Be Big - Cast & Credits

Technical Credits

Produced by   Hal Roach
Directed by   James W. Horne
Photographed by   Art Lloyd
Edited by   Richard Currier
Sound by   Elmer Raguse
Dialogue by   H.M. Walker
Credit changes on the re-filmed foreign versions, LES CAROTTIERS and LOS CALAVERAS (which also incorporated the subsequently shot-in-French and Spanish LAUGHING GRAVY):
Photographed by   Jack Stevens
Translated by   Pierre Weill (LES CAROTTIERS only)




Stan Laurel   Himself
Oliver Hardy   Himself
Mrs. Laurel   Anita Garvin
Mrs. Hardy   Isabelle Keith
Bellboy   Charlie Hall
Cookie, phoning fellow lodge member   Baldwin Cooke
Dress Extra   Jean de Briac
Railway station passerby   Jack Hill
Ham Kinsey
Cab driver   Chet Brandenberg
Parts changed in the corresponding portion of the French version, LES CAROTTIERS:
Mrs. Hardy   Germaine de Neel
Phoning fellow lodge member   Jean de Briac
Dress extra   Luis Llaneza
Parts changed in the corresponding portion of the Spanish version, LOS CALAVERAS:
Mrs. Hardy   Linda Loredo
Phoning fellow lodge member   Luis Llaneza


Production and Distribution

  • Laurel & Hardy series
  • Production number L-37
  • Working title: THE CHISELERS
  • Principal photography: Monday, December 8 through Monday, Decembr 22, 1930.
  • Three reels, 2,612 feet, 28 minutes and 50 seconds
  • Released as BE BIG (containing simultaneous identification as THE CHISELERS) February 7, 1931 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp.
  • Copyrighted as THE CHISELERS (registered with simultaneous identification as BE BIG) February 9, 1931 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp.
  • Copyright renewed February 12, 1958 by Loew's Inc.
    (copyright having been assigned in 1936)

At the last moment before theatrical release, the title of what had been previously known as THE CHISELERS (here meaning marital cheaters) was changed to BE BIG. No change, however, was made on the paperwork filed with the Library of Congress two days after the official release date. As a result, the title (as distinct from the photoplay itself) registered for copyright protection was THE CHISELERS, not BE BIG.

Ever since, this has caused confusion, not the least of which is the mistaken belief among reckless chiselers (this time meaning alleged swindlers and film pirates) that BE BIG is public domain and free of copyright protection. It is not. The photoplay popularly known as BE BIG was, in fact, properly registered, renewed, and assigned. Beware.

Infringers so notified by attorneys such as Ritchie & Ritchie have been known to respond, innocently, in the same words spoken here by Stan Laurel in reel two when he asks, "Why didn't you tell me? You certainly fooled me that time."

No one should have been fooled. Although some diligent investigation and knowledge of the copyright statute and relevant case law are helpful. To fill in a few gaps: the cutting continuity filed with the Library of Congress as evidence of copyright in the country of origin on February 9 was entitled THE CHISELERS. The implicit meaning translates into Spanish as LOS CALAVERAS; and into French as LES CAROTTIERS. These were the release titles of the export renditions. The actual 35mm release prints of the domestic photoplay identified concurrently as both BE BIG and THE CHISELERS were published and issued to M-G-M and Loew's Inc. exchanges for theatrical exhibition in the United Sates and Canada (to satisfy Berne Convention requirements for simultaneous publication) on Februray 7. The dual identification was achieved by a main title card which declared BE BIG, and film leader at the beginning and end of each of the three reels which bore the alternate title THE CHISELERS.

For example, following the end title, frames of film would pass through the projector's gate reading:

This tied the release title to the published titles (which also disclosed proper notice) to the copyright title. The registration was proper and valid.

All right then.

Those who respect the valid and subsisting copyrights of others can therefore go on with their lives secure in the knowledge they may discover, as Oliver Hardy explains in reel three, "How easy, how simple, how free from care everything will be."

Simple? Simple. And this from the man who admits to his "Snookums" that he showered with his hat on so he wouldn't get his hair wet.

-- by Richard W. Bann --