Stan & Ollie

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Stan & Ollie
Stan & Ollie.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJon S. Baird
Written byJeff Pope
Produced byFaye Ward
CinematographyLaurie Rose
Edited by
Music byRolfe Kent
Distributed byEntertainment One (United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand)
Sony Pictures Classics (United States)
Release dates
  • 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$29 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 gruelling 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, as Laurel believes they are not being justly compensated for their global fame. Oliver Hardy remains tied to Roach on a different contract, with the studio pairing him with Harry Langdon—and an elephant—in the film Zenobia. They soon get back together, but Oliver's skipping a meeting with Fox results in them not being signed, leaving Laurel feeling embittered for years.

In 1953, the comedy duo embark on a gruelling music hall tour of the UK and Ireland while struggling to get a comedic adaptation of Robin Hood made. Poor publicity in Britain, thanks to the producer Bernard Delfont, means the tour begins in near-empty backstreet theatres as Delfont seems more interested in his up-and-coming star Norman Wisdom. Following public appearances ticket sales improve, filling much larger and more prestigious venues.

On the tour, driven by Stan, they continue to write and develop gags for the film, but there is an ominous silence from its London-based producer. Once they arrive in London, Stan goes to the producer, discovering there is insufficient funding and it has been cancelled. Unable to tell Oliver, he continues work on the script.

Joined by their wives, Ida (Laurel) and Lucille (Hardy), at London's Savoy Hotel, they perform at a sold out Lyceum Theatre. At the opening night party, tensions rise between the wives. As the night progresses Stan's feelings of Oliver's betrayal come to the surface after Ida brings up the "elephant movie", resulting in a public argument over the movie contract fiasco 16 years earlier. Stan unloads his pent-up resentment for what he considers to be disloyalty and accuses Oliver of being lazy, Oliver unloads his own feelings, claiming that they weren't true friends, only together because the studio had paired them up and that Stan never loved him as a friend but as the concept. Oliver leaves with Lucille.

Despite the fight, they press on with public appearances, including judging a beauty contest in Worthing. Oliver refuses to speak to Stan despite the latter's attempts. Just before announcing 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 be able to continue the tour, Delfont suggests having well-known English comic Nobby Cook take his place. When Stan visits Oliver in his room, he tells Stan that he intends to retire immediately, explaining the doctor warned going onstage again could be fatal; he and his wife will leave for America as soon as possible. They both admit that they did not mean what they said.

On the night of the next show, Stan can't work with Cook simply because he is not Oliver, and they cancel, to Delfont's dismay. When Ida finds Stan at the bar, he confesses he does love Oliver as a friend and plans to return to America rather than continue the tour, and asks her not to tell Oliver. Oliver in turn decides he cannot spend the rest of his life in bed and leaves his room, just before his wife returns from an errand, going to Stan's room and telling him they have some shows to do. While sailing to Ireland to continue the tour, Stan confesses there is no longer a film, even though they continued to work on it. Oliver had guessed so from Stan's conduct. Surprised, Stan asks why if he had known the truth, and Oliver said what else could they do. Arriving in Ireland, they are welcomed by a huge crowd, young and old, the church bells ring out their theme tune. Despite being ill, Oliver performs on stage with Stan to thunderous applause 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, leading to his death in 1957; Stan, devastated, refused to work without his partner and retired, dying eight years later in 1965. He continued to write Laurel and Hardy sketches in the remaining 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 221 reviews, with an average rating of 7.5/10. 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. Retrieved 10 October 2021.
  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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