Monday, February 26, 2018

Jason goes to the Niles Film Museum for a comedy shorts night

It's good to be back at my local silent film theater, and comedy shorts nights are always great.

THE COUNT (1916): Charlie Chaplin as a tailor's assistant. When they find an invitation to a ball at Miss Moneybag's (Edna Purviance) mansion, they both go impersonating the count. Wacky hijinx ensue, especially when the real count shows up.

MY WIFE'S RELATIONS (1922): Buster Keaton loved playing the unhappily married husband, especially when he was married to Natalie Talmadge (whom he married just the year before.) As a showbiz family, they took the ribbing with good humor, especially when Buster was a huge star making a fortune. Anyway, in this film a wacky mixup involving a broken window, a large Irish woman (Kate Price,) and a Polish judge who doesn't speak a word of English leads to the great stone face getting accidentally married. And his new in-laws are big, strapping guys who will break him. That is, until word comes in that he inherited a fortune and they suddenly make an about-face and have to be nice. Hilarious.

Then a brief intermission, and back for the last two shorts.

CRAZY LIKE A FOX (1926): Charley Chase is my favorite nearly-forgotten silent film comedian (he also had a talkie career, but never starred in his own feature films and so his fame didn't last the same as Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, or Laurel and Hardy. Probably his most famous feature role was as the boisterous brother from Texas in Laurel and Hardy's SONS OF THE DESERT.) In this one he plays the son of a rich capitalist. His marriage to the daughter of another capitalist has been arranged, but neither are happy about it. In fact, he'd rather marry the sweet, pretty girl he ran into at the train station (Martha Sleeper.) So he comes up with a plan. He has his valet add a p.s. to his note of introduction, describing how he's prone to harmless fits of madness. All he has to do is act crazy and the wedding will be off. So after a bit of practice, he goes about tormenting his fiance's family. Which prompts a response from the local asylum, with hilarious results. Especially when he finds out who the girl he's supposed to marry really is.

FROM SOUP TO NUTS (1928): The Boys, Laurel and Hardy, as clumsy, inexperienced waiters at a fancy dinner party. A simple premise that piles on the gags expertly. Directed by Edgar Kennedy (the master of the slow burn) and co-starring the under-appreciated Anita Garvin. Fantastically funny, on of their bests, and a great way to end another delightful comedy shorts night.

Total Running Time: 91 minutes
My Total Minutes: 470,601
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