The Paper Hangers, The Abbott and Costello Show season 2, Episode 27, originally aired November 7, 1953
In The Paper Hangers, while attempting to free it from a tight space, the boys damage Mrs. Bronson’s car. To appease her – and get Bud and Lou to work off their back rent – Mr. Fields has the boys wallpaper her apartment. Later, they become waiters at a tough seafood joint where they get into a brawl.
The Paper Hangers begins with kind-hearted Lou giving his last dime to a man who appears to be a hobo. The man takes the dime and … feeds it to the parking meeting so his expensive car won’t get a ticket! Their fellow boarder at Mr. Fields’ boarding house comes by. Her car is helplessly wedged between two parked cars. So, Bud volunteers Lou to “skillfully” drive her car out. With him helpfully giving advice, of course, such as “Go ahead … back up.”
Soon, there’s a small collision, and the bumpers are locked. Lou jumps up and down on the bumpers to unlock them. And, the second car starts falling apart! Mike the Cop comes by to help, and after getting his hand stepped on, he calls someone for help.
So now, in addition to being behind on their rent, they owe money to the (unseen) tow truck. Bud and Lou have already hocked everything of value. Until Bud decides to pawn their clothes! They’ll wear the painting coveralls so that they’ll have something to wear.
In the meanwhile, Mrs. Bronson is complaining about “those two hoodlums” to landlord Sid Fields. She’s prepared to move out, until he placates her by telling her he’s going to wallpaper her room. Sid goes to talk to Abbott and Costello, and sees them in the coveralls. Sid assumes that they’re going to volunteer to wallpaper, and Bud chimes in that it’s to help pay for some of their back rent.
The entire wall papering routine is absolutely hilarious. First, Lou fights with carrying the wall paper into the room. Frankly, it’s reminiscent of the Three Stooges. Lou tries to roll out the wall paper … that keeps following him. A face-slapping paste fight follows. Then, blinded by the paste, Lou needs to find a rag to clean his eyes.
And Lou unwittingly rips off a ladies’ skirt! Lou’s borrowed the ‘rag’ to Bud to clean his eyes … and the lady comes in and slaps Bud! Lou ‘skates’ the paste onto the wall paper, and ends with Lou holding up the plank that Bud’s sitting on … and then walks away!
Now Abbott and Costello owe more money than before. But, Bud Abbott has a scheme. He’ll throw an empty wallet on the sidewalk, tell a passing stranger that he’s lost his wallet, and collect a reward. But all he gets for his trouble is thrown through the window of Brody’s Seafood Bar & Grill.
That’s an expensive window! Or so Mr. Brody says, as he has Bud and Lou working as waiters to pay it off. Both Bud and Lou complain to Mr, Brody separately, but he’s quite physical about their continuing to work. Soon, Lou is serving lobster to Mulligan, one of the place’s regular customers. What could go wrong?
Well, unfortunately for Lou, a lobster claw has fallen into his pocket. And it’s too fresh for Lou’s good, as it pinches Mulligan’s girlfriend! Mulligan accuses Lou, and soon a fight breaks out. Brody’s regular employees come out to chase out Mulligan — who apparently does this regularly. The fight itself is very funny, with a lot of slapstick humor.
Lou may not be smart, but he is clever. He combines a boxing glove with a mounted hat rack to improvise a distance punching machine! He punches Mulligan, and several others … Including Bud who’s face is covered.
Eventually, the fight is over, and Mulligan gives Bud his “payment” — a punch in the jaw. Lou quietly walks out, and the episode ends.
- Go ahead … back up
- Lou trying to carry wallpaper through the doorway
- The entire wall papering scene is comedy gold.
- That lobster.
- Lou’s improvised punching machine.
- Lou’s bird cage helmet that works … until it doesn’t.
Funny quotes from The Paper Hangers
Mrs. Bronson: It would be a shame if I missed my beauty appointment.
Lou Costello: It sure would!
Bud Abbott: [trying to get out of driving Mrs. Bronson’s car] Lou, you know I’m left-handed, don’t you? That’s a right-handed wheel.
Bud Abbott: [Lou starts to undress – as he takes off his pants, he’s wearing another pair underneath] What’s the idea of this?
Lou Costello: This suit came with two pair of pants.
Sid Fields: What’s the name of the cleaner you’re sending them to?
Lou Costello: Hock Shop Harry.