Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The first of documentary producer Robert Youngson's feature-length silent comedy compilations, The Golden Age of Comedy began life as a short subject, consisting of vintage clips from the Mack Sennett vaults. When Youngson struck a deal with the Hal Roach studios, he was able to expand the film's running time with pristine-quality vignettes from the Roach catalogue. While many past greats are highlighted in Golden Age, the compilation's true "stars" are Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, shown at their very best in lengthy excerpts from such 2-reel classics as The Second Hundred Years (1927), You're Darn Tootin' (1928) Two Tars (1928) and Double Whoopee (1929) (the latter featuring a 17-year-old starlet named Jean Harlow). Thanks to Youngson, the legendary pie fight scene from Laurel and Hardy's Battle of the Century (1927) was saved from the brink of extinction and is included herein. The rest of the film offers choice comic bits from the likes of Ben Turpin, Billy Bevan, Will Rogers, Charley Chase, Harry Langdon, and even Carole Lombard. Our only carp is that the narration is frequently superfluous; we can see the gags, we don't need them explained to us. The Golden Age of Comedy was the surprise hit of 1958, spawning several future Youngson compilations, including a brace of 1960s films devoted almost exclusively to Laurel and Hardy.