Laurel & Hardy Mondays in December on TCM
TCM Stars of the Month for December are Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. The incomparable team became international movie stars during the early days of sound when their combination of physical comedy and witty banter carried the old vaudevillians into a new era of comedy.
Is there anyone who doesn't know who Laurel and Hardy are? Sadly, yes. Although the couple remain among the most beloved of all film performers of their era, today's younger generations are hard pressed to place the names. The good news is that millennials and generation "Y" recognize their images. So that says a lot about the enduring impact of the dynamic duo of a bumbling innocent and a fastidious oaf. Laurel’s endearing comic trademarks of blank stares, pitiful whimpers and puzzled head-scratches are still mimicked by comedians to this day, and their routines have been re-used or re-structured again and again in just about every television sit-com. Their ingenious choreogrphy of their physical comedy remains unparralled to this day.
Of course each performer had successful solo careers before teaming up. Laurel had been compared to both Chaplin and Keaton. By 1924 Hardy signed with Hal Roach Studios, where he had supporting roles in films starring Our Gang, Charley Chase and others. It wasn't until Roach paired the two in several films when magic struck for the team with a 1927 production called Duck Soup (not to be confused with the Marx Brothers film of 1933). As their films demonstrate, they completed each other extremely well, providing a counter point to each other that created a perfectly formed balance. Their comic pairing is in fact hailed by many as the greatest of all time. So much so that it's not too much to claim that they set the pattern for many of the successful comedy teams that followed, including Abbott and Costello, Martin and Lewis and even the fictional characters of Oscar Madison and Felix Ungar.
A particulalry outstanding short among the Laurel and Hardy cannon is The Music Box (1932), an Oscar winning Best Short Subject. It's the one that takes place primarily on an extremely long outdoor set of stairs. Its ending is one of my favorite comedy moments of all time. Features soon followed, culminating in 106 movies the pair would make together. The following are Laurel and Hardy features in the TCM tribute taking place every Monday in December. It's the perfect opportunity to share the genious of one of the greatest cinematic teams of all time with the young and the old who could benefit from a good, harty laugh.