Bill Price's Laurel and Hardy Page
I am a great Laurel and Hardy fan.
Many years ago I used to think that Laurel and Hardy were just a boring version
of the Three Stooges. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
As any true Laurel and Hardy connoiseur will tell you, the appeal of Laurel
and Hardy lies not in superficial slapstick, but in the magical quality
of the relationship between Stan and Ollie (who were actually friends in real
life) and the interaction of their personalities. This is a more subtle kind
of humor than what one sees on TV and in movies today. For Stan and Ollie, a
facial expression, a hand movement, or even a moment of silence can be absolutely
Many comedians and entertainers have come and gone, but none have attained the greatness
and immortality of these two loveable guys.
My Laurel and Hardy collection contains the following items:
- Laurel and Hardy, the Magic behind the Movies, 2nd edition,
Randy Skretvedt, 1994. (I met Randy Skretvedt briefly during a lecture at
the Fullerton city library on June 6, 1990.)
- Laurel and Hardy, compiled by Al Kilgore, text by John
- The Films of Laurel and Hardy, William K. Everson, 1967
Movies on VHS tape (in alphabetical order):
(FS = favorite scene; FL = favorite line).
- A Chump at Oxford - Not one of my favorites.
- A Perfect Day - An early "talkie." Their voice
presence on screen had not yet been established, which one can deduce from
Ollie's comment to Stan: "and don't call me 'Ollie!'".
- Angora Love - A so-so silent. Later redone in a better
version with a dog ("Laughing Gravy") instead of a goat.
- Another Fine Mess - How many times does Leopold Ambrose
Plumtree give Ollie his card?
- Any Old Port - FS: Stan and Ollie signing the guest book
(a remake of a similar scene they did in "Double Whoopee.")
- Bacon Grabbers - One of my favorite silents. FS: George
Kennedy's fake dog scaring the daylights out of L&H's canine.
- Be Big - The long scene with putting on Ollie's boots is
a bit tedious.
- Beau Hunks - The first part of this film, up to and including
the roll call scene, is absolutely brilliant. L&H doesn't get any better
than this. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie is pretty lame - except for
the part where Stan empties his shoe, and where Ollie gives Stan a free foot
massage. The scene with Stan and Ollie attempting to exit the commander's
office is also pretty good. FL: "What's 'levity'?".
- Below Zero - The absence of background music in this film
accentuates the bleakness of L&H's plight. Ollie needs to get his bass
violin tuned - sounds like strumming a rubber band. An intriguing detail is
that the lady in the window calls Ollie "Mr. Whiteman".
- Berth Marks - An early "talkie." The long, frustrating
scene of L&H getting to bed on the train (which, incidentally, comprises
the main part of the film) is pretty tedious. FL (by the cheerless conductor):
" I'll bet you're good!"
- Big Business - Generally acclaimed to be (and I agree)
L&H's best silent film. Starts out slow but rapidly crescendos into some
fast and furious hilarity. Here's a photo
of me standing in front of the Cheviot Hills house featured in the movie.
- Blockheads - Filmed in 1938, this movie is one of their
last creations with that special L&H touch, although at times one can
feel that they're past their prime and the "acting" shows.
- Blotto - One of my personal favorites. Pure, undiluted
L&H at its best, although the very last scene is a bit abrupt. FS's: Ollie
in the phone booth (watch his facial expressions and body language when he
finds Mrs. Laurel on the other end of the line); Stan and Ollie's big "laughing"
- Brats - Ollie (a fine singer in real life) gets a singing
part in this one, lullabying the L&H "brats" to sleep. Stan
of course chimes in at the end and wakes them up again.
- Busy Bodies - FS: L&H driving to work, with the phonograph
playing under the hood.
- Chickens Come Home - Some good L&H interaction at the
beginning of the film in Ollie's office. The rest of this movie seems pretty
flat after having enjoyed the luscious Spanish-language
- County Hospital - The first half of this movie is wonderful.
The last half is pretty bad.
- Dirty Work - FL: "Where's Jessup?" - and Ollie's
- Double Whoopee - A good silent film. A lot of good timing
in this one (Stan and then Ollie emerging from the elevator after the Count
and then his aide fall into the elevator shaft.) FS: signing the guest book,
although the one in Any Old Port is better.
- Duck Soup - It's amazing how the screen personalities of
L&H appear so well-developed in this early 1926 silent film, one of their
first. This was considered a "lost" film until a print was discovered
- From Soup to Nuts - A typical silent L&H film.
- Going Bye Bye - Note how L&H keep passing the boquet
of flowers back and forth. "Butch" Long's grunting inside of the
trunk gets old pretty fast.
- Helpmates - FL: Stan: "If I had any sense I'd walk
out on you." Ollie: "Well, it's a good thing you haven't any sense!"
Stan: "It certainly is!".
- Hog Wild - One of my favorites. I love the bouncy background
music. Note how Ollie's cheerless wife momentarily breaks out into a smile
at the window. FS: Ollie, precariously perched atop a ladder in a runaway
auto, is still gentleman enough to tip his hat at passengers on a bus.
- Laughing Gravy (includes scene deleted from original release).
A charming little film. The restored scene at the end is wonderful, and I
disagree with Randy Skretvedt's assessment that it was out of character for
L&H. It includes one of my all-time favorite L&H lines: Ollie: "Is
it good news or bad news?" Stan: "Yes and no."
- Leave 'Em Laughing - The dentist scene was redone in "Pardon
Us." Other than the laughing routine, there's not much else to this silent
- Liberty - Anyone who doubts that Stan Laurel was a genius
of comedy should watch how well he plays his part when the crab is dropped
into his trousers.
- Me and My Pal - A very good film. Watch how Ollie gradually
gets sucked into the jigsaw puzzle, and how Stan keeps finding the right spot
for the pieces that Ollie picks up.
- Men o' War - FS: Ollie (while spreading the five fingers
on his hand three times in succession): "...and we've only got fif
- teen - cents!"
- Midnight Patrol - An okay film, but not one of their best.
- Night Owls - One of their weaker films.
- Oliver the Eighth - One of my personal favorites. FL: Butler
(who looks like Leonid Brezhnev): "Who said I was nuts?" Stan: "
- One Good Turn - Stan's method of putting out a fire is
pretty entertaining. I also like Ollie's expression as he samples the homemade
soup. This is the only film in which Stan beats up on Ollie.
- Our Relations - One of their later features. Okay to watch
once or twice.
- Our Wife - The "Who?" and "How about what?"
routine is one of my favorites.
- Pack Up Your Troubles - One of the better Hal Roach full-length
films from their heyday. This movie goes beyond typical L&H humor (of
which there is plenty) and shows the warm human side of Stan and Ollie.
- Pardon Us - Despite the chaotic editing, I think this is
the best Hal Roach full-length feature. Hal Roach briefly appears in this
film as a fellow prisoner marching in rank.
- Putting Pants on Philip - a good silent film, even though
Stan is playing the unusual role of a kilted Scotsman.
- Saps at Sea - Although still watchable (and featuring stock
antagonist Jim Finlayson) this 1940 UA film is typical of L&H's cinematic
- Scram! - A great movie, one of their best from this era.
The wonderful closeups of Richard Cramer's angry mug make the brilliantly
acted ending even more hilarious.
- Sons of the Desert - This is generally considered to be
L&H's best movie, and I agree. I could go on and on about this film. The
beginning is good, the plot is good, and the ending is good - a rare combination
for a L&H movie (many of which have either a weak beginning or a weak
ending or a flat place somewhere in between). L&H were in their prime,
and they had a very good director. Too bad there weren't more of these made.
I first saw this film in 1984 in a movie theater in Pasadena, California,
and it made a terrific impression on me. FS: Stan eating the wax fruit. It's
interesting to note that this film completely lacks the typical L&H background
music. Note also that Hal Roach plays the part of the doorman at the big convention.
- Sugar Daddies - One of their weaker silent films.
- That's My Wife - This is one of their better silent films.
I love the disgusted look on Uncle Bernal's face which simmers patiently throughout
the last half of the movie, making you wonder how much more the guy is going
to take before he explodes.
- The Battle of the Century - The boxing scene is pretty
- The Chimp - FS: Ollie discovers that the contents of Stan's
flea circus has emptied itself into their bed. And then they crawl into the
bed again when giving way to Ethel the Chimp.
- The Finishing Touch - L&H building a house - which
of course ends up in shambles. How many nails does Ollie end up swallowing?
- The Fixer Uppers - This was one of the last of the typical
Hal Roach 2-reelers, and it is a little weak.
- The Hoose-Gow - Pretty good. One of their early "talkies."
That prison cook sure has an ugly mug. I like the way Stan hides his apple
from guard Tiny Sandford.
- The Laurel and Hardy Murder Case - A nice one to watch
on a rainy night. That butler certainly knew how to make a creepy-looking
face. "Have a nice lo-o-o-ong sleep."
- The Live Ghost - Wasn't Arthur Housman ever sober?
- The Music Box - This is one of their best-known films,
and no wonder - what could be a better plot for L&H than carrying a piano
up an absurdly long flight of stairs? The stairs,
incidentally, are still there in Los Angeles today at the corner of Vendome
and Del Monte. I personally walked up and down the full length, minus piano.
- The Second Hundred Years - A pretty good silent film.
- Their First Mistake - The first half is pretty good, but
the last half with the baby is tedious and annoying. Stan's invitation to
the "Cement Worker's Bazaar" is pretty funny.
- Their Purple Moment - Another silent film with the theme
of L&H vs the wives. Stan makes one of his longest blank stares into the
camera when he discovers that the cash in his wallet is nothing but grocery
- Them Thar Hills - FS: Stan interrupting Ollie's song with
increasingly loud "pum pum"s. Tit for Tat was made as
a sequel to this film.
- They Go Boom - One of their first "talkies."
- Thicker Than Water - The petite Daphne Pollard is probably
the most aggressively bullying screen wife that Ollie ever had - and he had
quite a few. FS: "Do you mean to say that the money that I gave to him
to give to him to pay him...", etc.
- Tit for Tat - A good typical film from L&H's prime.
This is the only film they made which was a "sequel" to a previous
one (Them Thar Hills).
- Towed in a Hole - This has one of my favorite scenes: Stan
peeking timidly at Ollie's paint-covered face from a series of different angles,
and Ollie looking back in silent disgust. Beautifully done. I'm sure this
is one that Stan Laurel crafted personally.
- Twice Two - Many critics are down on this one, but I think
it's pretty good.
- Two Tars - A good silent film.
- Way Out West - This is the best of L&H's later Hal
Roach features, although much of it is pretty dull. L&H's dance routine
in front of the saloon and the later "Trail of the Lonesome Pine"
song are what put this movie on the map.
- We Faw Down - A good silent film. The closeups of Vivien
Oakland's angry looks and Ollie's reactions are very good.
- Wrong Again - Another good silent film. I always wonder
how they got that horse to climb up onto that piano.
- You're Darn Tootin' - Another good silent film. FS: Ollie
trying to retrieve his music sheets from under the stamping foot of the conductor.
Foreign-language Laurel and Hardy movies on VHS tape:
- Politiquerias, the Spanish-language
version of Chickens Come Home, an amazingly extravagant version of
the American film. A copy of this film is a rare gem in any L&H fan's
- De Bote en Bote, the Spanish version of Pardon Us.
Includes scenes deleted from the American version.
Special Laurel and Hardy features on VHS tape:
- "The Stolen Jools" (1931), in its entirety, including the L&H
scene. This bizarre little film is nothing more than a series of cameo appearances
by leading Hollywood actors woven together into a silly plot. The L&H scene is
quite brief, but very nice and completely in character.
- L&H scenes from "Hollywood Party" (1934)
- L&H scenes from "Pick a Star" (1937)
- The Tree in a Test Tube (color commercial for wood products,
1943). Stan and Ollie don't get any lines in this one. I suppose one could
say it's their only color silent film! (Actually, it's their ONLY color film).
- This is Your Life, Laurel and Hardy (NBC TV, 1954). According
to what I've read, Stan apparently wasn't too happy about being taken by surprise
and put on live TV, and his consternation showed just a little. Oliver, on
the other hand, seemed to take the whole thing in stride.
Living in the Los Angeles area sure has its advantages for Laurel
and Hardy fans!
||My daughter and I in front
of the house featured in "Big Business". No signs of the 1929
Laurel and Hardy mayhem have survived.
||My daughter and I on the
stairs featured in "The Music Box" (and "Hats Off"),
located near the corner of Vendome and El Monte. Note how the area has
been built up since Laurel and Hardy's day.
||Stan Laurel's grave.
||"Stan" and "Ollie"
(and "Charlie Chaplin") pose with me at Universal Studios.
Here are some scenes of Hadji Ali's performance
in the movie Politiquerias, the Spanish-language version of
Chickens Come Home.
|Copyright © 2004 by Bill Price
|URL = http://billpriceweb.com/lh.html