Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tidbits of June, 2016

This month, I have a wide variety of random items to share.

In honor of my latest book "I Won't Grow Up!", I went looking for examples of Laurel and Hardy at their most childish.  First, we have a scene from Be Big! (1931) in which Laurel leaves on vacation with his toy boat.


Then, in this scene from Sons of the Desert (1933), Hardy becomes as timid as a naughty schoolboy after his wife (Mae Busch) catches him in a whopper of a lie.


A face distorted by a cracked mirror was a good visual gag that turned up repeatedly in silent films.  Here is one example from Our Gang's The Mysterious Mystery! (1924).

Larry Semon used the same gag the same year in Kid Speed (1924).

I wrote about this comic business in a previous article.

In Long Pants (1927), Harry Langdon has a bit of a struggle as he sits atop a crate that contains an alligator.

A couple of dogs replaced the alligator when this routine was reworked for Our Gang's Love My Dog (1927).

A balloon with a face could cause an enormous amount of distress and confusion in a silent film comedy.  Take, for instance, this scene from the "Our Gang" comedy Spoofing Spooks (1928).  Farina (Allen Hoskins) is about to race through this creepy cemetery believing that the balloon floating behind him is a ghost out to capture him.

I previously wrote about this routine here and here.  The routine is more extensively covered in the "Spooky Apparitions" chapter of my book "The Funny Parts."  

Familiar gags and routines often received the pint-sized treatment in the "Our Gang" comedies.  An old Commedia dell'arte routine, "Lazzo of the Living Corpse," turned up in Spoofing the Spooks.  Farina believes that he is carrying a corpse in his sack when, in fact, the sack contains a terrible prankster who is very much alive.

Universal distributed the Century series "Buster Brown" and "The Newlyweds and Their Baby," which copied the type of childish mishaps that had made "Our Gang" comedies a success.  Buster Brown's dog Tige was played by Pete the Dog, who later became Our Gang's faithful dog.  Gus Meins, who directed both of the Century series, went on to become the senior director of the "Our Gang" comedies from 1934 to 1936.

A bear and a mountain lion frighten Harold Lloyd and Snub Pollard in Back to the Woods (1918).

I wrote in "Eighteen Comedians of Silent Film" that Max Linder found clever ways to incorporate footage from his films into his stage acts.  I learned that, in November, 1910, Linder exhibited his film Max Has the Boxing Fever (1910) as part of a boxing act that he performed at Paris' Olympia Theatre.  Variety reported: "Max Linder, of Pathe fame, does a boxing match on skates with Tom Pender, in a Montmartre cafe.  They lead up to this with a moving picture showing Linder at a match, where he acquires a mania to spar.  The number is a skit on the Jeffries-Johnson fight."

Maren Ade's Toni Erdmann (2016) won the Best Film award from the International Federation of Film Critics at Cannes Film Festival.  The highly acclaimed film, which involves a father using corny pranks to reconnect with his troubled adult daughter, features the latest rendition of the longstanding handcuff routine.  I look forward to seeing Toni Erdmann as I have high regard for Ade's last film, Everyone Else (2009).  Ade brings to filmmaking something that is provided in an insufficient quantity in today's films: humanity.

Here is a cute scene from a 1928 "Big Boy" comedy, Navy Beans.

Pathé Frères released this lion comedy to the home movie market under the title Les lions sont Lachés (which translates into English as Lions on the Loose).  It is a cut-down version of a 1920 Universal-Century comedy, Lion’s Jaws and Kitten’s Paws.

Harold Lloyd received an unfair slight on a recent episode of Silicon Valley.  You can find the slight at the 2:35 mark of this video.

A distressed Roscoe Arbuckle delivers a camera look in The Rough House (1917).

Of course, the reigning king of the camera look remains Mr. Oliver Hardy.

Warner Brothers' war comedy You're in the Army Now (1941), a failed effort to turn Jimmy Durante and Phil Silvers into a comedy team, freely borrowed gags and other ideas from Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.  The scene with the house titling over the side of a cliff is a reworking of a classic scene from Chaplin's The Gold Rush (1925).

 The Gold Rush (1925)

You're In the Army Now (1941)

The house stuck on railroad tracks is from Keaton's One Week (1921).

Using oversized furniture to make Durante and Silvers look like children is from Laurel and Hardy's Brats (1930).

Durante, the master of catchphrases, tried futilely throughout the film to turn "Not the hands!" into a catchphrase.

My guess is that the oversized furniture idea originated in British pantomime shows.  Here, Our Gang makes use of this business for an imaginative dream sequence in Mary Queen of Tots (1925).


The same type of effects turned up in Our Gang's Cat, Dog & Co. (1929).

It was always a treat when performing goats were on the bill at the local vaudeville house.

Lyons and Moran

I have been collecting images of Dorothy Devore, another comedy star featured in "Eighteen Comedians of Silent Film."  Here's a few of the images.

Devore as Cleopatra in Nothing Like It (1921)
Devore with Walter Hiers in Hold Your Breath (1924)

Devore with Louise Fazenda in A Broadway Butterfly (1925)

Harry L. Rattenberry, Lila Leslie, Earle Rodney and Devore in Know Thy Wife (1918).

Devore and Earle Rodney starred together in more than a dozen films for producer Al Christie between 1991 and 1921
Thornton Edwards, Roscoe Karnes, Devore and Earle Rodney in Oh, Susie, Be Careful (1919)
Devore with Muriel Evans


 I updated my article about revolving door routines.  I wasn't aware until recently that Roscoe Arbuckle performed a revolving door routine in His Wife's Mistakes (1916), which preceded Charlie Chaplin's famous revolving door routine from The Cure (1917) by more than a year. 

I also updated my article "Musicians on the Range" to include a scene from Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969). 


I hope that everyone has a good day.  Don't do anything bad.

No comments:

Post a Comment