Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Slappiest Days of Our Lives, The (1953)

Courtesy of Adelphi Films

Main image of Slappiest Days of Our Lives, The (1953)
35mm; 62 min, black & white
Production CompanyAdelphi Films
ProducerR.A. Bradford

Cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd

Show full cast and credits

A compilation of predominantly silent comedy clips, re-edited and voiced to create a new plot.

Show full synopsis

The Slappiest Days of Our Lives originated as Ca c'est du cinema, a French compilation film predominantly composed of silent comedy footage featuring such cinema greats as Laurel and Hardy and Buster Keaton.

The film was acquired by budget family studio Adelphi, and a new voiceover commentary written by editor Hilary Long for the British release. This revised version opened with a grand introductory title-card, signed by Adelphi's Arthur Dent, declaring it a tribute to comedy pioneer Mack Sennett.

The Dents hired a young Peter Sellers - already seen in two Adelphi productions - to serve as narrator. A devotee of silent comedy as well as a gifted radio voice man, Sellers was the ideal choice, and his mimicking of Stan Laurel was uncannily convincing - enough, almost, to distract from the misguided re-editing and the limitations of the script. Years later, Sellers would eerily channel Laurel once again in his acclaimed performance as Chance, the enigmatic gardener, in Being There (US, 1979).

All the same, Sellers' voiceover - in retrospect the main distinguishing feature of Slappiest Days - attracted criticism: "the dialogue and commentary are a trifle rough," complained Kinematograph Weekly, although it admitted that "[they] fit the still laughable, if slightly time-scarred shenanigans," and overall judged the film "a safe bet for popular, industrial and juvenile audiences." It was a safe bet for exhibitors, too. Though the film was made up of footage of American origin, it classified as a British film, so could be used to fulfil the 'quota' obligations of the 1937 Cinematograph Act.

Laurel and Hardy, having recently toured the country with their stage show, remained massively popular. The magazine advertisement for Slappiest Days (featuring the optimistic tagline 'You'll laugh! You'll roar! You'll scream!') made much of this fact, using photographs of the already legendary comedians as they were in their heyday. It neglected to acknowledge, however, that they actually only appear as a team in Slappiest Days for a few moments. Mostly they are seen in films they made separately, long before they teamed up.

Slappiest Days resurfaced in 1959, when Adelphi's David Dent wrote to John Anderson at London's Central Cutting Rooms, suggesting that it be chopped into a series of shorts for the home movie market, under the series title Movie Mirthquake. An enthusiastic Anderson was eager to get to work, replying "Your suggested title... I think is excellent. It's a wonder it hasn't been thought of before."

Vic Pratt

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
1. Stan visits America (1:26)
2. Stan and Ollie (2:23)
3. Stan and Buster (1:49)
Sellers, Peter (1925-1980)
Adelphi Films