Sunday, November 23, 2008

Jason goes to the Niles Film Museum to see "Election Day", "Pass the Gravy", and "The Lost Express"

Another Saturday night, another good time at the Niles Film Museum.

The night started with a couple of Hal Roach shorts. First up was Our Gang in "Election Day". Apropos to recent history (or to show how far we've gone), it's election day and the kids are bullying Farina (the black kid) not to go to town until election day is over. Never mind the logic that kids can't vote, there's a pretty clear racial element to it--suppress the black vote. Trouble is, Farina and his sister need to deliver the laundry to their customers. So they come up with wacky schemes and costumes, scare the crap out of a bunch of people, and end up breaking up a gangland plot to steal the election.

Of course, election day is history, but Thanksgiving is coming up. So in a Niles Film Museum tradition, they played the hilarious Max Davidson short "Pass the Gravy". Max plays the head of a household. His neighbor Schultz is a chicken farmer with a prize winning rooster Brigham (a poke at Mormon leader and infamous polygamist Brigham Young). Max's daughter and Shultz's son are engaged, and so Max sends his son Ignatz to get a chicken for a feast. But Ignatz pockets the $2 and grabs whatever chicken he can find running around...and you can guess which one he grabs. One of the funniest things I've ever seen.

Then an intermission, and then Helen Holmes in "The Lost Express" (with her great-granddaughter in attendance). Helen Holmes was a famous actress/stuntwoman who starred in the "Hazards of Helen" series (a competitor of the more famous "Perils of Pauline"). This is a few years after her height of fame, and not a "Hazards of Helen" movie. But it is an exciting railroad action flick, based around a millionaire named Morgan inheritance. He doesn't like his son-in-law Arthur Standish, so he cut him out of his will, bestowing his inheritance on his granddaughter Alice, who's travelling to meet him by train (he's on his own train). However, the Standish tracks her down and tries to steal her back. Meanwhile robbers hijack Morgan's train, Morgan's daughter (Standish's wife) and her brother are travelling to find Morgan and convince him to reconsider. And finally, Helen Holmes appears as a railroad employee who tracks down the robbers and (along with everyone else) saves the day using her trademark jumps onto trains (Holmes did most of her own stunts). Pretty cool.

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