Midnight Patrol - Period Reviews

FILM DAILY, October 23, 1933: "Another riot of laughs from the two comics, who this time appear as a couple of cops in a patrol car. The opener is a wow, with a call coming in that a thief is stealing the tires off their own car....A riot in any showman's house."

VARIETY: October 31, 1933: "Not up to average for invention or smoothness. Comedians are running a police radio car. Best gag is when they are called up and told their rear tire is being stolen. Laurel goes into a jewelry store to telephone and makes a safecracker stop burgling while he calls headquarters.


"They go to a house where a man is seen breaking in. They follow him into the cellar, but for no particular reason break down the front door, wrecking the place with a marble seat slab used as a battering ram. They drag the man to the police station. It's the Chief of Police.

"About 19 minutes of lost motion in a 20 minute short."

Inside the cellar the officers find that the door leading from the cellar up into the ground floor of the house is locked, that's why they try "another avenue of entrance," as Ollie says, which leads to breaking down the front door. That's the reason. There are always always perfectly valid, plausible, logical, defensible, inductive or deductive reasons for everything Laurel & Hardy do. That they seldom work rallies our support and helps make the films so funny. Possibly such fatally defective reasoning on the part of VARIETY's critic explains why he failed to find the film "a riot," as stated, and reiterated for emphasis, by the more astute reviewer writing on behalf of FILM DAILY.

The trade reviews, of split opinion, originated out of New York City, where THE MIDNIGHT PATROL was first booked at the fabulous, regal Roxy Theatre, located where Seventh Avenue crossed 50th Street. A far cry from the little cement bunkers at shopping malls passing for movie theaters today, the Roxy, built in 1927, was billed by its owners as "the cathedral of the motion picture." This marble movie palace offered 6,214 red plush seats, and featured 125 uniformed ushers who functioned with the precision of a military unit. Imagine seeing THE MIDNIGHT PATROL, with an audience of that size, in the ornate splendor of the Roxy. Sadly the place was demolished in 1960.

Meanwhile, elsewhere out in the hinterlands of America, at a neighborhood theater called The Galewood in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Alyce Cornell filed this report for the March 10, 1934 edition of the MOTION PICTURE HERALD and its WHAT THE PICTURE DID FOR ME department to reflect the opinion of her patronage: "As policemen, Laurel & Hardy are a riot. They're dumber than usual, but goes over big."

Previously, for the November 25, 1933 issue of MOTION PICTURE HERALD, Bert Silver, on behalf of his Silver Family Theatre in Greenville, Michigan sought to advise other exhibitors that MIDNIGHT PATROL was a "funny comedy, but (Laurel & Hardy) had made so many that were better, people said they were slipping."

When MIDNIGHT PATROL finally reached The Wood Theatre, in the small, rural town of Calico Rock, Arkansas, Mr. W.B. Wood sent in this report for the June 23, 1934 issue of MOTION PICTURE HERALD: "Got a few laughs, but these guys are too silly in most of their comedies."

Is that so? If yes, then MIDNIGHT PATROL is either a riot, as more than twice indicated, or something far less....Mr. Wood lived in Arkansas, but he found Laurel & Hardy silly?

-- by Richard W. Bann --