ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Beloved Comics Tour 1950s England: Stan & Ollie

Updated on February 16, 2019
Source

Synopsis

In the 1930s, no other comedy duo enjoyed greater popularity on the big screen than Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Behind the scenes, though, the pair had issues. The movie Stan & Ollie takes place primarily in their final years together as an act. At the height of their popularity, though, as they make another film for producer Hal Roach (Danny Huston), Stan (Steve Coogan) has an argument with Roach, who's had the duo under separate contracts. When Stan's contract expires, Roach opts to not renew it. Stan seeks a deal with a deal with a new studio that will include Ollie (John C. Reilly), but Hardy fails to attend a meeting with the studio brass. Even though that failure disappoints Stan, they do work together for several more years. By 1953, though, they were no longer appearing on film, and living their lives in California. However, British impresario Bernard Delfont (Rufus Jones), offers them a chance to perform some of their famous routines live before an English audience, some of whom were just becoming familiar with Laurel & Hardy films. The duo puts their differences aside and agree to perform.

This gives Stan a chance to meet a British film producer who'd expressed interest in the possibility of making a film with the pair based on the legend of Robin Hood. While Delfont promises crowds would fill theaters for them, they learn that many venues were half full. That doesn't change until their arrival in London, where appreciative - and often nostalgic - viewers help to pack the house. The men send for their wives, onetime script supervisor Lucille Hardy (Shirley Henderson) and former movie extra Ida Laurel (Nina Arianda). Their arrival helps to ignite old tensions, but they don't miss a show or a promotional appearance. Sadly, during one of their public appearances, Oliver suffers a heart attack, and is advised to stop performing. Stan seeks to find a suitable replacement to complete the tour.

Evaluation

Stan & Ollie, which is based on a book about the British tour by A. J. Marriot, is a sweet, but honest, look at these comedians, who spent decades working almost exclusively with one another. They go on the road, but they don't forget the good or the bad they faced. For example, Stan and Ollie still occasionally discuss "that elephant movie." Stan & Ollie never mentions that 1939 film flop, Zenobia, by name, but it's a film that paired Hardy with popular comic Harry Langdon instead of Laurel. That time remains a sore spot, especially for Stan, and this dissent sometimes plays out in public to fans who don't realize what's happening. When Lucille and Ida arrive, they seem like a comic duo themselves as they deal with their husbands as well as their own egos. Director Jon S. Baird has worked primarily in television, but he shows a duo who puts entertainment before almost any personal issue. The script comes from Jeff Pope, who did a marvelous job writing the excellent 2013 film Philomena. He recaptures the way things might have been then, and makes viewers care about them as they make patrons laugh once again.

Coogan and Reilly not only look their roles, but they embody these comics with their performances. They perform as if the roles had been written for them instead of the characters they bring to life. Coogan, as Laurel, never stops thinking about himself and Hardy in terms of a team. As he waits for a final answer to his Robin Hood comedy, he keeps fine tuning it. He also shows how much Ollie means to Stan in a scene at Hardy's bed as the ill partner works to recover. Reilly, as Hardy, shows a man who regrets disappointing Laurel, but never stops appreciating the body of work they did as a team. Time, though, is taking a toll on Ollie, as he breaks into a sweat during a show. When Oliver falls ill, he knows the end of his performing days are coming, and wants to end his career on his terms. Henderson and Arianda do nicely in support as spouses who have the same personality traits of their famous husbands. Jones is also good as a promoter with his hands full trying to deliver on his promises to Laurel and Hardy.

Conclusion

I haven't seen a great deal of Laurel and Hardy's work, but what I've seen remains funny, in spite of the passage of many decades. Stan & Ollie gives viewers just a taste of their enduring appeal, but shows more clearly a pair who set egos aside to do their work. They knew each other so well, they scarcely worked with anyone else. Audiences everywhere continue to reap the rewards of this partnership.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Stan & Ollie 3.5 stars. Fine, but certainly no mess.

Stan & Ollie trailer

© 2019 Pat Mills

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile imageAUTHOR

      Pat Mills 

      2 years ago from East Chicago, Indiana

      Thanks Mel. i wish biopics could always be this good.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      2 years ago from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado

      I loved Laurel and Hardy as a kid. I would definitely like to see this one, to get a glimpse into their backstory. Great review, with a lot of unknown info on the comedy pair.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://corp.maven.io/privacy-policy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)