To get a scoop on a newly invented machinegun in order to be promoted
from newspaper delivery boys to reporters, Bert (Harry Langdon) &
Alfie (Charles Rogers) take up jobs as butlers at the gun's inventor's
- reporter-hating professor Randall - place.
Under false pretence though,
ace-reporter Jerry Fitzgerald (Ray Walker) also made it into the place,
& furthermore, he is in love with the professor's daughter Florence (Marian Marsh) ... but so is Bert. She, on the other hand is engaged to
Gordon, who only wants to cheat the professor out of the secret of the
gun by way of sabotge - & when another of the professor's
demonstrations fails & he offers to buy the gun anyways, but for
considerably less money, Gordon's plan seems to work out, too.
But then, one
night, Bert & Alfie are left alone in the professor's house to guard
the gun, while one of Gordon's even more crooked associates tries to
steal it, & despite all their clumsiness they prove to be valiant
guards of the gun, eventually taking it - as protection - to a homeless
shelter with them, while Jerry, who also tries to protect the gun, gets
his hands only at a substitute gun-case the robbers have left for the
real one - & even loses that one to the robbers, who now think it's
the real McCoy. Now Jerry is blamed for the gun's theft - nobody knows
yet that Bert & Alfie have taken it with them for protection - &
even temporarily arrested.
But then Florence elopes with Gordon - who
thinks himself in posssession of the gun - by plane, & only the
timely intervention of our boys, who have accidently unsabotaged the
gun, can save the day.
By the 1940's, the star of many a once celebrated slapstick comedian
from the 20's & 30's was definitely on the decline, as this kind of
comedy proved less & less in accordance with the audience tastes, so
many of them were handed down to smaller studios who could still churn
out some money from a big name heading a cheap production.
So for example Harry Langdon had landed at PRC by 1942, a studio that
was actually more skilled in turning out Westerns, horrors &
thrillers than comedy. This is apparent in much of House of Errors,
for the most part an unfunny picture that plays like a straight
thriller, gravely underusing its comical leads, instead setting up a
standard mystery with even a heroic lead. Only the highly amusing scenes
in the homeless shelter, in which Langdon & Rogers play a great
slapstick routine, shows the comic possibilites of the movie.