Laurel and Hardy
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Ultimate Skretvedt

Leonard Maltin has written a fine review of Randy Skretvedt's latest masterpiece...

Labelled "The Ultimate Edition," this massive volume represents the third time L&H devotee Skretvedt has published the results of his decades-long research on Laurel and Hardy - and it is magnificent. I know a fair amount about this team, having watched and written about them for many years, but I got lost in the pages of this book the other night and couldn't put it down. I also had trouble picking it up again: it's incredibly heavy, and well worth its price, not only in content but in sheer heft. There is 50% more text than there was in its second incarnation.

Of the one thousand photos here (800 new to this printing), I would venture to say only dozens have been published before. Many came from Oliver Hardy's personal collection. If you love Stan and Ollie as I do you will derive great pleasure staring at rare behind-the-scenes shots, scrapbook and home-movie frames, original newspaper ads and posters, elements of working scripts, and much, much more. Want to see Oliver Hardy, Edgar Kennedy, and Hal Roach taking an impromptu swim on location with members of their crew? Or original billboards touting the latest L&H releases? This is the book for you.

Randy seamlessly blends fandom with scholarship in his account of the team's career and meticulous documentation of their movies. Over the past forty years he got to know key members of the Hal Roach team, from prop men to musicians; their quotes paint a vivid picture of how the Laurel & Hardy films were made. And if you wonder why some of producer Roach's other comedy series could be so poor, or uneven, when they drew on the same talent pool the answer is crystal clear: they didn't have Stan Laurel calling the shots.

Even if you own an earlier edition of Laurel & Hardy: The Magic Behind the Movies this oversized, 630-page coffee-table book eclipses them - or to put it another way, leaves them in the dust. "Ultimate" is the key word: here is a volume that lives up to its promise and belongs on every film bookshelf. Bear in mind that this is a limited edition; according to the publisher, once this hardcover has sold out it will not be reprinted.

Note: Books purchased directly from Bonaventure Press will be numbered, signed by the author, and accompanied by a free audio CD of excerpts from the author's interviews with L&H luminaries.

Bowler Dessert Online adds its own enthusiastic endorsement of Leonard's review of this book. It is the best Laurel and Hardy book ever - by a mile, we say.

Belgium beckons

Marc de Coninck of Belgium has sent information about next year's 12th European Convention taking place in Gent, Belgium, in August 2017. Marc's tent, Me and My Pal, are famous for hosting wonderful Laurel and Hardy events. Jamie and Bill, the Laurel and Hardy actors, will be there, so you know it will be lots of laughs when they are around. Gent is such a beautiful city - a great place to hold the convention.  Marc says, "You can find more info (list of delegates, the entertainment, etc) on our website:"

Gino Dercola

Birmingham attractions

The latest edition of The Birmingham Bark has lots of reports on the activities of the Laughing Gravy Tent and a look forward to coming events...

Another Fine Mess Tent of Northern Ireland

Our next meeting will be on Saturday 3 September 2016 at 7.30 pm. It'll be another great night of classic Laurel and Hardy films, and this time with a decidedly spooky theme - yes, it's that darn bat again.Look forward to having a good chinwag at the Pavilion as usual.

Keith and Gerry

Play in Frinton

I went with David to see the Frinton Summer Theatre production of 'Laurel and Hardy'. It made a very enjoyable evening and was very well attended - some scenes recreated from the films got really big laughs and the script is heavily laced with familiar L&H dialogue. Well worth a visit. 

We met the actors after the show - you can probably guess who played Stan and who played Ollie.

Paul Harding

Bowler-Hatted Man

Pictures of the front and back covers of Stackridge's CD reissue of The Man in the Bowler Hat were spotted by Stephen Barlow 


On the telly

Dave de Kort points out that the channel on Sky called Talking Pictures? (Sky 343) has some interesting movies scheduled including the Oliver Hardy interview with Jack Mangan (18.08.16.), The Stolen Jools (20.08.16.) and Home Movies directed by Rowland V Lee (20.08.16.).

 And finally

Michael Schmitz gave us a clipping from an article which appeared in an airline magazine some time ago...