The Battle of the Century

The Battle of the Century is a 1927 silent short film starring American comedy double act Laurel and Hardy. The team appeared in a total of 107 films between 1921 and 1951.[1]

Battle of the Century
Theatrical release poster
Directed byClyde Bruckman
Produced byHal Roach
Written byHal Roach
H.M. Walker
StarringStan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Music byLeroy Shield
CinematographyGeorge Stevens
Edited byRichard C. Currier
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • December 31, 1927 (1927-12-31)
Running time
19 min.(2 minutes lost)
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent film
English intertitles

The film is famous for using over 3,000 cream pies (although an edition of the Guinness Book on film history quotes that as many as 10,000 pies may have been used[2]) in the film's climactic pie fight; however, for many years, its second reel, containing the fight, only survived in three minutes of fragments used in the documentaries of Robert Youngson. The complete reel was rediscovered in 2015.[3]


Hardy enrolls Laurel at a boxing competition. Laurel, however, (despite knocking out his opponent once) is too weak, and loses. Hardy then seeks advice from an insurer on how to easily earn a lot of money: Laurel has to have an injury, so that Hardy can then pocket the insurance money. Hardy places a banana peel on a sidewalk, bringing Laurel there. But a pastry chef stumbles on the peel, and gets angry with Hardy, throwing a pie in his face. Hardy responds to the provocation, and soon the entire city block is involved in an epic battle of pies.

Production notes

  • Though The Battle of the Century is an official Laurel and Hardy entry, the team had yet to take on their recognisable characters.
  • A young Lou Costello can be seen in an early scene as a member of the audience at the prize-fight mentioned in the film's title.[4]
  • For many years, footage from the famous climactic pie fight was known to be the only extant material from the film until the opening reel (featuring a boxing match) was discovered in 1979 by Richard Feiner.[5] However, the sequence involving Eugene Pallette was still missing, as was the very final gag where a cop gets a pie in his face and promptly chases Laurel and Hardy down the street.
  • What is believed to be the entire film was once broadcast in Spanish television (TVE1) during the 1970s which included the scenes of a customer sitting in a barber's chair inside a barber's shop receiving a faceful of pie whilst being shaved and; A drinker inside a saloon or cafe being hit by a pie. He then buys two pies from the owner of the saloon/cafe and leaves with them in order to take part in the pie battle being fought outside.
  • In June 2015, it was announced at the Mostly Lost film workshop in Culpeper, Virginia that the second reel of the film had been rediscovered by film archivist and accompanist Jon C. Mirsalis as a 16mm print from the original 35mm negative.[6] The second reel was found by Mirsalis in the film collection of the late Gordon Berkow who had acquired the film collection of the late Robert Youngson.[7] Youngson had apparently received the reel as a preview print while working on his documentary The Golden Age of Comedy (1957). The film was initially restored by Lobster Films, with a subsequent restoration done by Jeff Joseph in partnership with the UCLA Film Archive. The first official screening was at the Telluride Film Festival in September 2015, followed by a screening at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2015.[8] On April 8, 2017, it was shown at the Toronto Silent Film Festival, with live accompaniment by Ben Model. On 29 May 2017 it was shown at the Southend Film Festival with live accompaniment by Adam Ramet. It was screened at the Mostly Lost film worship in June of 2016, on the one year anniversary of the original announcement, with Mirsalis accompanying the film on piano.


See also


  1. The Battle of the Century at
  2. The Guinness Book on Film History
  3. Barry, Dan (July 8, 2015). "Comedy's Sweet Weapon: The Cream Pie". New York Times. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  4. The Battle of the Century - In the Cast., retrieved January 20, 2017.
  5. "Images - The Lost Films of Laurel and Hardy". Retrieved 2012-09-23.
  6. Barry, Dan (2015-07-08). "Comedy's Sweet Weapon: The Cream Pie". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-03-30.
  7. "The Battle of the Century and Other Comedy Restorations | Silent Film Festival". Retrieved 2019-03-30.
  8. Rediscovered Laurel and Hardy – The Battle of the Century BFI Website, Retrieved 8th September 2015.
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