The critically acclaimed movie Stan & Ollie is launched in UK cinemas on Friday. It paperwork the legendary comedy duo’s remaining tour, which got here to an abrupt finish within the English metropolis of Plymouth in Might 1954.
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy made their first look as a comedy pairing in 1927, within the silent quick movie Placing Pants on Philip, and shortly developed an irresistible chemistry.
With Laurel taking part in the clumsy and harmless good friend of pompous Hardy, their comedy slapstick noticed them change into two of the most important stars in Hollywood.
However by 1953, once they launched into their British tour, Laurel and Hardy had been not the box-office giants that they had as soon as been.
Throughout their eight months in England, Scotland and Eire, they usually carried out to half-empty theatres, with Hardy’s failing well being a priority.
Stan & Ollie director Jon S Baird has described the movie as a “love story about these two guys, who simply occurred to be Laurel and Hardy”.
John C Reilly, who performs Hardy, mentioned: “It was naturally a really reflective time for them – they had been wanting again on their lives collectively.”
Philip Hutchinson – who works as an Oliver Hardy re-enactor, recreating the routines from the flicks and music halls – mentioned opinions on the tour had been “actually combined”.
“The children are nonetheless loving the exhibits, the critics are very cut up, the homes are typically full, typically not.
“Usually, the opinions are inclined to say they had been nonetheless nice however among the routine and script wasn’t as sturdy as their earlier work,” he mentioned.
Known as Birds Of A Feather, the tour started in Northampton in October 1953, earlier than visiting cities together with Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.
In his weekly report, the theatre supervisor of Birmingham Hippodrome Bertie Adams wrote that Laurel and Hardy acquired “a really glorious reception”.
It appears the pair weren’t blind to their failure to pack out each venue, although.
After a four-week run on the Nottingham Empire, Laurel wrote in a letter dated 19 January 1954 that present enterprise in Britain was “not too good typically”.
“They’re all blaming the invasion of TV, which I do not suppose has something to do with it. There’s a terrific quantity of unemployed plus loads of labour bother – strikes, and so on,” he wrote.
“Only a case of dangerous situations within the nation. The TV applications I’ve seen, would definitely drive folks INTO a theatre – even to see a foul present! They’re terrible!”
Because the tour continued, viewers numbers did start to rise, however the enjoyable got here to an abrupt finish on 17 Might 1954.
After performing a single night time on the Palace Theatre in Plymouth, Hardy had a gentle coronary heart assault, forcing the duo to cancel their run within the metropolis and the remainder of the tour.
Hardy stayed at an area lodge to get well, whereas Laurel visited the theatre each night time to help different acts, Hutchinson mentioned.
An area newspaper overview mentioned regardless of Hardy’s apparent well being points on the night time they carried out, their “outdated cleverness and that pleasant craziness remains to be there”.
Joyce Harrison and David Bullock had been within the viewers on the Palace Theatre to see what turned out to be Laurel and Hardy’s remaining stage efficiency.
Mrs Harrison was 14 when she went together with her mum, who was a giant fan.
“We sat close to the entrance and the slapstick was completely good – you cried with laughter it was so humorous.
“We used to listen to them on the radio as a result of we did not have any telly in these days, however to see them in individual was utterly totally different,” she mentioned.
She added the theatre was “completely packed” and it was a deal with to have the ability to go together with “not a lot cash round in these days”.
“I feel I wore my greatest gown if I bear in mind.”
In 1954 David Bullock, now 81, was working as an apprentice at Plymouth’s dockyard.
As a boy he used to realize entrance to the Palace Theatre through the stage door to observe the leisure with out having to purchase a ticket.
And that is how he managed to get into the venue to see the comedy duo’s swansong.
“I bear in mind seeing the posters – they used to have one on the entrance the place you went to pay,” he mentioned.
“We used to see Laurel and Hardy on the Saturday morning footage so once I heard they had been coming to Plymouth, I believed ‘I am going to go and see them’.
“They had been carrying the identical black fits they all the time wore on tv, with the bowler hats. I bear in mind seeing all that.”
After Hardy was signed off by a physician, the duo set sail from Hull again to America on 2 June and would by no means return to England – the country of Laurel’s birth.
Laurel and Hardy would make just one extra look collectively, on tv – they had been interviewed on the US model of This Is Your Life on 1 December 1954.
Hardy died aged 65 in August 1957 and Laurel refused to carry out on stage or act in movies with out his greatest good friend.
In February 1965, simply over a decade after the comedy legends’ remaining stage efficiency, Laurel died aged 74 in Los Angeles.
Stan & Ollie is on basic cinema launch from Friday 11 January.