Thursday, September 26, 2013

Jason goes to the Niles Film Museum for Comedy Shorts Night

It's been a while, but last Saturday I was finally back at my favorite local silent film museum and theater. It's comedy shorts night, and it was sold out (love to see the enthusiastic audience) and I think this might be the first time I had actually seen every movie before. So I can make this post out of all my previous posts (the titles link to my prior reviews.)

THE IMMIGRANT (1917): Chaplin, his leading lady Edna Purviance, and his classic giant foil Eric Campbell. Chaplin's little tramp comes to America and gets into all sorts of trouble. Most notably with the difficulty of trying to pay for a meal at a restaurant (Campbell plays the surly waiter demanding he cough up for the bill.) Classic Chaplin, very funny.

NEIGHBORS (1920): Okay, I lied. I still think I've seen this before, but apparently I never wrote about it. Anyway, Buster Keaton and the girl across the tenement house are in love (Virginia Fox,) although neither father approves (interesting bit of trivia, Keaton's father is played by his real father, vaudevillian Joe Keaton.) So they go to great lengths (and he goes to great acrobatics) to see each other. And to escape a cop he wrongs. The acrobatics include some amazing work with the professional group The Flying Escalantes.


GET OUT AND GET UNDER (1920): Harold Lloyd is late for his big amateur stage role. No problem, he has his beloved automobile. Problem is, stuff keeps getting in his way. Stuff like arguing with a neighbor, the car stalling, and lots of police chases. But if he doesn't get there in time, his rival will step into the role of the masked prince and he'll lose his girlfriend (Mildred Davis, his future wife).

LIBERTY (1929): [Interesting trivia, this was right on the cusp of the "talkie" era and this was released with a recorded sound effects track. But this screening just had the wonderful accompaniment of Frederick Hodges.] Laurel & Hardy are great proponents of liberty. You would be too, if you'd just busted out of prison. First things first--they have to change out of their prison uniforms and into street clothes. Problem, the accidentally switch pants (so Stan can't keep Ollie's giant pants up, and Ollie barely fits into Stan's), which leads to a lot of comedy based on them trying to disrobe and trade pants in public. Eventually the action takes them onto a skyscraper under construction. They actually built a fake skyscraper set on the roof of another building. So they really were dangling ~10-15 feet over the roof, and the shots of the ground below are real (not back-projected.) As someone with slight acrophobia, these always get me.

Total Running Time: 97 minutes
My Total Minutes: 337,733

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