Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

Stan & Ollie

On Sunday, February 3rd, we went to see Stan & Ollie, which is a film about the great comedians Laurel and Hardy, and their last performances in a tour of English, Scottish, and Irish music halls and theatres. As happened (and still happens) with a lot of artists and entertainers, the two were not in good financial shape. Unlike some of their contemporaries, they had not had an ownership share in the movies they made, and their contracts with the notoriously stingy Hal Roach, which covered a majority of their career, paid no royalties. This continues to be a source of tension between the two. Add to that previous unsuccessful marriages and expensive divorces, and other Hollywood lifestyle issues such as Hardy’s gambling habit, and problems result. The tour deal they hope will be the start of a comeback that will launch their pet project, a Laurel and Hardy “Robin Hood” movie.

The tour does not initially start with a bang, which gives the two plenty of time and reason to hash over old times and old grievances. Although a clever marketing campaign turns the tour into a success, the stresses eventually result in what may turn out to be a complete fracture of the relationship.

While overall rather poignant, the movie does make you laugh, particularly in the restagings of some of the duo’s routines. Steve Carell as Laurel and John O’Reilly as Hardy recreate the comedian’s comic timing and execution perfectly, as well as looking uncannily like the originals through the miracles of modern makeup (and possibly CGI--). Seeing them in action reminded me how good Laurel and Hardy were: the subtle skill that could make Laurel peeling a hard-boiled egg while Hardy looked on, be funny.  Their comedy was based on situations, movement, expression, and timing, but was never vulgar, crude, or mean. I was very glad to have seen the movie, since it brought it all back to me.

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Tags: historical, movies
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