Monday, 3 September 2018

Stan and Ollie - Top Ten Laurel and Hardy Shorts


Last week, Mrs PM and I were sitting in a small cinema watching a short movie. The rest of the audience were a mixed bunch; a middle-aged German couple sat just in front of us, to our right was an older couple and to our left were a young family with two young kids aged about 12 and 10. There were others too but the one thing we had in common  - we were all chuckling and laughing.

We were in the Laurel and Hardy museum in Ulverston in the Lake District. As is usual with the Lake District, the weather outside was horrible which gave me an excuse to persuade Mrs PM to visit this small homage to Stan and Ollie, after all this time, still my favourite comedy double act.

The previous day had been glorious and Mrs PM and I had climbed the Old Man of Coniston the twelfth largest mountain in England! What a shock that was! I was still aching! Part of me was pleased that the weather had taken a turn for the worse on our short break to Coniston for the holiday weekend and it gave me the opportunity to tick something off my list – visit the birthplace of Stan Laurel.

The museum itself is quite small and gives an overview of the life of the dynamic duo, focussing slightly more on Stan. My father loved them too and he introduced me to them as a child. As I walked through the door and started reading about their lives, I felt a light twinge of emotion, remembering my dad guffawing over their stupid antics.

The museum was quite busy and also had props and souvenirs from their many memorable films as well as merchandise, copies of letters and lots of other interesting information.

And, of course, they were showing and endless loop of their amazing films.

As we left back into the pouring rain, I thought I would pay homage to these funny guys by offering you my ten favourite Laurel and Hardy talking shorts. Their silent films were amusing but when sound was introduced, it opened up a whole new level of comedic opportunity to the guys, which they took to like the proverbial duck to water. As well as their usual slapstick, they were able to use sound to enhance their humour even further.

I still love it today.

So, without further ado, here are my top ten Laurel and Hardy short films.

10. Scram!

Stan and Ollie are vagrants and are ordered by a judge to leave town. On their way, in the pouring rain, they help a drunk who offers them a room for the night. Sadly, it isn’t his house - it belongs to the judge. Inevitably, mayhem ensues when they inadvertently get the judge’s wife drunk.

You can watch it here.

9. The Chimp

When the circus goes bust, Stan and Ollie are left with a flea circus and a chimp. Confusion reigns when they try to sneak the chimp into a boarding house.

You can watch it here. 

8. Any Old Port

On shore leave from a whaling voyage, Stan and Ollie get a room in a boarding house, run by a pure thug played by Walter Long who tries to force a young woman to marry him. Stan and Ollie thwart his plans and in the aftermath, Ollie convinces Stan to enter a boxing match to raise the money they left behind. Guess who Stan’s opponent is?

You can watch it here.

7. Laughing Gravy

In the middle of a terrible, cold dark and snowy winter, Stan and Ollie try to hide their dog, Laughing Gravy, from a landlord who doesn’t allow pets in his rooms. Of course, their attempts are totally unsuccessful.

You can watch it here. 

6. Dirty Work

Stan and Ollie are chimney sweeps who end up at a mad professor’s house. As Stan and Ollie do their best to wreck the house, the professor invents a rejuvenating potion. Of course he wants a human guinea pig.

You can watch it here. 

5. One Good Turn

A kind old lady offers vagrants, Stan and Ollie, a meal. They offer to do a favour in return and overhear a villainous landlord threatening to throw the old lady out of her home and onto the street. Stan and Ollie decide to raise money by selling their one asset – a car – but things don’t go quite according to plan.

You can watch it here. 

4. Helpmates

Ollie wakes up after throwing a wild party in his wife’s absence and has to clean up the mess before she gets home. There is only one man who can help him out of his predicament – Stan! You can guess what happens.

You can watch it here.  

3. The Laurel and Hardy Murder Case

The late Ebenezer Laurel has left a lot of money and Ollie sees a chance to live in luxury by convincing the executors of the dead man’s will that Stan is the heir to his fortune. Of course, there are dastardly shenanigans afoot involving murder.

You can watch it here. 

2. Them Thar Hills / Tit for  Tat

Two films, one a sequel to the other, where Stan and Ollie come up against Charlie Hall in two tales of escalating retaliation. The first tale involves Stan and Ollie accidentally getting Charlie’s wife drunk (played by the ever-present Mae Busch). In the second movie, Ollie tries to make amends but fails and a similar bun fight occurs.

You can watch the them here and here. 

1. The Music Box

Stan and Ollie are delivery men who have to take a piano to a house. Sounds simple, eh? Not so – the house is at the top of a huge hill accessible by a long staircase. Stan and Ollie won an academy award for this hilarious movie.


You can watch it here.

And finally …

I hope you agree with my choices. These two funny guys were way ahead of their time and still make me laugh today.

I am pleased to say that everyone watching the film in the museum agreed with me.

Are you a fan of Laurel and Hardy?

What are your favourite short films?

2 comments:

River said...

I don't remember seeing much of Laurel and Hardy and don't even know which is Laurel and which is Hardy. I have vague memories of a piano being moved somewhere, but don't recall the movie, or even if it was up a hill or up a staircase. I think we had more of Abbott and Costello out here, but didn't see much of them either. Dad preferred cowboy movies, so that's what we saw.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

I grew up with them. Stan Laurel is the thin one and Oliver Hardy the chubby one.

You should watch them - they are funny.

:o)

Cheers

PM