Liberty

Liberty ★★★★

The second half of this Laurel and Hardy short finds our heroes—two convicts who’ve just escaped prison—stuck high up on the steel beams of an unfinished skyscraper, anxiously trying to avoid falling to their doom. The danger here is extremely convincing, and almost too intense to be funny, especially a gag involving an unstable ladder. I don’t really think of Laurel and Hardy as thrill-seeking slapstick comedians, but the stunts here are every bit the equal of Harold Lloyd. The sequence ends with a guy getting flattened by an elevator, which helps to connect this stunt with Laurel and Hardy’s own physically painful world. The opening title cards, which connect their characters’ jailbreak with the accomplishments of Washington and Lincoln, are a nice touch.