Sunday, November 16, 2008

Jason goes to the Niles Film Museum for Comedy Shorts Night

Always the most popular night of the month at the Edison Theater. But tonight it was bittersweet, as Niles Film Museum board member and emcee Tommy Andrew passed away over the last week. I've only started going to the Niles Film Museum this year, so I didn't have a chance to get to know Tommy very well. But one thing I noticed about him right away is he always liked a good joke. Or a bad joke (like the one about the Olympic athlete who was so excited to win a gold medal he went out and had it bronzed). So on the one hand it seems appropriate to remember him with a comedy night. On the other hand, it seems like such a shame that if he held on just a few more days he could've seen one more comedy night.

Anyway, enough of remembering Tommy, lets get to the movies, starting with a little Chaplin in "The Adventurer". Chaplin is an escaped convict running from the police. After a wacky chase, he ends up in the water where he rescues a beautiful lady (Chaplin's longtime leading lady Edna Purviance), her mother (Marta Golden), and her suitor (common Chaplin heavy, the gigantic Eric Campbell. They take him into their home, not knowing he's a wanted criminal, and a lot more wacky hijinx ensue during a fancy party.

Next up was Buster Keaton in "Convict 13". Keaton is an inept golfer who knocks himself out with a ricochet ball. An escaped convict sees him lying there and switches clothes with him. The police chase Keaton, ending with him in jail first as a prisoner, then a guard, then assistant warden (obviously it took an extreme series of wacky hijinx to pull off that transition).

Then an intermission, and then back with Keaton and Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle in "Coney Island" (shot on location in Coney Island). Fatty's trying to escape from his wife and pick up another girl. Keaton is one of his rivals (specifically, the one with no money). By the way, this is so early in Keaton's career that (according to IMDb) he was uncredited in the role (and the role of the mustachioed policeman). But not only that, this was so early that "The Great Stone Face" actually cracked a smile and laughed. That was a little freaky. Oh, by the way, at various moments people end up in jail--because that's the theme of the night.

And then "The Second Hundred Years" starts with Laurel and Hardy in (surprise) jail! They escape, and the first thing they do is steal clothes from a pair of visiting dignitaries. Those dignitaries happen to be visiting french policemen, who are there to visit the prison. So after some high society hijinx, they end up right back in prison.

And finally, one last movie was added in honor of Tommy Andrew. I didn't know that Tommy was an avid roller skater, both a professional in his younger days and a volunteer and a judge in his later day. In honor of that, they played Charlie Chaplin's "The Rink". Charlie's a waiter, but passes himself off as Sir Cecil Seltzer (C.O.D.), and causes quite a bit of havoc in a roller skating rink--almost as much havoc as he creates in the restaurant. The leading lady is once again Edna Purviance and the heavy again is Eric Campbell.

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