Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Stan Without Ollie: Stan Laurel Solo Films, 1917-1927
Stan Laurel starred in nearly five dozen films before teaming with Oliver Hardy in 1927. Ted Okuda and James L. Neibaur examine these films in depth in a new book, Stan Without Ollie: Stan Laurel Solo Films, 1917-1927.
I must admit that, as great as think Stan Laurel is, I have generally found his solo work to be erratic and unfocused. His style and characterizations vary wildly from film to film (and sometimes within a single film). His performance can be subtle and patient in one outing and then frantic and exaggerated in the next. But this book places these films into a clear context and brings into focus the performer's gradual development into the comedy legend that we know today.
Okuda and Neibaur, who have been writing film history books since the 1980s, are trustworthy guides. Their last collaboration, The Jerry Lewis Films: An Analytical Filmography of the Innovative Comic, has remained for many years the most valuable book available on Lewis' work. It is good to see these authors come together again on another worthwhile project.