The Fixer Uppers (1935)

"Christmas Greetings"

Produced by Hal Roach
Directed by Charles Rogers

Featuring Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Mae Busch, Arthur Housman, Charles Middleton


As Christmas draws near, Laurel & Hardy are self-employed greeting card salesmen. Snow is falling outside. Inside an apartment building, wearing mufflers and gloves, the boys make "cold" calls door-to-door. For any potential customer who will listen, Ollie reads out loud an example of the sterling verse written by his partner, Stan. A genial drunk answers his door, and succumbs to the charm of this card, dedicated to Mom: "Merry Christmas, Mother. Merry Christmas, Ma. Hi, Mommy, Mommy -- and a hot cha cha!" Sold!


At their next stop down the hall, the rhyming entrepreneurs meet a distraught woman, Mrs. Pierre Gustav. She's in no mood to buy Christmas cards, not even one reflecting some of "Stanley's tenderest" thoughts. It's targeted to please her husband: "A Merry Christmas husband; Happy New Year's nigh. I wish you Easter greetings; hooray for the Fourth of July!" When their famous "four-in-one card" fails to reach the unresponsive heart of this sobbing lady, the boys are sympathetic and probe for the source of her despair. Seems her spouse, an artist, neglects her. Seizing the opportunity to do a good turn, Stan suggests a way to make her husband jealous. A splendid idea, all agree. And for a fee of $50, Ollie is persuaded to pose as the distressed lady's lover. The scheme succeeds, then backfires when Pierre Gustav, the best shot in all Paris, walks in on a compromising situation. He observes a passionate kiss, and challenges Hardy to a midnight duel. With pistols. "Why, it'll be premeditated murder!" his wife warns Gustav. He cares not; the furious husband has nothing left to live for. The contestants formally exchange cards. Stan and Ollie adjourn to a cafe, intending to drown their sorrows with beer while they contemplate the evening's mortal combat. Ollie is despondent until Stan points out the angry artist actually has no way of enforcing their fatal rendezvous. He doesn't know where Hardy lives; if they simply fail to show up for the duel, Gustav will have no recourse for satisfaction. Ollie is ecstatic, until he catches himself and scolds Stan, "Now why didn't you think of that before, instead of letting me worry all this time? Selfish!" Whereupon, the same melancholy drunk they met earlier -- still hiccoughing -- joins the boys to ask a favor. The bartender won't serve him anymore, and if they will buy drinks for him, with his money, he will purchase their entire inventory of greeting cards. Agreed! The threesome proceeds to celebrate everyone's good fortune. They imbibe freely. Hours later, having been over-served, Stan and Ollie are so inebriated they pass out. Accommodating police officers find Gustav's card in Hardy's pocket, and deliver the unconscious pair to the artist's home. Finding Laurel & Hardy asleep in his wife's bed, Gustav insists they duel to the death right there and then. His wife confides to Ollie she put blanks in the pistols, and he should pretend to be dead. This works, until Gustav declares his plan to dispose of the body by dissecting Hardy's remains into little pieces! Ollie quickly gets to his feet, crashes through the front door, and races downstairs to hide on the street. When the coast is clear, Stan taps on a garbage can to alert Ollie he can come out. Too late. Stan looks up to see his friend covered in debris and resigned to a trip around the corner aboard a garbage wagon heading off into the chilly night.

-- by Richard W. Bann --