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Cinema's Most Memorable Comedy Double Acts

All mentioned films in article
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With Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly teaming to play Laurel and Hardy in Stan & Ollie and Simon Pegg and Nick Frost reuniting in Slaughterhouse Rulez, Cinema Paradiso turns its attention to film's funniest comedy double acts.

A still from SlaughterHouse Rulez (2018)
A still from SlaughterHouse Rulez (2018)

The majority of comedy duos plying their trade in American vaudeville and British music hall consisted of a funny man and a straight man. They bounced off each other, with the stooge selflessly feeding his partner the set-up lines that would enable him to get a big laugh with the punchline. In the case of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, however, the balance was slightly different. The portly, pompous Hardy seemed like a straight man beside Laurel's clueless innocent. But he had a physical grace that belied his size and his pratfalls were invariably the more amusing. Moreover, Hardy was just as likely to enter into bouts of cartoonish tit-for-tat violence that quickly spiralled out of control. Thus, the finest comic double act in screen history conformed to few of the established rules.

Hard-Boiled Eggs and Nuts

Hailing from the Lakeland town of Ulverston, Stan Laurel had been born into a show business family and had understudied Charlie Chaplin in Fred Karno's comedy troupe before making his screen bow in Nuts in May (1917). By this point, the Georgia-born Oliver Hardy had been making films for three years after debuting in Outwitting Dad (1914). But another decade was to pass before producer Hal Roach recognised their unique chemistry. Some of their solo work can be found in the six volumes of The Laurel and Hardy Collection and the five discs making up The Stan and Ollie Collection.

All 11 sets are available from Cinema Paradiso, as is the duo's first teaming in The Lucky Dog (1921). In all, Laurel and Hardy would go on to make 34 silent shorts, 45 sound shorts and 27 features, while also making 12 cameo appearances and around 20 foreign-language versions of their most popular pictures. From the moment audiences heard the famous 'Dance of the Cuckoos' theme, they knew they were in for a treat, as Stan and Ollie brought slapstick chaos to the most mundane situations.

By using the search facility, users can discover dozens of comedy classics available to rent. But let us point you in the direction of a few special gems. The spirit of Christmas rapidly goes out of the window in the snowballing silent masterpiece, Big Business (1929), which can be found on Brushes With the Law.

Moving into the talkie era, Stan brings Ollie some hard-boiled eggs and nuts to help with his recuperation in County Hospital (1932), which is available on Someone's Ailing, which also contains two titanic tussles with Charlie Hall and Mae Busch in Them Thar Hills (1934) and Tit for Tat (1935). Stan tags along when Ollie joins the Foreign Legion in the pair's longest short, Beau Hunks (1931), which crops up in the Ollie and Matrimony selection, while the twosome's plans to set up a fish business go awry in Towed in the Hole (1932). This can be found on the Maritime Adventures set, while the Oscar-winning The Music Box (1932) and Busy Bodies (1933) form part of A Job to Do.

There's no denying that the quality of Laurel and Hardy's features declined over the years. But, such were the standard set by the likes of Pardon Us (1931), Pack Up Your Troubles (1932), Sons of the Desert (1933), Bonnie Scotland (1935), Our Relations (1936), Way Out West (1937), Swiss Miss and Block-Heads (both 1938) that it's impossible not to succumb to the more scattershot charms of The Bohemian Girl (1936), The Flying Deuces (1939), A Chump at Oxford (1940), Saps At Sea (1940; on Maritime Mishaps) and Utopia (1951). The latter was their final feature and released a year before the pair embarked upon the British tour depicted in Stan & Ollie. Many double acts have taken inspiration from Laurel and Hardy, but they remain head and shoulders above the rest.

Who's on First?

The most prolific team to follow in their wake met in burlesque but found their distinctive dynamic on the airwaves in the 1930s. Both natives of New Jersey, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were a classic double-talking duo, with the pudgy Costello playing the goofball to the skinny Abbott's stooge. Although knockabout formed part of their screen shtick, their radio background meant that patter dominated their routines and their famous 'Who's on First?' exchange featured in both their debut feature, One Night in the Tropics (1940), and The Naughty Nineties (1945).

A still from Hit the Ice / Lost in Alaska (1943)
A still from Hit the Ice / Lost in Alaska (1943)

Having scored an enormous hit with Buck Privates (1941), Universal reteamed Abbott and Costello with the Andrews Sisters in In the Navy and Hold That Ghost (both 1941). But, while music continued to play a part in their pictures, the focus shifted firmly on to the byplay between the down-at-heel duo, as they get involved with a rodeo in Ride 'Em Cowboy, a Hawaiian yacht race in Pardon My Sarong and a murder case in Who Done It? (all 1942). The pair hit the racetrack in It Ain't Hay and encounter a desperate mobster in Hit the Ice (both 1943) before working as bungling plumbers in In Society, vaudeville prop men in Lost in a Harem (both 1944) and college caretakers in Here Come the Co-Eds (1945).

However, they fell out after Abbott hired a servant Costello had fired and they appeared separately in The Time of Their Lives (1946). They patched things up for Buck Privates Come Home (1947), but their box-office numbers took a downturn and Africa Screams (1949), Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion (1950), Comin' Round the Mountain (1951) and Lost in Alaska (1952) are the pick of their mediocre mid-career offerings. They had more luck with Jack and the Beanstalk (1952), however, and found a nice niche by romping around Universal's Gothic sets with some of the studio's celebrated monsters in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) and Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff (1949), Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951), Abbott and Costello Meet Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1953) and Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955).

Paying their dues to mad movie history, the pair also doffed their hats to the great Mack Sennett in Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Cops (1955). But, after making 36 pictures together, they tried their luck in television and several episodes of The Abbott and Costello Show are available through Cinema Paradiso. However, Bud and Lou parted amicably in 1957 and the latter returned to movies in The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock (1959). But it was to be his sole solo venture, as he suffered a fatal heart attack soon after the shoot ended.

Clowns and Crooners

Forever linking the towns of Tacoma in Washington and Eltham in Kent, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope were already well established when Paramount paired them in Road to Singapore (1940). In fact, the American crooner and the British comic were part of a trio during the seven exotic excursions in the 'Road to' series, as Dorothy Lamour was added to the globe-trotting mix to provide a little glamour and spark a romantic rivalry between the resourcefully laid-back Crosby and the cowardly, wisecracking Hope. But, while Lamour played an integral part in Road to Zanzibar (1941), Road to Morocco (1942), Road to Utopia (1946), Road to Rio (1947) and Road to Bali (1952), she merely had a cameo as herself in The Road to Hong Kong (1962), as Joan Collins became the love interest.

Despite its efforts to be knowingly hip, this spy spoof was guilty of some racially dubious humour that was typified by Peter Sellers's guest turn as an Indian doctor. But, in their heyday, Hope and Crosby had benefited from cutting-edge writing that had introduced a knowing meta-wit to screen comedy. While extricating themselves from their scrapes, the duo frequently blurred the lines between their characters and their star personas, as they traded insults and put-downs. This banter carried over into several of Hope's other comedies, as Crosby took sly blink-and-miss-him cameos in Star Spangled Rhythm (1942), My Favorite Brunette (1947) and Son of Paleface (1952).

A still from Road to Bali (1952)
A still from Road to Bali (1952)

A recent biography has suggested that the old pals act was solely for the cameras, as Hope detested Crosby. But any antipathy paled beside the very public loathing that developed between Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Perhaps it's apt, therefore, that Bing and Bob should have guested as skeletons in the haunted house caper, Scared Stiff (1953). In many ways, this represented the repayment of a debt, as the young pretenders had appeared in Lamour's dream in Road to Bali, with Lewis donning drag for the occasion. But the suave Dean and the manic Jerry were a very different kind of double act.

Martin and Lewis began working together in 1946 and delighted cabaret, radio and television audiences with a blend of slapstick, repartee and song that was all the more exciting for its sheer unpredictability. In many ways, being scripted reined in the gleefully spontaneous Lewis, but audiences warmed to the pair when they made the transition to cinema. Following Abbott and Costello's example in Buck Privates, Martin and Lewis joined up in At War With the Army (1950) and Sailor Beware (1952). They continued to make movies after their acrimoniously split after a decade together. It's not clear whether Martin meant the quip that Lewis was nothing more to him than a dollar sign. But they were not the first and won't be the last comic twosome who couldn't stand the sight of each other away from the spotlight.

Stateside Twosomes

During the 1930s, a number of comedy pairings emerged, even though they were never officially billed as double acts. Despite co-starring with his brothers Chico, Harpo and Zeppo, Groucho Marx enjoyed regular verbal duels with the imperious Margaret Dumont, while audiences thrilled at the screwball fizz between Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, William Powell and Myrna Loy, and Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. But several bona fide teams were snapped up by the studios during the Golden Age of Hollywood, even though their patented byplay often limited them to specialist spots in musicals and comedies.

Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson perfected a brand of madcap surrealism that promised 'anything can happen, and it probably will'. They made 11 features together, with the standout being an adaptation of their hit stage show, Hellzapoppin' (1941).

The humour was more measured where George Burns and Gracie Allen were concerned. But she consistently ruffled his feathers with her zany antics, as they co-starred with Fred Astaire and Joan Fontaine in A Damsel in Distress (1937) and with Martha Raye and Bob Hope in College Swing (1938). Married in 1926, the couple went on to amuse radio audiences for several years before their 1950s sitcom, The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, earned 11 Primetime Emmy nominations during its eight-year run. And, of course, Burns won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as one half of a comedy double act, opposite Walter Matthau, in Herbert Ross's adaptation of Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys (1975), which was remade in 1995 with Woody Allen and Peter Falk.

A still from The Muppet Movie (1979)
A still from The Muppet Movie (1979)

Among the more unusual comedy duos of this period were ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his monocle-sporting sidekick, Charlie McCarthy. Having found fame on the radio, the pair memorably locked horns with WC Fields in You Can't Cheat an Honest Man (1939) before doing their bit for the war effort in Stage Door Canteen (1943), which also featured one of Bergen's other popular dummies, Mortimer Snerd. But Bergen (who is the father of actress Candice Bergen) also acted without his wooden companions, most notably in George Stevens's I Remember Mama (1947) but Edgar and Charlie were reunited for last time in The Muppet Movie (1979).

Two's Company

By now, American comedy duos were more commonly being found in revue clubs and radio and television studios than in movies. Most famously, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz became a Hollywood power couple when they founded their Desilu production company on the back of their hit sitcom, I Love Lucy (1951-57). Meanwhile, Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks found fame with their 2000 Year Old Man routines (1961-97), while future film directors Mike Nichols and Elaine May became the nation's favourite improvisational satirists, as they transferred their stage act to LP records in the late 1950s.

Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau have been steadily building their reputations as character actors when Billy Wilder teamed them in The Fortune Cookie (1966), which earned Matthau the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his scurrilous turn as an ambulance-chasing lawyer trying to win Lemmon's sports cameraman a bumper compensation payout after a pitchside accident. Such was their rapport that Gene Saks reunited them in his take on Neil Simon's The Odd Couple (1968) before Lemmon cast Matthau in his directorial debut, Kotch (1971).

Matthau earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actor for his twinkling performance as a grandfather who refuses to grow old gracefully and Wilder decided the time had come to pit him against Lemmon once more in his flavoursome remake of the classic newspaper comedy, The Front Page (1974). However, it seemed as though the duo had gone their separate ways after Wilder's Buddy Buddy (1981). But Donald Petrie brought them back together for Grumpy Old Men (1993), which proved such a hit that Howard Deutch's sequel, Grumpier Old Men (1995), was followed by further reunions on Charles Matthau's The Grass Harp (1995), Martha Coolidge's Out to Sea (1997) and Deutch's The Odd Couple II (1998).

Edging Towards the Present

The teaming of Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder brought a new edge to the American double act. In the 1930s, humorist Will Rogers had made four pictures with the African-American actor Stepin Fetchit. But the Hollywood suits were so unnerved by the prospect of Wilder and Pryor being let loose on the big screen that Mel Brooks was forced to cast Cleavon Little as Sheriff Bart in Blazing Saddles (1974), even though Pryor had helped write the script.

The inevitable finally happened in Arthur Hiller's Hitchcock spoof, Silver Streak (1976), which saw Pryor's quick-thinking thief disguise Wilder's mild-mannered book editor as a black man to smuggle him back on to a train bound for Chicago to solve the riddle of a missing passenger. They joined forces again in Sidney Poitier's prison romp, Stir Crazy (1980) but Pryor's substance abuse put a strain on a relationship that was much stronger on a professional than a personal basis. Thus, while they hooked up again on Hiller's See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989) and Maurice Phillips's Another You (1991), Pryor and Wilder never quite fulfilled their partnership potential.

By contrast, drug use proved a positive boon to Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong in the nine stoner comedies they have made since 1978. The pair met when Marin fled to Canada to avoid the Vietnam draft and they quickly acquired a cult following as a stand-up act. Several acclaimed albums followed, along with a screen debut in Lou Adler's deliriously anarchic Up in Smoke (1978). Chong took over the directorial duties on Cheech and Chong's Next Movie (1980) and Nice Dreams (1981) before handing the reins to Thomas K. Avildsen for Things Are Tough All Over (1982).

Cheech and Chong also guested in Mel Damski's Yellowbeard (1983) and Martin Scorsese's After Hours (1985) before Chong returned to the director's chair for Still Smokin (1983) and Cheech & Chong's The Corsican Brothers (1984). Despite a parting of the ways when Marin decided to try his luck as a solo artist, he put in an appearance in Chong's Far Out Man (1990) and they both contributed voices to Bill Kroyer's eco-animation, Ferngully: The Last Rainforest (1992).

A still from Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey (1991)
A still from Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey (1991)

In recent times, double acts have given way to frequent pairings, such as Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi's teamings in John Landis's National Lampoon's Animal House (1978) and The Blues Brothers (1980), Steven Spielberg's 1941 (1979) and John G. Avildsen's Neighbours (1981). Chris Farley and David Spade also linked up for Steve Barron's Coneheads (1993), Peter Segal's Tommy Boy (1995) and Penelope Spheeris's Black Sheep (1996). The latter also directed Mike Myers and Dana Carvey in Wayne's World (1992) before Stephen Surjik took over for Wayne's World 2 (1993). But audiences returned for the characters rather than the stars and the same was also true in the case of Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989) and Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey (1991) and John Cho and Kal Penn in Harold and Kumar Get the Munchies (2004), Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay (2008) and A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas (2011).

A more durable teaming has involved Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith, who have played slackers Jay and Silent Bob in a string of comedies since Smith first created the characters for his debut feature, Clerks (1994). In addition to the movies Mallrats (1995), Chasing Amy (1997), Dogma (1999), Scream 3 (2000), Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001) and Clerks II (2006), the duo have also released Teabagging in the UK and Teabagging in Ireland (both 2012) off the back of their popular SModcast, Jay and Silent Bob Get Old.

It's hard to see Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson touring with a stand-up show, as they are comic actors who have frequently worked together rather than a double act like the former's parents, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, who were regulars on The Ed Sullivan Show in the 1960s. Stiller helped dissuade Wilson from quitting acting and found him a role in The Cable Guy (1996). They have since collaborated on Permanent Midnight (1998), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) and Starsky & Hutch (2004), as well as Zoolander (2001) and Zoolander No. 2 (2016) and two trilogies: Meet the Parents (2000), Meet the Fockers (2004) and Little Fockers (2010), and Night At the Museum (2006), Night At the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009) and Night At the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014).

Once hailed as the new Abbott and Costello, Stiller and Wilson were part of the Frat Pack that also included Jack Black, Luke Wilson, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. The latter has formed a buddy alliance with John C. Reilly on Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), Step Brothers (2008), Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie (2012), Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013) and Holmes and Watson (2018). James Franco and Seth Rogen are also part of an old pals act that has seen them share the screen in Knocked Up (2007), Pineapple Express (2008), The Green Hornet (2011), The Interview (2014), The Night Before (2015), Sausage Party (2016), The Disaster Artist (2017) and Zeroville (2018).

Alongside Rogen and Franco in This Is the End (2013) were another multi-teamed duo, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, whose co-credits include 21 Jump Street (2012), The Lego Movie, 22 Jump Street (both 2014), Hail, Caesar! ( 2016) and The Lego Batman Movie (2017). The rare all-female combo of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler dates back to Chicago's ImprovOlympics in 1993. Subsequently, they became regulars on Saturday Night Live before guesting in the 2002 short Martin & Orloff. Following their first feature teaming in Mean Girls (2004), they have reunited in Baby Mama (2008), Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues and Sisters (2015), while also becoming the first female co-anchors of the satirical show, Weekend Update, and co-hosting both the Emmys and the Golden Globes.

Bring on the Brits

While Britain can lay claim to half of two of Hollywood's best-loved double acts in Stan Laurel and Bob Hope, it has also produced several popular pairings of its own. Indeed, one of the most famous comedy troupes in music-hall history was made up of three double acts. Songs like 'Underneath the Arches' meant that Bud Flanagan and Chesney Allen became the most familiar members of The Crazy Gang, but Charlie Naughton and Jimmy Gold and Jimmy Nervo and Teddy Knox also topped the bill on numerous occasions. Cinema Paradiso offers users the chance to see Flanagan and Allen together in A Fire Has Been Arranged (1934) and Theatre Royal (1943), which forms part of Renown's Music Hall & Variety Act Memories collection.

A still from It's in the Bag (1943)
A still from It's in the Bag (1943)

Radio chums Arthur Askey and Richard 'Stinker' Murdoch were shoehorned into a handful of wartime films together, including Band Waggon (1940) and I Thank You (1941). Sisters Elsie and Doris Waters (whose brother was screen stalwart Jack Warner) also made the transition from the airwaves after becoming a popular part of Workers' Playtime. Adopting the characters Gert and Daisy, they did their bit for Home Front morale with such astute social satires as Gert and Daisy's Weekend (1942) and It's in the Bag (1944).

Although Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne were never officially a double act, their byplay in Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes (1938) led to them reprising the roles of the cricket-mad Charters and Caldicott in Millions Like Us (1943). However, a row with the creators of the characters, Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat over the size of Radford and Wayne's parts in I See a Dark Stranger (1946) resulted in them being contractually barred from reprising the roles. Such was their popularity, however, that they were teamed as similarly bantering blokes in Dead of Night (1945), It's Not Cricket, Passport to Pimlico and Helter Skelter (all 1949).

Recurring character duos abounded on both radio and television after the jousts between Tony Hancock and Sidney James became essential listening (and, later, viewing) in Hancock's Half Hour (1954-61). Writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson created another memorable pairing in rag-and-bone men Albert (Wilfrid Brambell) and Harold (Harry H. Corbett) in the long-running sitcom, Steptoe and Son (1962-74), which transferred to the big screen in Steptoe and Son (1972) and Steptoe and Son Ride Again (1973).

The small screen was also home to the likes of Ronnie Corbett and Ronnie Barker (The Two Ronnies), Syd Little and Eddie Large, Barry and Paul Chuckle (ChuckleVision), Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, Matt Lucas and David Walliams (Little Britain), Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt (The Mighty Boosh) and Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller (The Armstrong and Miller Show). Also at home on television are Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, whose influential shows include Vic Reeves Big Night Out (1990-91), Shooting Stars (1995-2011), Catterick (2004), Hebburn (2012-13) and House of Fools (2014-15). They also assumed the roles created by Mike Pratt and Kenneth Cope in a reboot of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (2000-2001) and made their sole feature outing as Potter and Bendle in Churchill: The Hollywood Years (2004).

This was directed by Peter Richardson, who started out in The Comic Strip Presents... (1982-2016) alongside Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, whose many inspired film pastiches can be found in French and Saunders: At the Movies (2005). Having helped transform British comedy in The Young Ones (1982-84), Filthy, Rich & Catflap (1987) and Bottom (1991-95), fellow alumni Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson did manage to make one feature together, Guest House Paradiso (1999). The same is true of David Mitchell and Robert Webb, who followed The Mitchell and Webb Situation (2001), Peep Show (2003-15) and That Mitchell and Webb Look (2006-10) with Magicians (2007).

A still from The Boys in Blue (1982)
A still from The Boys in Blue (1982)

Introduced by Emma Thompson while they were studying at Cambridge, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie started performing together with the famous Footlights Dramatic Club. As a duo, they found fame in the BBC sketch show, A Bit of Fry & Laurie (1989-95), before taking on the roles of PG Wodehouse's most fondly remembered characters in Jeeves & Wooster (1990-93). They also shared scenes in Blackadder the Third (1987) and Blackadder Goes Forth (1989), as well as Kenneth Branagh's Peter's Friends (1992). But they have yet to make a film as a pairing, unlike Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball, who shared top billing in The Boys in Blue (1982). Moreover, having worked together on Not the Nine O'Clock News (1979-82), Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones made two features together: Morons From Outer Space (1985) and Wilt (1989).

Three Very Different Twosomes

Despite their TV popularity, siblings Mike and Bernie Winters only appeared in one film together, Michael Winner's The Cool Mikado (1966). However, the lovably gormless Bernie made several pictures on his own, including Graham Stark's Simon Simon (1970), which is invariably forgotten when discussing the films of Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, whose early years were recalled in the BBC biopic, Eric and Ernie (2011), which featured Daniel Rigby and Bryan Dick as the aspiring comics. Eric's mother, by the way, was played by Victoria Wood, whose partnership with Julie Walters remained a small-screen affair.

Morecambe and Wise made their feature bow in Robert Asher's The Intelligence Men (1965), in which Eric's espresso barista is roped into helping Ernie's secret agent thwart the evil empire of SCHLECHT. The hapless pair become entangled with jewel thieves while holidaying in France in Cliff Owen's That Riviera Touch (1966) and their talent for trouble emerged again as their Action Men salesmen get caught up in a coup in the South American state of Parazuellia in Owen's The Magnificent Two (1967). Their exhausting commitment to their BBC series, The Morecambe and Wise Show (1968-77), left little time for further features and they only made Joseph McGrath's Night Train to Murder (1983) during a break from the Thames incarnation of The Morecambe and Wise Show (1978-83).

While making his way as a TV director, McGrath also played a key role in the nurturing of the BBC's other dynamic duo during the Swinging Sixties. Peter Cook and Dudley Moore had shot to fame alongside Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett in the Oxbridge satirical revue, Beyond the Fringe (1960-64). However, Not Only...But Also (1964-70) was initially planned as a vehicle for Moore to showcase his musical talents and Cook was only added to the mix when Moore felt uneasy about flying solo.

Such was the appeal of their left-field humour that they were cast alongside such stalwarts of British cinema as John Mills, Ralph Richardson, Michael Caine, Tony Hancock, Peter Sellers and Cicely Courtneidge in Bryan Forbes's The Wrong Box (1966). However, Stanley Donen put them front and centre in Bedazzled (1967), in which Moore's guileless Stanley Moon signs away his soul to Cook's devilish George Spiggott in order to win the heart of Eleanor Bron's Margaret Spencer. Paul Morrissey reunited them as Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson in a parodic version of The Hound of the Baskervilles (1978).

The following year, Cook and Moore were filmed recording the album Ad Nauseam for Russell Mulcahy's Derek and Clive Get the Horn (1979), which was barred from receiving a theatrical release because of its foul and blasphemous language. The documentary was released on video, only for it to be targeted by James Anderton, the chief constable of the Greater Manchester police force. As a consequence, it was only cleared uncut by the BBFC with an 18 certificate in 1993.

A still from Shaun of the Dead (2004)
A still from Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Cook and Moore were admirably played by Rhys Ifans and Aidan McArdle in the TV biopic, Not Only But Always (2004). Despite their ongoing success, however, it's hard to see best mates Simon Pegg and Nick Frost receiving a similar accolade, even though Frost (like Moore) comes from Dagenham. Since starting out together in the cult Channel Four series, Spaced (1999-2001), Pegg and Frost have reunited with director Edgar Wright on the so-called 'Three Flavours Cornetto' trilogy made up of Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007) and The World's End (2013).

However, the duo also appeared in Wright's 'Don't' contribution to the anthology picture, Grindhouse (2007). Moreover, they shared scripting duties on Greg Motola's antzy alien lark, Paul (2011), while also lending their voices to the characters of Thomson and Thompson in Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin (2011), Buck the weasel and Flynn the elephant seal in Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012), and Trout and Trubshaw in The Boxtrolls (2014). They resumed their live-action partnership in Crispin Mills's Slaughterhouse Rulez (2018), in which Frost plays a fracker named Woody, whose drilling unleashes mayhem at the school where Pegg's Meredith Houseman teaches. Despite being in demand as individuals, one suspects this won't be their last outing as a team.

A still from The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011)
A still from The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011)

If you're up for some more comedy, check out our Comedy films section and find your inspiration for the next movie night!

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