DISCOVER--the best of Laurel and Hardy

by jonabbott56 | created - 24 Dec 2012 | updated - 28 Jan 2016 | Public

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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1. Unaccustomed As We Are (1929)

21 min | Comedy, Short

7.1
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    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. Mrs. Kennedy, Oliver's beautiful neighbor from across the hall,... See full summary »

Directors: Lewis R. Foster, Hal Roach | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Edgar Kennedy, Mae Busch

Votes: 813

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.

2. Men O'War (1929)

Passed | 20 min | Short, Comedy, Family

7.4
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Two sailors on leave, Stanley and Oliver meet two girls at a park and invite them to have a soda. Unfortunately, the boys have only enough money to split theirs, a point which Oliver can't ... See full summary »

Director: Lewis R. Foster | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, James Finlayson, Anne Cornwall

Votes: 842

Highlights include a wonderful routine involving some stray underwear from a wash basket and the final chaos in the lake.

3. Perfect Day (1929)

Approved | 19 min | Short, Comedy

7.3
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Plans for a nice Sunday picnic seemed doomed even before Stanley and Oliver and their families get into the car. First the boys get into a fight and destroy all the sandwiches. Then the car... See full summary »

Director: James Parrott | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Edgar Kennedy, Kay Deslys

Votes: 1,073

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...

4. The Hoose-Gow (1929)

18 min | Comedy, Short

7.3
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Stanley and Oliver protest that they were only bystanders to the raid, but are hauled off to a prison labor camp anyway. They procede with their usual mayhem, Stanley getting his pick stuck... See full summary »

Director: James Parrott | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Symona Boniface, Chet Brandenburg

Votes: 783

There's something very magical about tree-chopping jokes. Lots of carnage and slapstick in this one.

5. Night Owls (1930)

Passed | 21 min | Short, Comedy

7.6
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After getting lambasted by the Police Chief for the 42 unsolved robberies committed on his watch, Officer Kennedy bamboozles vagrants Stanley and Oliver into a plan to recover his ... See full summary »

Director: James Parrott | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Edgar Kennedy, James Finlayson

Votes: 1,085

"...and if you must make a noise, make it quietly!!"

6. Blotto (1930)

Passed | 26 min | Short, Comedy

7.6
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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.

Director: James Parrott | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Anita Garvin, Baldwin Cooke

Votes: 1,151

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.

7. Be Big! (1931)

Passed | 28 min | Short, Comedy

7.0
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On their way to the train station with their wives for a vacation in Atlantic City, Stanley and Oliver get a phone call from a fellow lodge member who tells them a surprise stag party in ... See full summary »

Directors: James W. Horne, James Parrott | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Chet Brandenburg, Baldwin Cooke

Votes: 974

Another 'who wears the trousers' routine.

8. Brats (1930)

Passed | 21 min | Comedy, Short, Family

7.6
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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.

Director: James Parrott | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy

Votes: 1,282

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...

9. Below Zero (1930)

Passed | 20 min | Short, Comedy

7.4
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In the dead of winter, street musicians Stanley and Oliver aren't getting much business in a run-down neighborhood, and then their instruments are smashed in a run-in with a formidable ... See full summary »

Director: James Parrott | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Bobby Burns, Baldwin Cooke

Votes: 1,113

Best not to play "in the good old summertime" in the middle of a major freeze...

10. Hog Wild (1930)

Passed | 19 min | Short, Comedy

7.7
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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.

Director: James Parrott | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Yola d'Avril, Dorothy Granger

Votes: 1,314

Ollie puts up a radio aerial on the roof... or would if he could stay up there longer than five seconds...

11. Another Fine Mess (1930)

28 min | Comedy, Short

7.5
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Two homeless vagabonds hide out in a vacant mansion and pose as the residents when prospective lessees arrive and try to rent it.

Director: James Parrott | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Harry Bernard, Bobby Burns

Votes: 1,541

This one features the guys in their hobo personas.

12. Chickens Come Home- (1931)

Passed | 30 min | Short, Comedy

7.5
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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'). Stan's attempts to help Ollie keep the blackmailer ... See full summary »

Director: James W. Horne | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Mae Busch, Baldwin Cooke

Votes: 1,097

Classic example of Ollie's pomposity routine in this one.

13. Laughing Gravy (1930)

Passed | 21 min | Short, Comedy

7.5
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Stan and Ollie try to hide their pet dog Laughing Gravy from their exasperated, mean tempered landlord, who has a "No Pets" policy.

Director: James W. Horne | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Harry Bernard, Charles Dorety

Votes: 1,188

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.

14. Our Wife (1931)

Passed | 20 min | Short, Comedy

7.5
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Oliver's plans to marry his hefty sweetheart go awry when the girl's father gets a load of her intended groom. They then elope in a tiny car much too small for their combined dimensions, ... See full summary »

Director: James W. Horne | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, James Finlayson, Babe London

Votes: 994

15. Come Clean (1931)

20 min | Short, Comedy

7.4
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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. But their subterfuge is discovered, and to make... See full summary »

Director: James W. Horne | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Mae Busch, Gertrude Astor

Votes: 768

16. One Good Turn (1931)

Passed | 20 min | Short, Comedy

7.3
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Stan and Ollie are down on their luck and beg at an old lady's house for food. While they are eating they overhear a villainous landlord (Finlayson) threatening to evict her if she does not... See full summary »

Director: James W. Horne | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Mary Carr, James Finlayson

Votes: 958

A wonderful 'the worm turns' scene in this one when Stanley finally tires of Ollie constantly intimidating him...

17. Beau Hunks (1931)

Approved | 37 min | Short, Comedy

7.5
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Jilted by his girlfriend, "Jeanie-Weenie," Oliver joins the Foreign Legion to forget, bringing Stanley along with him. They wilt under the scorching desert sun and under the harsh ... See full summary »

Director: James W. Horne | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, James W. Horne, Charles Middleton

Votes: 1,201

"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.

18. Helpmates (1932)

Passed | 20 min | Short, Comedy

8.0
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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, and the typical catastrophies ensue. Somehow, however, ... See full summary »

Director: James Parrott | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Bobby Burns, Bob Callahan

Votes: 1,477

Slapstick heaven, perfection from start to finish. If you've never seen a Laurel and Hardy, start here.

19. Any Old Port! (1932)

Not Rated | 20 min | Short, Comedy

7.4
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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.

Director: James W. Horne | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Walter Long, Julie Bishop

Votes: 810

20. The Music Box (1932)

Approved | 29 min | Comedy, Short

8.1
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Like the legendary Sisyphus, deliverymen Laurel and Hardy struggle to push a large crated piano up a seemingly insurmountable flight of stairs.

Director: James Parrott | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Dinah, Billy Gilbert

Votes: 5,448

Love the impromptu dance routine when the music is suddenly activated.

21. The Chimp (1932)

Passed | 25 min | Short, Comedy

7.1
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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.

Director: James Parrott | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Bobby Burns, Baldwin Cooke

Votes: 927

22. County Hospital (1932)

Passed | 19 min | Short, Comedy

7.4
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In the hospital with a broken leg Ollie is visited by Stan, who brings him hard-boiled eggs, nuts, and total mayhem.

Director: James Parrott | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Billy Gilbert, May Wallace

Votes: 1,497

Couldn't have put it better myself. "Hard boiled eggs and nuts!!".

23. Scram! (1932)

Passed | 20 min | Comedy, Short

7.5
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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. The drunk can't find his key, but the boys... See full summary »

Directors: Ray McCarey, Lloyd French, Jack Lloyd | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Richard Cramer, Arthur Housman

Votes: 931

24. Their First Mistake (1932)

Passed | 21 min | Comedy, Short

7.5
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Mrs. Hardy is irate that her husband Oliver spends more time with his friend Stanley than with her. Oliver decides to adopt a baby, hoping that it will keep his wife occupied so that he and... See full summary »

Director: George Marshall | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Mae Busch, Billy Gilbert

Votes: 976

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?

25. Towed in a Hole (1932)

Passed | 21 min | Comedy, Short

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Although they are successful fishmongers, Stan convinces Ollie that they should become fishermen too - but making a boat seaworthy is not an easy task.

Director: George Marshall | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Billy Gilbert

Votes: 1,368

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.

26. Twice Two (1933)

Passed | 20 min | Comedy, Short

7.1
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Stan and Ollie are married to each other's sisters, and plan a dinner party to celebrate their mutual anniversaries.

Director: James Parrott | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Baldwin Cooke, Charlie Hall

Votes: 862

This is the one where Laurel and Hardy play dual roles as each others' wives.

27. Me and My Pal (1933)

Passed | 20 min | Short, Comedy

7.4
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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, Oliver and his best man Stanley become absorbed in a ... See full summary »

Directors: Charley Rogers, Lloyd French | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, James Finlayson, Marion Bardell

Votes: 896

28. The Midnight Patrol (1933)

Passed | 20 min | Short, Comedy

7.2
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    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. They then miss the broadcast address of a ... See full summary »

Director: Lloyd French | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Harry Bernard, Billy Bletcher

Votes: 823

29. Busy Bodies (1933)

Passed | 19 min | Short, Comedy

7.9
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    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.

Director: Lloyd French | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Dick Gilbert, Charlie Hall

Votes: 1,707

30. Dirty Work (1933)

Passed | 19 min | Short, Comedy, Sci-Fi

7.6
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Chimney sweeps Stanley and Oliver go about their job, reducing Professor Noodle's living room to a shambles in the process, while the mad doctor works in his laboratory perfecting his "... See full summary »

Director: Lloyd French | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Samuel Adams, Jiggs

Votes: 1,272

31. Sons of the Desert (1933)

Passed | 68 min | Comedy

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 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.

Director: William A. Seiter | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Charley Chase, Mae Busch

Votes: 6,195

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...

32. Going Bye-Bye! (1934)

Passed | 21 min | Short, Comedy

7.8
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    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. Butch's girl replies to the advert and... See full summary »

Director: Charley Rogers | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Mae Busch, Walter Long

Votes: 969

"Aren'tcha gonna hang 'im??"

33. Them Thar Hills (1934)

Passed | 20 min | Comedy, Short

7.8
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Stan and Ollie take a trip into the mountains ('the high multitude') so that Ollie can recover from gout. Bootleggers have dumped their moonshine in the well from which the boys sample ... See full summary »

Director: Charley Rogers | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Mae Busch, Charlie Hall

Votes: 1,501

Pom pa Pom Pom pa-Pom pompom Pom Pom...

34. Tit for Tat (1935)

Approved | 19 min | Comedy, Short, Family

7.7
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Stan & Ollie have set up their own electrical repair store. Unfortunately, for them, the grocery store opposite is run by the man & wife they encountered with in Them Thar Hills (1935). ... See full summary »

Director: Charley Rogers | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Mae Busch, Charlie Hall

Votes: 1,533

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.

35. The Fixer Uppers (1935)

21 min | Short, Comedy

7.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Door-to-door greeting card salesmen Stanley and Oliver call upon Mrs. Pierre Gustave, a woman distraught over her husband's neglect. They agree to her plan to reclaim her husband's ... See full summary »

Director: Charley Rogers | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Mae Busch, Arthur Housman

Votes: 862

36. Thicker Than Water (1935)

Passed | 21 min | Comedy, Short

7.5
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Oliver's in trouble with his wife after missing a payment on their furniture, having given the money to Stanley, who used it instead to pay Mrs. Hardy for his room and board. While doing ... See full summary »

Director: James W. Horne | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Daphne Pollard, James Finlayson

Votes: 975

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.

37. Way Out West (1937)

G | 64 min | Comedy, Family, Western

7.7
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Stan and Ollie are charged with delivering the deed to a valuable gold mine to the daughter of a dead prospector. However they reckon without the machinations of her evil guardian Mickey ... See full summary »

Director: James W. Horne | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Sharon Lynn, James Finlayson

Votes: 6,266

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.