A smile beamed from Trevor Gollins' face as he watched the new film Stan & Ollie at Waikanae's Shoreline Cinema.

The 97-year-old loved the film which was made even more special by his connection with one of the world's comedy greats Stan Laurel.

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy starred in more than 100 comedies together in the early half of the 20th century.

Their creative relationship, fondly remembered by many as the comedy double act Laurel and Hardy, is examined in the charming biographical comedy drama Stan & Ollie which is based on the later years of their lives.

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Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel. Photo / Getty
Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel. Photo / Getty

Many years ago Trevor, living in Wellington, sent a New Zealand calendar to Laurel who was living in an apartment in Santa Monica's Oceana Hotel.

"He got a letter back from Stan," said Trevor's son Chris.

"Then every year [early 1960s] he used to write to Stan who would write a letter back.

"Dad would come home [from New Zealand Insurance] with these letters which were always addressed to him at work.

"As a child you never really connected with the significance and what a huge star Stan had been.

"Stan was always very polite, it was always like 'give my regards to Mrs Gollins'.

Trevor Gollins holds a letter from comedy great Stan Laurel. On the wall is a signed photograph of the comedians commonly known as Laurel and Hardy. Photo / Chris Gollins
Trevor Gollins holds a letter from comedy great Stan Laurel. On the wall is a signed photograph of the comedians commonly known as Laurel and Hardy. Photo / Chris Gollins

"He sent a photograph for me one year which I have in a frame.

"I had a look at it the other day and it's got Stan Laurel's signature on it, and has Dear Christopher on it, but it also has the original signatures on the top from Stan and from Oliver Hardy.

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"Oliver died in 1957 so I think Stan had obviously kept the photographs somewhere."

Stan, who would correspond with Trevor a few times each year, would write about what was happening in his life.

"Having watched the film, I can see a situation where he was probably pretty lonely in his latter years."

Chris wished he'd kept more of the correspondence.

"Dad kept quite a few, and then they came to me, and I kept a selection of them, and dad's probably wishing I had kept more."

Chris said the film biopic was "so well done".

"Steve Coogan's portrayal of Stan was just so fantastic.

"They [John C. Reilly as Oliver] carried it off so well."

He said Trevor, who lives in Paraparaumu, "had a grin from ear to ear right throughout the whole film".

"He just loved it.

"Dad roared with laughter at the slapstick.

"After the film Dad said 'they did that really well'.

"I think what Dad enjoyed, was that it was the first time a movie had shown what actually happened in the relationship between Stan and Oliver.

"They had their disagreements but finally they finished very loyal to each other.

"And once Oliver Hardy was ill, Stan never acted again, didn't partner with anyone else, he just retired."

Stan passed away in 1965.