Sog.: Anthony W. Coldeway. Int.: Jimmy Aubrey (Fridolen / Mr. Bolts), Oliver Hardy (Mr. Yard). Prod.: Albert E. Smith per Vitagraph Company of America
35mm. L.: 317 m. (l. orig.: 611 m.). D.: 16’ a 18f/s. Tinted
Laurel and Hardy: given that we are used to considering them the most famous comic double act in the history of the cinema, thinking of them individually produces a strange effect. Nevertheless, before sharing a set (Duck Soup, their first film together, came out in 1927), both Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy had lengthy solo careers encompassing eighty and nearly two hundred films respectively, many of which are considered lost. This was the case of Maids and Muslin in which Hardy plays the role of Mr. Yards (Grasselli in the Italian version) who competes with his business partner Mr. Bolts (Fridolen) for the attentions of the cashier in their textile shop. It is a role in which some of the clumsy romantic gestures that will later be part of Hardy’s repertoire are already recognisable. The film was distributed in Italy under the title Fridolen direttore dei grandi magazzini, achieving great success between 1923 and 1924. A worn out copy about half its original length (the opening and closing credits are missing along with numerous fragments in between) entitled Comica di Fridolen arrived in the Cineteca Nazionale, where it was identified in 2013. Although incomplete, this version is the only one known to exist in the world: a fact which makes its restoration even more significant. In order to fill the inevitable gaps in continuity, new intertitles were inserted and one fragment which was out of place was restored to its original position. The tinted print was digitally restored at 4K and then printed back onto 35mm stock. The original colours were reproduced using the Desmet method.