Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas with Laurel & Hardy

To celebrate the season, here are some holiday images from movies made by Laurel & Hardy, who remain among the very top comedy teams in the history of the movies.  

In "Big Business" (silent, 1929),  Stan and Ollie are door-to-door Christmas tree salesmen who run into a very difficult customer in the form of their recurring nemesis, James Finlayson.  

While it seems a little strange that Laurel & Hardy are dressed in winter attire in a sunny Southern California landscape filled with palm trees, in the end, what matters is the comedy of perfectly-timed and ever-escalating destruction.  

As a kid, my family owned a super-8 mm copy of this movie -- bought for $8.99 from Blackhawk Films out of Davenport, Iowa.   It's the only movie we owned.  When our projector was functioning, which wasn't often, we'd thread this baby up, turn out the lights, and project it onto a sheet.  Movie night! 

In another classic, "Below Zero" (talkie, 1930), Laurel & Hardy are pan-handling street musicians playing the one song that they know, "In the Good Old Summertime," in the middle of a blizzard.   

This isn't a Christmas movie, per se, but it has a very wintry feel, and brilliant comic timing throughout. 

My Uncle Richie --  Richard McLaughlin, writer and author of the novel "Into the Dangerous World" -- was a film buff who saw almost every film that came out in his many years living in New York City.   He was a big fan of Laurel & Hardy, and once made a comment that I've never forgotten.  

Uncle Richie said:  "It's too bad they never made a short about trimming a Christmas tree.   I always thought that Laurel and Hardy would be able to turn the trimming of a Christmas tree into something hilarious."  

I think Uncle Richie was right.  

Happy Holidays!


  1. I really enjoyed the L&H shorts. But some of the feature length films had the most ghastly endings, including one where L&H are skinned alive.

    Barrel of laughs there.

  2. Yeah...I think in "Bohemian Girl," the ending has them put on the rack...Ollie is stretched to ten feet tall, Stan is flattened to three feet tall. Wha-?

  3. Love Laurel & Hardy. A local TV station used to air L&H shorts late at night every night. I watched religiously.

    I've been known to adopt Laurelist mannerisms at times for comedic effect. I seem to recall in my teens I even did an entire round of bowling as if I were Stanley.

    Shortly after I first met Linda, I took her to downtown Santa Cruz where they were projecting a Laurel & Hardy talkie onto the side of a building for public viewing.

    A few years later, we went to the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum for a night of comedies -- one each from L&H, Buster Keaton, Fatty Arbuckle, and Harold Lloyd -- all with live piano accompaniment from the incomparable Frederick Hodges (who earlier this year was the uncredited pianist for the Google Doodle celebrating Charlie Chaplin's birthday).

  4. I see some Stanley in your Keeper pic above, Ron!

  5. I find the fat one to be quite comical.

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