Who has produced more drop-dead funny moments in American cinema than Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy? No one really comes to mind.
The prolific duo, a chubby American and a lean Englishman, made an amazing 105 movies.
Their first film, “The Lucky Dog,” came out in 1921.
“Atoll K,” their last film, entered theaters in 1951.
That is a long and successful career in anyone’s book.
“Stan & Ollie” takes us to the very end of their career.
In 1953-1954, the pair made a tour of England and Ireland playing live to theater audiences.
Both of the men suffered from serious illnesses at this time. They did not succeed in reviving their movie career and never made another film.
After the tour they never worked together again.
In the silent film era before their union, Hardy made 250 films and Laurel 50.
The other famous comic duo, Abbott and Costello, made 39 films together — to give you a sense of the scale of Laurel and Hardy’s output.
Both Steve Coogan, himself an Englishman playing Englishman Stan Laurel and American John C. Reilly playing American Oliver Hardy have many credits themselves.
Coogan has 117 credits and Oscar nominations as a writer and producer for “Philomena.” Reilly has 104 credits including “Walk Hard.” Both Coogan and Reilly deliver wonderful portrayals of the famous pair. Reilly has prosthetic make up that makes him seem much heavier than he actually is and visually turns him into Oliver Hardy for the audience.
The movie has a sense of melancholy to it that I didn’t care for. With two world famous comics to explore who had a long term at the top of the game, the film dwelt on their last acts — the end of more than 30 years of working together. Combine that with their ill health and we get a film that made me cry, not a film that made me laugh.
Laughing is better.
Writer/director Jon S. Baird comes from Scotland and has a well-rounded career in English TV as a writer, director and producer.
This biographical film runs for a short one hour and 38 minutes. Made with a tiny $10 million budget the film has entered into the profit zone, if just, with $20 million in worldwide revenue.
This PG rated is just average at two and a half saw blades. The film will please nostalgic movie buffs.
In the 1950s, a fan club of sorts formed called Sons of the Desert to appreciate the comic masters. Members of the organization included Soupy Sales, Jonathan Winters, Dick Van Dyke and Dick Cavett. These funny men knew who the real giants of comedy were.