Monday, February 28, 2011

Masters of the Quick Disguise


These are screen captures of a fun house mirror routine performed by the Three Stooges in Don't Throw that Knife (1951). The same routine was performed more than three decades earlier by Harold Lloyd in Number, Please? (1920).

It was surprising to me the large number of gags and routines that I was able to trace back to Lloyd. A balloon routine that Lloyd introduced in I Do (1920) was later performed by Harry Langdon in His New Mamma (1924) and Skirt Shy (1929), Jack Cooper in Raisin' Trouble (1926), and Curly Howard in Spook Louder (1943).


The tie-as-mustache gag pictured here was enacted by Lloyd in Hey There! (1918) and later recycled by Buster Keaton in Cops (1922).





Many years later, Harry Langdon used this dubious disguise in a 1944 Columbia comedy, Defective Detectives.

video

Gags involving a comedian creating an impromptu disguise were used often in situations where the comedian had to elude an angry rival or sneak past a wary police officer. The disguises could get silly. In Broken Bubbles (1920), Hank Mann quickly disguises himself by using a leafy plant as a fake beard. It wasn't as funny as the tie gag but at least Mann could call the gag his own.

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