The Stan Laurel Collection (Slapstick Symposium) (1925)
Editorial review of The Stan Laurel Collection (Slapstick Symposium) (1925) – courtesy of Amazon.com
The great Stan Laurel was 37 years old when he definitively teamed up with Oliver Hardy in 1927. So what had he done up till then? The Stan Laurel Collection valuably fills in a gap, with 17 comedy shorts Laurel made for producer Hal Roach between 1923 and 1925. Laurel was already a veteran vaudevillian, with many previous stabs at film work, when he embarked on this series for Roach. The comic personality on display will not be instantly familiar to Laurel and Hardy fans. In a frantic piece like Oranges and Lemons, Laurel is much closer to the acrobatic mischief of Chaplin than to the slow-burning simpleton he perfected opposite Hardy. Laurel was a busy gag-writer and worked on story and direction as well, and it says something about his imagination that these shorts range all over the planet for their settings: Frozen Hearts parodies Russian melodrama (and allows Stan a wonderfully daft Russian dance), Roughest Africa spoofs the African travelogue, with Laurel battling lion and elephant. Movie parodies were a Laurel specialty; Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pride is a send-up of a certain Robert Louis Stevenson story, with Laurel’s monster an unexpected demonic treat. The final short on disc 2 is Yes, Yes, Nanette, co-directed by Laurel and starring Jimmy Finlayson, a frequent stooge in these shorts. In a supporting role, there’s “Babe” Hardy, pointing the way toward greatness. These shorts are fun, but Laurel and Hardy needed each other. —Robert Horton
Description of The Stan Laurel Collection
Before teaming up with Oliver Hardy, Stan Laurel was one of the most important Hollywood comics of his time, competing with the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Having been Chaplin’s understudy and roommate, Laurel spent most of the 1910s avoiding actual demands to become a Chaplin lookalike. It was only in the 1920s that Stan laurel became established enough to capture the attention of producer Hal Roach and compete on equal terms with his mentor. The rare 16 short films (1923-1925) in this all-new DVD were finally restored to their original versions. All shot between 1923 and 1925, these films are a historic proof of Laurel’s slapstick genius and a remarkable showcase of the intense work which allowed Lloyd to stand out in a time of great competition among hundreds of hopeful slapstick stars.
From the parodies of popular films from the 1920s (“Roughest Africa”. “The Soilers”) to the hilarious social satires (“Frozen Hearts”, “Short Kilts”) or the familial ones (“Mother’s Joy”, “Yes, Yes, Nanette”) and ending with real jewels of silent comedy (“Oranges and Lemons”, “Postage Due”), this British-born comedian charms, thanks to his understanding of storytelling and his irresistible humor. These 16 short films are gathered on DVD for the first time thanks to the help of collectors and film archives from around the world.
- Roughest Africa(1923):
During an expedition in Africa, Stan is confronted by wild animals for the camera of a documentary filmmaker.
- The Soilers(1923):
Canister (Stan Laurel), a mine owner in Alaska, would give his life to get his confiscated goods/property back.
- Mother’s Joy(1924):
An old man asks a lawyer to find his missing daughter and grand-son who turns out to be a very extravagant young man.
- Postage Due(1924):
Willy Worst (Stan Laurel) turns a local post-office upside-down just by trying to send a letter.
- The Sleuth(1925):
Stan is a detective who essentially relies on different costumes to successfully complete his investigations.
- Yes, Yes, Nanette(1925):
Nanette comes home to introduce her husband to her family. Nanette’s ex-fiance (Oliver Hardy) takes advantage of the situation to make a comeback in her life.
- And the following titles:
Oranges and Lemons(1923), Frozen Hearts(1923), Near Dublin(1924), Zeb Vs Paprika(1924), Short Kilts(1924), West of Hot Dog(1924), The Snow Hawk(1925), Navy Blue Days(1925), Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pryde(1925), Half a Man(1925).