Towed in a Hole - Contemporary Film Criticism
William K. Everson: "One of their most diverting milkings of a single gag, TOWED IN A HOLE concerns itself almost exclusively with the hammer and nails, saw and paintbrush brand of visual humor. The best gags are those of anticipation...It is also a notably subtle film in ist use of suggestion and sound to elevate all the gags from the level of mere slapstick."
Leonard Maltin: "When you love Laurel & Hardy it's hard to pick out favorites, but TOWED IN A HOLE is definitely one of their very best shorts. If you filmed the same script with two unknown actors, it wouldn't be nearly as good. We feel we really know these two fellows, and what's more, we like them. And just like Wile E. Coyote in the Road Runner cartoons, Ollie turns out to be indestructible. If he can survive all the indignities heaped upon him in this movie, he can survive anything."
Randy Skretvedt: "One of the team's finest comedies."
Charles Barr: "More sophisticated than most."
TOWED IN A HOLE offers fishing as Big Business, using a boat that never touches water. It's simple, visual, and a perfect vehicle for the relaxed comedy style of Laurel & Hardy. By any measure the results are totally satisfying, riotously funny, and hook every audience every time.
Perhaps unintentionally, TOWED IN A HOLE also offers a most concise assessment of the Laurel & Hardy comedic relationship when Ollie pauses during a breach of friendly relations to ask Stan. "Isn't this silly? Here we are, two grown-up men, acting like a couple of children."
And there it is. That's the answer. That's the very point Hal Roach made in interviews for half-a-century each time he was asked to define why Laurel & Hardy were funny. It was the innocent way they imitated children. "We always strived for that," Roach explained in 1974, "and we sure must have succeeded - because the world is still laughing at them."
Just as it was reminiscent of THE FINISHING TOUCH (1928), TOWED IN A HOLE worked so well that within a year the same structure served as the basis for another outstanding, two-reeler, BUSY BODIES (1933). Again the boys start out in an open car, complacent, dressed in overalls, then spend most of the time doing unsupervised construction work featuring a series of mechanical gags, all concluding with the destruction of their automobile.
In 1945 TOWED IN A HOLE was more literally reworked (some would say stolen) by The Three Stooges at Columbia Pictures. Their version of Hal Roach Studios' copyrighted intellectual property was something they called BOOBY DUPES. Snub Pollard was featured. Whether coincidence or not, the director of BOOBY DUPES, Del Lord, had been at the helm of The Taxi Boys series for Roach when TOWED IN A HOLE was made.