Creator: Laurel and Hardy
Laurel (left) and Hardy (right) in their iconic bowler hats.Stan Laurel
(June 16, 1890 — February 23, 1965) and Oliver Hardy
(January 18, 1892 – August 7, 1957) were an early 20th century comedy double-act famous for visual-slapstick humour. Among the most enduringly famous of Laurel and Hardy's works are The Music Box
, which features two workers' Sisyphean attempts to move a piano up several flights of stairs, and Babes in Toyland
Laurel and Hardy got their start as a duo with director Hal Roach's Hal Roach Studios in the late 1920s, and occasionally worked with bigger studios such as RKO and MGM. They are notable for their successful transition from silent-era film to "talkies", and were extremely prolific throughout the late '20s and the '30s. In later years they also toured extensively as stage performers.
Though the pair's sketches were often the result of a team of writers, Stan Laurel was something of an "idea man" who rewrote segments of scripts and did a lot of improvising.
They are remembered in popular culture today, thanks to constant television showings, inspiring many other comedy duos and the techniques they pioneered in their films.
Works Featured on This Wiki:
There's some other fine tropes you've gotten us into!
- Action Girl: Thelma and Rubie from Two Tars, who beat up the sweet shop assistant when he fights Ollie and Stan.
- Acrofatic: Oliver Hardy was a talented physical comedy performer and a graceful dancer, despite his size.
- Agony of the Feet: The Riffs in Beau Hunks have tacks assaulting their feet while Ollie gets a nail stuck in his foot in The Music Box.
- All Just a Dream: The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case and Oliver the Eighth end like this.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: The films being made and set in The Roaring Twenties and The Great Depression give a lot of interesting details about that era:
- From Sugar Daddies, amusement parks used to have rides where people were rolled around in spinning cylinders with no seatbelts or seats, which must have caused loads of injuries, leading to its discontinuation.
- From Putting Pants on Phillip, pants were not often mass produced in assorted standard sizes, so men had to often go the nearest tailor for a custom fitting.
- Laughing gas was commonly used by dentists.
- Men slept in nightshirts a lot more frequently than today.
- To start a Ford Model T, a crank needed to be turned, like a clockwork robot toy.
- 78 RPM records were fragile and broke easily, as seen in Liberty.
- It was necessary to strike a match in order to turn on a stove, as seen in Unaccustomed As We Are.
- Amusing Injuries: Frequently. It's mostly Ollie who gets injured, though.
- Animated Adaptation: In 1966, Hanna-Barbera produced a long series of cartoon shorts based around their comedy personas. Since both of them had died by then, the cartoon "Stan" and "Ollie" were voiced by Larry Harmon and Jim MacGeorge.
- Aside Glance: One of Hardy's trademarks, turning to the camera with an expression that just reads, "Why always me?" Also used when he was baffled by Laurel's actions, when it means "What is he doing now?"
- While uproariously funny in itself, it was often used to pad out a gag to give the audience time to finish laughing so they wouldn't miss the next bit of dialog.
- Stan himself would sometimes direct a befuddled gaze at the camera.
- Badass: Both of them. They're practically Made of Iron, have huge strength and once defeated an entire army of angry Arabs with nothing but tacks scattered on the desert floor.
- Badass Boast: Courtesy of Stan in Two Tars: "You're flirtin' with Death, son!"
- Bedsheet Ladder: In Laughing Gravy, Stan tries to hoist Ollie up via one of these, with the expected results.
- Big Guy, Little Guy as well as Fat and Skinny. Oliver Hardy disliked being overweight, but the studios insisted upon his not dieting to maintain this trope.
- In Spanish they are literally known as "El Gordo y el Flaco" (The Fat and the Skinny).
- In Dutch too: "De Dikke en de Dunne" (The Fat and the Skinny)
- Same in Brazillian Portuguese, "O Gordo e o Magro".
- In European Portuguese, "O Bucha e o Estica" (The Chub and the Stretch).
- And in German as "Dick und Doof" (Fat and Stupid).
- And in Finnish as "Ohukainen ja Paksukainen" (Skinny and Fatty).
- Just say, "Remember in those old movies, those two funny guys Fatty and Skinny?" and many people know exactly who you mean.
- Black Widow: In Oliver the Eighth (though she's the rich one, not her husbands).
- Blood Knight: In Two Tars, Stan and Ollie's girlfriends urge them on during the car wrecking and personally go to kick the ass of the sweet shop assistant when he beats both of the boys up.
- Bloodless Carnage: In Beau Hunks, two Legionnaires are gunned down and fall off the battlements with no blood seen at all, despite the fact they're dead.
- The Boxing Episode: Any Old Port and the first half of The Battle of the Century.
- Brotherhood of Funny Hats: The eponymous brotherhood/lodge in Sons of the Desert. (Both men were Freemasons in real life.)
- The Cameo:
- Max Davidson's Call of the Cuckoo (1927) features Laurel and Hardy (along with Charley Chase and James Finlayson) as mental hospital patients.
- ZaSu Pitts & Thelma Todd's On the Loose (1931) ends with an appearance by Stan and Ollie.
- The Little Rascals short Wild Poses (1933) briefly features the duo as babies.
- In Charley Chase's ''On the Wrong Trek (1936), Stan and Ollie unsuccessfully try to hitch a ride from Chase.
- The 1936 Hal Roach feature Pick a Star feature the team (partially in character and partially as themselves) in several memorable scenes.
- Oliver Hardy briefly appears in the Frank Capra feature Riding High (1950).
- The Cast Showoff: Ollie had quite a set of pipes. (For those who don't know what that means, it means that he sings really well.) Plus, both the boys frequently got to show off their dancing, especially in Way Out West.
- Car Fu: Seen in Two Tars.
- Catch Phrase: "Well, here's another fine mess you've gotten me into!", often said by Ollie to Stan after things went awry. One of their shorts was even called Another Fine Mess.
- Actually this is a case of Beam Me Up, Scotty!. Ollie would sometimes say it was "another nice mess", but never fine. The confusion probably comes from the title of that short.
- Furthermore, people often misquote the phrase as, "...another fine mess you've gotten us into!"
- Laurel's tearful, high-pitched whimper of, "Well, I couldn't help it!", often in response to the above accusation.
- Also, Hardy's "Why don't you do something to help me?" and agonized bellow of "OOOHHH!"
- Hardy's first line is usually followed by Laurel saying, "Well, what can I do?"
- Cement Shoes: Played for Laughs in Our Relations.
- Character Tics:
- Ollie's bashful tie-twiddling.
- Stan's idiotic grin and befuddled head-scratching.
- The forceful "Take that!" nods both would give to punctuate an Escalating War.
- Ollie's Aside Glance at the camera.
- Chased Off into the Sunset: Pack Up Your Troubles plays this trope straight. Early on, Stan and Oliver get an Army cook in trouble. He vows that if he ever comes across the duo again, he'd come after them with a knife. At the end of the film, when they've happily resolved everything, they're asked to stay to eat. The cook turns out to be the former Army cook from before - and he makes good on his threat as he chases Laurel and Hardy off into the distance.
- The Chew Toy: Ollie, always on the receiving end of most injuries.
- Clothing Damage: Also very frequently, with Fanservice and non-Fanservice examples. One Fanservice example is in Unaccustomed As We Are, where Thelma Todd had her clothing set on fire, while non-fanservice examples occur in plenty of the duo's movies when they engage in an Escalating War.
- Comedic Sociopathy: Very, very, very frequently.
- Construction Zone Calamity: The second half of Liberty.
- Crazy Enough to Work: In Way Out West, when it's revealed they've handed the deed to the wrong Mary Roberts, the duo make a plan to hoist a mule into the top floor of the saloon to get the deed back. And it actually works.
- Creator Backlash: Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy (particularly Laurel) later gave negative comments towards their 1940s films for 20th Century Fox and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. This was largely due to the duo being given little creative freedom on those movies.
- Interestingly, more recent research reveals that Laurel partially directed at least one of the films. What's more, Hardy included one of the duo's Fox films, Jitterbugs (1943) on his 'Top 5 Favorite Films' list.
- Stan Laurel later called the production of Atoll K, the team's final film, "an abortion." Production was so chaotic that entire book was recently written on it.
- Producer Hal Roach disliked Babes in Toyland (1934). Apparently, this stemmed from creative differences between Roach and Laurel.
- Credits Gag: Another Fine Mess has its credits recited aloud by a pair of twin usherettes (Beverly and Bettymae Crane).
- This was a common practice during Hal Roach films from 1930 to 1931. It was short-lived. (Another set was recorded for Pardon Us, but scrapped.)
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: At the end of One Good Turn, Stan snaps and starts physically attacking Ollie while shouting threats. The boys added this in because Stan's little girl was scared of her "Uncle Ollie" (she thought the way he bullied Stan in the films was real); seeing a movie where her dad finally stood up to him completely fixed the problem.
- This was also an example of Serendipity Writes the Plot: The ending was improvised because Stanley's daughter was actually on the set that day and he wanted her to be happy.
- In Block-Heads, the boys have a run-in with a bratty little kid (played by Tommy Bond, aka "Butch" in The Little Rascals). This leads to the kid's father twice kicking Ollie in the rear...for which Stan retaliates in turn by landing a punch on the guy's chin that knocks him out cold.
- Crusty Caretaker: Seen in The Laurel and Hardy Murder Case, although Played for Laughs.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Seen in Beau Hunks. Once Ollie and Stan unleash tacks on the Riffs, the battle is immediately won by the French Foreign Legion.
- Cue the Rain: Helpmates
- Darker and Edgier: The Flying Deuces. It has several moments of Gallows Humor, contains long drawn-out scenes that have just as many contemplative and depressing moments as they do funny moments, and kills off Ollie at the climax, leaving Stan all alone...until the next scene where he comes back as a talking horse.
- Dashingly Dapper Derby: Both of them wear one.
- Deadpan Snarker: Ollie, usually towards Stanley when he says or does an idiocy. He can also be a silent one.
- Decoy Protagonist: Eddie Smith in Pack Up Your Troubles. Initially, it seems as though he'll be something of an underdog hero (his wife left him, he has a little toddler he has to take care of, he's been estranged from his father) while Stan and Ollie act as the comic relief. Then, he is killed while serving in WWI, and the focus stays on Stan and Ollie for the rest of the movie as they try to take care of his daughter and reunite her with her grandparents; thankfully, the comedic tone returns after this shift of focus.
- Denied Food as Punishment: In Any Old Port, During the diner scene, After Oliver and Stan placed the order, Oliver told Stan that he can't have a meal because he has to fight tonight at the boxing. And Oliver leaves the poor and hungry Stan whining in a high-pitched voice.
Oliver Hardy: You can't have a meal!
Stan Laurel: What do mean I can't a meal?
Oliver Hardy: Because, You gotta fight tonight! (To the waiter) Uh, One order, please?
Stan Laurel: (Voice breaksdown) I thought you were fighter....
Oliver Hardy: No, I am the manager and you are the fighter!
*He leaves poor and hungry Stan sobbing in a high-pitched voice*
- Disaster Dominoes: Often. Very often, in fact.
- Distracted by the Sexy: This happens to Ollie in Two Tars when he spots Thelma and Rubie in the middle of an argument with Stan.
- Downer Ending: There were several films with a Downer ending (usually known as the freak ending) where the boys' bodies are tortured, and ends with Ollie telling Stan "Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into!" And Stan whines in a high-pitched voice "But I couldn't help it, you always blame me!"
- Going Bye-Bye has Stan and Ollie sitting in a couch with their legs tied to their neck.
- The Live Ghost has Stan and Ollie's heads backwards.
- The Bohemian Girl has Stan as a dwarf and Ollie as a giant from after being in a torture chamber.
- Thicker That Water has a botched blood transfusion switch Stan and Ollie into absurd caricatures of each other.
- The Bullfighters has Stan and Ollie being skinned alive and becoming skeletons◊.
- Other endings that were not body terrors were included Helpmates (Stan accidentally burns Ollie's house down), Saps at Sea (Stan and Ollie are sent to jail at the Harbor Patrol Prison, and forced to share a cell with the man they just had arrested), and Atoll K (AKA Utopia/Robinson Cruesoeland) (the team's belongings are taken away by the authorities due to failure to pay taxes).
- Dreadful Musicians: They appear to be this in You're Darn Tootin and Below Zero.
- Driven to Suicide: The boys' landlord, in Laughing Gravy.
- Driver Faces Passenger: In Two Tars, Stan is so busy talking to Ollie that he nearly hits a light pole. A disgusted Ollie takes the wheel, says to Stan "first rule of the road—drive straight ahead", and immediately after he says this, hits a light pole.
- Dumbass Has a Point: In Brats, Stan mentions that treating kids with kindness is better than yelling at them-and Ollie agrees! Bonus points to Stan for using what seems to be another Malaproper saying-"You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be lead." However, Ollie doesn't pull off an Aside Glance, he chuckles and nods.
- Enemy Eats Your Lunch: In Tit for Tat, Laurel and Hardy would steal and eat a marshmallow from their neighbor's grocery store everytime they went inside to inflict some sort of revenge on him in their Escalating War. Hilarity Ensues when the marshmallows get spiked with alum.
- Epic Fail: IN SPADES. Nearly everything they do often turns into one big fail.
- Escalating War: A frequent occurrence. Some good examples are the pie fight in The Battle of the Century and the second half of Two Tars.
- Escaped Animal Rampage: In The Chimp a huge ape escapes from the zoo and frightens Laurel and Hardy.
- Extreme Omni Goat: Angora Love
- Fat and Skinny: The Trope Namer.
- Fat Bastard: Ollie is a huge Jerk Ass to Stan in almost all the films.
- Fat Comic Relief: Ollie is always the Butt Monkey.
- Fat Idiot: Ollie. While Stan is quite stupid Ollie is equally idiotic as him and his actions only makes the situation worse.
- Failure Is the Only Option: Very few of the comedy team's films end with them achieving success, usually because Stan does something utterly boneheaded to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
- Finger Snap Lighter: Stan is able to do this in Way out West, which baffles Ollie. Ollie is able to do this after many tries, except he Screams Like a Little Girl when he does.
- Fourth Wall Psych / Mirror Monologue: Ollie, in Helpmates.
- From Bad to Worse: Very frequently.
- Gainax Ending: Come Clean is fairly standard comedy involving the eponymous duo hiding a strange woman from their wives while trying to get rid of her. The short ends when the police arrest the woman for an unnamed crime and ask who brought her to the apartment. Oliver claims that Stan is responsible, and the policeman says he'll receive a $1000 reward. Ollie then pulls the plug on the bath that Stan is sitting in, causing him to be sucked down the drain. When his wife asks where he's gone, Ollie answers "To the beach."
- Great Escape: Liberty's first half.
- Good Hair, Evil Hair: Hardy is the only one aside from Charlie Chaplin who gets a free pass for using the toothbrush mustache that Adolf Hitler made infamous.
- Harpo Does Something Funny: Stan and Ollie were masters of improvised comedy. They rarely rehearsed a scene because they wanted to capture the "magic" on film. Once when a guest star asked if they were going to rehearse, Stan Laurel shot back, "Do you want to spoil it?"
- Henpecked Husband: Including one feature titled Should Married Men Go Home?
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: The characters they portrayed, more often than not, and the actors themselves.
On August 7, 1957, Oliver Hardy died. Due to his own poor health, Stan did not attend his funeral, stating "Babe (Hardy's nickname) would understand". After that, Stan realized he would never act again, but he did write gags and sketches for fellow comedians. People who knew Laurel said he was absolutely devastated by Hardy's death and never fully recovered. On one occasion following Hardy's passing, a casual fan mistook Laurel for his late partner. "Aren't you Oliver Hardy?" the fan asked. Laurel obliged, claiming he was indeed Oliver Hardy. The fan then asked whatever happened to "the other guy". Laurel tellingly replied: "Oh, him? Well, he went quite mad".
- I Ate WHAT?: Ollie pulls this off when he realizes he's just eaten the billiard chalk in Brats.
- Identity Amnesia: In A Chump at Oxford, Stan is revealed to actually be one "Lord Paddington", a brilliant and snobby university scholar who lost his memory (and most of his intelligence) and left campus when a window closed on his head. He temporarily becomes his alter ego in Chump when that same window drops on his head again, but the accident is naturally repeated once more just before the film's end, thereby returning Stan to his usual stupid self and maintaining the status quo.
- Jerk Ass: Ollie can come off across as this sometimes.
- Charlie Hall plays a overbearing husband in Them Thar Hills.
- Lord Paddington.
- The cop, nurse and professor in The Music Box.
- James Finlayson usualy plays this kind of guy.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite going as far to hit and outright bully Stan, Ollie will not hesitate to help Stan when he's in danger, and in Liberty, he takes Stan's hand and helps him walk across the girders, when Stan's sobbing and shaking because he's terrified that they'll fall.
- Karmic Trickster: Ollie and Stan pull this off in Them Thar Hills.
- Large Ham: Hardy, who shouts a lot at Stan.
- Legion of Lost Souls: Beau Hunks and The Flying Deuces have the boys joining the French Foreign Legion.
- Leitmotif: "The Cuckoo Song."
- Lethally Stupid: Stan. And how!...
- Ollie can be this also. Their natural gift for self-inflicted disasters is topped by The Three Stooges alone.
- Oliver Hardy once remarked that his character was actually the more thickheaded of the two, because he would always place his complete faith and trust in Stan no matter how invariably Stan led them into disaster.
- He also never admitted that it was his fault if he did something wrong, always blaming it on Stan.
- Mad Scientist: Dirty Work
- Made of Iron: Both of them in most of their films. They can take pianos crushing them, ladders in the eye, houses collapsing on them and truncheons to the groin with only minimal pain, then go back to what they were doing in the first place.
- Malaproper: Stan, often.
"A terrible cat's-after-me!" (Instead of a terrible catastrophe.)
- Man in a Kilt: Stan's title character in Putting Pants on Philip.
- Man Child: Laurel. And Hardy too. Actually, the entire premise on why they're so funny is that they are basically both man-children.
- Marilyn Maneuver: Done for laughs with Stan, wearing a kilt, in Putting Pants on Philip.
- Ms. Fanservice: Thelma Todd as Lady Plumtree in Another Fine Mess.
- Murphy's Bed: Plays a role in Be Big!
- Name and Name: Laurel & Hardy were their own names. That way they could control copyright over their public image.
- Never My Fault: Whenever things invariably went wrong, Ollie would tell Stan "Well, here's another
fine nice mess you've gotten me into!" This was Ollie's Catch Phrase.
- Nice Hats: Their bowlers.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: In the last Warner Bros. Bosko, The Talk-Ink Kid short, "Bosko's Picture Show", one of the films shown features Laurel and Hardy caricatures, dubbed as "Haurel and Lardy".
- No Fourth Wall: Ollie broke the Fourth Wall in nearly every single film, while Stan pulled off an Aside Glance a few times.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Everybody in the restaurant subjects the boys to this in Below Zero.
- Offscreen Crash: Frequently.
- On One Condition: An alternate, three-reel version of Laughing Gravy has Stan getting a letter informing him he's inherited $1,000 from a deceased uncle...provided he severs all connections with Ollie.
- Overly Long Gag: The boot routine that takes up the majority of Be Big. Because of it, Be Big is generally considered the worst of their shorts and sometimes even the worst film they ever made period prior to leaving Hal Roach.
- The Pratfall: There's even a fan magazine for the pair called Pratfall. It's also one of their trademarks.
- Pie in the Face / Food Fight: The Battle of the Century has what is reportedly the Trope Codifier of Pie in the Face and the biggest pie fight ever recorded on film.
- Pintsized Powerhouse: Stan, who can punch a man in the chin hard enough to knock him out.
- Puddle-Covering Chivalry: Stan does this for the girl he's been chasing after in Putting Pants on Philip. The girl jumps over his coat and then laughs at him. Then Ollie insists on stepping on the coat—which, naturally, is covering a five-foot deep hole filled with water.
- Really Gets Around: "Jeanie-Weenie", in Beau Hunks.
- Recycled Soundtrack: In Beau Hunks, the French Foreign Legion's March is a brass band version of Stan and Ollie's theme, the Cuckoo Song.
- The Remake / Recycled Script: Their first non-Roach feature, The Flying Deuces, plays with this. It's generally called a partial remake of their earlier four-reeler, Beau Hunks, using the same basic set-up - Stan and Ollie enlisting in the foreign legion after a woman breaks Ollie's heart - but not any of the earlier film's gags or plot developments.
- Rump Roast: Happens to Ollie in Them Thar Hills.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: Stan and Ollie. It shows in The Laurel & Hardy Murder Case.
- Separated at Birth / Twin Switch: Our Relations has Stan and Ollie meeting their identical twins, Alf Laurel and Bert Hardy.
- Servile Snarker: The butler in Dirty Work.
- They are depicted as Roman legionairies in Obelix and Co..
- They appear in the Mickey Mouse cartoon Mickey's Polo Party.
- Show Some Leg: How Stan stops the stagecoach in Way Out West, parodying It Happened One Night.
- Single Issue Landlord: In Laughing Gravy.
- Slapstick: Appears a lot, and is also one of the things the duo is primarily remembered for. Even after they switched to sound, loads and loads of slapstick appeared in their shorts and features.
- Squirrels in My Pants: The crab in Liberty.
- Strong Family Resemblance: Exaggerated in Brats: Stan and Ollie's kids are basically miniature versions of them, although Ollie's son doesn't have a mustache.
- Super Strength: Both are surprisingly strong-they can haul pianos up stairs again and again, tear down doors and push a man into a car hard enough for the car to tip over as well.
- Superhuman Transfusion: Variant— in Thicker Than Water, a botched blood transfusion (too much donated from Stan to Ollie, then too much put back from Ollie to Stan, and so on) results in Ollie's excess weight being transferred over to Stan. (Of course, in reality, Hardy had simply shaved his mustache and Laurel had grown one, to appear as each other.) See here.◊
- Sweet Dreams Fuel: An excellent source here, as they're so utterly hilarious any Nightmare Fuel will be smashed to bits within the first 5 minutes of any of their movies.
- The Take: In various forms, including all manner of Spit Takes and the hilarious Delayed Reaction take that was Laurel's specialty.
- Throw the Pin: Stan (naturally) in Beau Hunks.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: When Stan becomes Lord Paddington in A Chump at Oxford, he makes Ollie his manservant, and aims a lot of jokes about his weight and his double chin at him. This leads to Ollie angrily leaving.
- Tranquil Fury: Stan, even in One Good Turn when he snaps-he shows no external anger whatsoever.
- Too Dumb to Live: Both of 'em. Although they (almost) never die, they often end up with lots of injuries.
- Uncanny Family Resemblance: Brats has Stan and Ollie babysitting their lookalike children; Twice Two has them married to each other's lookalike sisters; Our Relations has them mixed up with their identical twins.
- Vagabond Buddies
- Vandalism Backfire: In You're Darn Tootin', Stan and Ollie knock each other's hats off as part of an Escalating War. Then Ollie stamps on what he thinks is Stan's hat. It turns out to be his own.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: The second variety. Stan and Ollie spend a lot of time engaging in Comedic Sociopathy around each other. In Real Life, this too was the case—but unlike many duos that went without with the "best buds" part, Laurel and Hardy omitted "vitriolic". This was perhaps a great part of their appeal: the actors themselves were dear friends, and it showed.
- Work Off the Debt: Averted in Below Zero; the duo treats a cop to a meal in return for helping them earlier. It turns out that if you can't pay your bill in said restaurant, you don't wash dishes; everyone in the restaurant subjects you to a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown. Guess what happens to Laurel and Hardy when it's revealed that they can't pay their check?
- Played straight in Swiss Miss, with the added caveat that the boys must work an extra day for any dishes broken in the course of their work. The chef they are put to work under, whom they had earlier subjected to a barrage of insults for not having apple pie, is only too happy to take advantage of this.