The Tree in a Test Tube

The Tree in a Test Tube
Directed by Charles McDonald
Produced by United States Department of Agriculture
Starring Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Narrated by Pete Smith
Lee Vickers
Music by Edward Craig
Cinematography A. Sintzenich
Edited by Boris Vermont
Distributed by U.S. Forest Service
Release dates
Running time
10:30 min
Country United States
Language English
The full film

The Tree in a Test Tube (1942) is a short film produced by the U. S. Department of Agriculture and distributed by the U.S. Forest Service, featuring Laurel and Hardy, with narration read by MGM announcer and producer Pete Smith.

Plot outline

To Pete Smith's voice over commentary, Stan and Ollie-seemingly picked at random in the street, and professing to not have any wood in their possession at the time, produce various props - the contents of a suitcase and their wallets - all manufactured from wood, or containing wood byproducts such as cellulose. (At one point Ollie even indicates that Stan's head is made of wood!) The props demonstrate the omnipresence of wood in the American economy.

Production background

The Tree in a Test Tube is Laurel and Hardy's only known surviving color film (with the exception of brief color home movies of the duo performing on stage in England and a visit with one another back home in 1956, their final filmed appearance), shot in Kodachrome on 16mm, and is basically World War II propaganda. The Rogue Song (1930), made in Technicolor and featuring the duo in their only other known color footage, is now considered a lost film, although a number of fragments have survived.

Their routine lasts around five minutes and was shot silent (their voices are not heard). The second half of the film is unrelated documentary film footage. Laurel and Hardy shot this brief film during their lunch hour on the back lot of Twentieth Century-Fox on November 29, 1941 and the film went into release in spring of 1942.

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