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Jerry Cutler On Film—‘Stan & Ollie’ Is Trip Down Memory Lane, Remembering Penny Marshall

Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel and John C. Reilly as Oliver Hardy.
Penny Marshall

Posted Monday, December 24, 2018 - 11:31 am

At long last, here is a tribute to another of England’s brilliant exports, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. I was, and am, a huge fan of their persona and outrageous comedy. The two were poetry in comedic motion and a joy to behold.

Starring Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly, Stan & Ollie will give millions of young movie goers a chance to see the forerunners of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Laurel and Hardy’s comedy, whose bits were written by Laurel, is more subdued although pratfalls were always a part of their humor.

The film, written by Jeff Pope and directed by Jan S. Baird, is especially welcomed when politics and the world conflict can use a respite – brief as it is. Working from 1926 to 1940 starring in 27 features and a plethora of short films for Hal Roach, the pair achieved international fame. We are treated to a behind-the-scenes look at two infectious comedians, whose antics and brilliant pairing brought gales of laughter to a generation.

After a series of events leaves the pair’s relationship estranged, in 1953, they are offered a tour in their beloved England. They jump at a chance to get together one more time. Initially, they are disappointed at their lodgings and the small turnouts at their shows. Slowly, they build momentum and start to pack the theaters. Although in failing health, Ollie continues with the tour with his impeccable timing and hysterical glances of condescension, intact.

Coogan and especially John S. Reilly are excellent as both exhibit their excellence as comedic performers and pathos when their relationship strains. However, the underlying respect and love they share, always overcome their personal difficulties.

Special mention must be made to Nina Arianda who plays Ollie’s wife who nearly steals the movie with her hilarious asides and acerbic observations.

Stan & Ollie is a must see for film buffs as well as those unfamiliar with these two giants of movie lore.

3 bagels with a schmear out of 4

• • • • •

I was saddened with last week’s passing of Penny Marshall, along with millions of others, I was a fan of her antics on TV and her incredible talent as a director. However, the world wasn’t aware of the fact that she was also an extremely talented cheerleader.

Years ago, when I came to California, I was honored to pitch softball competition for a team consisting of actors, writers, producers, directors and one rabbi.

Backing me up on the field, as I recall, were actor (and soon to be award winning director) Rob Reiner; TV director Peter Baldwin; Mickey Rose, a close friend who wrote Take The Money And Run and the classic Bananas with Woody Allen; an up-and-coming actor Tom Selleck; producer/actor/director/writer Garry Marshall; a Beverly Hills pharmacist and wannabe actor Michael Zaifert; a bit actor Neil Kaz….I can’t recall the others.

Just so you know, I was the least qualified player on the field.

At any rate, our first game was held at a Sherman Oaks park. As we were about to begin, two lovely and attractive cheerleaders appeared and started dancing and chanting for our team. One was Cindy Williams and the other Penny Marshall, sister of Garry.

Penny was a most gracious and funny person who excelled as a first-rate and highly-sought-after motion picture director. Her brother, who pre-deceased her, didn’t do too bad either. Incidentally, Garry was an outstanding first baseman.

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