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5 classic Laurel and Hardy films you need to see before Stan and Ollie


In January, film fans will get a glimpse into the lives of one of Hollywood's most famous comedy double acts, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, in poignant new biopic Stan & Ollie. (Click here to book for your Stan & Ollie Unlimited screening on 18th December.)

The beloved pair are being portrayed by modern day comedic geniuses too. Steve Coogan, the funny man renowned for classic comic creation Alan Partridge, plays Stan Laurel. John C. Reilly, who you'll recognise from his hilarious collaborations with Will Ferrell in films like Step Brothers, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and the upcoming Holmes & Watson (which also stars Coogan), plays Oliver Hardy.

Given their knack for drama as well as comedy (Coogan in the likes of Philomena; Reilly in the likes of We Need To Talk About Kevin), both actors are the perfect fit for these roles, as we will not only see the highs of Laurel and Hardy's Hollywood years, but also their final years spent touring decrepit UK seaside towns.

Together Laurel and Hardy appeared in 107 films, 32 silent short films, 40 short sound films and 23 feature films. So if you're not familiar with these comedy legends, we've compiled a collection of some of their classics.

1. Helpmates (1932)

A classic slapstick film, one that bottles the inimitable Laurel and Hardy chemistry. After Ollie hosts a party and hears that his wife is returning from a trip away, Stan helps him tidy up. As you might expect, tidying up seems to cause more mess than there was before.

An explosion and a black eye later, Ollie asks Stan to close the remains of his house door as he'd like to be alone – the visual implications of which are hilarious.

2. Men O'War (1929)

One common thread in a lot of Laurel and Hardy films is that things turn south as soon as they seek the attention of women. Playing two sailors, the pair attempts to impress two ladies by buying them a drink – but they don't have enough money.

Next thing you know, Stan wins the big bucks on a coin machine and the pair rent a boat, another way to impress their crushes. However, upon setting sail the usual Laurel and Hardy mayhem ensues and they both sink.

3. The Music Box (1932)

You know the episode of Friends when they're carrying the sofa up the stairs and Ross keeps yelling 'PIVOT?'. Well, this film by Laurel and Hardy is like a hilarious, extended moment of that - and of course, it came way before Ross and company were even a reality.

The clumsy pair are tasked with delivering a piano up a huge flight of stairs and despite dropping it on numerous occasions (it slides all the way down and they even get into trouble with a policeman), the instrument eventually makes it to the house unscathed. Everything is finally going well and they two are set to be paid, but Stan gives Mr von Schwarzenhoffen the pen that explodes… all over this face.

4. Busy Bodies (1933)

Laurel + Hardy + a sawmill + heavy machinery + a lot of glue = not only a hilarious set-up but a classic series of Laurel and Hardy pratfalls. A common trope of slapstick comedy is the classic walking into planks set-up, which the pair do on numerous occasions during this short film.

5. Country Hospital (1932)

At one point in Stan & Ollie, we see the pair goofing off in a hospital bed, which looks like a reference to this classic Laurel and Hardy film. Ollie is sick in hospital, but when inconvenient Stan arrives to visit him, he annoys almost everyone on the ward and gets Ollie kicked out.

This isn't the end of their calamitous day, though. Due to sitting on a sedative needle, Stan falls asleep driving the pair home and gets into the worst kind of traffic incidents. An archetypal slapstick film, this is the ideal start for Laurel and Hardy newcomers.

With Stan & Ollie drawing Oscar buzz for its stars (John C. Reilly has been Golden Globe nominated), the movie is set to be an affectionate and delightful tribute to two of the finest comedians of all time.

It's released on 11th January, so there's plenty of time to tweet us your favourite Laurel and Hardy films @Cineworld.

Nadine Shambrook is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.