Stan & Ollie
Stan & Ollie is a 2018 biographical comedy-drama film directed by Jon S. Baird and written by Jeff Pope. Based on the later years of the lives of the comedy double act Laurel and Hardy, the film stars Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly as Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. It premiered in October 2018 at the BFI London Film Festival. The film was released in the United States on 28 December 2018 and in the United Kingdom on 11 January 2019.
|Stan & Ollie|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jon S. Baird|
|Produced by||Faye Ward|
|Written by||Jeff Pope|
|Music by||Rolfe Kent|
|Distributed by||Entertainment One Films (United Kingdom/Canada)|
Sony Pictures Classics (United States)
|Box office||$26.3 million|
The film focuses on details of the comedy duo's personal relationship while relating how they embarked on a grueling music hall tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland during 1953 and struggled to get another film made.
At the 76th Golden Globe Awards, Reilly was nominated for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, and at the 72nd British Academy Film Awards the film earned three nominations, including Best British Film and Best Actor in a Leading Role for Coogan.
In 1937, while making Way Out West, Stan Laurel refuses to renew his contract with Hal Roach, because Stan believes the studio and Roach himself are failing to financially recognize the global fame the pair enjoyed at that time. Oliver Hardy remains tied to Roach on a different contract and isn't let go, with the studio attempting to pair him up with Harry Langdon in the film Zenobia, and while Laurel and Hardy would soon get back together, Ollie's absence during a meeting with Fox results in them not being signed on by the studio, leaving Stan feeling betrayed and bitter for years.
In 1953, the comedy duo embark on a grueling music hall tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland while struggling to get another film made: a comedic adaptation of Robin Hood. Poor publicity in Britain managed by the producer Bernard Delfont means the tour begins in almost empty back street theaters with Delfont seeming more interested in his up-and-coming star Norman Wisdom. Belatedly, Delfont organises some public appearances and word of their visit to Britain spreads, resulting in them filling much larger prestigious venues.
During the tour the pair, driven by Stan, continues to write and develop gags for the film. There is an ominous silence from its London-based producer. Once the tour arrives in London, Stan pays a visit to the film's producer and discovers there is insufficient funding and the project has been cancelled. He can't bring himself to tell Ollie and their script development continues.
They are soon joined by their respective wives, Ida and Lucille, at London's Savoy Hotel before they are to perform at a sold out two-week residency at the nearby Lyceum Theatre. After the opening night at the Lyceum, a party is held to honour them. At the party, tensions begin to show between the two wives leading Delfont to remark that he's got two double acts for the price of one. As the night progresses Stan's feelings of Ollie's betrayal come to the surface after his wife brings up the "elephant movie", resulting in the two having a public argument over the movie contract fiasco that split them up. As Stan unloads his pent-up resentment for what he considers to be a betrayal of their friendship and accuses Ollie of being lazy, Ollie unloads his own pent-up feelings towards Stan, claiming that the two weren't really friends, only being together because Hal Roach studios had paired them up and that Stan never loved him as a friend but only loved Laurel and Hardy. As a result of the argument Ollie leaves the party with his wife, who has in the meantime argued with Stan's wife, leaving Stan alone.
Despite their friendship having taken a blow, they press on with their public appearances, which include judging a beauty contest in the seaside resort of Worthing. Ollie refuses to speak to Stan despite the latter's attempts. Just when they are about to announce the winner, Ollie collapses from a heart attack and is forced into bed rest. Informed two days later that it's unlikely Ollie will get better in time to continue the tour, Delfont suggests having a well-known English comic take Ollie's place. When Stan visits Ollie in his room, Ollie tells Stan that he intends to retire immediately, explaining that a doctor warned him that he must never go onstage again because the strain could be fatal; he and his wife will leave for America as soon as possible. Getting into bed with him to warm Ollie up, Stan asks whether Ollie meant what he said at the party. Both admit that they did not mean what they had said to each other and share a quiet moment together.
On the night of the next show, Stan finds it impossible to work with the English comic Delfont has hired as a substitute due to his simply not being Ollie, and the performance is cancelled, much to Delfont's dismay. When his wife finds him at the bar, Stan confesses to her that he truly does love Ollie as a friend and intends to return to America instead of continuing the tour, though he asks her not to let Ollie know he is leaving. Ollie in turn decides he can't spend the rest of his life idle in bed and leaves his hotel room just before his wife comes back. As they pack, Stan's wife hears a knock on the door; Stan is surprised to see Ollie. The two finally recognize the real fondness that exists between them. And as they silently forgive each other, Ollie smiles and tells Stan they have a show to do, making his friend smile right back; and despite ill health, Ollie performs on stage with Stan, to thunderous applause from the audience. While sailing to Ireland to continue the tour Stan confesses he has deceived Ollie about the prospects of a film even while they continued to work on it. Ollie confesses in turn that he had guessed the truth from Stan's conduct, confusing Stan greatly as he asks why they kept working on the script if Ollie had known the truth for some time, Ollie admitting that working on the script was all they could do. Upon arriving in Ireland, the duo are welcomed by a large crowd of fans, both young and old, the church bells of the town ring out their theme song and they continue to complete the tour to great acclaim from their fans despite Ollie's poor health.
As the film ends, a written epilogue reveals that the tour was the last time they worked together. Ollie's health continued to deteriorate after the tour, leading to his death in 1957; Stan, devastated by his friend's death, refused to work without his partner and went into retirement, dying eight years later in 1965. Stan continued to write sketches for Laurel and Hardy in the last eight years of his life.
- Steve Coogan as Stanley "Stan" Laurel
- John C. Reilly as Oliver "Ollie" Hardy
- Shirley Henderson as Lucille Hardy
- Nina Arianda as Ida Kitaeva Laurel
- Rufus Jones as Bernard Delfont
- Danny Huston as Hal Roach
- Joseph Balderrama as James W. Horne
- John Henshaw as Nobby Cook
- Keith MacPherson as James Finlayson
- Richard Cant as Harry Langdon
- Susy Kane as Cynthia, Mr. Miffin's Head of Production
- Josh Alexander as Newspaper Stand Boy
Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly were announced in January 2016 as lined up to play the duo in a biopic to be directed by Jon S. Baird. The film was written by Jeff Pope, who had previously collaborated with Coogan on the Oscar-nominated screenplay for Philomena. Pope described the comedy duo as being his "heroes".
Principal UK photography began in spring 2017. It took place in Dudley, in the West Midlands of England, as well as The Black Country Living Museum, the Old Rep theatre Birmingham, the West London Film Studios, and Bristol in South West England. Various locations along the Great Central Railway in Leicestershire were used for the rail sequences.
The film premiered in October 2018 at the BFI London Film Festival. While Entertainment One Films handled distribution in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Spain and Benelux, Sony Pictures Classics were given the right to distribute the film in the United States, Latin America, Eastern Europe, China, and South Africa.
Following Stan & Ollie's October 2018 debut at the BFI London Film Festival, the film received positive reviews from critics. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 93% based on 203 reviews, with an average rating of 7.49/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Stan & Ollie pays tribute to a pair of beloved entertainers with an affectionate look behind the scenes -- and a moving look at the burdens and blessings of a creative bond." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 75 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Guy Lodge of Variety wrote: "Portraying Laurel and Hardy's final comic collaboration with bittersweet affection, Jon S. Baird's film is a laid-back, gamely performed tribute." Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter had high praise for the lead actors, saying: "Much of the time, you feel like you're beholding the real duo, so thoroughly conceived are the actors' physicality and performances." He concluded: "Everything the film has to offer is obvious and on the surface, its pleasures simple and sincere under the attentive guidance of director Jon S. Baird."
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s)||Result||Ref(s)|
|Boston Society of Film Critics Awards||December 16, 2018||Best Actor||John C. Reilly||Won|
|British Academy Film Awards||10 February 2019||Best Actor in a Leading Role||Steve Coogan||Nominated|
|Outstanding British Film||Jon S. Baird, Faye Ward, Jeff Pope||Nominated|
|Best Makeup and Hair||Mark Coulier, Jeremy Woodhead, Josh Weston||Nominated|
|British Independent Film Awards||December 2, 2018||Best Actor||Steve Coogan||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress||Nina Arianda||Nominated|
|Best Casting||Andy Pryor||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Guy Speranza||Nominated|
|Best Make Up and Hair Design||Mark Coulier and Jeremy Woodhead||Nominated|
|Best Production Design||John Paul Kelly||Nominated|
|Breakthrough Producer||Faye Ward||Nominated|
|Critics' Choice Movie Awards||13 January 2019||Best Actor in a Comedy||John C. Reilly||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Awards||6 January 2019||Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy||John C. Reilly||Nominated|
|San Diego Film Critics Society Awards||December 10, 2018||Best Supporting Actress||Nina Arianda||Runner-up|
|Best Costume Design||Guy Speranza||Nominated|
|Best Production Design||John Paul Kelly||Runner-up|
|Best Body of Work||John C. Reilly
(also for The Sisters Brothers & Ralph Breaks the Internet)
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