Stan Laurel in “The Lucky Dog”
Today is the anniversary of the release date of The Lucky Dog (1921). This is the first film which features the talents of both Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, although it is six years before they became a team or played their most famous characters. For many years this film was thought to have been made in 1917 (that’s the date you’ll still see when it is mentioned in most books), but the most up to date research now places its production in 1920 and its release in 1921.
Officially this is a Stan Laurel solo vehicle, with Hardy in a supporting role. The film seems inspired at least in part by Chaplin’s A Dog’s Life. Laurel plays a young man who gets kicked out of rooms for nonpayment of rent, whereupon he is immediately befriended by a scrappy pooch. The main plot concerns Laurel’s hooking up with a young lady who owns a poodle, and his attempts to join her at a dog show, punctuated with run-ins with a robber played by Oliver Hardy. Produced by a company known as Reelcraft, it seems much more a ramshackle affair than the comedies both actors would make for Hal Roach.
To learn more about comedy film history please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc
To learn about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.