Our Relations (1936)

Our Relations (1936)

“Everybody has a black sheep in their closet.”

Brothers Stan (Stan Laurel) and Ollie (Oliver Hardy) are relieved to hear from their mother that their black sheep sailor twins Alf and Bert (also Laurel and Hardy) have died at sea. Yet Alf and Bert are actually alive and well — and when they happen to dock in the same town as their more respectable twin brothers, mistaken identity mayhem ensues.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Alan Hale Films
  • Comedy
  • Laurel and Hardy Films
  • Mistaken or Hidden Identities
  • Sailors
  • Twins

While Our Relations is widely considered to be one of Laurel and Hardy’s best feature length films, it never quite reaches the comedic hilarity of their more “certified” classics, such as Sons of the Desert (1933), Way Out West (1937), and Block-Heads (1938). One problem is the fact that Stan and Ollie aren’t sufficiently differentiated (visually speaking) from Alfie and Bert — an issue which becomes especially problematic during the denouement of the film, when each set of twins is mistaken for the other, and even audience members may have a hard time figuring out who’s who. With that said, the clever script (which pays homage to Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors) moves along at a quick pace, and includes plenty of enjoyable gags — including Alfie and Bert being swindled by a suave deck mate (James Finlayson) into giving him their earnings, and cement-bound Stan and Ollie teetering precariously along the edge of a pier (though this sequence is milked a tad too thoroughly…). Laurel and Hardy fans won’t be disappointed.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Several clever sequences — including the duo’s infamous “feet in cement” routine on the pier
  • Laurel and Hardy doing their “Shakespeare — Longfellow!” recitation after speaking in tandem

Must See?
No, but it’s recommended, and certainly a must for any Laurel and Hardy fans. Listed as a film with Historical Importance and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.


One thought on “Our Relations (1936)

  1. To be avoided at all cost – unless, as noted, you’re a Laurel & Hardy fan. Myself, I find things like this painful. P-a-i-n-f-u-l-l-y unfunny.

    I do keep thinking there’s got to be at least one L&H film that’s a must. I haven’t generally seen their films in years. But revisiting them one by one now…well, I ain’t found a must yet.

    To be fair, the sequence near the end involving ‘cement shoes’ does show reasonable inventiveness. If only the hour prior were anywhere near as reasonable…

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