Although Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy and producer Hal Roach all name Putting Pants on Phillip as the first true Laurel and Hardy film, the comic pair had appeared in films together for The Roach Studios over a dozen times previously. In addition, while this two-reeler helped establish many of the classic Laurel and Hardy reactions, they are not playing the characters for which they later became famous. Oliver Hardy is Piedmont Mumblethunder, who is at dockside, waiting for the arrival of his nephew from Scotland, Phillip (Laurel). An exceedingly quirky man in a kilt comes off the ship and becomes the subject of ridicule amongst a crowd of onlookers. With horror, Piedmont realizes that it's his nephew. Piedmont haughtily instructs Phillip to follow him down the street of his town. Phillip, however, is distracted by a pretty girl (Dorothy Coburn), who he pursues. He also loses his underwear, and a gust from a ventilator shaft blows his kilt up. The sight causes several women to faint and a policeman to exclaim, "That dame ain't got no lingerie on!"
This is the last straw for Piedmont, and he drags his nephew to a tailor's to be outfitted with pants. Ultimately Piedmont has to use force to measure Phillip, and Phillip's resulting look of hurt and violation is sublimely memorable. The Scot leaves the tailor's to chase after the same pretty girl he pursued earlier, catching up with her in front of a puddle. He gallantly removes his kilt and lays it on the puddle (luckily he's obtained some underwear). She laughs at him, jumps over the kilt, and goes on her way. Piedmont, however, insists on stepping on that confounded kilt himself and sinks completely into the mud-hole. When he emerges, the camera closes in for that soon-to-be-classic Oliver Hardy look of chagrin. While not the Laurel and Hardy that made film history, the duo's characterizations in Putting Pants on Phillip nevertheless give it a timeless humor. The idea for this film was Stan Laurel's -- it was loosely based on a true experience related by a friend during Laurel's music-hall days. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi