A Chump at Oxford (1940) Poster

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"If I could only bring your memory back."
The_Movie_Cat19 June 2002
Warning: Spoilers

Some Laurel and Hardy comedies really stick in the mind. Some of them I found quite disturbing and remembered them long afterwards due to this. Oliver the Eighth, where Ollie faces being murdered if he falls asleep. Or how about The Live Ghost, where their necks are twisted round by an angry sailor? A Chump at Oxford was another I would never forget, with what seemed an eerie double life for Stan. We find he'd suffered a memory loss and is really Lord Paddington, an upper class intellectual. Eventually he's restored to normal (and Stan seems dopier than usual to accentuate the difference), but the question remains: is Stan really Stan or Lord Paddington? Add to this an Oxford lynch mob and these events can seem quite horrifying to younger viewers. As a result I had fond memories of this one, to find that it's only sporadically amusing.

One thing I noticed seeing it again is how sketchy it seems. The fairly humorous butler and maid intro feels like a vignette, completely unconnected with the rest of the film. Research confirms this, the movie being shot as a forty-minute endeavour in June 1939. The extra footage was filmed in September of the same year to make it a feature for European sale. That said, even some of the original footage seems padded, with a seven-minute bench scene that is extended long past its natural lifespan.

When I was eight the idea of two grown men being terrified of a man dressed up as a ghost seemed like the funniest thing in the world to me. Now it feels fairly demeaning, or maybe it's seeing Oxford populated by the oldest students on Earth. When Laurel and Hardy arrive at Oxford they're cast as reactive victims of the stereotyped English students. (True to Hollywood form, even in a film populated by a majority of English actors they're still the villains, hoping to "beat those Yankees").

However, the reason for the fond memories of this one - not just by me, but by everyone who speaks about it, it seems - is the blissful final eight minutes when Stan becomes Lord Paddington. Absolutely hilarious, adopting a mockery of an accent and the predilection for calling Ollie "Fatty". He says it just seven times, but every time he does so it's hysterical, with "you're a witty old stick in the mud, aren't you, Fatty?" a particular highlight. If only the rest of the film was as good, this would be a classic. Unfortunately it's too patchy, making this, overall, just a very average Laurel and Hardy movie. The memory cheats.
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OK vehicle for Stan 'n' Ollie - and Peter Cushing!...
Libretio8 February 2005

Aspect ratio: 1.37:1

Sound format: Mono

(Black and white)

Arriving in Oxford to improve their education, Stan and Ollie fall victim to a number of practical jokes by their fellow students, until a knock on the head transforms Stan into a brilliant scholar!

Originally released in two separate versions - a 42 minute print for the US market, and a 63 minute European edition - this patchwork parody of A YANK AT OXFORD (1938) arrived at the tail-end of a long collaboration between Laurel and Hardy and producer Hal Roach, which ended in 1940 following the production of SAPS AT SEA. The longer version of "Chump" includes an unrelated opening reel derived from a scenario in L&H's silent short FROM SOUP TO NUTS (1928), and while this material is only tenuously related to subsequent plot developments, there's still much to admire in the various set-pieces, including L&H as 'maid' and butler at a swank dinner party (Stan is told to serve the salad undressed!...), the famous maze sequence, and a show-stealing turn from Stan as alter ego 'Lord Paddington', an Oxford champion who excels at sports, addresses Ollie as 'Fatty', and is asked to advise Einstein on his theory of relativity! The movie is also notable for providing Peter Cushing with one of his earliest roles, alongside L&H stalwart Charlie Hall as a rabble-rousing student. Surprisingly, James Finlayson - another L&H regular - goes uncredited, despite playing a prominent role in the opening reel. Directed by comedy specialist Alfred Goulding, and co-written by silent star Harry Langdon.
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G.Spider30 June 1999
This is without doubt one of the best L & H films. It opens with their hilarious attempts at finding employment, which involve Stan dressing as a maid. Then, after foiling a bank robbery whilst working as street cleaners, the duo are rewarded with the possibility of a university education and go to Oxford where they end up on the wrong side of prankster students (including a teenaged Peter Cushing). Before long, it is revealed that Stan has a mysterious past.

Unmissable whether you're a fan of the legendary duo or not, this film has barely a dull moment. The apex of comedy, timeless whether in color or black and white.
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Stan, the English lord
Vincentb34120 November 2005
In 1940, Laurel and Hardy made their last two movies for Hal Roach, A Chump At Oxford and Saps At Sea. Oxford is the better film, but both are entertaining. In any case, this was the last time the pair had any creative input regarding their own films. (At MGM and Fox, they were handed a script and told to do it "the studio way.")

A Chump At Oxford is really two movies in one. The opening shot shows Stan and Ollie hitchhiking to an employment agency. The only job that's open requires a maid and butler team, so for the second time in his career (the first was in Another Fine Mess), Stan plays Agnes the maid. What follows is a partial re-make of another short, From Soup to Nuts (in fact, as dinner is about to be served, Ollie announces, "We've got everything from soup to nuts.") Stan once again serves the salad undressed, but he is also drunk, having taken Mr. Vanderveer's (Jimmy Finlayson) instruction to "Take all those cocktails" a bit too literally. He chases them out of the house with a shotgun, shooting a policeman in the derriere along the way.

In the next scene, Ollie and Stan are sweeping streets. Ollie, usually the eternal optimist, is more depressed here than in any L & H film. "Well, here we are, right back down in the gutter. We're just as good as other people, but we don't advance ourselves. We never get anywhere." They decide to attend night school, but their fortunes change sooner than they expect. Like W.C. Fields in The Bank Dick, they (quite accidentally) capture a couple of bank robbers. As Ollie explains that they have no education, the bank manager rewards them with the finest education money can buy, at Oxford University.

Arriving in England, our friends are preyed upon by a dreary crowd of students, among them old nemesis Charley Hall and a very young Peter Cushing. They play childish pranks on the boys, getting them lost for hours in a weird-looking maze, and dressing up like a ghost to scare them to death. Soon after they arrive, Stan makes it very clear that he is out of his element.

Johnson (Peter Cushing): Haven't you come to the wrong college? You're dressed for Eton (the famous British prep school).

Stan: Why, that's swell, we haven't eaten since breakfast, have we Ollie?

The worst prank of all is when Johnson disguises himself as the dean and directs them to the real dean's rooms, telling them that these are their quarters. When the dean (Wilfred Lucas) returns and the students are caught, he tells them they will all be expelled. They vow to take revenge against Stan and Ollie.

Shown to their proper quarters, the boys meet their valet Meredith (Forrester Harvey). He refers to Stan as Your Lordship, stating that before a window came down on his head and he wandered away, he was the greatest athlete and scholar in the history of Oxford, and "oh, what a brilliant mind." When Ollie hears this, he bursts into laughter. "Why I've known him for years and he's the dumbest guy I ever met."

Meanwhile the expelled students are heading for their lodgings singing a bizarre "chant of revenge." As Stan looks out the window, it crashes down on his head, and he becomes Lord Paddington. As the students enter his room, His Lordship fights them all, throwing them all out the window (in a rather cruel weight joke, he throws Ollie out, too, and he makes a huge crater in the ground when he lands.)

A certificate on the wall informs us that Lord Paddington has been reestablished as the leading scholar/athlete at the University. He speaks like a cultured English gentleman, and Ollie is now his valet. (This is not too hard to understand when you consider that Stan was the creative genius of the team, writing many of the gags we see in the films.) Ollie is now a humiliated figure, and no other actor can use camera looks to express humiliation like Oliver Hardy. At one point, the dean comes in to tell Paddington that Professor Einstein has arrived from America and is a bit confused about his theory. Could he straighten him out? Ollie is incredibly shocked, muttering under his breath, "If it wasn't for that bump on the head, he wouldn't know Einstein from a beer stein." But he's helpless to do anything about it.
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Stan & Ollie at their best. Hilarious.
Stephen Bailey23 February 2005
What a lovely gentle comedy. Laurel & Hardy are down on their luck after spectacularly failing as domestic servants (with Stan in drag as a maid) and find themselves literally "in the gutter" working as road-sweepers. They accidentally foil a bank robbery and the grateful bank manager rewards them with the one thing they most dream of, "the best education money can buy". And so off they go to Oxford University, England where the students play a series of practical jokes on them until it's discovered Stan is really Lord Paddington, a brilliant academic who lost his memory several years earlier and vanished. Some of Laurel and Hardy's full-length movies lack the brilliance of their "shorts" but this is spot on throughout. Trust me, you won't stop laughing. Hard to believe this film is now 65 years old, but it still shines. The "Oxford" scenes were shot in Hollywood as we British were rather pre-occupied in 1940 and it's kind of poignant to reflect on the terrible evil that was loose in the world while this lovely film was being created. This movie is a wonderful anglo-American co-operation just like the military alliance which, thankfully, meant that comedy could continue. I recently heard Laurel and hardy described as two very gentle gentlemen, and that sums up my feelings. God bless them both, and long may their legacy continue to bring laughter. Look out for a very young Peter Cushing as one of the spiteful students.
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Gentle, slow comedy from the famous duo
bob the moo24 January 2002
Oliver and Stan are yet again down on their luck. A temporary job as a butler and a maid ends in disaster leaving them sweeping the streets. When they foil a bank robbery they get sent to Oxford as a reward to get an education. At Oxford they are targeted for pranks by the other students until a bump on the head reveals Stan's family background.

The story isn't very important - the various episodes aren't always very well linked and are really only excuses for a series of set pieces. However it doesn't mean it's bad. Each bit stands up in it's own right and you don't really notice the tenuous links. Each contains some very funny moments and it's typical of the duo's slow gentle comedy. The only concern I would have is that film comedy now is of the type that must move very quickly, be very crude and be very simple - I don't think audiences raised on "something about mary" style films would all appreciate this film at all.

All the performances are good (with only a few dodgy accents). Laurel and Hardy are good in their well practised roles. James Finlayson is good at his usual squinty, double taking stuff and there's an interesting early role for Peter Cushing.

Overall a little comedy that is slow and gentle - just don't expect the world in terms of plot or belly laughs.
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Stan and Ollie amongst the Gleaming Spires
LCShackley30 August 2008
I'm not a huge L&H fan, but I found this film very enjoyable.

As others have pointed out, CHUMP was originally a 45-minute film, but European distributors demanded at least a full hour for features. You'll spot the REAL beginning of the movie about 20 minutes in, when Stan & Ollie appear as street cleaners. The rest of the opener, beginning with some funny business on various modes of transportation, was tacked on later.

Although the maid/butler scene has some laughs, it's the kind of thing that the Three Stooges did with a lot more manic energy (and more often). The real film begins when Stan and Ollie receive scholarships to Oxford and arrive in England, where the native students decide to pick on them as much as possible. There's not much in the film about what students REALLY do at Oxford, but that's OK. An extended scene in a maze ends with a nicely-choreographed sequence in which a "third hand" from behind the bushes causes havoc with the boys. (Just think of how much rehearsal must have gone into that business to make it look natural.)

And the crowning glory of this movie is Stan's brief transformation from his usual vacuous simpleton into a posh English lord, who makes "Fatty" his personal valet. All in all, a jolly good way to spend an hour.
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Stan is at his brilliant best!
Tony-8416 June 2003
As if Stan Laurel were not sufficiently funny in character, in this film a knock on the head turns Stan into his look-alike Victorian uncle who was one of the most brilliant Oxfordians ever in attendance at the fine school. Unbeknownst to the school rowdies who had elected the famous duo for a hazing, when the knock on the head changed Stanley it also gave him the peculiar ability to wiggle his ears and assume super human strength. As might be imagined he decided to teach the rowdies a lesson and the rest is hilaric history. This flick is a must for any classic American film library.
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do watch it, but make sure that you don't go into dizzy spells
Lee Eisenberg22 August 2006
This may be the only fine mess that Laurel and Hardy get themselves into that actually benefits them. After stopping a bank robber, they get sent to Oxford for a proper education, and a knock on the head makes Stan remember that he's actually Lord Paddington, an effete Brit who makes Ollie his servant.

I think that my two favorite parts were the maze ghost, and the whole scene in the dean's room. Maybe "A Chump at Oxford" wasn't Laurel and Hardy's best movie ever, but it was still a hoot. It just goes to show that those guys were truly one of the classic comedy teams.

Dizzy spells. Ha!
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The Mysterious Disappearance and Reamergence of Lord Paddington
theowinthrop13 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
As mentioned earlier except for BLOCK-HEADS most aficionados might consider A CHUMP AT OXFORD to be the final great Laurel & Hardy feature length comedy. It's main weakness is it's structure - BLOCK-HEADS is a series of disasters rising to a crescendo from Stan to Ollie to everyone around them. A CHUMP is really two or three shorts (all very funny) that are united by the thinnest of plot threads. In fact it can be split into three shorts without difficulty.

First there is the repeat of the story from FROM SOUP TO NUTS (then a long forgotten silent short they made in 1928), where they are hired to serve a dinner at Jimmy Finleyson's home one evening and destroy the dinner. The high point is when Stan is told to serve the salad undressed and does so - of course too literally for Finleyson's taste. He chases the two of them out with a rifle (shades of Billy Gilbert in PACK UP YOUR TROUBLES and BLOCK-HEADS). Finn fires his rifle, and then an angry policeman shows up warning him to be careful or he will go to jail - "You could have blown somebody's brains out!" Unfortunately, the policemen turns around and we see that Finn shot a big hole into the cop's pants.

Next we see the boys at a new job as street cleaners, and Hardy launches into one of those semi-sensible speeches he gives, "Well we've reached bottom now!...What's wrong with us?" Ollie figures it's a lack of education (partly it is - though it's hard to see how Stan could comprehend any book). They foil a bank robbery (the bank is called the FINLEYSON NATIONAL, which sounds reasonable as Finn was a canny Scotsman usually). As a reward they get their wish - they get the finest education possible at Oxford.

The final segment is when they reach Oxford and fall victims to a series of pranks played by the students (led by Peter Cushing - far from his future as Dr. Frankenstein - and Charlie Hall). The best part of this is the business of the boys getting lost (even from each other) in the maze at Oxford, where Ollie is carrying their trunk on his back, and yelling for Stan, who is yelling back, just around the corner! There is also the student dressed as the bogeyman and sitting between Stan and Ollie on the trunk. There is also the boys settling into their rooms (actually the rooms of the Dean of Oxford, Wilfred Lucas), ending with them shooting soda water into what they think is the face of an old goat in a portrait, and end up hitting the original face (Lucas, of course).

A battle of the expelled students (the Dean catches them trying to leave his rooms) and the boys ("dirty rotten snitches" Cushing and Hall call them) completes this segment - but introduces us to the biggest change in the history of Laurel & Hardy: Stan's revelation of his "real" personality.

A tremendously creative and brilliant comic genius, Stan Laurel (when busy constructing his films) was all serious business - like Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, Fields, the Marxes, and Lou Costello, his peers. In this mode he was not the nincompoop he played opposite Hardy. He was very serious and intelligent sounding. This is his persona, with a degree of haughtiness, when playing his alter ego, Lord Paddington. Paddington was Oxford's greatest scholar and athlete. He proves the latter by throwing Cushing and the others (unfortunately including Hardy and Lucas) out his window one after another. He also demonstrates his brilliance quickly (all these awards and trophies are on display shortly after his restoration - and worse when his new butler, Ollie, is overwhelmed hearing that Einstein is coming to discuss a problem about the relativity theory that Paddington can settle!).

Stan never tried this revelation again - and probably wisely. Stan and Ollie (to work) needs Ollie to be a bit more with it in terms of what the world expects - Stan follows, and upsets the easily toppled Ollie. It is similar to their silent film short, EARLY TO BED, where Ollie becomes a wealthy man about town, tormenting his butler Stan - we don't like this Ollie that much, and approve when Stan starts smashing Ollie's brick-a-bra-ck. The "Paddington" bit was better than the man-about-town Ollie in the earlier film. Wisely, Paddington leaves before the film ends, and Stan returns. We are glad to have him back.
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Shawn Watson7 January 2005
I remember watching this on BBC2 when I was about 8 years old and finding it hysterical. So, much to my pleasure, Universal has released it on DVD (Region 2 only) along with many other Laurel and Hardy movies. I chose to watch the black and white version as that is how I originally saw it.

There is an extended opening featuring a remake of 1928's 'From Soup to Nuts' short in which Stan and Ollie cause havoc at a swanky dinner party before being employed as street sweepers. During their sweeping lunch break they inadvertently foil a bank robbery and as a reward they are sent to Oxford for a good education, perhaps finally getting them out of the gutter.

Once there, the students (including a young Peter Cushing) play all sorts of pranks on them and Stan loses (or restores) his memory when he is hit on the back of the head. Now he's Lord Paddington (I must add he does brilliantly with the accent) and he gives Ollie some amount of grief for his weight.

Very funny indeed, I suggest you check it out whenever it comes on TV.
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Stan and Ollie at College
mtw12015 August 2014
A CHUMP AT OXFORD was one of the last films Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy made for their longtime producer Hal Roach. Originally shot and released as forty minute "Streamliner," an additional ten or so minutes was later added onto the beginning of the film, and other scenes were extended, turning the film into a standard feature.

The basic premise is that Stan and Ollie, after unwittingly stopping a bank robbery, are rewarded a scholarship at Oxford University. Once there, the duo find themselves the victim of a series of practical jokes from the other students (one of whom is future horror star Peter Cushing). Later, it is revealed that Stan was once Lord Paddington, the greatest scholar to attend Oxford. A bump on the head turned him into Stan, and another bump turns him back into Paddington. Now, poor Ollie has to act as Stan's valet.

This isn't one of their best films, but it's decent enough. The opening sequence (in the extended version, anyway) borrows heavily from the team's classic silent short FROM SOUP TO NUTS. This remade version isn't quite as good as its predecessor, but the inclusion of old favorite costars Jimmy Finlayson and Anita Garvin helps keep things interesting.

The film admittedly falls apart once Stan and Ollie wind up at Oxford. Immediately, they are frowned down on by the school's more intelligent students, who put the duo through a series of practical jokers. Seeing Laurel and Hardy depicted as dopey misfits in a more adult world isn't incredibly funny, and would sadly become more common for their characters in future films. One of the students' many pranks leads to a sequence in a maze that goes on much longer than needs to.

By far, the highlight is the entire Lord Paddington sequence. Stan Laurel is excellent in his role, and proves that he was a darn good actor.

Other supporting players include old favorites Charlie Hall and Wilfred Lucas, as well Forrester Harvey as Meredith, Lord Paddington's right hand man.
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Firstly Stan is Agnes, then the mighty Lord Paddington.
Spikeopath4 March 2008
This is Stan Laurel's show all the way, sure enough Ollie plays his part, but in this double package it's the genius of Laurel that comes to the fore. The double package in question is the now widely available European release of this film, the first 20 minutes sees the boys making their way to an employment agency where they jump at the chance of a job as maid and butler to the Vandevere family. Yes, this sees Stan dress up as a woman {Agnes} with hilarious results, not only does he buffoon his way thru serving dinner, he gets drunk into the bargain as well !. After being chased off the property by Mr Vandevere, the guys end up road sweeping and whilst taking a break they inadvertently foil a bank robbery and as a reward they get to fulfil their wish of a better education.

This sends the guys to England and a place at Oxford, the fun starts straight away as they are dressed for Eton !, upon seeing that these two are candidates for pranks being played on them, some of their fellow students send them into a big maze on the bluff that it's the way to the Deans office. This sets us up for a number of great sequences, most notably a brilliant set of events that sees Stan with three hands, from here we see the boys set up {as a prank} in the Deans own quarters and this of course causes much mirth when the Dean shows up to find the guys boozing away in his bedroom. Roll onto Stan banging his head and suddenly being transformed into an aristocrat called Lord Paddington and you just know that Laurel is getting a pure mania role to get his teeth into, the results are excellent, especially as Stan gets to boss Ollie around.

One of the best films the boys ever did in my honest opinion, 9/10.
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Peter Cushing in a Laurel & Hardy movie? Now I truly have seen everything!
Boba_Fett11386 November 2006
Before this, I've elephant fly and monkeys explaining the Theorem of Pythagoras but that all is nothing compared to seeing Peter Cushing in a Laurel & Hardy movie.

This is a good and fair, late effort from the boys, who already clearly had their best years behind them. This movie still reminded me at times of some of the good old Laurel & Hardy pictures from the early '30's. But there also lays a problem; the movie its originality. In multiple movies Laurel & Hardy reused some jokes or even situations but the fact that this movie is from 1940, multiple years after their glory years, leaves an even worse aftertaste. Nevertheless it as always still works effective so it's not really a big complaint about this movie, at least not the biggest.

Basically the movie can be divided into three separate parts. The boys trying to get a job, the boys getting a job at the Finlayson residence and the boys at Oxford. Perhaps if the movie really was divided into three separate parts, each of them would work out better. As a whole its a bit too much. Each part is really great on their own and provides some good slapstick entertainment but as a whole it doesn't always connect. This is the biggest problem of the movie and the reason why it's nothing more than an above average Laurel & Hardy movie, despite having some great comical premises and situations.

The sequences at the Finlayson residence are certainly the most 'Laurel & Hardy' ones, also of course thanks to the presence of James Finlayson. It's in the middle of the movie but in my opinion it's the best part of the movie. It's not really ever a good sign when the middle is better than the ending. The end part at Oxford is also most definitely good and enjoyable but the humor is a bit stretched out at times. Some sequences last too long, which sorts of drags down the amusement level of the movie with it. Nevertheless those parts still provide some good amusing entertainment, with a couple of fellow student who are giving the dumb and naive Laurel & Hardy a hard time. One of the students giving the boys a hard time is Peter Cushing, in one of his very first movie roles.

Definitely worth seeing but a bit too stretched thin and disjointed at certain moments.


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Serve the salad undressed...
Gyran21 April 1999
This film has an irrelevant prologue that sees Ollie as butler and Stan, in drag as a maid. All goes well until their employer, during a dinner party, asks Stan to serve the salad undressed...

The story proper sees the pair packed off to Oxford University as a reward for thwarting a bank robbery. The malicious English students first get them lost in a maze, where they have a hilarious confrontation with a ghost and then convince them that the rooms belonging to the university dean are in fact their student quarters. They then discover that Stan is really Lord Paddington, suffering from amnesia after a knock on the head.

There are three or four scenes of genuine comic genius in this otherwise unconvincing picture of pre-war Oxford life. Stan's English background gives credibility to his portrayal of Lord Paddington. Other players have trouble with the English accent even, surprisingly, Peter Cushing the doyen of Hammer horror, making what must be one of his earliest film appearances.
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The tragedy of this comedy is that it exposes the truth about Oxford University
sandra small24 February 2005
In A Chump at Oxford the duo dream of gaining a good education as a means to escape from the string of dead end, boring jobs by which they have been consistently exploited for a measly pay cheque which no doubt gives them just enough money to 'get by' on.

Having only enough money to get by on means that the duo are denied the best education. Then by chance the duo inadvertently foil a bank robbery and are duly rewarded with that elitist education they were dreaming of, but otherwise couldn't afford from a grateful bank president.

For the duo to obtain this elitist education the grateful bank president sends them to Oxford University in England which is then exposed for its upper class haughtiness via Laural and Hardy's enrolment at this ancient medieval institute of higher education, which has been dominated for centuries by upper class nitwits who think an elitist education here is their right alone, because they have the correct breeding.

This means that those people such as Laural and Hardy are viewed by the traditional Oxford student with disdain, because they are among the common 'new rich' who have no breeding, and who have merely bought their way to Oxford with so called 'new money' which is viewed by them as vulgar. So, the traditional elitist students' endeavour to evict the common pair that is Laural and Hardy from Oxford by way of student pranks, which are in fact a form of bullying . However, it is because Laurel and Hardy may well have the brains, - but lack the education - that they actually win through by seeing how institutes of learning, such as Oxford University are ensuring that higher education remains in the hands of the ancient upper classes, and escape it by heading back to the USA!
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One of their best!
JohnHowardReid31 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Stan Laurel is the number one star in this Laurel and Hardy entry from producer, Hal Roach. Not only is Laurel the instigator of the plot, and not only does he have a champion share of the funny business in the hilariously daffy three-handed jape with the "ghost", but for the first of only two occasions in his entire sound career, he essays a character role. And he plays this one most effectively too! (The other occasion was his Don Sebastion in 1945's The Bullfighters). Lord Paddington is no mere impersonation, but a complete reversal of Laurel's customary character. Speaking in a splendidly snooty, upper-crust accent, Paddington puts the maladroit Hardy through some marvelous paces. Even his dialogue is urbanely droll and keenly condescending. He argues, for example, that Hardy's ineptitudes "break the monotony" and that Babe "helps fill up the room, you know."

There was never a funnier or more perfectly attuned team than Laurel and Hardy. Even when the situation is more piquant than usual, both can rise to the occasion. For personality, charisma and sheer vitality, they leave all the other twosomes far behind. I can never forget Paddington instructing Fatty in the proper deportment of a valet: "Lift up that chin! Both of them!"; and Babe's final, wildly exasperated response: "And another thing: I didn't like that double chin crack either!" Now that's acting!
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A Chump at Oxford
Jackson Booth-Millard7 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are the most famous comedy duo in history, and deservedly so, so I am happy to see any of their films. Here Stan and Ollie seek employment, and when they hear that the Vandeveres - Baldy (James Finlayson) and the Mrs. (Anita Garvin) - need a butler and maid for a dinner party, and all disaster follows with Ollie as butler and Stan in drag as the maid. When this all ends, they are jobless sweeping the streets, and sitting outside the bank doors they unintentionally foil a robbery, and as reward, the grateful bank president grants them the proper education they want, sending them to Oxford. There they fall victim to some students and their pranks, who send them through a maze, and spooking them with their hands and dressing as ghosts, and worst of all, giving them the quarters of Dean Williams (Wilfred Lucas) as their own. Going into a new room the Dean's servant (Frank Baker) is convinced he knows Stan as scholar and athlete extraordinaire Lord Paddington, and after a hard knock through the window, this past memory is restored. Ollie by the way is retained as his valet, and unfortunately has to put up with being called "Fatty", don't worry, another hard knock brings back Stan. Also starring young Peter Cushing as Stundent Jones, the one pretending to be the Dean. Filled with wonderful slapstick and all classic comedy you could want from a black and white film, it is an enjoyable film. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were number 7 on The Comedians' Comedian. Good!
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Stick Out Your Chin. Both of Them!
Hitchcoc12 January 2017
There are wonderful plot elements here. The first involves the boys wanting to get employment. When they see a rich man needs a maid and a butler for a big dinner party he hires them (Stan becomes "Agnes" in drag). Of course, the skinny one can't keep away from the booze and gets snockered. The two are shot at as they run away. Now they get a job as street cleaners and end up soaking wet when a water truck driver sprays them just to be mean. As they have their lunch in front of a bank, Stan throws a banana peel. Just at that time, a bank robber, carrying the loot, slips on the peel and is knocked out. The bank president things the boys apprehended him. He want to give them a job, but Ollie points out they have no education. The bank president decides to give them the best; he sends them to Oxford. Of course, they are completely out of their element (dressed as British elementary school boys) and are victimized by the snobby rich kids, spend the night in a hedge maze, and end up in the quarters of the Dean. When Stan is struck on the head by a window as he looks out, the fun really starts. Memorable movie.
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Just Which One Is The Chump?
bkoganbing17 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
For the only time in their joint careers as a comic team, Stan Laurel slips out of character and into another guise. That's an integral part of A Chump At Oxford where the boys get a chance at the best kind of college education.

No doubt that Hal Roach got the idea for this film from the highly successful MGM film A Yank At Oxford where Robert Taylor was an American fish out of the water across the pond. Of course Taylor was there on a rowing scholarship, what brought Stan and Ollie there was something quite different.

On the jacket cover of my VHS copy of A Chump At Oxford, Hal Roach had a featurette film of about 40 minutes and decided to add on those extra 25 minutes at the beginning where Stan and Ollie are first serving as butler and maid as temporary help at a society bash. I did say maid because that was what the job required. It was Ollie's bright idea to put Stan in drag as a maid to get the job. Well, it worked for Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. Anyway the highlight of that part of the film is Stan merely following orders to the letter and serving the salad undressed. It was an interesting end to that little bash.

Their next job is as street cleaners and while sitting down just having their lunch in the doorway of a bank, they foil a bank robbery and in gratitude the bank president asks them what they want. Since right before the two had concluded their lack of education has held them back, they ask for an education.

The bank president must have been David Rockefeller because he buys them an Oxford education. That's where Stan discovers that he's really Lord Paddington who got hit on the head several years ago and lost his memory. It turns out that Stan was the greatest scholar and athlete Oxford ever produced. And for a while Ollie is completely frazzled at the prospect of becoming Stan's lackey.

Stan does go into an entirely different character than the sweet innocent we all know and love. Because of that A Chump At Oxford ranks among the best of their feature films. Ollie contributes his share as well, we've never seen Ollie before or since flumoxed the way he is in this film. A must for Laurel and Hardy fans.
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an excellent film late in their careers
MartinHafer2 July 2005
I saw this movie several times as a child and only recently I saw it again. I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked the movie and this surprised me, as this was completed as the pair's career was heading downhill. Shortly after making this movie, then Saps at Sea, they made the mistake of signing with 20th Century Fox and made a string of completely forgettable and unfortunate comedies (they simply deserved better material).

The story is a takeoff on the MGM film A YANK AT OXFORD and so much of it parodies this film. Stan and Ollie accidentally help a rich guy and are rewarded by receiving an all expense paid admission to Oxford! Talk about being in the wrong element! The movie then moves at a very leisurely pace in their adventures trying to fit in to this fancy-schmancy school.

It's not the best they did, but a nice well-worth seeing picture nonetheless. Another decent movie they did in this same period is Blockheads--it's well worth a look as well.
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Mitch-3828 January 2002
What A CHUMP AT OXFORD lacks in cohesion, more than makes up for in comedic gags and moments. Of course, the legendary L&H, we can cut some slack due to the enormity of their talent and body of work. The length, (the cut I saw was barely longer than a short), was right for the style they approached this one with. To try and throw in some sappy melodrama, would've really hurt this film. Stan & Ollie are down, and through a variety of jobs they end up at Oxford(?!); a sort of a pseudo-spoof of Robert Taylor's A YANK AT OXFORD. Best line: "If it wasn't for that bump on the head, he wouldn't know Einstein from a beer stein." Great for laughs and appreciating the comic genius that is L&H. Recommended.
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Slightly absurd, but the duo's talent makes it work
Warning: Spoilers
"A Chump at Oxford" is an American 1-hour movie from 1940, the earlier days of WWII and this one is a black-and-white sound film that is already over 75 years old, at least in the original as I saw there are also color versions out there. It stars Stan and Ollie, the two silent film greats also not too early in their career as they are at the age of 50 here or slightly under. This one is directed by the very prolific Alfred J. Goulding and cast and crew include several names here that worked with Laurel and Hardy on many other occasions. The duo is (through lucky coincidence) on the campus here, but their fellow Oxford students are not exactly too fond of them. The film gets a bit (too) absurd at times, but it is tolerable, even if the story was not too convincing for me. Luckily the talent of the two guys in the center of it makes up for deficits in other areas and Stan even pulls off nicely the split-personality part. Other than that, it is the usual. Our two heroes carry the film nicely with their interactions with each other and the looks to us, the audience, too. I read there is a version that runs for under 45 minutes or maybe that was just what they initially wanted the film's runtime to be as everything I found was slightly over 60 minutes long. Maybe not my favorite from the duo, but a solid watch still. I give it a thumbs-up and recommend checking it out.
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A Very Funny Film----Highly Recommended!!!
boland72141 August 2014
Recommended highly!

I don't know if this is "their best" film or not? But I would say it is at least a "must see" film of Laurel and Hardy. There are some very funny moments in it. I won't, like some others up here, "tell the story" or go into details. Spend the time watching the film instead of reading reviews about it! Your funny bone will appreciate it!!!

Unless you are overly critical you will enjoy this romp! The version I saw was colorized. I do like colorization. Some people do not like it. But it is not an "either-or" issue. It is also on youtube in black and white as well as color. So it is your choice! I like choice don't you? "Colorization" is what I prefer--you may differ...no problem. Above all, you will have fun!!! boland7214 at aol
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Oxford laughs
Prismark1028 September 2013
This is one of the better Laurel and Hardy films and it features a young Peter Cushing, well there are ghosts involved so no surprise that a future Hammer Horror specialist will feature.

Arriving at Oxford University for further education, Stan and Ollie fall victim to a number of pranks from their fellow students who resent them but later a knock on the head changes Stan into Lord Paddington a brilliant aristocratic scholar and athlete.

Its the Lord Paddington part of the story and the accompanying ear wiggle which raises this story to another level and makes it so memorable.
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