Monday, August 24, 2009

Jason goes to the Niles Film Museum for HANDS UP + a couple of shorts

The weekend before was officially comedy night, but last Saturday also happened to be all comedies. That's always fun, and I learned that more people know about Raymond Griffith than I thought. Awesome.

First up a couple of shorts:

THE NOON WHISTLE (1923): Stan Laurel (before teaming up with Oliver Hardy) causes quite a bit of chaos in a lumber yard. There are some pretty funny gags here, but of course it's not the same as his later work with Ollie. First, he's a lot more athletic and acrobatic here. But more importantly, he's not as sympathetic. Rather than the put-upon Stan who's bullied by Ollie and others, he's a lazy but clever lumberyard worker who is just trying to avoid his boss. Ripe with comedy, but not the kind of character who's sympathetic long-term.

HIS MARRIAGE WOW (1925): Hapless Harry Langdon gets married (once he finds the right church). Langdon is typically funny as his bumbling character. But this movie is totally stolen by Vernon Dent as the wild-eyed Professor Looney McGlumm, professional pessimist, who convinces Harry that Agnes is only marrying him for his life insurance. Surely she will kill him soon!

Then an intermission and the feature.

HANDS UP (1926): Raymond Griffith in a slapstick Civil War comedy (released the same year as Buster Keaton's Civil War comedy classic, THE GENERAL). Griffith plays Jack, a dapper Confederate spy. The Union is on the verge of bankruptcy, so Captain Logan is sent to retrieve gold from a mine out west that will save the Union. Jack is sent to steal the gold (or at least prevent Logan from getting the gold). Griffith is a funny, charming, witty little cad. Even when he's closed to getting scalped by an Indian, he manages to win his headdress by shooting dice. Even romantic scrapes with both of the mine owner's daughters, he never loses his cool (and sets up a final gag that's funny but completely out of left field). Very funny.

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