Monday, June 11, 2007

When Comedy Was King

This is a 1960 movie that consists almost entirely of classic silent film comedy. I say "almost" because although the visuals are all Chaplin, Arbuckle, etc., the soundtrack has a great deal of a narrator telling us how great silent comedy was. He doesn't have the courage of his convictions, though, because in between the raptures on the joys of silent comedy, he's just narrating the action. Why, it's almost as though he doesn't trust the pure pathos of Fatty Arbuckle's predicament to communicate itself to the audience without somebody telling us what's going on!

The music is pretty good, but I found it almost too relevant to the action onscreen. I don't think you need slide whistles to demonstrate every time someone falls down. Especially because Keystone comedies tended to have a lot of people falling down.

I also kind of take issue with the choice of the "three geniuses of silent film": Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and . . . Harry Langdon. Really? Not Harold Lloyd?

I did greatly enjoy the clips of Teddy at the Throttle, which features a young Wallace Beery actually chaining a young Gloria Swanson to the train tracks because she won't marry him. I shall let you imagine precisely what kind of moustache Beery has.

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