Having starred in 32 short silent films, 40 short sound films, and 23 full-length feature films, Laurel and Hardy can lay claim to being the most successful movie double act of all time. In fact, they virtually created the movie double act, from their first film together in 1927 to their final one in 1951.
In was in the 1950s that this celebrated duo embarked on a tour of England, and it's this time in Laurel and Hardy's life that is the subject of director Jon S. Baird's compelling new drama, Stan & Ollie, starring Steve Coogan and a Golden Globe-nominated John C. Reilly in the lead roles.
So, to prepare you for this critically-acclaimed biopic, here are our pick of the 10 best Laurel and Hardy films to watch first...
1. Way Out West (1937)
Known to everyone else outside the Laurel and Hardy hardcore as The One With The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine, this has Stan and Ollie charged with delivering the deeds to a valuable gold mine to the daughter of a dead prospector.
One sequence is so iconic that comedian Frank Skinner has said that girlfriends of his were "subjected to the Laurel and Hardy test", when he would play a video of the dance sequence from the movie. "If she didn't laugh," said Skinner. "I instantly wrote her off as a future companion." Ouch.
2. Block-Heads (1938)
This feature stars Stan and Ollie as two World War I veterans and boasts some memorable slapstick and features – by Laurel and Hardy standards – some lavish production values. The movie was actually the last film directed by famed silent movie director John G. Blystone, who died shortly after filming.
3. A Chump At Oxford (1940)
Co-starring an impossibly young Peter Cushing (later Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars), this movie would be the pair's penultimate film with longtime producer Hal Roach. The duo play a couple of street cleaners who win scholarships to Oxford University in this gentle and charming feature.
4. Babes in Toyland (1934)
In a rare move, Laurel and Hardy moved away from their Stan and Ollie characters for this fantasy-tinged Christmas favourite. Here, they play two toymakers who bungle up Santa's order to make an army of marching toys.
5. The Music Box (1932)
Stan and Ollie play deliverymen who are tasked with taking a large crated piano up a seemingly insurmountable flight of stairs. Brilliantly simple in concept, this has some of their best slapstick work, which probably helped it win the first Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in 1932. The steps were made famous by the film and indeed they're still there, located in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles, near the Laurel and Hardy Park.
6. Sons of the Desert (1933)
This movie, which sees the duo going to a convention but covering it up to their wives as a trip to Honolulu in order to cure Ollie's cold, gave the fan club of Laurel and Hardy its name.
7. Our Relations (1936)
You get double your money's worth with this feature film which stars Stan and Ollie as not only their usual characters but also their twin brothers Alf and Bert. In this film though, it's Alf and Bert who are the dimwits.
8. The Bohemian Girl (1936)
Stan and Ollie star as a couple of gypsies in this feature about a girl raised by the Romanys. Thelma Todd, who starred as the eponymous girl, died mysteriously mid-way through filming.
9. Swiss Miss (1938)
This feature sees Stan and Ollie as two mousetrap salesmen who travel to Switzerland on the assumption that because there's so much cheese there, there should be many more mice.
10. The Flying Deuces (1939)
This Foreign Legion-set feature was a remake of Stan and Ollie's own 1931 short, Beau Hunks. This version is, however, somewhat more sophisticated.