Film – Stan & Ollie
Director: Jon S. Baird
Starring: John C. Reilly, Steve Coogan
Genre: All talkie
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are regarded as the greatest comedy partnership in movie history, yet Stan & Ollie isn’t particularly funny. That’s understandable once you realise that Stan & Ollie isn’t a chronological telling of their lives but an examination of the end of their careers, in particular their final tour of the British Isles in 1953, when the pressures of touring, the competition from a new generation of comic duos led by Abbott and Costello, and their age, were starting to tell.
I want to like Laurel and Hardy. I really do. My Dad does. I’m not sure if that matters or what Freud would think of that, but Laurel and Hardy’s simple homespun interactions and slapstick isn’t my cup of tea. While I’m more of a Marx Brothers fan, I still wanted to like Stan & Ollie, but mostly I wanted insights into their comic genius.
How did two Vaudeville comedians thrown together gel so well? Why did they manage to transition so successfully from silent films to talkies when few others did? What was it about their comedy that particularly resonated with audiences of the time? Admittedly I could check out Wikipedia and YouTube to find out (and admittedly I did), so to say that Stan & Ollie left me wanting more is not a bad thing. I imagine their audiences felt much the same way but for completely different reasons.
Rating: Four decades of guffaws.