman

I’m never sure how to approach Laurel and Hardy. It terms of being icons of early Hollywood, they probably rank behind Chaplin in how easy they can be recognized not just in America but internationally. Here in Japan, there’s a chain of stores that uses their likenesses to sell tires. Twitter tributes to the duo are plenty, and the duo remain celebrated and honored the world over.

In “Below Zero”, they’re a pair of musicians desperate to earn some dough in the winter of ’29, and get involved in a series of mishaps thereof. It’s easy to feel sorry for Laurel and Hardy since it doesn’t seem that they can help how annoying they are, which inevitably sets off each other’s own worst tendencies. Both contain a deep, unyielding set of frustration with the world around them, though the corpulent Hardy will retreat to anger and frustration while Laurel epitomizes impotence in the face of crisis.

I've seen worse harpsichord/bass players, but can't name any off the top of my head.
I’ve seen worse harpsichord/bass players, but can’t name any off the top of my head.

They’re a good match, obviously, and the ‘slow burn’ humor they’re known for is on full display here, as indignity and frustration build up like so many snow flakes upon the ground. (Pretty good writing I’m doing, right?) The slow burn also helps cover up any audio or pacing issues common for 1930 films, as they essentially become part of the joke.

The short ends with Laurel, having drank an entire barrel of cold water, whispering something to Hardy and then both scurrying off-screen. I assume he’s saying he has to pee. I just mention it because it made me laugh a little harder than most of the other jokes, save maybe for the bit where Laurel tries to peel an olive.

What I’m trying to say is I’ve run out of things to say. But watch this one, it’s fun.

Awards, Accolades & Availability

  • This film is available on YouTube, though it’s kind of complicated. The screenshots are from this video, but, for some reason, at about the five minute mark, it gets caught in a loop that doesn’t end until the 20 minute mark. I instead offer you this colorized version, half because it means you don’t have to skip around, half because sometimes I’m just a dick like that.

Comment below or join our email subscription list on the sidebar!

What Is Pre-Code Hollywood? BelowZero3 List of Pre-Code Films
SiteIndex Follow Me on Twitter

2 Replies to “Short – “Below Zero” (1930) Review, with Laurel and Hardy”

    1. I’ll do more Laurel and Hardy eventually. I don’t mind them, but they don’t command my interest like a lot of other comedians do.

Leave a Reply!

%d bloggers like this: