Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan


(Atoll K, 1951)

This is the very last Laurel and Hardy movie, and a lot of it is pretty sad. Stan is looking tired, and in fact he was so sick he could only work about a half hour every day. He was diabetic, and developed colitis, dysentery, and a prostate ulcer. Ollie looks even worse. He has ballooned to a frightening weight, 330 pounds. There are some good gags, as always, particularly a scene where they are eating lunch in the galley of the yacht Ollie has inherited, and food keeps disappearing from their plates. But as the movie goes along, it gets worse and worse.

When the boys are at sea, about to be sunk in a storm, an island magically erupts from the deeps and saves them. Even more magical, within a few days there are full-grown palm trees, and they have built all sorts of stuff. Okay, it’s not meant to be taken seriously. Stan and Ollie and the cook and a stowaway decide to found a new nation, with no laws, no taxes, and no immigration controls. When word gets out, people start arriving by the thousands, and they quickly discover how bad anarchy can be.

It is puzzling, really. They had a good budget, a million and a half, quite large for the time. They built some quite large outdoor sets on the “island.” But everything else looks to have been done on the cheap. Ida Laurel, Stan’s wife, has stated that the Italian director was totally incompetent. And, bizarrely, everyone else in the cast is speaking either French or Italian. You can see the lips don’t synch. The plot is pretty inane, when you get right down to it. The best thing I can say about this movie is that Oliver Hardy’s last spoken words on film were … “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!” Bittersweet!

I wish they could have gone out on a higher note than this. Sometimes people stick around too long, past the point where they have anything new to say, and lack the skills they used to have. But hey, all hail Laurel and Hardy! Best comedy team ever!