Easily forgotten (by Americans, at least) that he was an Ulverston lad, but the heavy reliance that Hollywood film comedy had on the British music hall thanks to ex-pats like Stan and Chaplin means we can regard the man’s multifarious triumphs as British through and through, Hal Roach or no Hal Roach. Ever as humble as he was dedicated, he came up with set-pieces and bits of business for loads of their classics, without an on-screen credit. Anyway, do we have to rehearse the glue-brush-in-face, piano-down-stairs, fresh-fish-hooting brilliance of the man? He was quite simply comedy personified, from soup to hardboiled eggs and nuts.
FINEST HOUR: It’s neither original, nor especially big or clever, but just look at that soft shoe shuffle in Way Out West. Just look at it!