“D’oh!”. We all know it from Homer Simpson, but Matt Groening’s cartoon creation wasn’t the first to broadcast this covert curse. Ever since the late 1920s, “d’oh!” Has been used in comedies, albeit more like an elongated “dohhhhhhh!” It was the trademark of James Finlayson, a Scottish actor best known for his supporting roles in the Laurel & Hardy films. He often played the villain, who often got the cover on his nose and introduced his own catch phrase instead of the (certainly then) obscene “Damn” or “Darn”. Dan Castellaneta, who voices Homer Simpson, was inspired by Finlayson when, according to the script, he had to play an “annoyed grunt”. At the request of Groening, the slogan was modernized (in this case shortened) to a simple but effective “D’oh!”
Finlayson stars with Oliver “Babe” Hardy in the short “silent” movie “Yes, Yes, Nanette” from 1925. It is remarkable that Stan Laurel was already involved in this production; not as an actor but as a co-director on the side of Clarence Hennecke. The title Nanette is played by Lyle Tayo. In a letter to her family, she writes about her new husband Hillory (James Finlayson), an upper middle-class good-natured chest who is basically marrying below his level. Making a good first impression is difficult for everyone, Hillory also finds. When he finally meets his new in-laws, things go completely wrong: from every member of his new family he gets a downright insult (yes, even from the dog), and then he loses his toupee too. After this chaotic meeting and a ditto dinner, Nanette’s previous lover (Oliver Hardy) shows up. There is no other option for Hillory than to confront this burly heavyweight.
In just ten minutes, “Yes, Yes, Nanette” shoots past you like a mad bull. There is hilarity everywhere, for example about the dog that runs off with Hillory’s toupee. This little creature will probably be familiar to fans of short classic comedies, because “Pete the Dog” also played for a long time with “De Boefjes”. The plot isn’t particularly original, of course, but the jokes do work. Finlayson is known as a supporting actor and sidekick, but shows here that he has enough to carry a (short) film. However, it is Hardy who steals the show as a bumpy bum who tries to win back his ex. “Yes, Yes, Nanette” however has a surprising and strong final chord in which things are set right. Of course, this short movie is nothing more than nothing, but it is all very entertaining!