The other day I had a conversation with a friend of mine and the subject of Laurel and Hardy came up. I can’t tell you how the conversation turned to them, even though I suspect that it had something to do with my love of Stan Laurel. (Believe it or not, he is my all-time favorite actor. SHOCKER, it’s not Conrad Veidt!)
My jaw dropped and I stood there open-mouthed and goofy-looking when she told me that she had never heard of Stan Laurel or the comedy team Laurel and Hardy.
How is it possible that someone in this world has never heard of Stan Laurel or the comedy team of Laurel and Hardy, which is still considered by many as the greatest comedy team to ever exist?
Some of you out there might be thinking, “Well, Angie, like your friend, I too am unfamiliar with Laurel and Hardy. Won’t you get over your shock long enough to teach somebody about this supposedly great team that you think everyone should know about?”
Okay, okay. Read on and I will teach you a little something about Stan and his rotund pal Ollie.
Were Laurel and Hardy Really the World’s First Bromance?
Okay, I was probably stretching the truth a wee bit calling Laurel and Hardy the world’s first bromance. I am sure there were plenty of other bromances on the silver screen and real life before Laurel and Hardy came into being.
But even if they were not the world’s first bromance, Laurel and Hardy were at least somewhat responsible for showing the world that it is absolutely all right for two grown straight men to show genuine affection for one another amidst all kinds of disasters—psychotic wives, broken hearts, bloodthirsty criminals, snowstorms, dead-end jobs, etc.
Nothing could tear them apart. Including death.
One of the best examples of the Laurel and Hardy bromance is in the film The Flying Deuces (1939). I know, I know. It’s not a 1920s film. So I am sort of breaking my own rules by talking about it. But so what? It’s my favorite Laurel and Hardy film and it fits with what I am talking about here.
In the film, Ollie becomes smitten with a beautiful little French girl and has every intention of marrying her. There’s just one problem—she’s already married. Heartbroken, Ollie decides to kill himself by drowning…and he is going to bring his old pal Stan along with him.
Before he has a chance to do himself (and his best friend) in, a man stops them and invites them to join the Foreign Legion “to forget”.
Little do they know that the man who invited them to the Foreign Legion is the husband of Ollie’s former infatuation.
They soon grow tired of the awful conditions in the legion and decide to leave. Before they make what they think will be their last exit, they have a wee bit of time for a charming song and dance routine.
They are captured and sentenced to death, but they get a hold of a plane and try to escape. Unfortunately for them, the plane falls apart and they crash to the ground.
My dear friend, film historian and author James L. Neibaur (look at all these titles he’s written) is NOT a fan of this film. It’s too dark and depressing for him. indeed, it is one of several Laurel and Hardy films in which Stan (the creative genius behind the team, believe it or not) explores death and the darker side of life. Unhappy endings as it were.
And it effectively shows how far these two characters were willing to go for one another.
Is The Flying Deuces Too Gruesome for You? Try These Films Instead…
If you are like James Neibaur and think The Flying Deuces is too disturbing to watch, I will give you a couple other Laurel and Hardy titles that you might find appealing..and are all about the almighty bromance!
Sons of the Desert (1933)
To most everyone, this is the ULTIMATE Laurel and Hardy picture. The official fan club is even named after it.
Stan and Ollie want to go to the Sons of the Desert convention in Chicago, but their menacing wives aren’t too keen on the idea. Ollie plays sick, and Stan gets a doctor (who is actually a vet) to prescribe a trip to Hawaii as a cure.
Once they fool the wives into thinking they are going to Hawaii, it’s off to Chicago for the convention. And a world of trouble once they get home…
In this clip, they don’t know that their wives are out trying to get news about survivors of the shipwreck they think Stan and Ollie are involved in…until they see them dancing in a newsreel at the cinema.
Laughing Gravy (1931)
Laughing Gravy is the name of the wee mutt that Stan and Ollie are hiding from their pesky landlord (Charlie Hall). They go to great lengths to hide the dog from him, including sticking him in the fireplace (Laughing Gravy then climbs up the chimney and all three of them wind up on the roof…in a snowstorm.)
As usual, poor Ollie gets the brunt of the abuse—soot in the face, a brick to the head, ice water where the sun don’t shine—and has a fit when Stan refuses to share the contents of a letter he suddenly receives after the landlord has thrown them out. But he feels like a heel when he realizes that it is a check for a considerable inheritance he will get on the condition that he dump Ollie, and Stan did not tell him to spare his feelings.
In this clip, Ollie sings a warning about when friendship turns to hate…
What are some of your favorite Laurel and Hardy pictures that celebrate their everlasting bromance? Talk about them by leaving a comment below!