Laurel and Hardy ~ The Classic Comedy Team from Hollywood’s Golden Age
Even today, seven decades after their heyday, the comedy team of Laurel and Hardy remains enduringly popular. Their work has stood the test of time and their fans still number in the tens of millions worldwide. For modern audiences, the films of Laurel and Hardy are a throwback to a simpler time—when comedy was mostly naïve and unsophisticated—when good intentions gone awry—when a man pretending to be a woman—when two not-very-bright fellows confronted with an impossible situation—when a henpecked husband and a domineering wife—when all of these things elicited the best kind of laughter. It was comedy that was always inventive, never crude, insulting or offensive, and always appropriate for audiences of all ages.
English-born Stan Laurel (1890-1965) and American Oliver Norvell Hardy (1892-1957) first began appearing in movie shorts together in 1926 and became a team in 1927. They soon became the Hal Roach studio’s most profitable stars. They ended up appearing together in 106 films: 32 silent short films, 40 sound short films, 23 feature films, and 11 “cameo” or guest appearances in other films. Among some of their best films are “Berth Marks” (1929), “Men ‘O War” (1929), “Blotto” (1930), “Another Fine Mess” (1930), “Pardon Us” (1931), “Be Big!” (1931), “The Music Box” (1932), “County Hospital” (1932), “Twice Two” (1933), “Sons of the Desert” (1933), “Tit for Tat” (1935), “Way Out West” (1937), and “The Flying Deuces” (1939).
In 1940 the pair left the Roach Studios and appeared in eight “B” comedies for 20th Century Fox and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer from 1941 to 1944. They had little creative control over these films and were mostly disappointed in them. From 1945 to 1950, they didn’t make any movies, but instead concentrated on their stage show. They retired from the screen in the early 1950s. During the 1960s their popularity was revived when their films were shown in film festivals and on TV, gaining them a whole new legion of fans from among the younger generations.
Copyright © 2011 by Allen Kopp