The Big Noise (1944 film)

For other uses, see The Big Noise (disambiguation).
The Big Noise

Theatrical poster
Directed by Malcolm St. Clair
Produced by Sol M. Wurtzel
Written by Scott Darling
Starring Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Doris Merrick
Arthur Space
Veda Ann Borg
Robert Blake
Frank Fenton
Music by David Buttolph
Cinematography Joseph MacDonald
Edited by Norman Colbert
Distributed by

20th Century Fox

DIC Entertainment (1991)
Release dates
  • September 22, 1944 (1944-09-22)
Running time
74 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $750,000[1]

The Big Noise is a 1944 comedy film starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. It was produced by Sol M. Wurtzel and directed by Mal St.Clair.


While cleaning the office of a detective agency, janitors Laurel and Hardy answer a telephone call from an inventor who claims to have created a destructive bomb he calls "The Big Noise." Posing as detectives, the duo move into the inventor's home, where they must contend with his eccentric behavior, oddball widowed aunt (who takes a fancy to Hardy) and his misbehaving nephew. The inventor's neighbors are crooks who are eager to steal the new bomb.

Laurel and Hardy hide the bomb in a concertina and steal an airplane to bring it to Washington. However, the airplane is a remote control target used by the U.S. Army for gunnery training. Laurel and Hardy barely escape by parachuting to safety over the Pacific Ocean, and they dispose of the bomb by dropping it on a Japanese submarine.[2]



The Big Noise was the fifth of six feature films Laurel and Hardy made at 20th Century Fox during the 1940s. During the film's production, Stan Laurel told an interviewer that efforts were made to support the American World War II domestic effort to conserve materials. "We cut out automobile chases and food wasting-gags when the war first started, and with The Big Noise we decided to slash every gag that might conceivably have bearing on wartime wastages and destruction," he said.[3]

Scenes and gags used in previous Laurel and Hardy films turned up in The Big Noise. Among the earlier films to have their material reused were Berth Marks, Wrong Again, Block-Heads and The Flying Deuces.[4]

Laurel would later recall that he attempted to convince producer Sol M. Wurtzel to recycle the Berth Marks scene involving the duo in a claustrophobic train berth by changing the location of the berth to a transcontinental airplane. Laurel felt having the airplane hitting turbulence with the pair bouncing about in the berth would be funnier than recycling the train-based gags. Laurel's request was rejected, but the film did improve on the original setup by adding comic actor Jack Norton as an inebriate who shares the berth with Laurel and Hardy.[5]

Critical and popular reception

The Big Noise was greeted with mixed reviews when it was first released. Some dismissed the film as a routine rehash of old gags; Bosley Crowther of The New York Times observed, "Once, long ago, it was funny to see them joust with wet paint and folding beds. But now it is dull and pathetic. And they don't even seem to care."[6] Others approved of the film, like Boxoffice magazine: "So long as Laurel and Hardy continue their screen antics, there will always be something for the children to enjoy -- not to mention the grownups who find this comedy team relaxing entertainment... All in all, this should disappoint no one, including the person who counts the boxoffice take."[7] The latter comment proved prophetic, as the film was very successful in theaters and hailed by exhibitors as one of Laurel & Hardy's best. The film stayed in circulation for the next six years, and was reissued in 1954.[8]

See also


  1. Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century-Fox: A Corporate and Financial History Rowman & Littlefield, 2002 p 220
  2. Allmovie review
  3. Medved, Harry, and Dreyfuss, Randy, The Fifty Worst Films of All Time; Fawcett Columbine, 1978
  4. The Big Noise at Laurel and Hardy Central
  5. McCabe, John, The Comedy World of Stan Laurel; Doubleday, 1974
  6. New York Times review
  7. Boxoffice review, Sept. 23, 1944
  8. MacGillivray, Scott, Laurel & Hardy: From the Forties Forward (Second Edition); iUniverse, 2009

External links

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