The comedy team of Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey star as a pair of out of work vaudevillians who try to help an old woman revitalize her drug store so the bank won’t foreclose. The greedy banker (Jason Robards) who wants to take the deed is actually out to steal the store for himself so he can turn it into a speakeasy. To get rid of the two fledgling entrepreneurs, the banker slips them a shipment of booze so they’ll get busted as bootleggers.
Wheeler and Woolsey were always better when they found themselves in simplistic plots like this one. Movies like Rio Rita and The Cuckoos were so overburdened with stupid song and dance routines that it got in the way of the comedy. With Caught Plastered, the boys are given some funny bits (my favorite was when Woolsey tried to kill moths by throwing moth balls at them) and the singing shit is kept down to the barest minimum. It also helps that a director like William A. Seiter was at the helm. Seiter really knows how to showcase the team’s talent, and later went on to direct films for Laurel and Hardy, The Marx Brothers, and Abbott and Costello.
Caught Plastered is filled with some amusing bits and laugh out loud moments, yet it never really comes together. The laughs start to peter out toward the end as the film begins to rely more on plot than gags in the third act. Still, it makes for a breezy (if forgettable) little flick; one that any Wheeler and Woolsey fan should probably check out. Besides, it’s got Charles Middleton in it and who wouldn’t want to see Wheeler and Woolsey square off against Ming the Merciless?
Caught Plastered is on The Video Vacuum Top Ten Films of 1931 list at the Number 8 spot, which places it in between Ten Nights in a Bar-Room and Rich and Strange.