WELCOME HOME STAN LAUREL. A very special 60 minute documentary.
This is a project dear to my heart. I've always been a fan of Laurel and Hardy and slapstick comedy. Now I am excited to be telling the very personal story of the happiest day of Stan's life.
Laurel and Hardy were on a stage tour in England with their wives in 1947, just after the Second World War. While their film career was pretty much over by the post war years, they were still very much in demand touring Europe live on stage. We learn that Laurel and Hardy were real people, gracious and self effacing and were humbled and moved by the love and attention they got from their fans later in their career. Whilst they were performing their show at The Morecambe Winter Gardens, they all took a day trip up the bay to Stan's home town of Ulverston. It was here he received a hero's welcome on the balcony of the Coronation Hall and was presented with a copy of his birth certificate. Hilarity ensued as Laurel and Hardy joked around in front of hundreds of happy cheering onlookers.
This is that story told from the point of view of retired StanLaurel in the early 1960's in his Santa Monica apartment by way of dramatic recreations. Also featured are interviews with present day Ulverston historians and first hand accounts of that visit.
This documentary features never before seen original archive footage of that special day on May 27th 1947.
Lois Laurel-Hawes, Stan's daughter has agreed to stand behind the project and open up her archives for us, including Stan's private collection. reproduction set of Stan's Santa Monica apartment will be built. Jim MacGeorge has agreed to play Stan and was actually chosen by Stan himself as the best person to impersonate him.
Retired Stan in the early 1960's is in his Santa Monica apartment with his wife Ida, unknowingly acts as our host, carrying us through the dramatic thrust of the story on camera and in voice over. Stan is routinely answering his fan mail at his typewriter. He comments to his wife how crazy the world has become and questions the validity of his “old fashioned” kind of humour with all the blue material coming out of modern day comedians. Had his work meant very much or made a difference? He is stopped in his tracks when he opens one particular letter. It contains a photograph of his visit to Ulverston. He becomes speechless as all those memories come flooding back. He remembers being given a hero's welcome when he returned to Ulverston a Hollywood star with his partner Oliver Hardy and their wives.
Stan recalls how poor old 1947 England having just come out of war time, was still on ration coupons and had survived one of the coldest winters in recent years. We learn about the little market town of Ulverston itself and what made Stan remember it so fondly all his life through new interviews and historical photographs.
Stan remembers how they were performing for several nights at the majestic Morecambe Winter Gardens Theatre. We see a little of their stage act for the first time through original audio recordings and visual re-enactments. After an official invitation to Ulverston by Councillor Henry Simpson, they all set out in a large Austin Saloon and make their way up to Ulverston. We cut between first hand accounts of that day, unseen 8mm footage that belonged to Councillor Simpson himself and Stan at his desk typing to his fans. At one point, he walks out on to the balcony of his second story apartment. The background melts away revealing retired Stan standing on the balcony of the Coronation Hall in Ulverston. This is where he was honoured with receiving a copy of his birth certificate, in front of a town square packed full of cheering onlookers. Retired Stan looks down with a smile. A tear forms in his eye. We see we are back in Santa Monica again as Stan says quietly to himself "That was the happiest day of my life". He looks up at the horizon as the sun sets over 1960's Santa Monica and 2006 Ulverston simultaneously. He knows in his heart he had left the world a better place.
New first hand living memory interviews This will all be held together using music and inventive transitional wipes and captions reminiscent of the fun style seen in their 1930's two reelers.
Mabel Radcliffe: Saw Laurel and Hardy when they came to Ulverston and since the 1970's has lived in the house he was born in.
John Marsh: 15 year old John waited outside Stan's birthplace until they arrived to look around the house. They spoke together and subsequently, had his picture in the papers with them.
Carol Williamson: Vividly remembers serving them and their wives lunch as she was the only waitress at the Golf Hotel. She showed them to the bar for a drink and a joke after their meal.
Jennifer Snell: Local historian speaks of the history of the town and young Stan Laurel's life there.
Marion Graves: Daughter of previous Mayor of Ulverston, Bill Cubin and Curator of the world's first Laurel and Hardy museum talks of Stan's childhood and Laurel and Hardy's visit to Ulverston.
Booth Colman: Well known actor and longtime close friend of Stan's from 1947 up until Stan's death in 1965. Stan looked upon Booth as a son to him.
SHOOTING THE DOCUMENTARY
Below is a shot from the top of Hoad Hill at sunset. Note the Glaxo refinery in the background and Morecambe Bay behind.
Below are two shots from the Coronation Hall balcony. Very little has changed since the "boys" visit in 1947!
A photo shoot for the local press while shooting Mabel's interview in Stan's original living room, 3 Argyle St.