Stan & Ollie

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Stan & Ollie
Stan & Ollie.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJon S. Baird
Produced byFaye Ward
Written byJeff Pope
Music byRolfe Kent
CinematographyLaurie Rose
Edited by
Distributed byEntertainment One Films (United Kingdom/Canada)
Sony Pictures Classics (United States)
Release date
  • 21 October 2018 (2018-10-21) (BFI London Film Festival)
  • 28 December 2018 (2018-12-28) (United States)
  • 11 January 2019 (2019-01-11) (United Kingdom)
Running time
98 minutes
  • United Kingdom
  • Canada
  • United States
Budget$10 million[1]
Box office$26.3 million[2]

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 on 21 October 2018 at the closing night gala of 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.

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 Laurel believes the studio and Roach himself are failing to financially recognise 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, Oliver's absence during a meeting with Fox results in them not being signed on by the studio, leaving Laurel 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 backstreet theatres 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 Oliver 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 has two double acts for the price of one. As the night progresses Stan's feelings of Oliver's betrayal come to the surface after Ida 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 Oliver of being lazy, Oliver 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 Oliver leaves the party with his wife.

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. Oliver refuses to speak to Stan despite the latter's attempts. Just when they are about to announce the winner, Oliver collapses from a heart attack and is forced into bed rest. Informed two days later that it is unlikely that Oliver will get better in time to continue the tour, Delfont suggests having a well-known English comic named Nobby Cook take Oliver's place. When Stan visits Oliver in his room, Oliver 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. The pair admit that they did not mean what they said to each other at the party.

On the night of the next show, Stan finds it impossible to work with Cook simply because he is not Oliver, and the performance is cancelled, much to Delfont's dismay. When Ida finds Stan at the bar, Stan confesses to her that he truly does love Oliver as a friend and intends to return to America instead of continuing the tour, though he asks her not to tell Oliver that they are leaving. Oliver in turn decides he cannot spend the rest of his life idle in bed and leaves his hotel room just before his wife comes back. He goes to Stan's room and tells him they have a show to do. While sailing to Ireland to continue the tour Stan confesses he has deceived Oliver about the prospects of a film even while they continued to work on it. Oliver 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 Oliver had known the truth for some time, and Oliver admits 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. Despite his ill health, Oliver performs on stage with Stan to thunderous applause from the audience as Ida comforts the concerned Lucille.

As the film ends, a written epilogue reveals that the tour was the last time they worked together. Oliver'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.

Real life background[edit]

The film's story differs from real life events. Starting in October 1953, Laurel and Hardy spent eight months on tour. On arriving at Cobh in Ireland on 9 September 1953 and disembarking from the SS America they were given a warm welcome, and this is recreated in the final scene of the film.[3] Following their opening night at the Palace Theatre, Plymouth on 17 May 1954, Hardy had a mild heart attack. Hardy stayed at the Grand Hotel in Plymouth while recovering.[4] The pair sailed back to the United States on 2 June. The remainder of the tour was cancelled, and Laurel and Hardy never performed together on stage again.[5][6] The character of Nobby Cook portrayed in the film is fictional. There was never a plan to continue the tour without Hardy, as Laurel would have refused to work with anyone else.[7]




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.[8] The film was written by Jeff Pope, who had previously collaborated with Coogan on the Oscar-nominated screenplay for Philomena.[9] Pope described the comedy duo as being his "heroes".[10]


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,[11] the Old Rep theatre Birmingham, the West London Film Studios, and Bristol in South West England.[12] Various locations along the Great Central Railway in Leicestershire were used for the rail sequences.[13] Part of the filming also took place in Worthing, West Sussex.[14]

Filming hours were limited due to Reilly needing four hours in the makeup chair each day.[1]


The film premiered at the closing night gala of the BFI London Film Festival on 21 October 2018 at the Cineworld, Leicester Square.[15] 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.[16]


Critical response[edit]

Following Stan & Ollie's October 2018 debut at the BFI London Film Festival, the film received positive reviews from critics.[17][18][19] On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 92% based on 219 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".[20] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 75 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[21]

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".[22] 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".[23]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards 16 December 2018 Best Actor John C. Reilly Won [24]
British Academy Film Awards 10 February 2019 Best Actor in a Leading Role Steve Coogan Nominated [25]
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 2 December 2018 Best Actor Steve Coogan Nominated [26]
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 [27]
Golden Globe Awards 6 January 2019 Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy John C. Reilly Nominated [28]
San Diego Film Critics Society Awards 10 December 2018 Best Supporting Actress Nina Arianda Runner-up [29]
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)


  1. ^ a b Gray, Tim (6 December 2018). "'Stan & Ollie' Director Faced Challenge of Introducing Comedy Duo to Modern Audiences". Variety. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  2. ^ "Stan & Ollie (2018)". The Numbers. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  3. ^ "Stan and Ollie in Cork: A look back at Laurel and Hardy's visit to Leeside". Irish Examiner. 7 January 2019. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  4. ^ Atkins, Paul (2 April 2019). "Stan & Ollie: The real story behind Laurel and Hardy's trip to Plymouth". Plymouth Live. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  5. ^ Westcott, Hayley (11 January 2019). "Stan & Ollie: The story of Laurel and Hardy's final tour". BBC News. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  6. ^ "1954 Letters". Letters from Stan. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  7. ^ Chalakoski, Martin (17 June 2017). "When his best buddy Oliver Hardy died, Stan Laurel refused to act in another film". Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  8. ^ Jaafar, Ali (18 January 2016). "Steve Coogan And John C. Reilly To Star As Stan Laurel And Oliver Hardy In Jon S. Baird's 'Stan & Ollie'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  9. ^ Lee, Benjamin (18 January 2016). "Steve Coogan and John C Reilly to play Laurel and Hardy in biopic". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  10. ^ "Steve Coogan and John C Reilly to star in Laurel and Hardy film". BBC. 18 January 2016. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  11. ^ "Stan & Ollie - Black Country Living Museum".
  12. ^ Young, Graham (4 April 2017). "Movie Stan and Ollie with Steve Coogan to be filmed in Midlands and you can apply to be in the cast". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  13. ^ Snow, Maia (5 February 2019). "Great Central Railway transformed into movie set for hit film Stan and Ollie". Leicestershire Live. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  14. ^ "How Worthing Lido Landed a Place on the Silver Screen". Sussex Film Office. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  15. ^ "World premiere of Stan & Ollie to close 62nd BFI London Film Festival". BFI. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  16. ^ Kay, Jeremy (9 September 2018). "SPC 'Stan & Ollie' TIFF deal confirmed as distributor picks up 'Maiden'". Screen Daily. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  17. ^ Macnab, Geoffrey (21 October 2018). "Stan & Ollie review, LFF: Insightful and endlessly touching". The Independent. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  18. ^ "John C Reilly deserves an Oscar for Stan & Ollie". Evening Standard. 22 October 2018.
  19. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (21 October 2018). "Stan & Ollie review – melancholy twilight of comedy gods Laurel and Hardy". The Guardian.
  20. ^ "Stan & Ollie (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  21. ^ "Stan & Ollie reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  22. ^ Lodge, Guy (7 November 2018). "London Film Review: 'Stan & Ollie'". Variety. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  23. ^ McCarthy, Todd (7 November 2018). "'Stan & Ollie': Film Review London 2018". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  24. ^ Burr, Ty (16 December 2018). "Boston Society of Film Critics announces winners". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  25. ^ "EE British Academy Film Awards Nominees in 2019". BAFTA. 9 January 2019. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  26. ^ Sheehan, Paul (2 December 2018). "2018 British Independent Film Awards: Full list of winners led by 'The Favourite'".
  27. ^ Nordyke, Kimberley (10 December 2018). "Critics' Choice Awards: 'The Favourite' Leads With 14 Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  28. ^ "2018 Nominees" (PDF). HFPA. November 2018.
  29. ^ "2018 San Diego Film Critics Society's Award Nominations". 7 December 2018. Retrieved 8 December 2018.

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