Midnight Patrol (1933)

"Look out boys. Somebody's stealing your spare tire.
That is all."

Produced by Hal Roach
Directed by Lloyd French

Featuring Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Frank Brownlee, Frank Terry, Robert Kortman, Charlie Hall


Making the world safe for tire thieves, safe-crackers and house burglars, Stan and Ollie are two neatly attired radio policemen, on patrol, late in the evening. As the two crime-stoppers pause in their car for a midnight bite to eat, the voice of an apparently omniscient dispatcher back at headquarters interrupts with this heads-up tip, "Look out boys. Somebody's stealing your spare tire. That is all." Suspicious, and perturbed at such effrontery, Ollie tells Stan, "See who it is." Stan chases away the disheveled thieves, and assures them with a severe warning, "If you come back here again, I'll arrest you."


Then seated once more in their police car, busy with lunch pails and glass milk bottles, the two cops receive another message. "Calling car thirteen," the radio voice intones. "Calling car one-three. Go to twenty-four Walnut Avenue. Man trying to break into house. Hurry boys, that is all." That's enough. Ollie has trouble starting the car, and when he does, inquires for the address. Stan has forgotten, too. Searching in the quiet darkness for the nearest phone to call headquarters, Stan ventures into a jewelry store. It seems fortunate -- at least to Stan -- that the "owner" has returned to open up again, and he appears to be well-occupied with the safe behind the counter. "I couldn't find a telephone any place," Stan apologizes as he barges in. "How awful," says the proprietor. "Wasn't it, though?" Stan asks. "It was," answers the kind gentleman, pausing from his work on the floor. Stan phones the police station explaining that Officer Hardy forgot the address of the last call. Now, with the number, set to leave, Stan sympathizes with the difficulty of opening a safe when one cannot remember the combination. Eventually, getting impatient, Ollie comes inside to investigate the delay.

The facts are apparent to him almost immediately, and as the burglar draws his revolver, Ollie bravely knocks it from his hand. "Oh, so that's your little game, is it?" says Ollie, taking full charge. "Well, I'll fix you for that! I'll teach you a lesson." As Stan picks up and returns the revolver to the chastened safe-cracker, he is also handed a citation by Ollie and summoned to "appear Tuesday" before the county magistrate. They negotiate an alternate date, so as not to cause any undue hardship, and Ollie sends the burglar away, but not without cautioning him, "Now you won't disappoint us?" On his honor, he won't. Now the intrepid officers can proceed to capture that prowler -- even though the tire thieves did return and stripped all four wheels. Arriving at the residence in question, the triumphant team of conscientious cops manages to break inside with only a minimum of damage to the front door, staircase, lily pond, and basement. The prowler does not fare as well, and is no match for two courageous officers who know their job. Overpowered, the captive culprit is hauled unconscious back to the police station, where Stan proudly files a charge of "robbing a house without a license." As their miscreant comes to, he is recognized by others as the Chief of Police -- he'd merely been locked out of his own home. "Pardon us, chief," Ollie smiles, twiddling his uniform tie. "We only started this morning." As these two guardians of the peace exit down the hall, the chief, unimpressed, glares at them. Silently he holds out his hand for a revolver quickly provided by the nearest policeman standing stiff at attention. The chief, clearly provoked, fires two shots off-screen, finally speaking to command, "Send for the coroner."

-- by Richard W. Bann --