LAUREL AND HARDY: The Magic Behind the Movies by Randy Skretvedt

LAUREL AND HARDY: The Magic Behind the Movies

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A giant volume, not only the best book on Laurel and Hardy ever assembled but also one of the best books on film comedy and Hollywood. Skretvedt, host of Los Angeles radio show ""Forward into the Past,"" has labored nobly to do a job worthy of the beloved comedy team. Every L&H film, from their first silents through the internationally produced fiasco Atoll K (1952), is reviewed in depth. Skretvedt has interviewed numerous craftsmen who worked with the team during the making of each film, and the study of each script and finished work benefits richly from comments by people who were on each and every set. This intimate approach rewards the reader with a grittily immediate sense of Hollywood in the 20's, 30's, and 40's. Skretvedt's analyses are astute, and the 250 photographs and illustrations lean heavily on candid shots over studio stills, a choice which invites intimacy. Also, we are involved with the personal traumas of the much-married team as they create their films against a background of Myrtle Hardy's alcoholism and Stan's divorces. While working separately at the Hal Roach Studios, the boys gradually began to be cast in the same pictures but it was a very long time before they formed a team, and even then they made many frantic two-reelers that failed to unearth the slow-paced Stan & Ollie characters who eventually appeared. The small Hal Roach lot allowed them great freedom in putting their films together, but when Roach took them along to MGM (and hence to Fox), the expensive hand of big-studio production dampened their verve and at last smothered it altogether. The team's need to shoot in sequence and Stan's creative genius were set aside so that Fox could produce ""efficiently-assembled garbage."" Fitting homage for Stan & Ollie's 60th anniversary (an event, by the way, to be accompanied by a US commemorative stamp).

Pub Date: June 1st, 1987
Publisher: Moonstone (P.O. Box 142, Beverly Hills, CA 90213)