Feature Comedy | 1920 | Silent | B/W
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A comedy film about Smithy's army exploits, his discharge and his attempts to build a house on his first job out of the army, which ends up as a utter disaster. Smithy is played by Stan Laurel.
Title. 'Army Life- The boys of the 372nd were about to be discharged-on account of a bean shortage.'
A line of troops stand in front of an office, behind them stands a house with a large porch and stairs going up to the veranda, a higher ranked officer comes down the stairs and the officer in charge of the troops does an about-face to meet the commanding officer as he comes up behind him, then he salutes and the commander salutes him in return, the officer is dismissed, he salutes as he turns away. The higher ranked officer points at him and tells him to come back, the officer returns shamefacedly, and faces his superior, he glances around behind him , looking for someone. He faces forward again, gulping, salutes and dashes away.
A soldier, played by Stan Laurel, stands in front of a canvas tent door wiping his arms, hands and then his armpits with a towel, he throws the towel over his shoulder, turns to the side, takes a very large toothbrush out of the back pocket of his trousers, puts it down in a cup of water, picks up a tube of toothpaste , picks up the toothbrush, shakes off the water, put some toothpaste on the toothbrush and is about to put the entire thing in his mouth when the recently dismissed officer, who has a large moustache, comes running up to him, he pulls the toothbrush away from his mouth.
The moustached officer talks excitedly, the soldier, who is in his undershirt, puts his toothbrush back in the water and dives into the tent as if scared, he is evidently supposed to be on parade now!, the mustached officer leans forward looking around, then look back at the tent door as the other soldier comes barging out of the tent with the rest of his uniform half on, he throws his hat on his head and finishes putting his jacket on, the mustached officer gives him a kick in the seat of his pants as he runs off, and then follows him. Two rows of tents with a formation of soldiers troops marching between them, the two errant soldiers dart in front of the formation as they march towards us, the half-dressed soldier has his shirt flapping open and a leg wrap in his hand, the mustached man gives him another boot in the rear as the troop turns 360 degrees and march the other way, the two men try to follow behind but the one soldier continues to try to dress himself and walk at the same time, he stops to wrap a piece of cloth around his boot but the soldiers on parade do another about face as they reach the end of the row of tents and the two men have to hurriedly turn or be marched over, they run to the other end of the row of tents. The half-dressed soldier tries again to wrap the cloth around his leg but wraps it around both his feet instead, his friend gestures for him to hurry, the troops come up behind them and knock the hald-dressed soldier over on his face, and the mustached officer is pushed forward, the marching troops turn once again and receed to the opposite end of the row of tents, the half-dressed soldier hauls himself up with the help of his friend and dazedly looks around, the mustached soldier points to the troops and then kicks him again in the bum, making him fall yet again, his friend helps him up and pulls his coat to get a move on and the soldier turns to pick up his leg wrap which he has dropped, he grabs it just as the formation turns and starts bearing down on them again, the mustached officer turns again. He runs into a nearby tent and the half dressed soldier follows him, the tent shakes wildly.
The soldiers are now lined up in front of the house, the high ranked officer from before stands in front of them with his back to us. A soldier approaches him with a paper in his head, he salutes the officer who turns to salute him in return.
The half dressed soldier comes out of the tent now fully dressed, adjusting his duffs, he brushes his hands,a nd his trousers off, looks at his jodhpurs, the mustached man comes out of the tent, brushes his hands off, the other soldier runs away as he remembers he is late, the mustached man turns in surpirse and follows him.
They come running up behind the higher officer as he salutes to the messenger, who turns and leaves, the two tardy soldiers join the ranks. 'Smithy!' The half-dressed soldier runs foraward to the commanding officer, he salutes and is saluted in return, he does a little skip dance. The mustached man leans over from behind the man in front of him to see what is happening. The commander gives Smithy a paper, he reads it backing slowly away, kisses his hand to the officer in farewell and runs off, the officer puts his hands on his hips, Smithy comes running behind the brigade onto the porch, he waves and jumps like a frog, kissing his hands towards the officer.
'Smithy became desperate- He was willing to work.'
Smithy stands in civilian clothes, which for him means a suit several sizes too big and a bowler hat, in front of a 'Woolhead Bros.' sign and a high fence looking at a piece of paper, a line of men is behind him, cued up along the fence at a 'Help' window, the man at the front of the line walks away as a car pulls up, a man backs out of the car as it stops in front of the line of men, Smithy turns away from the car, the man who got out is smartly dressed in a suit with tails, he waves at the car and walks behind Smithy. He stops at Smithy's back, as Smithy turns to face him, the well dressed man sticks his fingers in the armholes of his vest. ' Are you an ex-soldier?' The two men talk, the man in tails shakes his finger at him, and Smithy looks excited and grabs the man's hand, shaking it hard, the man, evidently the President of the company, takes his shoulder and puts his arm around him as they turn together and walk towards the fence, which is opened by an old man, who takes his hat off in greeting.
A woman sits typing in a office at a desk labeled 'Information', a young messenger boy sits on a bench against the far wall, the two men enter, Smithy is holding his hat, the President talks to the receptionist. 'Give Mr. Smith a Letter to out foreman.' The secretary nods, President turns to the young boy. Smithy smiles at the secretary. 'Loafing was permitted between whistles- And everybody whistled.'
A two storey wooden house frame at a construction site, the walls are propped up but the roof is on, a man saws over a two saw horses in front of the house, other men work inside the house, Smithy approaches with his hat back on is head, he steps up to one man hammering a nail. 'Where’s the head sap?' The man stands up and points , Smithy turns to look where he is pointing and then turns back to thank the man. Smithy comes up behind the man sawing, the other man looks on as Smithy turns and gestures to the sawyer, and the man nods and then continues with his work. Smithy puts his foot up on the end of the board as he turns to the foreman, the board comes flying up from underneath the foreman's grasp towards Smithy, the foreman springs back and slams his fists about in the air in anger, he turns to Smithy, who has his hand over his mouth. The foreman grabs Smithy by the coat collar to punch him when Smithy holds the letter in front of his own face, the foreman takes the note and reads it, Smithy adjusts his tie, the foreman turns to him. 'Do you know anything about building?' Smithy looks confused. The foreman puts his hand on Smithy's shoulder. 'Just the man we're lookin' for.'
The foreman points to something over to the side, Smithy follows his finger, points himself and the foreman nods and adjusts his hat as Smithy disappears. Smithy walks over to a pile of rolls of tar roofing paper, picks one up onto his shoulder, points upwards, turns and walks towards a ladder going up to the roof of the house, he begins to climb the ladder but only gets halfway as his hat falls off, he stops, looks down and descends, puts down the roll, gets his hat and starts climbing the ladder without the tar paper roll, he gets halfway once again, pauses and points down as he realises that he has forgotten the roll, he climbs down the ladder, picks up the roll and starts climbing again. The foreman is shaking his arms around in frustration, he points towards Smithy threateningly. Smithy's hat falls off again, he props the roll between the rungs of the ladder, climbs down to retrieve it, hits his head on the tar paper roll, his hat falls off again and he falls down the ladder,he rubs his head, puts his hat back on and climbs up again, he tries to remove the roofing paper and ends up holding it with both armsthrough the rungs of the ladder. He tries to pull the roll through the rungs but in pulling it, swings himself onto the other side of the ladder, he pushes the tar paper through but has to stick his leg through to stop it from falling, he balances it on his leg and holds it there with his arm through another rung, he almost loses it and sticks his other leg through the rungs, the roll knocks his hat off, he reaches his other arm through the rungs to put his hat back on, now sitting with his legs through one rung and his arms and head through the one above, he pulls the roll onto his lap and with effort lifts it above his head. He holds it against the ladder with the back of his head, his hat falls off and he catches it but it flies out of his hands to the ground, the roll follows, he starts to fall as well but he just holds on with his feet and one hand. The foreman watches angrily, his arms waving about in frustration. With his hat on once again, Smithy starts from the bottom of the ladder with the roll under his arm, he goes up one rung, goes back down, hauls the roll onto his shoulder and starts going up the ladder, He gets all the way to the top, and loses his balance, the roll falls backwards off his shoulder, his hat falls off and Smithy tries to regain his balance and not follow them. The foreman waves his arms in fury. Smithy has made it to safety on the roof, he holds carefully to the top of the ladder and begins his descent.
The office secretary sits at her desk typing, a man, the Director, enters the office from an adjoining office and approaches her desk. 'I'm going out- If anybody calls take her number.' The man leaves.
Smithy is up the top of the ladder with the log, he reaches the roof. A man with a large mustache and bowler hat rounds the corner of the house near the ladder with two buckets. Smithy put the roll of tar paper down on the top of the roof, and turns to take a tar brush out of the bucket as the roll of tar paper rolls down the roof slope and falls off the roof. The tar paper hits the man with the two buckets on the head, he falls backwards and drops his buckets.
Smithy is on the roof, with a hammer and nails in his hands, he looks around for the roll of tar paper and suddenly understands what has happened, he runs to the side of the roof and then to the side that the roll fell off. The man below looks around in confusion and then runs for the ladder. He starts to climb as Smithy comes down another ladder at the front of the house. The other man reaches the roof, looks around for the perpetrator, and starts to climb back down the ladder. Smithy climbs up the other ladder with the roll of tar paper while the man climbs down his ladder.
Smithy reaches the top with the paper, puts it down in the same place. The man with the moustache goes around the corner and looks for the person responsible, puts his hands on his hips shaking his head. Smith has laid out a sheet of tar paper and is nailing it in along the edge of the roof, he turns to get something and places the hammer on the edge of the roof. His foot kicks the hammer off the edge of the roof. The man has his buckets again but is hit on the head by the falling hammer, he falls to his knees and drops the buckets. Smithy turns back around to pick up the hammer, he looks around for it.
The man below is furious. He heads for the ladder again. Smithy heads for the other ladder. He goes down while the other man goes up, the man looks around. He climbs over to the other side of the roof. Smithy returns to the roof and starts to roll out the tar paper further, he rolls it over the peak of the roof and then down the other side of it, hits the mustached man in the back of the legs, knocking his feet out from under him and both tar and worker fall off the roof together. Smithy jumps and pulls his hat from his head in consternation and runs down the ladder. All the workers stand around with the injured man, the foreman is shaking his fists. 'Put that guy to work in the cellar, where he can't drop anything.'
A mustached man stands on a board sticking out from a second story window, holding onto a rope, a fat man below picks up a long, thin, bendy piece of wood, he tries to control it to give to the man above but it is too flexible and wobbly to control properly, the man above leans out from the board too far and almost falls off the board and has to use the rope to pull himself back up.
Smithy is up on the roof tarring shingles with a large tar brush, he steps on the tarred shingles and they stick to his feet, he tries to kick them off and some shingles go flying off the side of the roof but he steps on more and more, he sits down to pull them off with his hands, which he does but when he gets up shingles are stuck to the seat of his trousers, he tries to make those fall off, but when he does the effort sends him onto his back, he rolls over and gets shingles stuck to his hands and more on his feet, he tries to throw them off his hands, he falls again.
The man on the board is still trying to grab the piece of wood, he has to swing himself around on the rope.
Smithy gets up but he has shingles on his leg and back, his shirt front has come out, he tries to get the shingle off his back but only knocks his hat off and pulls his coat over his head so he can not see, he falls on his back again still yanking at the shingles. The men below are still trying to accomplish their task. Smithy finally is free from the shingles, he looks around for his hat and puts it on, he tucks his shirt front back in.
The man on the board almost falls off.
Smithy walks along the roof and falls through with one leg. He pulls himself back up and loks in horror at the hole he has made, he tries to cover it up with a little piece of wood, he measures it and heads for the ladder. He climbs down the ladder as the man hanging onto the rope keeps trying to grasp the bendy piece of wood. Smithy steps into the second floor construction are and looks around.
The man on the board falls to the ground. Smithy tries to break a piece of wood off to the right size to fit the hole, he bangs it a couple times, he takes the piece of wood and heads for the ladder. The foreman holds the man who fell as he tries to get away to beat up Smithy. As Smithy heads up the ladder, the fallen man jumps out of a ground floor window, the foreman jumps out of the other and they both climb up the ladder to the roof where Smithy runs around distractedly, he climbs down the ladder.
He reaches the bottom and as he runs by, the messenger boy fom the office snags him by the back of the coat. He holds onto a letter as Smithy tries to run away from his pusuers, but he takes the letter and opens it. 'Dear Mr. Smith, Please take charge of all construction work. You are to be in full control while I am away.'
The foreman comes down the ladder. He lays hold of Smithhy, who hands hiim the letter, the other man comes running up and tries to get ahold of Smithy, the foreman stops him. 'He's the Boss here now.' All the workers come up behind Smithy and the two men, the foremen gives Smithy back the letter, the other guuy tries to get him again but the foreman holds him iff, Smithy yawns. 'Fire Him!' The foreman tells the mustached man he is fired, who looks unconcerned and then makes another attempt to get to Smithy, the foreman grabs him by the collar and the seatof his pans. He lifts him over some rolls of tar paper. He puts him down on the edge of the construction site and points him away, the foreman walks back.
' Seven Days brought the usual result-Another week.'
The receptionist is at her desk, the message boy is on his bench, the President walks in and speaks to the director who just comes out of his office. 'You got my letter all right?' The director looks puzzled, and tells him that he didn't. They both look at the secretary but she motions towards the boy, the boy gets up. He approaches the two men. 'I gave it to that Swede you hired--he's the only Smith I know.' The director points to himself , the boy looks surprised and puts his hand to his face in horror and walks away, the President throws his arms up in anger.
The workers are trying to control a piece of tall bendy wood, they lay it carefully on the ground under Smithy's direction and move on to another support, the foreman is about to swing a hammer to dislodge it when the President comes running up. 'There's been a serious mistake.'Smithy reached into his pocket and shows him the letter, the President explains what happpened, Smithy drops the letter, the foreman shakes his head. 'He built the house, You have to give him credit.' The President, considering, goes around the corner. He looks up in inspection. 'Perhaps I've been too hasty.' Smithy and the President talk. The workers stand with the final support. Smithy goes up to the foreman and instructs him to hit the board out. The workers remove the support…and everyone runs away as the entire house collapses. The President shakes his fists in the air with his back to us, Smithy turns around. ' I've got to meet a man in Honolulu.' Smithy walks away, the President turns and grabs his hat, throwing it on the ground. 'The End.'
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