Saturday, January 18, 2014

Special Delivery

Transporting a cumbersome object from shop to home can present problems.  Early on, filmmakers recognized the comic possibilities of this sort of situation.  Mack Sennett has trouble transporting a long curtain pole across town in The Curtain Pole (1909).  André Deed has even worse problems getting a towering Christmas tree home in the 1911 comedy Cretinetti in vacanza (released in America as Foolshead's Holiday).  By the end of the film, Deed has accidentally set the tree ablaze and pulled down the front of his home.  Harry Watson Jr. struggles to deliver a stove in the Musty Suffer comedy Showing Some Speed (1916).  When he finds that no one is home, Musty takes it upon himself to deliver the stove through a window.  Comedy complications ensue.  A man encounters a series of difficulties carrying a new mattress to his home in the 1908 Pathé Frères comedy called Le sommier (released in the United States as The Mattress).  Here is the plot summary provided by the Moving Picture World: "[The man] attempts to get in the door with [the mattress] but is unable to do so, and finally hits upon a scheme.  He goes up to his window, fastens a pulley in the top and is soon hauling the mattress up with a rope.  It is quite near the top when the rope parts and the mattress falls on top of two police officers." 

A direct descendent of these films, pulley and all, is Laurel and Hardy's classic The Music Box (1932).  In the expert hands of Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy, this comedy routine was finally able to reach the utmost height of its existence.

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