The Second Hundred Years (1927)




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Laurel and Hardy are stripe-suited convicts in a cramped penitentiary cell. Seemingly model prisoners, they actually spend every available moment in digging a secret tunnel to freedom. Unfortunately, this only brings them up in the warden's office and lands them back in their cell. Breaking rocks in the yard, the pair turn their uniforms inside out and assume the role of painters -- painting their way right out of prison, down a city street and into a conveniently arriving limousine. Again switching clothes, they are now forced to pose as the limos occupants -- a pair of prison officials from France -- and are welcomed as distinguished guests at the jailhouse they've just escaped from! Having turned their reception banquet into a shambles, but somehow maintaining their pose, the pair are exposed by the welcoming cries of their old inmate pals as they tour the prison cellblock. Released as the first of Hal Roach's Laurel and Hardy series (though not their first film together), The Second-Hundred Years is one of their early classics of honed characterization, pacing and structure, originating gags and routines reused and reworked by Laurel and Hardy (not to mention numerous other comedians) for years to come.


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