Friday, April 13, 2012

The Tilting House Routine

A house tilting, and its occupants being tossed from one side of the house to the other, was first attributed to ghostly mischief in The Haunted House (1908).

It later lost its supernatural trappings and became the result of either natural disaster or simple slapstick anarchy.

Larry Semon in Lightning Love (1923)

Cliff Bowes in Welcome Danger! (1925)

The best known version of the routine was crafted by Charlie Chaplin for The Gold Rush (1925). 

A more modern version of the routine was featured in Black Sheep (1996). 

The idea of a Gold Rush-style cabin suspended high above ground, with no tilting at all involved, can be found in Red Skelton's I Dood It (1943).

Additional Note (published September 12, 2014): In You're in the Army Now (1941), a pair of inept army privates (Phil Silvers and Jimmy Durante) improperly operate a tank, causing the massive vehicle to drag a general's house to the edge of a cliff.  The house teeters off the cliff in the exact way that Chaplin's cabin teetered off a cliff in The Gold Rush.  Hal Erickson, author of Military Comedy Films, reported that Chaplin was so upset by the similarity of the scenes that he threatened to sue Warner Brothers for plagiarism.

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