TV actor and standup comedian Smug Roberts is appearing at the Laurel and Hardy Museum on Saturday the 14th of November at 8pm. Click here to buy tickets, or call us on 01229 582292.
TV actor and standup comedian Smug Roberts is appearing at the Laurel and Hardy Museum on Saturday the 14th of November at 8pm. Click here to buy tickets, or call us on 01229 582292.
I’ve always loved Lego, like many kids there was a huge box of assorted bits in my bedroom. Regularly tipped out, scooped up, played with, stood on, hoovered and lost. These little fellas are a bit too expensive to be treated like that, but the link between two things I enjoy makes them a must have for the museum. Maybe they have a place in your collection too? Let us know what you think below, or join us on Facebook.
Looking for a unique venue for your event? Look no further than the Laurel and Hardy Museum. Our exhibition space is flexible enough for all types of events. Birthday parties, weddings, plays, presentations, comedy, poetry, magic, or anything else you can think of. Give us a call on 01229 582292, or drop us a line at email@example.com. If you’d like to see our previous and upcoming events, you can check out our dedicated events page on Facebook.
Released 28th January 1928, Laurel and Hardy proved how laughter can be infectious, even during the silent era. Stan is keeping Ollie awake at 3am with toothache and so Ollie provides him with a hot water bottle. It’s not long before the bed is soaking wet, and so while they’re awake, Stan and Ollie attempt to pull the tooth in the traditional manner – by tying some string to a door and slamming it shut. The teeth are extremely strong, and the door handle comes off.
The next day Ollie takes Stan to see a dentist. Stan is clearly very nervous, especially after witnessing the previous patient be dragged out unconscious. To console him, Ollie sits in the chair to prove how easy it is. The dentist makes the mistake of thinking that Ollie is the patient, and starts taking his tooth out instead. This isn’t helped by the fact that Stan passes him the equipment.
When Ollie wakes up and realises that his tooth has been pulled, he angrily tries to force Stan into the chair. While doing so they breathe in too much laughing gas. They spend the rest of the film laughing hysterically, while trying to drive home. They manage to cause a traffic jam, while police officer Edgar Kennedy is trying to direct the traffic. He can’t understand their amusement.
The scene at the dentist is replicated again in their first feature film “Pardon Us” in 1931. Nevertheless both films are entirely different and each one is worth viewing as separate films.
Although the picture quality isn’t always perfect, this film will definitely be enjoyed by all Laurel and Hardy fans. It will certainly leave you laughing!
Released 12th February 1928, “Flying Elephants” is perhaps the most unusual film the boys ever made, but it is no less comical for this. In fact the bizarreness adds to the hilarity of the film. Set in the stone age, all men are given orders to find themselves a wife. Ollie doesn’t care whose wife, but his determination is second to none.
Meanwhile, Little Twinkle Star (Stan) falls in love with James Finlayson’s daughter. He tells Fin that he will provide for her by shooting fish with his bow and arrow. When Fin asks him to shoot a whale, he protests: “Sardines is my speciality.”
A love triangle is created when Ollie also falls for Fin’s daughter, thus causing some competition. Stan decides that the only alternative is to try and push Ollie off a cliff.
“Flying Elephants” was actually filmed in May 1927. Originally distributing his films through Pathé, Hal Roach decided to switch to MGM. Pathé decided to delay the release of the film until their more conventional movies were broadcasted in the cinemas. This would undoubtedly give them a chance to become more popular, and the film would gain more exposure.
For those searching for the usual Laurel and Hardy films, this is certainly one to avoid. However, those that are simply looking for a good laugh, this will be a wonderful film.
Released 25th February 1928, “The Finishing Touch” is a silent comedy masterpiece. The owner of a half built house asks Stan and Ollie to finish building it by noon next Monday for $500. Ollie promises to have it built by noon today.
The house happens to be located near a hospital, and when Stan and Ollie set to work, a nurse played by Dorothy Coburn comes marching out to see what the noise is all about. She asks the local policeman Edgar Kennedy to have a word with them, and so he tells them straight: “If you must make a noise, make it quietly.”
Kennedy stays a while to make sure they keep the noise down, but before long he ends up covered in glue and wooden planks. The nurse has further confrontations with them, in which Stan and Ollie get the better of her.
The film is filled with gags that demonstrate Laurel and Hardy’s lack of common sense. Without having any pockets in his overalls, Ollie decides to carry the nails in his mouth instead. When Stan decides he needs to use a plank of wood, he starts soaring one in half, without realising that Ollie is stood on the end.
When the house is finished, the owner returns and happily gives them their $500. Shortly afterwards, a bird lands on the chimney causing it to collapse. The owner is no longer happy and demands his money back. They spend the rest of the film fighting over the money, until Stan and Ollie’s truck backs up into the house, causing the whole building to collapse.
“The Finishing Touch” is inspired by two films that Laurel and Hardy made during their solo careers: “Smithy” by Stan Laurel in 1924, and “Stick Around” by Oliver Hardy in 1925. Genuine Laurel and Hardy fans would enjoy watching all three films, but “The Finishing Touch” is a comedy work of art that should be enjoyed by everyone.
Released 24th March 1928, this was the first of two films directed by Edgar Kennedy. The second is another Laurel and Hardy silent: “You’re Darn Tootin’.” In “From Soup To Nuts” Laurel and Hardy are hired as waiters at a sophisticated restaurant. They provide the hostess with a note of explanation: “These two boys are the best we could furnish on such short notice.” The letter is signed: “With apologies.”
After Ollie fusses so much about Stan wearing a hat inside, Stan assumes that the same rule must apply for the chef too. A tit for tat fight soon begins with plates being thrown all over the place.
Throughout the film, whenever Ollie carries a huge cake around, a banana skin is always there to trip him up. When he attempts to deliver the soup to the customers, the chairs are far too high and prevent him from reaching the table. His solution is to stand on another chair, but when he bends down the seam of his trousers rip.
Anita Garvin spends most of the film chasing a cherry around a dish with a spoon. She then asks Ollie to serve the salad without dressing. When Ollie asks Stan to “bring in the salad, undressed”, that is precisely what he does.
The idea of serving the salad undressed was later repeated for the European edition of “A Chump At Oxford” in 1940. The American release of the film was originally 42 minutes, but an extra 20 minutes was added for European distribution. Both films are entirely different and are standard Laurel and Hardy films that will be enjoyed even by the most casual fans.
Released 21st April 1928, this was the second of two films directed by Edgar Kennedy. The first is another Laurel and Hardy silent: “From Soup To Nuts.” In “You’re Darn Tootin’” Stan and Ollie are members of an orchestra band. Stan plays the clarinet, while Ollie plays the French horn. When Stan’s sheet of music is blown away by the trombone player behind him, he steals Ollie’s music sheet when he’s not looking. Believing that Stan’s sheet of music is his own, he tries to collect it from underneath the conductor’s feet.
After Stan and Ollie were fired from the band, they return to the boarding house, to face the landlady whose demanding 14 weeks worth of rent. When the landlady’s son Sturgeon reveals that they’ve been fired from the orchestra, they are also thrown out of the house.
Out on the street with their instruments, they decide to try and make some money out of busking. “I wouldn’t mind training a seal, or an elephant – but you’re hopeless!” Ollie says to Stan. After he destroys his clarinet, another tit for tat battle starts. It begins with the kicking of shins and thumping in the stomach, but eventually progresses to ripping off each others’ trousers. By this point, many passersby are dragged into the battle until the street is full of trouser-less, shin-kicking pedestrians.
In 2006, Paul Merton broadcasted “You’re Darn Tootin’” on BBC Four as part of his programme “Paul Merton’s Silent Clowns”, with a new musical score composed by Neil Brand. The key purpose of the programme was to promote silent films to current generations and “You’re Darn Tootin’” is an excellent example to choose.
Released 19th May 1928, “Their Purple Moment” was directed by James Parrott, the younger brother of Charley Chase. Stan and Ollie have secretly been saving some of their wages to go for a night out without their wives. Little does Stan know that his wife finds his stash of money and replaces it with cigar coupons.
The boys meet up with two women who have been ditched by their previous boyfriends. They offer to buy them a steak meal, as well as pay for their waiting taxi driver. Stan’s generosity rises even more when he offers to treat the restaurants’ act of marching children dressed as soldiers, by buying them cakes. It is only then that he realises that his wallet has no real money in it.
Stan and Ollie try and escape but end up running into the restaurants’ kitchen. The film ends with another tit-for-tat food fight. Attempting to fool their wives is a theme that is used in a number of Laurel and Hardy films, including “We Faw Down” (1928), “Be Big” (1931) and most famously “Sons of The Desert” (1933). Each variation is always highly entertaining and “Their Purple Moment” equally hilarious.
Released 8th September 1928, this silent film classic was possibly influenced by Oliver Hardy’s favourite pastime. He had become quite an expert at golf, winning the majority of The Roach Studio’s annual golf tournament. It was this hobby that was the subject of this particular film. Mr and Mrs Hardy had planned to have a quiet evening at home, until Stan comes to visit.
Ollie’s wife soon becomes sick of them both and orders them to go and play golf. When Ollie takes off his dressing gown, he is already dressed in his golfing clothes, suggesting that this was the plan all along.
Stan and Ollie meet up with two girls on the golf course and take them for some sodas before starting the game. When Stan and Ollie realise that they don’t have enough to pay for the drinks, Ollie tries to force Stan into refusing his offer, but Stan doesn’t quite understand. Ollie eventually drinks the soda, and leaves Stan to pay for the drinks.
The final part of the film has them attempting to golf. Ollie is hit in the shin with Stan’s golf club, and Stan is later hit in the face. When Edgar Kennedy’s ball lands in the mud, Stan reminds him of the rules: “Ball must be played from where it lies. No exceptions.” This inadvertently causes a mud fight and many people are drawn in.
The scene where Stan and Ollie are buying sodas for the girls was repeated in their 1929 sound short “Men O’ War”. There are minor differences between the two versions, but the effort of repeating is justified with the use of dialogue, which arguably works better. Both films are entirely different however, and both are excellent examples of true Laurel and Hardy movies.
Released 6th October 1928, “Early To Bed” only has one co-star playing alongside Laurel and Hardy – Buster, the dog. Although often referred to as male, Buster was in fact a female dog and her later appearances included “Laughing Gravy” and “The Bohemian Girl.”
Ollie is elated when he reads the news that he has inherited a fortune from his late Uncle. He decides to buy a mansion and hire Stan as his butler. After a night out, Ollie returns home drunk and plays many practical jokes on Stan. Stan grows increasingly tired of Ollie’s behaviour and tells Ollie that he wants to quit his job as a butler. When Ollie refuses to let him quit, Stan starts wrecking the house.
Casual fans may question the unfamiliar relationship between the boys in this film. With Ollie playing a drunk, Stan becomes the dominant one. However the characters are still the same as those from the talkies, but the film demonstrates the range of their characters’ personalities.
Released 3rd November 1928, this is another must for any Laurel and Hardy fan. In this movie Stan and Ollie are sailors on leave from Battleship Oregon. Ollie is demonstrating the importance of road safety, before crashing their car into a lamppost.
They later meet up with two girls who have lost a penny in a chewing gum machine that no longer works. Always the gentleman, Ollie attempts to fix the ‘doodad’ but ends up losing all the gum balls on the street.
Taking the girls on a cruise in their car which is somehow still intact, they drive themselves into the middle of a traffic jam. When the road workers order them to back up, they crash into a car behind them. This causes another tit for tat fight which escalates into a battle. Cars are crashed and torn apart, and food fights also take place. It is one of the greatest and well constructed battles in silent film history.
As their characters are familiar to those from the talkies, this film is both for casual and true Laurel and Hardy fans.
Released 1st December 1928, “Habeas Corpus” is a silent film with inter-titles and no dialogue, however it was the first Laurel and Hardy film to be released with synchronised music and sound effects. This was for cinemas that were already geared for sound films.
Stan and Ollie are begging for food, and they knock at the door of a mad scientist. The scientist offers them $500 to dig up a dead body from a graveyard for his latest experiment. Although nervous at first, they soon accept the offer due to needing the money.
The butler of the scientist phones the police and they tell him to follow Stan and Ollie to the graveyard. To make sure they don’t see him, he hides in one of the graves, but Stan and Ollie dig him up thinking he is a dead body.
“Habeas Corpus” is one of Laurel and Hardy’s greatest silent films, and it’s filled with hilarious gags. It is a definite must for all Laurel and Hardy fans.
Released 29th December 1928, “this story is based upon the assumption that, somewhere in the world, there are husbands who do not tell their wives everything.” Ollie receives a phone call inviting him and Stan to a poker game. Knowing his wife wouldn’t approve, he comes up with the excuse that they’ve been invited to the Orpheum Theatre by their boss.
On their way to the poker game, they voluntarily offer to collect a lady’s hat that has blown underneath a parked car. While doing so they get soaked by a passing truck that is cleaning the street. The two women invite them back to their apartment to dry their clothes.
While the boys are at the apartment, their wives read the horrifying news that the Orpheum Theatre has burned down. In a panic, they set off to see whether their husbands are still alive.
At the apartment, Stan and Ollie are a little drunk and start playfully fighting with the women. Before long the woman’s husband comes home to find her in Ollie’s arms. When the jealous husband pulls out a knife, the boys quickly grab their clothes, and jump out of the window, half-dressed, just as their wives are walking past.
As the boys hadn’t noticed that they’d been caught, they return home pretending that they’d seen the show at the theatre. All smiles, Ollie describes the show to their wives, while Stan reads from the newspaper’s advert what acts took part. He provides Ollie with mimed hints, but Ollie misinterprets them entirely. Eventually Stan reads the main headline that the theatre had in fact burned down.
Although the story has a strong resemblance to their 1933 feature “The Sons of the Desert”, both films are entirely different and each worth appreciating as separate films. “We Faw Down” is a film that no fan should miss.
Released 26th January 1929, “Liberty” is Laurel and Hardy’s answer to Harold Lloyd’s spectacular clock-dangling sequence in “Safety Last!” (1921). The scenes that include Stan and Ollie attempting to change their trousers were originally filmed for their previous movie “We Faw Down”. To reduce the length of the film, these scenes were cut from “We Faw Down” and used in “Liberty.”
As escaped convicts, Stan and Ollie are running away from the police. They change their clothes in the back of a getaway car, but soon realise that they have on the wrong trousers. Attempting to change their trousers in public proves difficult as nowhere seems to be private. Hiding behind a fishmonger’s shop, Stan unintentionally knocks a crab in Ollie’s trousers.
A policeman chases them to a building site where Stan and Ollie once again attempt to change their trousers in an elevator. The elevator takes them to the top of a half-built skyscraper. Nervously, they try and reach a ladder which is on the other side of the building. On the way, the crab keeps nipping Ollie’s bum, causing them to dangle many times from the construction girders. Towards the end of the film, the elevator conveniently comes back up to collect the boys and they quickly descend the elevator squashing the policeman at the bottom.
One day while shooting the film, Stan began to panic. To help calm him down, Ollie demonstrated how safe the platform was underneath. He jumped 20 feet on to the ‘safe’ platform, which was made of sugar pine, causing it to break. Fortunately Thomas Benton Roberts, a member of the construction crew had set up a safety net below the platform.
This is a difficult film to watch for those who have a particular fear of heights. However their characters match those from the talkies, and as always, the comedy is second to none.
Released 23rd February 1929, the story for “Wrong Again” was written by director Leo McCarey when he was visiting the dentist. He noticed a reproduction of Thomas Gainsborough’s most famous portrait Blue Boy on the dentist’s wall.
While working at a stable, Stan and Ollie overhear the news that Blue Boy has been stolen, and $5,000 will be rewarded for its return. By pure co-incidence, there is a horse in the stable named Blue Boy, and so naturally Laurel and Hardy assume that they will gain the reward.
The thieves are captured and the rightful owner is informed by telephone that the painting will be returned as soon as possible.
Stan and Ollie arrive at the mansion, just as the owner is about to take a bath. Assuming that they are detectives, the owner throws down his front door key and asks them to take Blue Boy inside the house. The boys are confused by this, but start to believe Ollie’s theory that millionaires are peculiar. “They think just the opposite to other people.”
Before long the owner asks Stan to put Blue Boy on top of the piano. Not ones to judge, Stan and Ollie have a great struggle trying to force the horse on to the piano, but when the horse takes a fancy to the plant that Stan’s holding, he starts chasing him around the mansion.
When the owner of Blue Boy has finished taking his bath, his mother arrives home with the detectives and the painting Blue Boy. Naturally he is astonished and very angry when he finds that a horse has been wandering around his house.
This simple misunderstanding is the essence of Laurel and Hardy. The film is filled with many hilarious gags based on one idea. Using the same characters as those from the talkies, both casual and die-hard Laurel and Hardy fans would love this film.
Released 23rd March 1929, “That’s My Wife” is another one of many Laurel and Hardy films that doesn’t present married-life in a favourable light. Since Stan has become their permanent lodger, the Hardy household is no longer a happy one. Mrs Hardy decides she’s had enough and leaves.
Oliver’s Uncle Bernal has previously promised a large inheritance, providing that he is happily married. Desperately wanting the money, Ollie forces Stan to dress in drag and pretend to be his wife. Stan protests but eventually goes along with it.
“She’s not much to look at but what a clown!” Ollie explains to his Uncle. When Ollie introduces him to his new wife, Uncle Bernal is astonished by her manly appearance, but nevertheless remains polite. He invites them for a meal at The Pink Pup, much to Stan’s embarrassment.
While at the restaurant, a lady’s necklace is robbed. When the manager announces that he will have everybody in the place searched, the robber slips the necklace down Stan’s dress. Laurel and Hardy spend the rest of the film attempting to retrieve the necklace from the dress. Trying to be subtle about it, they move over to the dance floor to shake the necklace out, but as always, Stan and Ollie are far from subtle.
Laurel and Hardy had long established their on-screen characters, and this is another excellent example of a silent film equivalent to their talkies.
Released 29th April 1929, “Big Business” is highly regarded as one of Laurel and Hardy’s best silent films. Stan and Ollie are door-to-door salesmen trying to sell Christmas trees in sunny California. Luck is not on their side. Their first customer slams the door on them and their second customer hits Ollie on the head with a hammer.
Unfortunately it isn’t third time lucky. When James Finlayson refuses to buy a tree, he accidentally shuts the door on one of the branches and Stan is unable to pull the tree away from the door. They knock on his door again, and the same mistake is made again, firstly to the tree, and then to Stan’s overcoat.
Stan knocks on Fin’s door one more time to ask if they could take his order for next year. Already annoyed at them, Fin chops up the tree with some garden shears. This was the beginning of another tit-for-tat battle that is comparable to that from “Two Tars” (1928.) Stan and Ollie start attacking Fin’s house, while Fin’s war is on their car and trees.
A policeman soon arrives to find out what’s going on. Fin blames the boys, and they burst into tears while explaining their version of the story. Likewise Fin bursts into tears when explaining his version of the story. All this crying soon sets the Policeman off in tears, and the public surrounding join in too.
“Big Business” is a must for any Laurel and Hardy fan. The tit-for-tat fights that are so common in their films are always a joy to watch. Each battle is unique and features hilarious gags that no-one should miss.
Released 28th May 1929, this film features Jean Harlow, who had worked with Laurel and Hardy in “Liberty”, and would make a third appearance in “Bacon Grabbers.” She would become a leading lady in many hit films such as “Red Dust”, “Dinner At Eight”, and “Reckless”, before sadly dying in 1937 at the tender age of 26.
A broadway hotel is expecting a foreign prince to arrive but just as the royal car parks up, Stan and Ollie appear at the hotel. They are mistaken for the prince and his prime minister, and are treated like royalty, until Ollie presents them with a letter explaining otherwise: “Introducing your new doorman and footman. These boys are the best we could do on such short notice. There is some reason to believe that they may be competent.” When the real prince does arrive, he manages to fall down a mud-filled elevator shaft; an accident partly caused by Laurel and Hardy.
Ollie’s competence as a doorman is demonstrated when he opens one door, the customer uses the other. Stan can’t resist blowing Ollie’s whistle, which calls for a cab driver to park outside, ready to pick up a hotel guest. When the taxi driver, played by Charlie Hall, realises that he’s had a wasted journey, he takes it out on Ollie by ripping his uniform to shreds.
When Ollie notices a pretty girl (Jean Harlow) arriving at the hotel, he immediately offers his assistance. Stan accidentally closes the door on her dress, and when she walks into the hotel, the back of her dress is pulled away. Neither Ollie or Jean realise this until they are in the hotel. Despite Stan protesting, Ollie uses Stan’s overcoat to cover up Jean, leaving Stan wearing nothing but his underwear and top hat.
Stan and Ollie begin to argue, which escalates into another battle, joined in by the manager, the receptionist, and some of the hotel guests. The battle commences when the prince gets hit by a cream cake. On the way back to his suite to change his clothes, the prince falls down the elevator shaft again.
This film will be enjoyed by true Laurel and Hardy fans as well as those with a casual interest.
Released 19th October 1929, the title “Bacon Grabbers” is slang for ‘repo-men’. In this film Stan and Ollie are repossession men who serve a summons for Mr Kennedy, who hasn’t paid instalment on his radio since 1921.
In order to collect the radio, they have to hand some paperwork over to Kennedy. While attempting to do so, Kennedy slams the door shut on them. Ollie asks a dog walker passing by if his canine is vicious. “I’ll say he is. I feed him on raw beef!” Satisfied with this remark, Ollie borrows the dog to scare Kennedy. His idea doesn’t go according to plan though, when Kennedy uses a toy dog to scare away the real dog. As the canine runs away, it pulls Ollie along with him.
After more failed attempts, they finally manage to hand Kennedy the paper. He then points out that they have still yet to collect the radio, and slams the door shut.
Stan realises that a second floor window is open, and suggests that they climb through to collect the radio. They borrow some ladders from the local building site, much to the annoyance of the builder, who falls in some whitewash. The ladders aren’t quite big enough to reach the window, and so Ollie lifts the ladders up while Stan attempts to climb through.
To make the situation even more difficult, the braces from Ollie’s trousers come lose, and a nearby dog keeps tugging on them. In the meantime, Stan is dangling from Kennedy’s curtains to keep himself from falling off the ladders. Kennedy finds their failing attempts amusing, and comes to the window to hit Stan in the face with a feather duster. He then pulls out a gun, but when he shoots, the bullet hits a fire hydrant, soaking a passing policeman.
Commanding more authority, the policeman allows them to go into the house and collect the radio. The boys leave the radio in the middle of the road, and it gets demolished by a steamroller, much to Kennedy’s amusement. His wife then returns home and tells him that she has paid the instalment, and that the radio is now legally their property.
Stan and Ollie’s characters match those from the talkies, making this film a must for both casual and die-hard Laurel and Hardy fans.
Released 14th December 1929, “Angora Love” was Laurel and Hardy’s last silent film, before making the seamless transition into the sound era. A pet store owner informs the police that his goat, Penelope has gone missing, and the policeman agrees to search for her.
Stan and Ollie wander the streets, while eating some doughnuts. The goat from the pet store follows them, and Stan offers her some of his doughnut. After this kind gesture, the boys can’t get rid of Penelope and she follows them wherever they go.
Two nights later, they try and hide the goat in a rented room. This proves rather difficult, as the landlord is sleeping in the room below. In attempt to get rid of the smell, Stan and Ollie try bathing the goat in a tin bath, but they end up getting more soaked than the goat does.
When the water seeps through the floor and soaks the landlord (Edgar Kennedy), he walks in on them bathing the goat. A water fight soon begins and everybody gets drenched, including a policeman, who arrests Kennedy in possession of the stolen goat.
There are similarities between “Angora Love” and some of their later sound films, including “Laughing Gravy”, “The Chimp”, “Be Big” and “Beau Hunks.” However each film is completely unique and will be enjoyed by all Laurel and Hardy fans.
Laurel and Hardy made 106 films together and this included 33 silent films. An enthusiastic Laurel and Hardy fan would find it fascinating to view all of these films and watch them develop from their solo careers into the wonderful double act that we know and love from the talkies.
A more casual fan may not be quite as interested in some of their silent movies however. In some of their earlier films they don’t play the usual Stan and Ollie that we are familiar with, and this can be quite disappointing for those who are searching for a conventional Laurel and Hardy film.
I must stress that this is not a rating based on how funny these films are. All of these movies are hilarious in their own right, and I highly recommend all of them. This is simply a guide for those casual fans in search for a standard Laurel and Hardy film.
Our ratings for these reviews works like this:
The reviews are split into the year in which they were released
Released 1st December 1921, this is the first film that Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy appear in together. Stan is kicked out by a landlady “whose heart is harder than her mattress.” He later encounters some mishaps while attempting to enter a dog into a competition. At the competition Stan meets up with a lady and offers to take her home. She accepts his kind offer, but little does he know that her boyfriend is waiting at the house.
Oliver Hardy plays a robber who accidentally places some money into Stan’s back pocket, and then steals the money off him, much to Stan’s confusion. They meet up later at the girl’s house, while her boyfriend and Ollie plot revenge on Stan.
Although this is a far cry from the standard Laurel and Hardy film, it is nevertheless fascinating to watch. Their characters certainly don’t resemble Stan and Ollie, but the film includes some excellent examples of how strong their comedy talent had already developed as solo performers.
Released 26th December 1926, this is the first film produced by Hal Roach that features both Laurel and Hardy. A family decide to travel to Hollywood with each member hoping they are going to find success. There are many hilarious sight gags on their journey with a bike, a train and a bus.
On arrival at the hotel, the main character Glenn Tryon is knocked unconscious and then dressed up as a woman. Ollie plays the house detective who is taking a bath at the time. When he pushes his way out of the locked door, he finds his angry wife who doesn’t seem pleased that another woman – Glenn Tryon – is in their apartment. Glenn is thrown out of the window and into a dust bin. The film concludes with an uproarious battle between all characters.
Stan makes a brief appearance as a hotel guest, who is most annoyed when some of the battle takes place on his bed. Behind a bushy moustache he shows some resemblance to James Finlayson. Although some of Ollie’s familiar character traits are apparent, this is not a conventional Laurel and Hardy film. It is an excellent comedy in its own right and it provides an insight into Hal Roach’s earlier work.
Released 13th March 1927, “Duck Soup” is a significant film due to the fact that it is the first glimpse of the conventional Laurel and Hardy characters. It is also the first time they appear together as a comedy duo. Local forest rangers are recruiting nearby citizens to help fight the forest fire. Stan and Ollie are not very keen to be firefighters for the day, and so they make a quick getaway on a bike. They hide in a mansion that has been deserted while the owner, Colonel Blood, is on a hunting vacation. Ollie pretends to be the owner, while he forces Stan to act as the maid, Agnes. Unfortunately the pretence doesn’t go according to plan, as the Colonel returns home to collect his bow and arrow and the boys are caught by the forest rangers. They are forced to help fight the fire with a rather strong hose pipe.
The story was originally written as a play by Stan’s father Arthur Jefferson. Laurel and Hardy remade the film in 1930 as a sound short called “Another Fine Mess.” Those that are familiar with the sound version may find “Duck Soup” a little tedious to watch when reading through so many dialogue titles. On the other hand there are several excellent gags and ideas that are not reused in the later version and therefore it remains a must for any true Laurel and Hardy fan. For the more casual fans I recommend “Another Fine Mess.”
Released 3rd April 1927, the top billing of this Hal Roach production is Pricilla Dean, but it features both Laurel and Hardy as separate characters, and not as a duo. Pricilla’s character is married to an artist, but she feels as though he is neglecting her and shows more interest in his artwork than their marriage. She hires Stan’s character, Flamingo Ferdinand, to make love to her and make her husband jealous. The idea isn’t so successful, as her husband is extremely unobservant, but Stan does succeed in irritating the butler, Ollie.
Although this is a far cry from any conventional Laurel and Hardy film, there is a strong vibe between Stan and Ollie’s characters that suggests they could be successful as a permanent team. This is not a film for those searching for a standard Laurel and Hardy movie, but it is absolutely hilarious as a stand alone comedy, and I recommend it to those who are willing to view with that respect in mind.
In 1935, Laurel and Hardy came back to the storyline with a brand new sound film called “The Fixer Uppers.” The storyline is almost exactly the same, but it is a completely different film, as it uses whole new gags and ideas. A true Laurel and Hardy fan will thoroughly enjoy watching both, but for the more casual fan, I recommend “The Fixer Uppers.”
Released 12th June 1927, this film stars James Finlayson, Mae Busch, and Stan Laurel. Oliver Hardy also makes a brief appearance as a guest at the dinner party, but they are not cast as a team for this particular film.
Mae Busch plays Fin’s ex-girlfriend, who threatens to publish an old photograph, claiming they are having an affair. This will ruin both his marriage and his career. She arrives at a very inconvenient time for Fin, as his wife has planned a dinner party and expects him to be there. Therefore Fin asks his business associate, played by Stan, to keep Mae occupied while Fin is at the dinner party. This causes more suspicion for Stan’s own wife.
Laurel and Hardy remade this as a sound film in 1931. In the sound version, titled “Chickens Come Home”, Ollie plays Fin’s role, while Fin plays his butler. Mae and Stan remain the same characters. Although there are a number of slight differences between each film, the casual fan would most probably prefer to watch “Chickens Come Home”, while the more enthusiastic Laurel and Hardy fan will find it a joy to compare the two versions.
Released 17th July 1927, “Why Girls Love Sailors” is another film that was made before Laurel and Hardy became a permanent team. Nevertheless, both of their names were now at the top of the bill, and the content of the comedy was as strong as it would be in their later films.
Stan is a sailor on board the Merry Maiden. His girlfriend is kidnapped by the captain, and so Stan decides to rescue her by dressing up in drag, and start flirting with the captain. While the flirting takes place, the captain’s wife arrives and she doesn’t seem very pleased. She ends up shooting the captain, while Stan and his girlfriend hastily run away.
Ollie’s role in the film is described as First mate. There is an extremely funny scene when Stan needs to get rid of all the crew members, and so dressed in drag, he flirts with each one individually and then knocks them out. He throws a bottle at Ollie, and blames it on the unconscious crew members. Ollie is daft enough to believe it, and so he throws them overboard.
It’s scenes like this that make the film an absolute must for anyone. Those that are searching for the usual Laurel and Hardy characters will no doubt be disappointed, but the film itself is an excellent comedy and one that will leave the audience in fits of laughter.
Released 28th August 1927, this film continues with a military theme as Laurel and Hardy are in the army. James Finlayson is the captain of the troupe, Ollie is the sergeant, and Stan is one of the privates. There is a hilarious scene in the middle of the film when Finlayson is inspecting their guns and Stan is a less than competent member of the troupe. When Fin orders Stan to “dress, right”, he replies: “I’m wearing everything you gave me.”
It is Ollie’s job to take the troupe on a march, but after two miles they decide to go skinny dipping. Before tossing his cigarette butt on to the pile of clothes, Ollie orders Stan to keep an eye on the uniforms, so that he can so swimming too. Rebellious Stan ignores his orders, and decides to join the rest of the group, causing the clothes to set on fire.
Genuine Laurel and Hardy fans would be delighted with this film, as James Finlayson stars alongside Stan and Ollie, making them a trio more than a double act. The primitive picture quality of the film may sometimes be distracting for those who are not used to watching silent movies, but even the most casual fans will find this film extremely funny.
Released 10th September 1927, “Sugar Daddies” is another example of James Finlayson starring alongside the boys to form a trio more than a double act. Fin is an oil tycoon who wakes up one morning with a hangover. His butler, Ollie reminds him that he married a girl the night before and that her family are waiting downstairs.
His step daughter and brother-in-law are both angry, and they demand money otherwise they threaten to kill him. Fin calls on his lawyer, Stan to come and straighten things out. Even after Stan’s attempts to gain an agreement, Fin’s brother-in-law remains adamant. They soon run away when he pulls out a gun and starts to fire.
They hide in a hotel for a while before making their inventive escape. Stan sits on Fin’s shoulders and wears a long overcoat, pretending to be Ollie’s wife. This gag is used in their earlier film “Love ‘Em And Weep” and its remake “Chickens Come Home”. However this is by far the most creative version, as there is a hilarious sequence while they are on the dance floor and later end up at an amusement park. While at the amusement park it is Stan, Ollie and James Finlayson that cause the most amusement.
Although this is a brilliant comedy that is filled with excellent gags, casual fans will likely to be disappointed if they are searching for a conventional Laurel and Hardy film.
Released 25th September 1927, the comedy standard of this film matches those of the established Laurel and Hardy films, even if the pairing of the team isn’t particularly obvious. Stan is a taxi driver who is inadvertently taken aboard a ship. Viewed as a stowaway, the captain gives him two choices; he could be thrown overboard, or put to work. Stan unwillingly chooses the second option.
Anita Garvin plays a crook, whose husband is a midget, posing as a baby. They cheat their way through many gambling games with other passengers, before being exposed by Stan at the end of the movie. Ollie plays one of the sailors, who often ends up at the centre of every unfortunate situation.
This is a gag-filled comedy masterpiece that anybody with a sense of humour will thoroughly enjoy. Although they are not a team as such, their individual characters are the established Stan and Ollie that we are familiar with, making it a must for both casual fans and Laurel and Hardy enthusiasts.
Released 8th October 1927, this movie is often considered to be the first official Laurel and Hardy film. Stan and Ollie are two convicts who are locked up in prison, but slowly building an underground tunnel to dig their way out. They end up digging their way to the warden’s office.
Another attempt at breaking free from prison has them disguised as painters. In order to convince the suspicious policeman that they are genuine, they quite literally paint the town! Their vandalism of extremely expensive property doesn’t seem to bother the policeman so much, but when Stan accidentally paints a woman’s bottom, he really has crossed the line!
To hide from the police officer, Stan and Ollie jump into a limousine and steal the clothes of two French police chiefs before throwing them out the window. The French police were on their way visit the prison. They were planning to study the prison ideas – “So they can adopt some other system.” Disguised as the French police chiefs, Stan and Ollie provide a realistic display of sophistication at the dining table. While they are taken on a tour around the prison cells, they are too easily recognised by their fellow inmates and eventually discovered by the police.
“The Second Hundred Years” is a must for anyone interested in Laurel and Hardy. Even though they are dressed slightly differently and look different with their shaven heads, this is Stan and Ollie at their best. Their characters are the same as those of the talkies, and the comedy content is at its peak. This film provides a lot of belly laughs.
Released 15th October 1927, this is a Max Davidson film that features guest appearances by James Finlayson, Charley Chase and Laurel and Hardy. Stan and Ollie’s heads were still shaven from their previous film “The Second Hundred Years” as their hair had not grown back yet.
Max Davidson advertised his house for sale or exchange in the local newspaper. The reason for deciding to leave was due to their nutty neighbours, Fin, Charley, Stan and Ollie, who were ruining his family’s high profile reputation. The first customer was put off by their silly behaviour, but the second was willing to exchange his house, with no questions asked.
Max gladly accepted the offer of exchange, but there was a reason why no questions should be asked. The house looked as though it could have been built by Stan and Ollie, as everything was either backwards, didn’t work sufficiently or didn’t work at all. The lights, the shower, the kitchen lino, the taps, cooker and even a moving piano all caused chaos.
When the relatives all conveniently arrived at tea time, the stress caused by the house started a fight that would end up knocking half of the house down. Just as things couldn’t get any worse, Fin, Charley, Stan and Ollie arrived, announcing that they were moving in next door.
This is an extremely inventive and creative offering from the Hal Roach team that is always amusing to watch. Those looking for a standard Laurel and Hardy film will be disappointed, as their appearances are only cut in short sections and their characters don’t resemble Stan and Ollie. Nevertheless the film is still very funny in its own right.
Released 5th November 1927, “Hats Off” is now considered to be a lost film. The last noted public screening was in Germany in 1930. After being sacked as dishwashers, Stan and Ollie seek for alternative employment. James Finlayson offers them a job as door-to-door salesmen and provides them with a washing machine to sell.
Stan and Ollie make several attempts at selling the washing machine by carrying it up and down a huge flight of steps. Thinking they have made a sale, they carry the washing machine up the steps, only to find out that the girl wasn’t interested in the machine, but wanted a letter posting.
The film concludes with Laurel and Hardy starting a street battle, drawing in tons of people who all end up having their hats destroyed.
“Hats Off” was remade as “The Music Box” in 1932. The remake was a talkie, which won an Academy Award for Live Action Short film comedy.
Released 20th November 1927, “Do Detectives Think?” is not only the first time Stan and Ollie wear their trademark derby hats, but it also introduces the same feel as a standard Laurel and Hardy film. James Finlayson is a judge, who sentences a throat-slashing murderer to be hung. The killer soon escapes from prison and plans to slash the judge’s throat in revenge.
Fin phones a detective agency and asks for two of the bravest detectives they have to offer. The chief detective hires Stan and Ollie for the job, which doesn’t say a lot for the rest of the force. Their courage and bravery is demonstrated later in the film when Stan becomes terrified of his own shadow.
When they finally arrive at Fin’s house, the murderer is already there, but he’s posing as the new butler. Detectives Stan and Ollie believe this story for a while, but subtle clues, such as walking around with a seven inch blade in his hand, cause Stan and Ollie to realise the truth. After several failed attempts, they finally capture him, and the police escort him away.
In 1934, Laurel and Hardy used a similar storyline in a 2 reel talkie called “Going Bye Bye!” and also came back to the idea in a later feature with 20th Century Fox called “The Bullfighters.” All three films are entirely different from each other, and “Do Detectives Think?” is a fantastic example of how wonderful silent comedy can be.
Released 3rd December 1927, this is an unusual example for Laurel and Hardy’s first billing as an official team. Piedmont Mumblethunder (Ollie) waits for his nephew Philip (Stan) to greet him when he arrives from Scotland. Throughout the film, Ollie is embarrassed by Stan’s Scottish attire and his weakness for women – whenever a girl catches Stan’s eye, he starts chasing after her.
Ollie takes Stan to a see tailor to try and buy him some new trousers, but when the tailor measures further up his leg, Stan loses trust and puts up a fight.
Towards the end of the film, Ollie demonstrates his courteous and refined approach to flirting with a girl, before getting flicked on the nose. The film ends with Ollie falling into one the many mud holes that appear throughout the Hal Roach comedies.
Although many of their usual mannerisms are apparent, the relationship between Piedmont and Philip is somewhat distant from Stan and Ollie, preventing it from being a standard Laurel and Hardy film. The comedy content is typical from the Roach films of that period, and therefore it’s always a joy to watch.
Released 31st December 1927, “The Battle Of The Century” is currently a partially lost film. It was originally approximately 19 minutes long, but today only 10 minutes remain. Ollie plays the manager of a rather incompetent boxing fighter called Canvasback Clump (Stan). Stan almost wins the fight immediately, but his lack of understanding the rules gives his opponent, Thunderclap Callahan, a chance to reawaken and knock him down.
Later in the film Ollie places a banana skin on the floor in the hope that Stan would slip up and claim accident insurance. The idea doesn’t go according to plan though, when Charlie Hall slips on the banana skin instead. This causes a pie fight that would arguably become the biggest pie fight in the history of the movies. When Stan proposed the idea of the film to Hal Roach he suggested they make “a pie fight to end all pie fights.” To ensure this was possible, they ordered a total of 3,000 pies from The Los Angeles Pie Company. This was an entire day’s output.
Even with half of the film missing, I think this will be thoroughly entertaining for both casual and die-hard Laurel and Hardy fans. It is always amusing to see someone hit in the face with a pie and it’ll never grow old.
We love Frozen at the Laurel and Hardy Museum, so much so that we’ve invited the princesses along to have a party! Sing-along to your favourite songs, have a dance and meet the cast for a photo opportunity at the end. This magical show has sold out everywhere it has been so far so don’t miss out! Adults get a free mulled wine to celebrate the festive season.
Two shows so that nobody needs to miss out: 1PM & 4PM on Sunday the 28th of December. Tickets £10.00
Don’t forget to like our Facebook page Nights at the Laurel and Hardy Museum for updates about this, and all our other events. The Laurel and Hardy Museum is Ulverston’s newest venue.
Released in 1940, A Chump at Oxford sees our boys down on their luck and forced to take a job as maid and butler at a posh dinner party. Stan, as the maid ‘Agness’, is asked to serve the salad un-dressed. Of course our Stan dutifully does as he’s asked and emerges in his underwear. Later, as street cleaners, the boys stop a bank raid with a carelessly discarded banana skin, resulting in them being rewarded for their courage with an education at Oxford University. An initiation prank sees Laurel and Hardy spending the night in a maze, accompanied by a student dressed as a ghost. In the morning our boys are shown into the dean’s quarters instead of their own, and are settling in nicely when the dean returns and orders them to leave. They think this is another prank and start a pillow fight with the dean, when they eventually realise the truth the real culprits are expelled. A valet recognises Stan as Lord Paddington, the university’s greatest scholar, who had left years earlier following amnesia caused by a bump on the head from a window frame. Stan and Ollie, believing this to be yet another prank, laugh off the valet. The boys are found guilty by the student body of snitching, which is a serious offence, and are in the process of making a hasty escape out of the window when Stan receives a bump on the head which causes Stan to revert to his previous persona of Lord Paddington and throws their attackers out of the window, along with Ollie and the dean. Lord Paddington takes Ollie on as his servant and christens him ‘Fattie’. Lord Paddington slips back into his former life quickly and regains his title of Oxford’s greatest student. Ollie quickly tires of his new life and decides to go back to America, but not before Lord Paddington gets another bump on the head and turns back into our Stan. The boys renew their friendship and all is well.
My other favourite films are the Star Wars series and I remember being amazed when granddad told me that Peter Cushing, who plays Govenor Mof Tarkin, was also in this Laurel and Hardy film.
A wealthy couple need waiters for their grand dinner party, but Laurel and Hardy are the best the agency can find. In the kitchen, Stan gets in a fight with the chef, with plates being smashed over heads. Ollie slips on a banana skin and fall face first into the large cake he is carrying, when Ollie throws the banana skin away, Stan also slips on it and covers the host in soup. When Ollie is asked to serve the salad without dressing, he is confused and tells Stan to serve the salad undressed, only for Stan to serve the salad in his underwear. The party is ruined and the host punches Ollie and sends him flying into another large cake.
Directed by Edgar Kennedy, who also appeared in Laurel and Hardy Films. Up until this point, Ollie had been appearing in other Hal Roach films, but as their popularity began to soar they were teamed up full time.
Vagabonds Laurel and Hardy are chased by the law into a mansion owned by Colonel Buckshot. The Colonel has instructed his staff to rent the house out, but they also decide to take a holiday. Thinking they’ve successfully given the police the slip, our boys are about to leave when a couple, having seen an advert, arrive to rent the house. Stan, at Ollie’s insistence, dresses up as the butler to tell Lord Plumtree that the colonel isn’t home. When Stan realises the police are still looking for them, he lets Lord Plumtree and his wife into the house, forcing Ollie to dress up as the master of the house. Things are going well until Lady Plumtree asks to see Agnes the maid. Cue Stan in a wig playing Agnes. Lady Plumtree is quite taken with Agnes and asks her to stay on when they rent the house, to which Stan agrees! While Ollie and Lord Plumtree discuss the terms of the rental, Stan gets back into the butler’s outfit. As the boys are about to leave the house, the colonel arrives back having forgotten his bow and arrow. Laurel and Hardy make their escape in the skin from the colonels hunting trophies (think pantomime horse) on a tandem cycle. The police give chase and the boys ride into a train tunnel just as a train enters the other end. they come back out from the tunnel now split into two and each riding a unicylce.
This film re visits the same themes as the earlier silent movie Duck Soup (the name was used before the Marx Brothers film). The title seems to add to the confusion over Ollie’s catchphrase. Just as nobody ever said ‘Play it again Sam’ or ‘Beam me up Scotty’, Oliver never said the words ‘That’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into’, instead using ‘nice mess’. I rarely see the need to get too pedantic over the mistake, but sometimes it’s nice to get things right.