Bobby Ray and Babe Hardy are Bumbling Bellhops in Hop To It! (1925)
Did anyone ever propose Babe Hardy for a
starring series over that long decade before his team-up with Stan Laurel?
Being a useful "type" kept him in support, I guess.
For Hop To It!, he's less the heavy than Frank Alexander, beside whom Hardy
looks trim. Babe was, in any case, more robust than stout during the
mid-twenties, and by no means "fat" as we'd conceive it today. Hop To
It! is one of few occasions where he could play off a larger man who'd serve as
butt for size gags. Putative lead comic in Hop To It! is diminutive Bobby Ray,
less inspired than a mere cipher for gags. Ray could approximate Stan Laurel at
a distance, or in really bad prints. In fact, a few of the Ray/Hardys (they
teamed for a handful) have been sold on video collections as L&H, a cheat the
more egregious for their stuff paling beside Stan/Babes to come (this one, however, might be their best). Hop To It! was
a "Mirthquake" comedy released through Arrow Pictures, and produced
by once dead-on Chaplin impersonator Billy West. Hardy had worked for the
latter, so this job must have come easy. A comic of Babe'scapacity needn't sit
idle long in a marketplace crowded with slapstick. He'd have had a busy career
even if there'd been no eventual meet with Stan Laurel. Part of the excellent Oliver Hardy Collection compiled by Lobster Films for DVD release via Kino.