Everybody knows that I am a huge fan of Laurel and Hardy. I have seen most of their pictures 10 times over (probably more in some cases) and have them committed to memory from beginning to end. They are the greatest comedy team to ever grace the silver screen.
If you don’t believe me, just ask anyone who is a member of the worldwide Laurel and Hardy fan club, the Sons of the Desert. Stan Laurel gave his blessing for the club, and today the Sons of the Desert has thousands of members worldwide in tents named after L&H films. The tent here in St. Louis, for example, takes its name from Babes in Toyland.
The moment you start watching any of their pictures, it becomes obvious why generation after generation falls head over heels for them. Even their worst stuff is watchable and funnier than the rubbish that passes for comedy these days.
There is a lot of debate on what Stan and Babe’s best films were. And it really is hard to come up with a top five when there is so much comedy gold out there to choose from, but I have managed to do it….
1. The Flying Deuces (1939)
The Flying Deuces is my all-time favorite Laurel and Hardy picture. Some will agree with me, some won’t. My good friend, the film historian, educator, and published author James L. Neibaur and I disagree on this one. He thinks it’s a bit too morbid. He doesn’t like to think of the boys as suicidal or deeply depressed. It is indeed quite morbid in some parts, but it was typical of Stan’s sense of humor at the time. He enjoyed exploring the macabre.
It starts off in a little hotel in France. Ollie meets and falls in love with the owner’s daughter, and wants her to marry him. When she tells him that she cannot marry him (she is married), Ollie decides to commit suicide by drowning—and he is going to take Stan with him. The suicide is stopped by a man who invites them to join the foreign legion to forget about the girl.
Here is one of the best bits in the film, Babe singing “Shine on Harvest Moon” as he and Stan attempt to leave the camp:
2. Busy Bodies (1933)
Stan and Ollie get a job working in a sawmill. The day starts off pleasant enough with a peaceful drive to work. But once they get to the sawmill, things go downhill fast…for Ollie, who gets beaten up a lot in this picture. The poor fellow is knocked in the head, sprayed in the face, shaved (after Stan glues a paint brush to his face), and thrown into a ventilator duct.
Here’s the hilarious shaving scene:
3. Helpmates (1932)
With his wife away on holiday in Chicago, Ollie has a wild party that leaves his house an awful wreck. The morning after he looks in the mirror and admonishes himself, and then he calls his best friend Stan to come over and help clean it up. The only thing that Stan helps with is ruining every suit that Ollie owns and making an even bigger mess of things.
In this scene, Ollie calls Stan to come over and help him:
4. Men O’ War (1929)
Stan and Ollie play a couple of sailors on leave who pick up a couple of pretty girls. They take them to a soda shop, but only have 15 cents to spend. Ollie takes Stan to the side and tries to explain the situation, and that he should refuse to get anything when asked. Stan, being a doof, has a hard time understanding this and has to be told repeatedly what to do. Eventually Stan winds up drinking all the drink he was to share with Ollie (his half was on the bottom). Their luck turns around—sort of—when Stan hits the jackpot on the slot machine. But things end up all wet when they take their dates out for a boat ride.
5. Laughing Gravy (1931)
Laughing Gravy was my dog Weily’s favorite L&H picture. I kid you not, every time I would put it on he’d bark happily, wag his stump, and then sit right in front of the television for the entire 30 minutes, his eyes glued to the screen.
This short takes place in a run-down rented room. The boys try rather unsuccessfully to hide their dog, Laughing Gravy, from their cranky landlord (Charlie Hall). The landlord throws the poor mutt out into the snow, and Ollie, wearing nothing but his nightgown and thick socks, goes out to get it. In another attempt to hide Laughing Gravy, they put the dog in the chimney and eventually all three of them wind up on the roof, and the landlord is knocked unconscious by a window.
In this scene, Ollie tries to make Stan feel guilty about trying to keep a letter from his rich uncle a secret:
Are you a fan of Laurel and Hardy? What are some of your favorite pictures/scenes? If you weren’t before, I hope that this post has at least made you a little bit interested in who and what they were. They’re my heroes. 🙂 Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below!
- 4 People Who Should Have Lived Forever (dailyhottentots.wordpress.com)
- Happy Birthday, Stan Laurel!!! (kidzrockinc.co)
- It Works: ‘Pick a Star’ (Short Ends and Leader) (popmatters.com)