The Art of Laurel and Hardy: Graceful Calamity in the Films by Kyp Harness
From the early days of film came Laurel and Hardy, a comedy team that created slapstick hilarity from life’s simplest situations. Some seventy years after their heyday, Arthur Stanley Jefferson and Oliver Norvell “Babe” Hardy are still remembered for the comic chaos they created in film shorts. They gave us something to laugh at by reminding us of our own foibles, in a way that was genuine and unpretentious. The lanky Stan Laurel (1890–1965) and portly Ollie Hardy (1892–1957) had but one objective: to create as many laughs as would fit in one short film. And that, they did. The book begins by exploring their comedy in the early days of film. A chapter is dedicated to each of “the boys”Laurel from Ulverston, England, and Hardy from the state of Georgiaas a person and performer. Further chapters explore the slapstick and gags of Laurel and Hardy and how the pair survived the transition to sound that left behind many actors of the day. It was only when they began to work for large studios, churning out cookie-cutter scripts, that their art began to lose its way. The book takes the reader through the ups and downs of their careers and to a final comeback. A filmography lists works from 1917 to 1951 with information on availability.