Flicker Alley’s exciting new Laurel OR Hardy Blu-ray release offers a wide collection of early films created by Stan Laurel or Oliver Hardy, but each as solo stars before being paired as the world’s most beloved comedy duo. Beautifully restored by Serge Bromberg’s Lobster Films, the set contains 17 short comedies featuring Stan, and 18 films with Ollie in the cast, along with program notes by film historian Rob Stone.
Quickly, here are two fun discoveries from the set, one for Stan, one for Ollie. The Boys are well-remembered for The Music Box (1932) inset, awarded the first Academy Award for Best Live Action Short, where they famously struggle to deliver a piano up a long flight of stairs. The film was inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Located between 923 and 935 N. Vendome Street, the historic site is well-documented, and is not only an international tourist attraction, but home to the annual Music Box Day celebration. The Boys also filmed their now lost silent comedy Hats Off (1927) attempting to carry a bulky washing machine up the same pesky stairs.
But years earlier Stan alone struggled with a different intimidating flight of stairs during The Pest (1922). The film is loaded with early Hollywood locations, but for now, here is the stairway, located at 2146 Cove Avenue, about 2 miles NE from The Music Box site (see map connecting both sites).
A public walkway, the City officially named the first stairway “Music Box Steps” to honor its cultural, historic, and movie tourism appeal. We hope the City will continue this tradition by naming an anonymous Hollywood alley, also a public walkway, the “Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd Alley” (see more below), where these great stars filmed The Kid (1921), Cops (1922) and Safety Last! (1923), each a masterpiece also inducted into the National Film Registry. With little cost or effort the City can simply give it a name, akin to San Francisco naming its alleys and byways after famous resident authors.
Which leads to Ollie’s location discovery. Yes, the Flicker Alley collection reveals Oliver Hardy also filmed at the Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd Alley, chasing after Billy West in the 1925 comedy Rivals. Ollie’s scene is matched against the alley as it appears in the 1917 Lyons and Moran comedy What A Clue Will Do. The rickety wooden stairway was removed by 1922 (it does not appear during Buster’s scene from Cops), but numerous matching details confirm the site.
Bonus – Douglas Fairbanks filmed Flirting With Fate (1916) at the alley too. This makes perfect sense given he’s chased all around the alley site at Cahuenga and Cosmo during the film. The details from the Lyons and Moran frame confirm the match. So along with Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd’s masterpieces, Harry Houdini, Colleen Moore, Gale Henry, and now both Oliver Hardy and Douglas Fairbanks, all staged more modest films there as well. Given the alley’s frequent use, and proximity to various studios, I’m confident it appeared in numerous other silent films, now sadly lost to history.
Please help support naming the Chaplin Keaton Lloyd alley in Hollywood by posting a review on Google Maps. Prototype alley sign design by noted Dutch graphic artist – Piet Schreuders. Download a 4-page brochure about the alley HERE. This video further explains the alley – if you can, please leave a thumbs up and share it with others.
Flicker Alley – Laurel or Hardy: Early Films of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy
Below, the stairs at Cove Avenue appearing with Stan in The Pest a century ago.
John ~ So far I’ve watched the first 5 Hardys and 4 Laurels. The only one I’d ever watch again is THE PEST, which also featured the score I enjoyed the most. I liked that one. To me, these are so primitive, and unfunny. Maybe they’ll get better.
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Hi Richard – per usual I quickly scanned through everything looking for locations, so I haven’t actually watched all of the films yet. D’oh! But regardless, it’s fascinating to see them busily at work, years before they were paired into immortality. Given his missing solo films, there’s a chance Stan filmed at the alley too. But it sure was fun to see Ollie there.
I’m looking forward to this collection, after watching Stan’s “West of Hot Dog” and “Mud and Sand” online. I’d like to see more of Ollie’s early work, too.
Those stairs at Cove Avenue, though. At first, I thought Buster climbed them up to Heaven in “The Haunted House,” but I just checked and it’s not exactly the same. Still wondering if they gave him the idea for that scene.
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