Friday, April 13, 2012

Carry that Weight


In Old Tin Sides (1927), Kewpie Ross undertook a routine originally performed by Harry Langdon in The Strong Man (1926). The routine, as introduced, involved Langdon struggling to carry an unconscious woman up a flight of stairs.

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Unfortunately, the makers of Old Tin Sides did away with the tension and awkwardness that made the routine funny by replacing the unconscious woman with a sack of potatoes.  But this was not the only significant difference between the old and new scenes.  In The Strong Man, the camera was set up to capture Langdon's facial expressions.  But this could hardly have been a concern when it came to Ross, who was not a comedian known for his expressiveness.  Instead, the camera was set up at a distance and angle that prevented a clear and direct view of Ross' face.  After all, subtle reactions had nothing to do with the main objective of this scene, which was to get Ross' character to back out of a window and fall two stories. 

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A number of comedians demonstrated how difficult it was to transport an unconscious woman home, but Jack Cooper proved in Taxi Dolls (1929) that handling an automaton in the likeness of a woman is just as tricky.

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