A Chump at Oxford (1940) starring Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Forrester Harvey, Charlie Hall, Peter Cushing
A Chump at Oxford is one of Laurel and Hardy‘s best films, on many levels. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are hired as the maid and butler, respectively. Yes, Stan is in drag, recreating the character of “Agnes” from Another Fine Mess. Stan does this for a dinner party – which they promptly ruin. A very funny scene, especially when someone asks Stan to serve his salad undressed 🙂 Stan and Ollie are then reduced to street sweepers, who inadvertently foil a bank robbery.
They are rewarded by the president of the bank with the finest education that money can buy – at Oxford University in England! The boys journey to Oxford, are “pranked” by some of the students, including a very young Peter Cushing. All is set right, the pranksters are expelled, and it is revealed that Stan used to be “a leading professor and athlete” at Oxford. Until he hit his head years ago, resulting in his muddle-headed Stan character. Sure enough, he is hit on his head and regains his rightful character of Lord Paddington. A very funny role reversal happens, with Stan pushing around Ollie as his valet, “Fatty.”
A very funny movie, with excellent comedy and humor, and the role reversal is hilarious and well worth the price of admission. Interestingly, Lord Paddington is the first character that Stan Laurel had portrayed since 1927 other than his well-known “Stan” character. Be sure to check out the funny movie quotes from A Chump in Oxford.
Trivia for A Chump at Oxford
- In the movie’s final scenes, Stan Laurel played a snob named Lord Paddington. This is the only instance after 1927 in which Stan Laurel played a role not related to his Stanley character.
- Anita Garvin’s final film with Laurel & Hardy. She came out of retirement as a favor to Stan Laurel, playing basically the same role she had played in Laurel & Hardy’s silent film From Soup to Nuts, whose title is a line of Ollie’s dialogue in this movie.
- Premiere voted this movie as one of “The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time” in 2006.
- After the dinner party scene ends and the boys are seen walking down the street (Ollie is carrying a broom over his left shoulder and Stan is pushing a dustcart), they pass a building which says “Finlayson National Bank”, which is obviously a nod towards their frequent co-star foil James Finlayson.
- Stan’s accent as Lord Paddington was nothing like his own native Lancastrian accent. Paddington was a mimic of other actors with whom he had shared the stage decades earlier.
- This was the first Hal Roach Laurel & Hardy film to be released through United Artists.
Editorial Review of Laurel and Hardy’s A Chump at Oxford, courtesy of Amazon.com
This wild Laurel and Hardy film casts the pair as street cleaners who stop a bank robbery. As their reward, they are both given full-ride scholarships to Oxford (which seems a bit odd, since it was the middle of the Depression). When they arrive at the British institution of higher learning, however, they become the objects of extensive pranks by the other students, who are upperclassmen in more ways than one and look down their noses at the working-class buffoons.
Except for one thing: Stan, as it turns out, was one of Oxford’s most distinguished and accomplished scholars before a blow on the head turned him into the easygoing dimwit we know and love. Another knock on the noggin turns him back into the veddy British lord, who promptly sets the other students straight. Some very funny business with the boys and a stuffy dean, whose quarters they invade. —Marshall Fine