Double Act/Double Take #StanandOllie #filmreview

Saturday morning pictures has gone the way of sweet cigarettes and plimsoles, consigned to a faux nostalgia that suggests they were better than what’s replaced them. The films shown were tired even then and hardly new. But in amongst the Perils of Pauline and black and white cartoons that to call them animated is like calling Mrs May’s dancing fluid, there were some gems: a Chaplin or Keaton perhaps or better still Laurel and Hardy.

Even so a biopic about a comeback tour of these two fine exponents of the slapstick, set in the 1950s wouldn’t normally have got me out from under some pet seeking a willing lap. But we’d seen a trailer, the pets were sulking for some reason and the Vet had ‘borrowed the house for a girlfriends’ get together that she has hosted most Christmases since they left school seven years ago. So when we noted Stan and Ollie was showing as a preview at out local, accompanied by the classic short film of them piano shifting up a never ending staircase, we thought, heck why not? Even if it’s rubbish…

The omens weren’t great, not really. This new cinema, for all its plushness and the fine amount of legroom lacks an essential feature, to whit ice cream. Furthermore, playing Stan Laurel was Steve Coogan. Now I, like many, were very taken with his portrayal of the investigative journalist opposite Dame Judy in Philomena but this was a comedy drama and I have about as many good things to say about his Alan Partridge as I do about child proof medicine bottles. Me, comedy and Coogan aren’t easy bedfellows.

So I took my seat with an inclination to expect my reaction at the end to be much the same as when I finish the washing up: vaguely satisfied it’s over.

How wrong could I be?

Ok, the original short, while clunky and simple and often telegraphed still induces laugh out loud moments. Made in 1937 it is easy to imagine its popularity then. So that, remastered and all, was going to be a success.

What about the main film?

Well, it got to me. In a good way. They main actors captured the characters with a compelling and satisfying mix of grit, pathos and love. The parts that reflect real life film were brilliant portrayals and the bits that are fictionalised had a depth and compelling narrative that I wasn’t expecting. And the director took us back to a black and white world of post war hope and austerity, with charlatans out to screw them over yet with staunch support from their wives and despite the heavy cloud of Ollie’s frail health they achieved what, at root they wanted – needed – which was to realise what got them going was their love of performing, and of each other.

I’ll watch out for more Coogan films. Just long as they don’t involve Alan Partridge….

PS. This was a preview; I don’t think this film is out until the new year. But if you get the chance…

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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9 Responses to Double Act/Double Take #StanandOllie #filmreview

  1. Ritu says:

    Definitely one I’ll be watching!


  2. Love your review of Stand & Ollie. I met and became friends with Stan’s daughter, Lois and Ollie’s widow, back in 1980, so I am cautious of anything that might portray “the boys” in a bad light. I will tell you this, Sons of the Desert from all around the world will turn out in record numbers to see this as is opens. Not sure if I will venture into the theatres (those places creep me out) but I will buy the DVD and enjoy it, I am sure.


  3. Thanks, Geoff! You ought to be paid for your reviews! 🙂


  4. Stan first trod the boards aged 16 in the Britannia Panopticon in Glasgow. One of my friends wrote a radio play about it a few years ago.


  5. JT Twissel says:

    I’m a fan of Steve Coogan but I don’t think I’d like to see him as Laurel!


  6. Oh, okay. I was going to give this a miss – but you have changed my mind. Happy New Year Geoff!


  7. I’m generally useless at watching films – yet January looks good! I’m looking forward to The Favourite and I’m sure my hubby will love Stan and Ollie!


  8. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for previewing this. It hasn’t opened here but I had learned of it. I loved Laurel and Hardy. My marriage owes a lot to being able to say “a fine mess you got us into.”


  9. arlingwoman says:

    I always liked Laurel and Hardy, but never laughed so hard at a silent film as the ones Harold Lloyd did. They were fabulous! A little more than half way through poems, btw.


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