“Utopia” or “Atoll K”: Laurel and Hardy’s Sad Swan Song


Today a look at Laurel and Hardy’s last film, the notorious Utopia a.k.a Atoll K a.k.a Robinson Crusoeland (released in the U.S. in 1954, but released in Europe three years earlier). It is a sad day in comedy history, a sad day in film history…a sad day in history.

The team’s last previous Hollywood film had been in 1945. In the meantime Laurel and Hardy had been touring with live shows to pay the bills. This being their only film offer on the horizon, they took it. The film was a French/ Italian co-production. Both Laurel and Hardy suffered a wide variety of health problems as they were filming (see photo above). And the film is almost unwatchably bad. It concerns Laurel inheriting a private island. He and Hardy, and some friends go there in a shabby, broken-down boat. When they arrive, uranium is discovered. That’s the extent of the plot. The script is not funny, and the performances are painful. It’s one of the saddest exits in film history. Ahead of them was only the hard slog of live performance, the period depicted in the film Stan and Ollie.

For more on silent and slapstick comedy, including the films of Laurel and Hardy, please see my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube

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