The Art of Laurel and Hardy: Graceful Calamity in the Films (2006)

About the book:

From the early days of film came Laurel and Hardy, a comedy team that created slapstick hilarity from life’s simplest situations. Some seventy years after their heyday, Arthur Stanley Jefferson and Oliver Norvell “Babe” Hardy are still remembered for the comic chaos they created in film shorts. They gave us something to laugh at by reminding us of our own foibles, in a way that was genuine and unpretentious. The lanky Stan Laurel (1890–1965) and portly Ollie Hardy (1892–1957) had but one objective: to create as many laughs as would fit in one short film. And that, they did. The book begins by exploring their comedy in the early days of film. A chapter is dedicated to each of “the boys”—Laurel from Ulverston, England, and Hardy from the state of Georgia—as a person and performer. Further chapters explore the slapstick and gags of Laurel and Hardy and how the pair survived the transition to sound that left behind many actors of the day. It was only when they began to work for large studios, churning out cookie-cutter scripts, that their art began to lose its way. The book takes the reader through the ups and downs of their careers and to a final comeback. A filmography lists works from 1917 to 1951 with information on availability.

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Customer Reviews:

5 stars by Baltimore, MD (Amazon customer)
As a life-long Laurel and Hardy fan,it was a given that I would have to order the new book about them,even though I felt the $35.00 price tag was high,especially for a paperback. At that price,I reasoned,it must be huge and loaded with pictures;maybe many I don’t already have.With thirty-plus books about L & H on my shelf already it seemed logical that “The Art of Laurel and Hardy” would have to be a big picture book:what could possibly be left to write about them? Well, I must say, I was crestfallen when it arrived:not only was it considerably smaller than I had expected,but it had no – count them – NO pictures at all! I was so initially disappointed that I considered returning it for a refund. Then something happened that changed my opinion completely: I read it. I didn’t think it was possible, but Kip Harness has managed to write a totally fresh and uniquely insightful analysis of what made Laurel and Hardy so great. And,more importantly, why so many of us love them so much. Any fan of the”boys” will love this book,and for those who are new to their art,this is a tremendous introduction. In my humble opinion,”The Art of Laurel and Hardy” by Kyp Harness is the best book yet about the greatest comedy team ever.

5 stars by Greg (Amazon customer)
This is the best book I’ve ever read about the ART of the classic team and I believe I’ve read them all. The Magic Behind the Movies by Randy Skretvedt is the best book on how the films were made but this one focuses on what ended up on screen. It thoughtfully and with great intelligence, analyzes the characters and situations exhibited throughout the long term partnership of the boys and in a way that makes it a great read. It is totally worth the price and a must have for anyone who loves Laurel and Hardy or anyone who wants to learn why two comics became immortals of the screen.

Click here to BUY “The Art of Laurel and Hardy” on

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