Their Purple Moment - Script to Screen
The original concluding sequence, shot for but deleted from THEIR PURPLE MOMENT, featured a bizarre masquerade wherein Laurel & Hardy sought to escape the nightclub disguised as midgets! Edgar Kennedy, who had just directed the preceding pair of Laurel & Hardy short subjects, was cast as a cop in pursuit. Stills survive giving us some idea of how this sequence played. Also extant is a five page, 8 ½ x 14 inches story treatment. Surprisingly detailed, there is little variance from script to screen up through the scene where Stan and Ollie duck under their wives' table. Here is the scripted conclusion from that point on, shot but deleted:
During this confusion the boys run out and come into the midget's dressing room, run over to the window and see that it's barred. They come back to the midgets and tell them they are in trouble, and the midgets volunteer to help them.
The waiter opens the door quickly and Stan and Babe duck under the dressing table. The waiter runs over to the barred window, gets over they couldn't have got out there, looks back at the door and figures they must be in this room. He looks under the table and they are not there. Flash of a couple of midgets looking innocently at him. He goes back and takes his place by the door.
The music strikes up FLORADORA SEXTETTE and the midgets come out and go into their dance, and we see that Stan and Babe are two of the Floradora girls.
We then play the dance through, and one by one the waiter, taxi driver, the two girls and the wives recognize them. They all come down and form a group together. The dance is about over now and the two boys see all their menaces lined up together and start getting bawled up in their dance. Their predicament is so hopeless that they start laughing at the silliness of it all, and hurriedly make a very embarrassed exit.
The wives pay off the waiter and taxi driver, then turn and menacingly start for their husbands.
The wives come into a room and see the boys going out a window, and start out in another direction.
The taxi driver in counting his money drops one of the bills. As he bends to pick it up, the waiter trips over him and falls in the mashed potatoes.
Cut to the street: Stan and Babe as midgets come up to a cop. The cop picks Stan up, tickles him under the chin, and Stan pulls the cop's mustache. The cop sets Stan down and bows very politely as they exit.
As Stan and Babe go around a corner they see their wives coming out the entrance of the cafe. The wives see them. The boys are standing over a sidewalk ventilator and their dresses fly up in the air. Several people watching this take it big.
The boys now stand up and exit around the corner, the wives following. They pass the cop and he takes it big.
The two boys continue down the street with their wives after them. The wives finally catch them and Stan and Babe start laughing. The wives tell them, "Come on home and we'll give you something to laugh at."
They start down the street, the boys a little ahead. Stan and Babe look back, miss the wives and wonder what has become of them. Cut to the wives just coming out of the mud hole. FADE OUT.
In 1981 I asked Hal Roach why the first filmed concluding sequence was replaced. Because the basic theme had been used so many times, Roach was confused about which picture we were discussing. I read from the script, and described in detail the alternate used instead. Neither impressed Roach.
"By bringing this up," Roach challenged, "you suggest we made a mistake changing the windup. I say you are projecting your hopes into what you read in the script, just as we did. A lot of the time, what's written does not play. The routine with the midgets -- escaping as midgets -- did not payoff in the screening room. Otherwise we would have kept it. The business with the pies may not have been great, but that always worked with audiences. We didn't have time for anything better. Run your print with an audience then come back and tell me if we did the right thing changing it."
-- by Richard W. Bann --