Monday, July 13, 2015

Stan: A Film About Laurel and Hardy

I recently watched a movie that was really touching and meaningful for me. It's called Stan and it's about Saurel and Hardy.  I was particularly fond of them as a kid.  I watched their movies, bought a book that summarized and rated each film, had a poster and a lithograph of them on my wall, and owned an album of their bits and songs from the movies.  I also wrote skits in which I played each of them, and I looked like Stanley and had that as my nickname for a time.

Back in the day I studied up on them and much of what I learned reappreared in this film.  But they did it with a different slant.  I had always thought that Stan was more invested and Babe was off playing golf between takes, but they put a different spin on that same data. I knew Stan was a creative genius.  i knew he was married several times.  But I didn't know he had a strong ego and was so driven his myopia sometimes left other people out of his vision, even people in his inner most circles.  I didn't know that Ollie was a sweetheart.  I had heard one story about the tie twiddle, which is featured prominently in this film but with a different origin story.  I knew that I found them elegant and life affirming but I didn't imagine them discussing that undercurrent of their work.  And I never thought about what their practicing together looked like.  I knew Laurel lived longer than Hardy by many years and that he wrote skits for them after there was no more them.  But I didn't have the full picture.

This short film connects a lot of dots in the Laurel and Hardy story.  I find British works are generally classier than American ones and this is a very high level piece of art.  I'm so glad I got to revisit two of my best friends from childhood through this remarkable piece.  And I'm glad that I've got Trail of the Lonesome pine playing on a loop in my head.  It's quite a fine tune.


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