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Stan Without Ollie: The Stan Laurel Solo…

Stan Without Ollie: The Stan Laurel Solo Films, 1917-1927

by Ted Okuda

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
"Stan Without Ollie: The Stan Laurel Solo Films, 1917-1927" was an interesting read for me. I thought it would interest me, and it did - for a short while. Then I found the entries to be repetitive and not very imaginatively written up. But I also had to remind myself, this is NOT a biography, this is a reference work. It was interesting enough that it kept drawing me back in - but then putting me off again. I do believe it was my fault, though, and not the book's, that I kept forgetting and kept expecting to get back to interesting biographical type writing/information. I'll probably pass it on to a film buff friend who would appreciate it as a reference work - it's not a bookshelf keeper for me. I'm glad to have read it, though, and any film historian should not be without it! ( )
  camelama | Aug 7, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I'm a fan of Laurel and Hardy, but I was unaware of Stan Laurel's history prior to teaming with Oliver Hardy. This book filled a large gap in my knowledge. Well wroth reading if you are interested in the subject. ( )
  etrainer | Feb 13, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The films that Stan Laurel had a hand in creating before teaming up with Oliver Hardy are explored chronologically in "Stan Without Ollie: The Stan Laurel Solo Films." The book is packed with details about production, as well as cast lists and many black and white photos, that will please the fans and film buffs. But as well researched and presented as the information is, as a casual reader and casual fan of Laurel and Hardy, I found the book somewhat repetitive. I think the book about Stan Laurel I'd prefer to read is a straight-forward biography. This book, however, is recommended for those fans and film buffs. ( )
  y2pk | Jan 20, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, almost certainly the best comedy team ever in movies, appear so right together that it is a little hard to imagine one on the screen without the other, or even one of them living off-screen without the other. Yet pairing the two of them actually took several years and a lot of movies, in some of which they both appeared, before it dawned on anybody that Stan and Ollie would make a great comedy team.

Ted Okuda and James L. Neibaur explore this long road to cinema success in their new book "Stan Without Ollie: The Stan Laurel Solo Films, 1917-1927" (McFarland & Company). Jerry Lewis, who credits Laurel with influencing his own movie career, provides a foreword.

As a solo performer, Laurel was liked, but not loved, by audiences. As an inventor of gags he was among the best in Hollywood at that time, but his performances fell short of the mark set by Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. He was good, but not great.

Okuda and Neibaur dissect each film Laurel made, or at least each one that still exists. They explain what's good and what's not so good about each movie. They repeat some of their points endlessly, but saying something different about each of dozens of films must be as difficult as making each of those films original and funny. But just as Laurel did make some quality solo comedies, so Okuda and Neibaur do make some excellent points.

Among these is to explain the influence Mae Dahlberg had on his career. She is often credited with suggesting the young Vaudeville comedian change his name to Stan Laurel, and she changed her own name to Mae Laurel, even though she and Laurel were never married. After the name change, however, her influence on his career became mostly negative. Women, then as now, needed looks and/or talent to succeed in movies, and Mae Laurel had neither. What she did have was her connection with Stan, who managed to get her parts, sometimes major parts, in a number of his early films. Directors hated working with her, however, and she eventually even became a threat to his career until Laurel managed to separate himself from her.

Okuda and Neibaur also have much to say about James Finlayson, who was featured in many of Laurel's solo movies, as well as in a number of Laurel and Hardy films. There was even a brief attempt to form a Laurel and Finlayson comedy team, but that didn't work. Finlayson was always better as the comic villain.

Eventually Oliver Hardy began appearing in Stan Laurel movies, often playing the butler or the heavy or whatever. They made several films together before they were actually teamed together. The rest is movie history, but there are other books that tell that story. ( )
  hardlyhardy | Dec 19, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book is a must have for any serious fan of Laurel and hardy. As a fan I knew that the boys had built their careers seperately, before finally finding the magic formula that brought them together to form the beloved team. Stan Without Ollie follows Stan Laurel's path prior to the matchup that made comedic history. Along the way, he also works with the team's favorite foil, James Finlayson. Okuda and Neibaur cover all aspects of Stan's pre-L&H work. Even if Stan wasn't in the film, but served as writer or director, the film is covered. The wealth of detail in the book serves as an appetizer that will send fans looking for copies of surviving films. For fans, this is a book to be savored.
  Leischen | Dec 19, 2012 |
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To the Sons of the Desert, the international fraternal organization dedicated to the appreciation and preservation of the legacy of Stan Laural and Oliver Hardy
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