Women of the Twenties
Laurel and Hardy
Laurel and Hardy were a comedy double act during the early Classical Hollywood era of American cinema. The team was composed of English thin man Stan Laurel (1890–1965) and American fat man Oliver Hardy (1892–1957). They became well known during the late 1920s through the mid-1940s for their slapstick comedy, with Laurel playing the clumsy and childlike friend of the pompous bully Hardy. The duo’s signature tune is known variously as “The Cuckoo Song”, “Ku-Ku”, or “The Dance of the Cuckoos”. It was played over the opening credits of their films and has become as emblematic of the duo as their bowler hats.
Prior to emerging as a team, both actors had well-established film careers. Laurel had appeared in over 50 films while Hardy had been in more than 250 productions. The two comedians had previously worked together as cast members on the film The Lucky Dog in 1921. However, they were not a comedy team at that time and it was not until 1926 that they appeared in a movie short together, when both separately signed contracts with the Hal Roach film studio. Laurel and Hardy officially became a team in 1927 when they appeared together in the silent short film Putting Pants on Philip.
They appeared as a team in 107 films, starring in 32 short silent films, 40 short sound films, and 23 full-length feature films.
As a team they proved skilful in their melding of visual and verbal humour and made a seamless transition to the talking era in their first sound film Unaccustomed As We Are from 1929. The title took its name from the familiar phrase “Unaccustomed as we are to public speaking”. In the opening dialogue, Laurel and Hardy began by spoofing the slow and self-conscious speech of the early talking actors which became a routine they would use regularly.
The Son of the Sheik
The crashing chandelier scene from the Phantom.