County Hospital - Pressbook Stories

"The business of making movie audiences laugh is no laughing matter to Laurel & Hardy. During the filming of COUNTY HOSPITAL , the Hal Roach-MGM comedy now playing at the ... Theatre, Oliver Hardy hung suspended by one leg with his head down for approximately one hour. Of course, he did not hang the full hour at one time as the scene was photographed several times before the desired effect was obtained.

"In this particular scene Hardy was drawn up by a leg incased in a huge plaster cast, supposedly a broken leg. The comedian was lying in a hospital bed and his partner Stan Laurel accidentally dropped the weight out of the window causing Hardy’s sudden ascension.

"Considering the comedian’s weight the ‘gag’ in itself was a big undertaking. The greatest difficulty was experienced in getting the proper lighting on the star’s face while he was suspended in the air as the blood would rush to his head and he would photograph very dark. After several experiments he used a very light makeup which photographed natural." More exploitation concocted by the press corps cloistered in offices on down Washington Boulevard at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer: "That old wheeze ‘did you ever hear about my operation?’ served as inspiration to Laurel & Hardy for the writing of COUNTY HOSPITAL, their latest Hal Roach-MGM comedy which comes ... to the ... Theatre.

"The comedians were enjoying an evening of recreation together at one of the popular Beverly Hills clubs. During a session of cards someone at the table, in an effort to break the tenseness of the game, pulled the old bromide about their operation. It got a laugh and also started to work the imaginative minds of the two comedians."

As usual, any similarity between pressbook stories and true facts is likely to be coincidental. Although as Stan Laurel himself said in the aforementioned GOING BYE-BYE!, "It could happen."

-- by Richard W. Bann --