Salute to Stan Laurel is a mixed tribute to me though it's still worth seeing if you love the man
After Stan Laurel died on February 23, 1965, a photographer named Gene Lester-who had taken some pics of Laurel in his last days which appear in the end credits of this special-approached CBS with producing a tribute to him. Since Gene wasn't really a producer, the network picked a crew experienced in variety shows to make this program. The beginning production number featuring many Oliver Hardy impersonators dancing on stage is a bit overwhelming but for the first 23 minutes after that, things seem to be fine with host Dick Van Dyke telling of his love for the late comedian he resembles, Lucille Ball and Buster Keaton doing an amusing enough sketch with Harvey Korman as a cop, Van Dyke returning in a hilarious bit about how unsophisticated slapstick is as he keeps falling over (this was originally done on his show a few years before), and Bob Newhart performing a very funny monologue about a patronizing kids show host that shows these classic L & H shorts. There's many amusing clips of those funsters from their silent era throughout the show as they're taken from the latest Robert Youngston compilation, Laurel & Hardy's Laughing '20s. Then things go downhill real fast with lame sketches like Audrey Meadows' portrayal of a damsel in distress with unfunny title cards, a behind-the-scenes making of a silent picture complete with violin playing, and Phil Silvers' comparing his career to that of Laurel's when reenacting his struggles which doesn't compare at all according to what we see here. Oh, and Danny Kaye also appears with Stan's Oscar-which Danny had accepted since Stan was unable to attend the ceremonies that night-with some touching words of his own and film of Stan's funny reaction when he sees it at his home. The closing number which uses some of Marvin Hatley's iconic L & H theme of "The Cookoo Song" may be a little overbearing but was a touching tribute just the same. So on that note, Salute to Stan Laurel is worth a look if you love the man like yours truly.
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