The Second Hundred Years (1927)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Escape Film, Slapstick  |   Run Time - 23 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Pairing a fat man and a skinny man in a comedic context has worked successfully at least since Shakespeare's time, but could producer Hal Roach possibly have known what he was starting when he turned Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy into an official screen team with this silent comedy? Beyond the comic bits devised by screenwriter Leo McCarey -- which served not only Laurel & Hardy (across various sound-era remakes, but also the Three Stooges for many years to come -- it's amazing to see how many of the elements that would work for them in their subsequent movies across the next dozen years were already in place. The latter include the presence on the cast of James Finlayson and Charlie Hall, and Tiny Sandford (and if one looks closely, one can also spot Eugene Pallette in a small role). And apart from some sight gags that wouldn't translate well to the sound era, most of what the team needed to work with was present in their repertory, in this still very funny prison comedy, which they would drawing laughs from for years to come.