Oliver the Eighth (1934)

also known as
The Private Life of Oliver the Eighth

Produced by Hal Roach
Directed by Lloyd French

Featuring Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Mae Busch, Jack Barty


Stan and Ollie are partners in a business - "Laurel and Hardy Tonsorial Parlor." They clip hair. Waiting for a customer, Stan clips a tempting ad from the personals column of a newspaper. He reads it to Ollie: "Wealthy young widow with large fortune wishes to communicate with congenial young man. Object - matrimony. Reply Box 204J." The Boys debate the merits of responding, then elect to compete for the lady's favor; may the best man win. Since all is fair in love and war, Ollie violates their gentlemen's agreement. He mails his own letter, but deliberately misplaces the proposal Stan has entrusted to him.


Ollie is indeed the successful candidate and presents himself at the widow's luxurious home. Stan discovers his partner's duplicity and catches up with the double-crosser to demand half the fortune. Stan wants his cut. Meanwhile it develops the mysterious madam is cuckoo. She selected Oliver to marry for his name alone. It seems another Oliver once jilted her on the eve of their wedding, and the malevolent matron has sworn revenge on everyone with that name. The future Mrs. Hardy plans to cut Ollie's throat while he sleeps, just as she has with seven other unwitting Olivers! She marries then murders them. The screwy butler wouldn't pass a sanity test either (he serves an imaginary dinner) but does warn Stan and Ollie of their fate. It's too late. They're trapped in the not-so-merry widow's weapon wielding clutches. The doors are locked, the windows barred. There is no escape. Escorted to the guest chamber at bedtime, Ollie exhorts Stan to stay awake, as if on guard duty, and warn him of any intruders. To no avail. The mad murderess is poised to plunge her sharpened knife down into Ollie's throat when commotion and yelling bridge scenes back to the barber shop. Ollie awakens, terrified. It was all a bad dream, conjured in the barber chair after Ollie mailed his marriage proposal then settled in for a close shave … by Stan.

-- by Richard W. Bann --