Should Married Men Go Home? - Script to Screen
Dick Currier on the annual Hal Roach Studio golf tournaments: "Oh, gosh, we had fun on those," he remembered. "Babe Hardy was the man to beat. He could hit the ball a ton. Hal Roach was stronger than anyone, he could really power that ball too, but sometimes the boss played his short game off the tee! Sometimes he laughed and shook it off. Sometimes you would see him throw his club as far as Hardy could hit the ball with his driver!"
While enjoying a round of golf at the Wilshire Country Club in Hollywood one day in 1923, he shot a respectable round. He did hook one drive. Not a winner. Sailing out of bounds his ball crashed through the windshield of a moving automobile operated by a Mr. and Mrs. Harry Winner. The shattered glass injured Mrs. Winner's left cheek. She objected. The couple sued Roach and the Wilshire Country Club for the then considerable sum of $5,000 in itemized damages, including $ 300 "prayed for" on behalf of Mr. Winner for "loss of the good services of his wife."
Good services all right, and expensive, too. At least as alleged by attorneys for the plaintiff, Shapiro and Shapiro. Roach settled out of court for much less. "She wasn't so expensive after all." he said with a twinkle in his eye when recalling this incident in 1981.
Nor did such unpleasantness deter Roach from inaugurating the annual Hal Roach Studios Golf Tournament, held usually during down time each summer when the studio suspended operations. The Wilshire Country Club was not so enthusiastic about the idea of a lot of comedians spraying errant shots across motorists and passersby in the neighboring communities, so Roach staged his event at the Riviera Country Club in the Pacific Palisades.
"Every year, more or less, we used to have a golf tournament at the studio," Hal Roach explained in 1967. "Everybody played, no matter how bad. Now Babe Hardy and Bob McGowan and I used to play a bit of golf at Lakeside, but Hardy was the best golfer around, and he used to win the thing nearly every time and get the trophy. We'd all play and have a good time. Once in a while someone would get an idea for a picture from the thing. One year it would be Charley Chase, another year Laurel & Hardy, or the Gang, and so on."
It would seem that the genesis of SHOULD MARRIED MEN GO HOME? was Oliver Hardy's real-life passion for golf. And yet there are other factors to consider. W.C. Fields shot golf sequences for seven pictures, and sooner or later virtually every short subject and feature film comedy star and team from Charlie Chaplin to Martin and Lewis made at least one links laughfest. SHOULD MARRIED MEN GO HOME? marked Laurel & Hardy's turn.
Larry Semon introduced Oliver Hardy to the game of golf in 1921. The following year they made a two-reeler together for Vitagraph called GOLF. No gags or situations can be traced from GOLF to SHOULD MARRIED MEN GO HOME? As Stan Laurel wrote to Ray Atherton in 1963, "Babe was social, he had his hobbies. We happily went our separate ways between pictures. He usually went to the Lakeside Golf Club. He didn't care to be involved in the preparation of our pictures."
Studio records for SHOULD MARRIED MEN GO HOME? indicate the principal collaborators on the script were Jimmy Parrott and Leo McCarey. Both were well qualified for the task. In 1922 Jimmy (as "Paul") Parrott starred for Roach in a one-reeler called THE GOLF BUG. Leo McCarey, as well as his brother Ray, practically specialized in comedies built around sports. McCarey was the one who suggested the golf theme to Roach, under the working title of FOLLLOW THROUGH. Roach remembered McCarey got the idea after a round on the links at Lakeside Country Club, near Universal Pictures. McCarey, Hardy, newly-signed Edgar Kennedy, and Rascals director Bob McGowan were all members there, and often played together. Hal Roach liked McCarey's idea and encouraged him to share his concept with Stan Laurel. It is likely they had already discussed it.
In industry guides containing thumbnail sketches of stars, Stan Laurel's listed hobbies always included fishing, but sometimes named golf as well. He did play, he owned a golf bag, and it's the same bag he carried around in SHOULD MARRIED MEN GO HOME?
"For years it hung in our garage at 718 North Bedford Drive," daughter Lois Laurel Hawes recalls. She has that very golf bag, 71 years later, today, and explains, "Dad played just enough to know how, and have fun with it. He wasn't a member of Lakeside as Babe was. Most often he'd go as a guest to play poker or have dinner there. Once in a while he might join in a round of golf with Andy Clyde." In the golfing comedies Andy Clyde made for Mack Sennett in the early years of talking pictures, he used touring pros including Charlie Guest, Leo Diegel and Walter Hagen.
Rodney Sprigg, who was a friend of Oliver Hardy, and who married June Marlowe (Our Gang's "Miss Crabtree"), told Randy Skretvedt, "Stan would show up (at Lakeside Country Club); he'd get on the putting green, and he'd put on the doggonedest, funniest act you ever saw. He'd do more with that doggone golf ball - he'd just keep you in stitches. But I never saw him get out and play golf.
"The nearest Stan and Babe ever came to a quarrel would be when Stan would show up at the club, and he'd look at Babe and say something like, 'Well, I've been over at the studio doing your work.' I never knew two men who were more compatible."
Possibly the most quoted anecdote from the official biography of Laurel & Hardy, written by John McCabe in 1961, was contained in a footnote: "Charley Rogers tells of a practical way in which Stan harnessed Babe's love of golf for excellent use in the creation of the films. Robers recalls, 'At times Stan would deliberately hold off shooting the 'camera looks' until the end of the shooting day at a point when Babe would be dying to get out on the course. The result is that some of those exasperated looks you see Babe give are really exasperated looks!"
According to M-G-M publicity circulated about him on and as of June 11, 1930, "(Oliver) Hardy is one of the best golfers in California and has 24 cups and two gold medals to show for his skill."
According to his widow, however, Lucille Hardy Price, these publicists probably exaggerated the facts. Hardy's handicap varied through the years from 6 to 14 strokes. He was nowhere near being rated a "scratch" player; he just loved the game and played whenever he could.
Stan Laurel was interviewed for FILMS IN REVIEW in 1959 and said of Babe Hardy, "He was quite a good golfer. He did win quite a few cups."
In between the time SHOULD MARRIED MEN GO HOME? finished shooting, but before being issued to movie theaters, Oliver Hardy won the trophy cup at the annual studio tournament held at the Riviera Country Club. The inscription on the cup reads:
Hal Roach Studio Tournament
The EXHIBITORS HERALD carried a story on the event, with photos. Stan Laurel's billiards pose was the only gag shot. Stevens, Walker, McGowan, Parrott, Kennedy, and Hardy expecially all played it straight for the camera. Deadly serious business, this game of golf. Charley Chase was pictured smiling with a different, second trophy which he curiously donated to the links party, then somehow won. And just as in SHOULD MARRIED MEN GO HOME? the contestants mostly wore de rigueur slouch caps, plus-fours (knickers), and competed with a mixed bag of steel shaft and hickory wood shaft golf clubs.
In the 1930s and 1940s, Babe Hardy's foursome at Lakeside generally included actors Adolphe Menjou, Guy Kibbee, and Frank Craven (a familiar name since he received sole writing credit on a film entitled SONS OF THE DESERT). Hardy was also known to traverse the fairways - and the rough - with Bing Crosby, Edgar Kennedy, Andy Clyde, and W.C. Fields, plus writers Grantland Rice and Norm Blackburn. Bob McGowan's daughter, Jerry, will attest to Babe Hardy's generosity with caddies; he was a good tipper.
The annual Motion Picture Golf Tournament, known as the Quigley Trophy Event, was usually held at the Rancho Park Golf Club, next to the Fox lot. All the studios sent teams. In 1932 the Roach studio squad consisted of Hardy, McGowan, and directors George Marshall and George Stevens - even though by then he had joined Universal and was making SHOULD CROONERS MARRY? with four other Roach alumni. Tournament laurels were annexed by the Fox foursome, as lead by Warner Oland. The same year, in between Charly Chan films, he'd appeared with W.C. Fields in one of the Bobby Jones instructional shorts and those lessons paid off.
Every golfer glories in his swing. The pros, everyone. Every hacker studies his swing. Every single weekend duffer demonstrates his swing as though it were a swaying motion of grace and beauty. Every duffer does. He poses, he analyzes, he discusses, he dissects his swing. Best of all he has his swing photographed so that he, himself can refine and admire his fluent stroke. So in view of Babe Hardy's passion for golf, it is curious to say the least that not once in SHOULD MARRIED MEN GO HOME? does Hardy try a practice swing; neither does he once address a golf ball, nor strike one. Not at any time. Not once! Perhaps only Charlie Chan could solve this conundrum.
If Hardy had been photographed powering a drive, we would have seen he used the interlocking grip, rather than today's more popular Varden overlapping grip (very important distinction among golfers). Still photos of Hardy actually playing golf show this. And although it appears innocent enough at first glance, one still photo for SHOULD MARRIED MEN GO HOME? may never have been (and should never have been) circulated or published because it clearly reveals a young lady's pudendum.