This examination of parody will appeal to scholars and students of American film and film comedy, as well as those interested in the specific comedians discussed and the Western genre. Gehring's work will also find a place in American pop culture studies and sociological studies of the period from the 1920s to the 1990s. The book is carefully documented and includes a selected bibliography and filmography.
The book is divided into five chapters. Chapter 1 is a biography of Laurel & Hardy, exploring the public and private sides of their lives. Chapter 2 is a critique of four broad influences of Laurel & Hardy--as special icons of comic frustrations; as developers of a change in film comedy pacing (which also eased their transition from silent to sound film); as movie pioneers in the innovative early use of comic sound; and, most importantly, as key participants in the evolution of the comic antihero into American mainstream humor. Chapter 3 is composed of two very early reprinted Laurel & Hardy articles and a special Encore collection. Chapter 4 is a very ambitious Laurel & Hardy bibliographical essay, assessing key reference materials and locating research collections open to the student and/or scholar. This involves many obscure, often early and/or untranslated articles drawn from research in Ulverston England--Laurel's birthplace--London and Paris. Chapter 5 is a bibliographical checklist of all sources recommended in Chapter 4. This volume should be of special interest to all Laurel & Hardy aficionados, and students/scholars of comedy.