Key character missing but expert gives movie the thumbs up
IT IS being billed as “the untold story of the world’s greatest comedy act”. Set to open in the UK at the height of the Oscar fever season, Stan & Ollie pairs British star Steve Coogan with Chicago actor John C Reilly.
And parts of the film have been shot at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley and at the Old Rep Theatre in Station Street, Birmingham city centre.
But one key character who will be missing from the movie is Brummie actor Charlie Hall – even though he now has a city pub named after him.
Born in Washwood Heath in 1899, Hall made his way to Hollywood and ended up starring in no fewer than 47 films with the kings of comedy.
Today he is still remembered in the city thanks to the JD Wetherspoon pub called the Charlie Hall, a former bingo hall on Barnabas Road, Erdington.
The last film Hall made with Laurel and Hardy was the 1940 release Saps At Sea. However, the new movie is set years later, which means that Hall is not in the list of characters.
The trailer has received the thumbs up from Laurel & Hardy expert John Ullah.
He co-founded the Laughing Gravy Tent in 1993, 40 years after a meeting between American mature student John McCabe and Stan Laurel at the Birmingham Hippodrome in 1953.
As well as becoming the 1961 biographer of the comedy duo, McCabe also founded Sons of the Desert – The International Laurel & Hardy Society – in 1965.
Today, Birmingham’s Laughing Gravy Tent welcomes more than 100 members to its monthly meetings, making it the UK’s biggest branch of the Laurel & Hardy Appreciation Society.
After watching the trailer, Mr Ullah said: “As you can imagine, I am now eagerly awaiting its release. Jeff Pope is a brilliant writer and Steve Coogan and John C Reilly are superb as Stan and Ollie.
“As with all films, they’ve had to invent a few things to make it more interesting.
“For instance there was no argument between them over Ollie’s appearance with Harry Langdon in the film Zenobia.
“In fact, Stan sent Ollie a telegram to wish him luck.
“But I would like to see the whole film before I make a judgment, as trailers can sometimes be deceptive.
“The film has been well received in the US, by the various fans who have seen it.
“And hopefully it will rekindle more interest in Laurel and Hardy.”
Mr Ullah published a biography of Charlie Hall, titled This Is More Than I Can Stand, six years ago.
The book was launched at the Charlie Hall pub in 2012. Its pages detail how Hall also starred with everyone from Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Groucho Marx, Alfred Hitchcock, Abbott & Costello and many more.
Stan & Ollie will premiere at the London Film Festival on October 21, before going on general release in the UK from January 11, 2019.
> Steve Coogan and John C Reilly in > Charlie Hall with Stan & Ollie in Leave ‘Em Laughing
> Charlie Hall in about 1920