Stan & Ollie

The untold story of the world's greatest comedy act.

In 1953, several years after their last film and with their immense celebrity on the wane, Stan Laurel and Ollie Hardy embark on a live tour of British seaside towns and music halls. Surprised by the modesty of the bookings and cramped little guesthouses, the two endure a subdued beginning to their tour. They struggle for audiences and their booking agent seems disinterested. But a series of tv guest spots and celebrity appearances soon rekindle the country’s interest in their genius and the buzz grows as they head towards a big London finale.

Poster for the Laurel & Hardy biopic Stan & OllieAs the attention builds, so too do old resentments, coming to a head as they’re joined by ‘the wives’, Lucille and Ida (Shirley Henderson and Nina Arianda, a hilarious double act in their own right).

Coogan and Reilly fans know their brilliance as physical comedians, but to watch them here is a revelation; they nail body language, mannerisms, and also routines the duo would have known in their sleep after decades performing together. Craft is sublime throughout, crystallized in a dazzling six-minute opening sequence captured by Laurie Rose’s camera team. Director Jon S. Baird (Filth) and screenwriter Jeff Pope (Philomena) offer a poignant study of lifelong male friendship, and a fitting tribute to two of cinema’s comedy giants.

– Tricia Tuttle, BFI London Film Festival

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