Monday, May 7, 2012

Jason goes to the Niles Film Museum and finds himself LAUGHING AT DANGER

Ah, back at my local silent film theater/museum. I've missed this place.

PERILS OF PAULINE, EPISODE 7: THE TRAGIC PLUNGE (1914): An episode of the most famous action serial of the day (maybe ever?) In this one, there's a high-tech submarine, agents who want to steal the plans, and a dastardly goon working for the bad guys who has a plan to plant a bomb and destroy the submarine. Of course, Pauline saves the day. Pretty good action, although the scene of Pauline escaping the submarine through the torpedo tube looks pretty fake.

THE WAITER'S BALL (1916): Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle and Al St. John are cook and a waiter in a restaurant. They work together and battle each other in typical Keystone slapstick style, culminating in a showdown with Fatty in drag at the titular Waiter's Ball. Very funny.

Then an intermission, and our feature.

LAUGHING AT DANGER (1924): The shorts were action and comedy, and the feature combines comedy and action starring Richard Talmadge (no relation to the Talmadge sisters, in fact his real name was Sylvester Metz. But he was Douglas Fairbanks' stunt double at one time. That's right, contrary to publicity reports, Fairbanks did use a stunt double on the more dangerous stunts.) Talmadge plays a Alan Remington, a lovelorn young man just eager to "ring a belle." When his latest night out is fruitless, he falls ill. But the doctor insists the illness is all in his head, and what he really needs is some adventure in his life. Meanwhile, bad guys are stealing the professor's new invention, a death ray. His daughter steals the key that makes it all work, and tosses it out the window into the lap of Alan, who is driving along outside. Of course, he thinks this is all a ruse set up by his father to cheer him up, so he plays along. And of course not only does he become the unwitting hero of it all, but he gets the girl, too (the lovely Eva Novak.) Pretty silly plot device, but it actually works as both action and comedy, and there are some great rooftop escape scenes and other scenes that showcase Talmadge's skill as a leaper.

And that was last Saturday at Niles. Lots of cool stuff coming up, including Charlie Chaplin Days in early June, and the Broncho Billy Silent Film Festival in late June. More information on their website or like them on Facebook.

Total Running Time: 107 minutes
My Total Minutes: 283,562

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