Laurel and Hardy made several early silent shorts where they both appeared, but don't really qualify as Laurel and Hardy films. It was not until Leo McCarey recognized the chemistry they had together on the screen and decided to officially team Stan and Ollie together that they permanently became a team. Below are films that can only be qualified as Laurel and Hardy films only because both men appear in them, they haven't really found themselves yet.THE LUCKY DOG (1921)https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2j1chr3Jv0
Historically important as it is the first film Stan and Ollie appear in together, but really a Stan Laurel solo film. Stan Laurel made several solo films before teaming with Ollie and Ollie appeared as a heavy in several comedy shorts, but this is the only time they appeared together pre Hal Roach. Their first scene together has Ollie trying to rob Stan, yet Stan gets away. Later, Ollie and another nemesis of Stan's pliot revenge on Stan. The best scene of the two together is Ollie failing to kill Stan close range with a gun. In an absurd twist, Stan tries to help his killer Ollie work the gun properly - the two show good chemistry in this part. Other than that, a few good Keaton like gags with a train, but the film is a jumbled mess story wise. Lots of fast paced Sennett like stuff, which can get tiresome without coherent storytelling, a flaw of many silent comedies not done by the top tier comedians.
5/1045 MINUTES FROM HOLLYWOOD (1926)https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=b2EXJEDhvDE
The first film at Hal Roach Stan and Ollie both appear in, but they don't even share the same frame, never mind team up! Really a Glenn Tryon film, a bland comedian with no personality. The bicycle chase scene has some nice shots and the close ups of Ollie when the cat is in his clothes are a nice touch, but again, a jumbled mess that involves cross dressing and mistaken identity. Not my favorite comic devices.
4/10SLIPPING WIVES (1927)https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NrXTeZ18nUI
Stan and Ollie get to work together best in a great fight scene where Ollie gets face planted on the ground and covered in white paint and another scene where Ollie has to force Stan to take a bath. Still, they are not a comedy team in this short. A Priscilla Dean vehicle, she was a fading star at this point that Hal Roach used to try to get some name value while looking for a new star. She is very pleasant to watch as she tries make her inattentive husband jealous by finding someone else to make love to her in front of him. The man happens to be Stan Laurel, a paint salesman. Ollie plays the butler, and Stan mistakes a family friend as the husband he's trying to make jealous. When the real husband pays attention to Ms. Dean, that's when Stan gets most aggressive. The comedy reminds me of something Charley Chase would do, and Stan's pantomime of Samson and Delilah is a highlight, no doubt influenced by Charlie Chaplin's classic pantomime of David and Goliath in THE PILGRIM. Very entertaining overall.
8/10LOVE 'EM AND WEEP (1927)https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2bEZFhQTL2Q
An inferior silent version of CHICKENS COME HOME (1931), but still not bad in its own right. Stan Laurel and Mae Busch play the same roles as they will in the talking version, and the Oliver Hardy role is played by James Finlayson. Oliver Hardy is wasted as a heavily disguised party guest in a do nothing role. The song aspect works much better in the talking version. I'd much rather hear Ollie sing with tension in the air when the other woman is on her way than quickly hint that James Finlayson has to sing while quickly skipping to other business. Again, not bad on its own, I just know there's a better talking version of this I would rather watch nine times out of ten. Not really a Laurel and Hardy film at all, just one of these things that shows up in filmographies because they are both in it.
6/10WHY GIRLS LOVE SAILORS (1927)https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=XqRltVXVxZM
Again, Stan and Ollie don't team much, having very little interaction together. Ollie plays the first mate on a ship. The captain of the ship steals Stan Laurel's girl away, so Stan dresses in drag, and makes his way through the boat as he tries to find his girl. Anita Garvin and her gloriously expressive face (Can anybody show frustration better than her?), plays the captain's wife that catches her husband with Stan in drag. Writing wise, a lame drag comedy that is notched up a few points by the charisma of the actors playing the roles.
6/10WITH LOVE AND HISSES (1927)https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nsXswrzcuRY
Episodic army comedy where Stan and Ollie are not really a team, but they do get some good comic scenes together and show some chemistry. The ending is absolutely hysterical, involving naked army men getting sprayed by skunks and stung by a swarm of bees as army inspection men are visiting the camp. They hide their nudity by sticking their heads through a billboard depicting characters in a Cecille B. DeMille film, the billboard wrapped around their necks as they walk around. Man, just writing about this makes me realize how strange this one is...oh, and they were naked because they were skinny dipping and their clothes accidentally caught fire. Stan plays an interesting twist on the overdone drill sargent comedy stuff by having his feelings hurt by his superiors and acting like he won't talk to them. One of the more memorable not quite but almost Laurel and Hardy films, a weird anomaly.
8/10SAILORS, BEWARE! (1927)https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fNf_q5wFBS0
An important film. While Stan and Ollie are enemies and not a team they do get a couple of great scenes together that show their chemistry. The scene where they both jump rope with the girl at the same time is wonderful, and Hardy gets to pantomime his assertive nature with Stan at various points. Also, lots of Hardy fourth wall breaking camera glazes and parts of Stan crying like a baby, so you feel like the characters of Laurel and Hardy are slowly being born. This one also has Anita Garvin, one of my all time favorites. The film itself to me is like MEN IN BLACK in that I like all the individual parts but it somehow doesn't gel into a cohesive whole as well as it should. Still an important film overall for Laurel and Hardy.
7/10NOW I'LL TELL ONE (1927)https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YTGqkDOX__M
Now here's a Charley Chase two reeler that was considered lost until about twenty years ago, and only the second reel survives. Since I have been unable to hunt this one down on DVD, I've only seen a worn out three minutes of the surviving footage on YouTube. Laurel and Hardy are both in this one, but not together. Stan plays a lawyer and Ollie a cop. Having barely seen it, I can't say much more.
No ratingFLYING ELEPHANTS (1927)https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2CT-CtlqGII
Strange short. I guess at this point after SAILORS, BEWARE! and DO DETECTIVES THINK? it was established Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy should be featured more in these All-Star comedies. Well, they're certainly the two featured players here, but in separate roles with characters that don't meet until the last few minutes as they end up fighting over the same girl. Stan's character here is a bit more effeminate than we've grown used to over the years, but there's one hysterical part where he tries to drag a pretty girl into his cave, only to have the pretty girl, for lack of better terminology, kick his ass. The rest is passable hit 'em over the head with club caveman mating ritual stuff. Another film that heavily features Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, but is not really a Laurel and Hardy film. For you Stooge fans who need a good comparison, think of the way Moe was split from the team in the feature ROCKIN' IN THE ROCKIES. That's kind of like what some of these early films feel like with Stan and Ollie.
6/10SUGAR DADDIES (1927)https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=aDDOgsmJWv4
The last film to feature Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy where they are not a team, except they kind of sort of are by the end of this thing....along with Jim Finlayson. Basically, Jim Finlayson is a rich guy who gets drunk the night before and gets married to a gold digger who wants $50,000. Ollie is his Butler, Stan is his lawyer, and once it's in the papers that Finlayson is out the night before with 27 chorus girls, the gold digger and her brother and daughter chase Finlayson, Stan, and Ollie across town. Most of the short revolves around Stan standing on top of a bent over Finlayson's back, covering both of them with a dress and wearing a women's wig to hide Finlayson, making Stan look like one woman. Ollie is the apparent boyfriend. The gold digging wife and family are onto the scheme and chase the three through a fun house as they continue to try and hide Finlayson. A one gag film that any comedian can do, it nevertheless is done well and is continuously entertaining.
7/10CALL OF THE CUCKOO (1927)https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Io9pxut5W4A
This is a Max Davidson comedy in which Laurel and Hardy, along with Charley Chase and James Finlayson, do a cameo as cuckoos, like the title implies. They only have a few brief scenes in the beginning and end, and I suppose the William Tell gag Stan and Ollie do is fun. They don't get to do much else. Max Davidson, as far as I can tell, is a comedian who does not have much character other than being a Jewish stereotype. He does nothing particularly funny, with his destructive house being the star more than him. Stooge fans, Max Davidson is the shop keeper whose stuff the boys destroy and calls for the police in NO CENSUS, NO FEELING.