As actors, they were as harmonious in their division of labour off-screen as they were in front of the camera. Stanley was obsessed with gag construction and timing, working long hours as very much a film-maker, whereas Oliver was happy to be a talented co-worker spending his free time on the golf course. Stanley was known to mischievously save up Oliver’s reaction shots to the end of the day so he’d be that little bit more frustrated (to get on the green). To Oliver, Stanley’s greater share of the earnings in their joint contract with studio head Hal Roach was entirely fitting. His friend did more of the work.
Their wonderful short subject plots could be based around any single idea no matter how outlandish, from the sophisticated body-swap of playing each other’s wives in Twice Two and devilish baby versions of themselves in Brats, to a ‘simple’ premise like leaving home on time for a wedding or just leaving home, period, in Perfect Day. One of their best ideas was to play on the concept of henpecked husbands forever trying to hide innocent free-time activities from their tyrannical and suspicious wives. Their most memorable casting for this was Mae Busch, who could play the scorned harpie to perfection, giving genuine chills out of fear of her wrath. She had already made great use of a hardened streetwise gal image in horror feature films as we have seen in The Unholy Three and would go on to appear in Doctor X. In between, she was Laurel and Hardy’s favourite battle-axe and her unholy retribution serves as a marvellous bridge connecting their mainstream films with horror possibilities – in her later ideal casting in Oliver the Eighth.