While “Stan & Ollie”, a biopic devoted to the last tour of the famous comic duo of Laurel and Hardy, released in cinemas today, meeting with Roland Lacourbe, author of the book “Laurel and Hardy : the true story”. Metropolitan FilmExport AlloCiné : Laurel and Hardy, for you, in a few words, what was it, who was it ? How would you define collaboration ? Is there reason to say that they formed the greatest comedy duo of all time ?
Roland Lacourbe, author of the book “Laurel and Hardy : the true story” : For me, as for millions of people on the planet, Laurel and Hardy, this is my entire childhood. As soon as screamed in the movie theater, their famous musiquette, I knew that I was going to laugh and have a good time. They are unquestionably the greatest comic of all time. There is no other example of a duo as popular in the world : the United States, Europe and… in the Far East !
Despite the decades, most of the films of Laurel and Hardy are still laughing all the generations of spectators. How, according to you, have they managed to make their humour is immortal, which is a feat rare for an artist to be a comic ?
I believe that the secret lies in the empathy they evoke in viewers. This is due to their naivety apparent, their natural friendliness and their fundamental innocence : they give the feeling that the whole world is higher, which facilitates the laughter and mockery without the smallest ounce of malice. Metropolitan FilmExport
Do you know how are born with their “gags” the most famous ? The movement of tie for Oliver, scratching of head Stan ? In addition to these two signs very distinctive, what are according to you their best signatures ?
The gags of their films were highly worked. This is Laurel , the “mastermind” of the duo, who wrote them. But the ideas that define the character are born, most of the time, spontaneously on the set, during filming. Impossible to trace to their origin. Stan has stayed true to his two-gesture key — whining and scratching at the top of the skull — so he doesn’t liked them much, but they were characteristic and this is what the audience expected of his character. And the best thing Ollie remains his continual glances to the camera that he agrémentait a wide range of shades : a look of commiseration, of complicity, of connivance, or of exasperation.
Have you been able to discover “Stan & Ollie” of Jon S. Baird ? The film match the vision that you get of the duo, especially during this last tour of England ?
I find the film remarkable because extremely faithful to the image that we forge with the couple of actors in their relationships to each other, and conforming at all points to the countless testimonies that have been collected from their employees and their relatives for decades. The authors of the film (the writer Jeff Pope and director Jon S. Baird) have managed to be both close to reality and to avoid any mawkishness that might have aroused their Swan Song, their last appearances in public — by citations of gags that demonstrate a perfect knowledge of their work. In addition, by way of their formidable talent, the two actors that embody them [editor’s note : Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly] are so much dragged into their characters that, from the first minutes of the projection, one has the impression to see the real Laurel and Hardy . Metropolitan FilmExport
We know that Laurel wrote and oversaw most of the films of the duo, and he has continued to do so even after the disappearance of Hardy, but what is it ? What was according to you its contribution to their business, in addition to his talent as an actor ? Beyond that, what do you think they brought the one to the other ? How are they completed ?
Stan continued, until the end of his life — eight years after the death of Ollie, to write skits and dialogues for films of Laurel and Hardy, which will never see the light of day. John McCabe, their biographer, has collected in a book in 1972. Oliver Hardy, himself, was a man of extremely modest and always felt very inferior to her partner. This is why he served with the only quality which he considered legitimately have, his exceptional talent as an actor. I think this admiration deep Ollie for Stan was his greatest contribution to the cohesion of their team. Asked a day to each one what he thought of his partner ; Stan replied Ollie : “He is worth more than its weight in diamond.” And Ollie Stan : “If I ever wished to be someone else, it was to be in Laurel.” For more information on the work of Roland Lacourbe, “Laurel and Hardy : the true story”, published by The Archipelago… (Re)discover the trailer of “Stan & Ollie”, in cinemas from today… Stan & Ollie trailer VO