DISCOVER--the best of Laurel and Hardy

Filmed comedy pretty much began with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, and this is a list of their very best work in chronological order, which appeared from the very beginning of sound to the beginning of the war years. It is not a complete list of their entire inventory, but is intended as an introduction or guide to their classic material. They were not infallible, and not all their stuff worked, but this was due not to ineptitude or lack of ability but rather Stan's constant need to experiment, develop, and rework their material. He was not afraid to repeat something that did work, or rework something that almost worked, and so their output literally develops experimentally in front of the audience. Film was a new medium, and Laurel was thrilled by it... and in Oliver Hardy he had the perfect foil with whom to explore and exploit its potential. We have seen others stealing from them... shall we say inspired by them... ever since. Please discover and enjoy their wonderful, extraordinary achievements.
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Unaccustomed As We Are (1929 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Oliver invites his friend Stanley over for a nice home-cooked meal, but Mrs. Hardy wants nothing to do with it and walks out... (21 mins.)
“ Recent addition: Can't believe I left this one out! Stan and Ollie's first talkie, and Stan shows an immediate understanding of the possibilities. Many reviewers don't seem to realise what a big deal this was in 1929. First there's a lengthy verbal routine based around Ollie introducing Stan to Mrs. Kennedy, then a routine in which Ollie puts on a record while his wife is nagging him, and she starts to bitch to the music (watch Ollie's fingers dancing around on his arm), then three explosions in the kitchen, followed by a routine involving whistling, and finally a superb closing gag with Stan smugly departing but then tumbling (unseen, sound only) down several flights of stairs. It's also the film that first employs Ollie's plaintive "Why don't you do something to *help* me!!?". Amazing. ” - jonabbott56
Men O'War (1929 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Two sailors on leave, Stanley and Oliver meet two girls at a park and invite them to have a soda. Unfortunately... (20 mins.)
Director: Lewis R. Foster
“ Highlights include a wonderful routine involving some stray underwear from a wash basket and the final chaos in the lake. ” - jonabbott56
Perfect Day (1929 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Plans for a nice Sunday picnic seemed doomed even before Stanley and Oliver and their families get into the car... (19 mins.)
Director: James Parrott
“ The family are going out for the day, but only Laurel and Hardy could spend fifteen minutes trying to pull away from the kerbside ("goodbye!!"). And look at that amazing plate of sandwiches... ” - jonabbott56
The Hoose-Gow (1929 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Stanley and Oliver protest that they were only bystanders to the raid, but are hauled off to a prison labor camp anyway... (18 mins.)
Director: James Parrott
“ There's something very magical about tree-chopping jokes. Lots of carnage and slapstick in this one. ” - jonabbott56
Night Owls (1930 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
After getting lambasted by the Police Chief for the 42 unsolved robberies committed on his watch, Officer... (21 mins.)
Director: James Parrott
“ "...and if you must make a noise, make it quietly!!" ” - jonabbott56
Blotto (1930 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Stan fakes receiving a telegram so he can go to a club with Ollie and a bottle of his unsuspecting wife's liquor, but she overhears his plans. (26 mins.)
Director: James Parrott
“ One of the very many "getting one over on the wives" story lines. The idea of getting drunk on non-alcoholic drinks simply because you don't know remains one of the most frequently ripped-off Laurel and Hardy routines. ” - jonabbott56
Be Big! (1931 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
On their way to the train station with their wives for a vacation in Atlantic City, Stanley and Oliver... (28 mins.)
“ Another 'who wears the trousers' routine. ” - jonabbott56
Brats (1930 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Laurel and Hardy's bid for a quiet evening of checkers and pool is constantly interrupted by their squabbling brats little Ollie and little Stanley. (21 mins.)
Director: James Parrott
“ Laurel and Hardy play their own infant children alongside their adult selves with the aid of oversized props in this one (Laurel acquired much of his material from observing the mannerisms of children--see Towed in the Hole and Beau Chumps for two prime examples). Best gag has Ollie getting the glass of water--"I'll get it--you might spill it". Cue torrent of water from overflowing bathtub that washes them both downstairs... ” - jonabbott56
Below Zero (1930 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
In the dead of winter, street musicians Stanley and Oliver aren't getting much business in a run-down neighborhood... (20 mins.)
Director: James Parrott
“ Best not to play "in the good old summertime" in the middle of a major freeze... ” - jonabbott56
Hog Wild (1930 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Ollie can't find his hat, much to the amusement of his wife and maid. Then Ollie and Stan attempt to install a rooftop radio antenna. (19 mins.)
Director: James Parrott
“ Ollie puts up a radio aerial on the roof... or would if he could stay up there longer than five seconds... ” - jonabbott56
Another Fine Mess (1930 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Two homeless vagabonds hide out in a vacant mansion and pose as the residents when prospective lessees arrive and try to rent it. (28 mins.)
Director: James Parrott
“ This one features the guys in their hobo personas. ” - jonabbott56
Chickens Come Home- (1931 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Ollie is running for mayor when an old flame (Mae Busch) tries to blackmail him with a old photo ('just the same old apple-cheeked boy')... (30 mins.)
Director: James W. Horne
“ Classic example of Ollie's pomposity routine in this one. ” - jonabbott56
Laughing Gravy (1930 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Stan and Ollie try to hide their pet dog Laughing Gravy from their exasperated, mean tempered landlord, who has a "No Pets" policy. (21 mins.)
Director: James W. Horne
“ The most successful of the duo's hidden pet from the landlord routines, also done on other occasions with a goat and a chimp. Here it's a dog. ” - jonabbott56
Our Wife (1931 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Oliver's plans to marry his hefty sweetheart go awry when the girl's father gets a load of her intended groom... (20 mins.)
Director: James W. Horne
Come Clean (1931 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
The Hardys, hoping to avoid having the Laurels drop in and spoil their quiet evening, pretend not to be home when the couple inevitably call... (20 mins.)
Director: James W. Horne
One Good Turn (1931 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Stan and Ollie are down on their luck and beg at an old lady's house for food. While they are eating... (20 mins.)
Director: James W. Horne
“ A wonderful 'the worm turns' scene in this one when Stanley finally tires of Ollie constantly intimidating him... ” - jonabbott56
Beau Hunks (1931 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Jilted by his girlfriend, "Jeanie-Weenie," Oliver joins the Foreign Legion to forget, bringing Stanley along with him... (37 mins.)
Director: James W. Horne
“ "Loved by everybody" acquires a delicious double meaning in this one, all the funnier for being uttered in innocence by Stan. Loved by me is the exquisite scene where the boys stride into the glowering commandant's office and announce they've changed their minds and would like to go home now please. After they've had the prime concept of the Foreign Legion explained to them in no uncertain terms (bleached-white bones come into it somewhere), it takes them an eye-watering eternity to simply leave his room, Charles Middleton (Ming the merciless himself) silently simmering and slow-burning all the while. Marvellous. ” - jonabbott56
Helpmates (1932 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Oliver's house is in a shambles after a wild party, and his wife is due home at noon. He calls Stanley to help him fix the place up... (20 mins.)
Director: James Parrott
“ Slapstick heaven, perfection from start to finish. If you've never seen a Laurel and Hardy, start here. ” - jonabbott56
Any Old Port! (1932 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
In need of funds, Hardy happens to meet an old friend, now a boxing promoter, and volunteers "Battling Laurel" as the team's prizefighter, only to discover their opponent in the ring is a fearsome old nemesis. (20 mins.)
Director: James W. Horne
The Music Box (1932 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Like the legendary Sisyphus, deliverymen Laurel and Hardy struggle to push a large crated piano up a seemingly insurmountable flight of stairs. (29 mins.)
Director: James Parrott
“ Love the impromptu dance routine when the music is suddenly activated. ” - jonabbott56
The Chimp (1932 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Two bumbling circus performers inadvertently help drive the circus into ruin and then end up in possession of a flea circus and an oversized chimp. (25 mins.)
Director: James Parrott
County Hospital (1932 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
In the hospital with a broken leg Ollie is visited by Stan, who brings him hard-boiled eggs, nuts, and total mayhem. (19 mins.)
Director: James Parrott
“ Couldn't have put it better myself. "Hard boiled eggs and nuts!!". ” - jonabbott56
Scram! (1932 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Ordered out of town by angry Judge Beaumont, vagrants Stanley and Oliver meet a congenial drunk who invites them to stay at his luxurious mansion... (20 mins.)
Director: Raymond McCarey
Their First Mistake (1932 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Mrs. Hardy is irate that her husband Oliver spends more time with his friend Stanley than with her. Oliver decides to adopt a baby... (21 mins.)
Director: George Marshall
“ The famous baby routine, ripped off by everybody... Despite both being male, they find themselves parroting the eternal dilemma of the expectant couple dating back to the dawn of time--what next? ” - jonabbott56
Towed in a Hole (1932 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Although they are successful fishmongers, Stan convinces Ollie that they should become fishermen too, but making a boat seaworthy is an easy task. (21 mins.)
Director: George Marshall
“ One of the classics, with the boys doing up a boat--"Tell me that again!". Superb physical comedy, including a great tit for tat routine and a wonderful sequence with Stan locked up below. ” - jonabbott56
Twice Two (1933 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Stan and Ollie are married to each other's sisters, and plan a dinner party to celebrate their mutual anniversaries. (20 mins.)
Director: James Parrott
“ This is the one where Laurel and Hardy play dual roles as each others' wives. ” - jonabbott56
Me and My Pal (1933 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
It's the morning of Oliver's wedding to oil baron Peter Cucumber's daughter. While waiting for the taxi to take them to the ceremony... (20 mins.)
Director: Charles Rogers
The Midnight Patrol (1933 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Novice policemen Stanley and Oliver, eating lunch in their patrol car, nearly have their spare tire stolen by a thief and his sassy partner... (20 mins.)
Director: Lloyd French
Busy Bodies (1933 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Stan and Ollie do battle with inanimate objects, their co-workers, and the laws of physics during a routine work day at the sawmill. (19 mins.)
Director: Lloyd French
Dirty Work (1933 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Chimney sweeps Stanley and Oliver go about their job, reducing Professor Noodle's living room to a shambles in the process... (19 mins.)
Director: Lloyd French
Sons of the Desert (1933)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
When Stan and Ollie trick their wives into thinking that they are taking a medicinal cruise while they're actually going to a convention, the wives find out the truth the hard way. (68 mins.)
“ Priceless. Watch for the scene with the guys carelessly capering about on the incriminating newsreel, and the classic 'trying to sit down without disturbing those already seated' routine that has since become a comedy staple used by all. Since Sons of the Desert, no-one has been able to sit down in an auditorium without causing a commotion... ” - jonabbott56
Going Bye-Bye! (1934 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Stan and Ollie give evidence which convicts vicious gangster Butch. They plan to leave town and advertise for a traveling companion to share expenses... (21 mins.)
Director: Charles Rogers
“ "Aren'tcha gonna hang 'im??" ” - jonabbott56
Them Thar Hills (1934 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Stan and Ollie take a trip into the mountains ('the high multitude') so that Ollie can recover from gout... (20 mins.)
Director: Charles Rogers
“ Pom pa Pom Pom pa-Pom pompom Pom Pom... ” - jonabbott56
Tit for Tat (1935 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Stan & Ollie have set up their own electrical repair store. Unfortunately, for them, the grocery store... (19 mins.)
Director: Charles Rogers
“ Although a separate scenario, this is a direct follow-on from the previous film as the boys run into the hideous Halls again. A rare risqué joke has Hardy coming downstairs with Hall's wife after being rescued from the ledge through the bedroom window and announcing "I've never been in a position like that before!" as Charlie Hall silently trembles with rage. Magnificent. ” - jonabbott56
The Fixer Uppers (1935 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Door-to-door greeting card salesmen Stanley and Oliver call upon Mrs. Pierre Gustave, a woman distraught over her husband's neglect... (21 mins.)
Director: Charles Rogers
Thicker Than Water (1935 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Oliver's in trouble with his wife after missing a payment on their furniture, having given the money to Stanley... (21 mins.)
Director: James W. Horne
“ The final two-reeler ends with a blood transfusion that goes haywire and transforms each into the other's persona. As it would, of course. ” - jonabbott56
Way Out West (1937)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Stan and Ollie are charged with delivering the deed to a valuable gold mine to the daughter of a dead prospector... (64 mins.)
Director: James W. Horne
“ Although they continued to make films up until 1945, with the horrendous one-off Atoll K in 1952, Thicker Than Water was their last two-reeler (20 minute film, their perfect format), and Way Out West their last quality piece of work. Fortunately, it was a delightful way to go out, and includes their famous dance routine and Trail of the Lonesome Pine performance. Sadly, the rubbish they made after this (not entirely their fault, as they lost much of their creative freedom to studio suits who thought they knew better) is often much more prominent than their good stuff, as it is often in the public domain (i.e. can be released by anyone and everyone for a quick buck), which is the value of this list. Still, what a legacy they left us.

Jon is not on Facebook, but can reply to comments here, at the base of this list.

Obsessed with the popular culture of the 1960s and surrounding decades, Jon Abbott has been writing about film and TV for over thirty years in around two dozen different publications, trade, populist, and specialist. He is the author of several books, including

Irwin Allen Television Productions 1964-1970,
Stephen J. Cannell Television Productions: A History of All Series and Pilots,
The Elvis Films,
Cool TV of the 1960s: Three Shows That Changed the World,
and Strange New World: Sex Films of the 1970s.

See his Amazon author's page, and his other lists on the IMDB, all under the pre-fix DISCOVER. ” - jonabbott56