Thursday, May 23, 2013
Among new releases that are must-additions to the Comedy Buff Bookshelf: Lame Brains And Lunatics: The Good, The Bad And The Forgotten Of Silent Comedy, the awaited new book by Steve Massa and James L. Neibaur's latest, The Charley Chase Talkies 1929-1940. Steve Massa, as film buffs are well aware, is the curator of the NYPL's Billy Rose Collection and has forgotten more about silent film humor than most of us - yes, even the diehard historians and Slapsticon attendees - will ever know. In an exceptionally well-researched tome, hilarious silent comedy headliners Marie Dressler, Max Linder, Al St. John, Alice Howell, Fay Tincher, Marcel Perez, Gale Henry, Max Davidson and more at long last get their due.
Also getting their due are some of the most notoriously iconoclastic comedians, including the misanthrope of misanthropes, Billie Ritchie, a.k.a. The Man From Nowhere.
. Billie Ritchie has been wrongly identified as a Chaplin imitator for decades, but the two only had certain Fred Karno Troupe signature riffs - also seen in Stan Laurel - and an outfit in common. The chapter of the Scottish born Ritchie in Lunatics compares the misanthropic comic to Andy Kaufman in that sense of daring an audience to loathe him while finding enjoyment in spreading chaos, anarchy and mayhem (although, frankly, Mr. Kaufman at his most confrontational seems like quite the sweetheart by comparison to Billie) Even the most derriere-kicking, brick-heaving, nose-thumbing Chaplin At Keystone is a far cry from the unrelenting vileness of Billie Ritchie. Producer-director-writer of the dark, nihilistic and surreal Ritchie series: that enemy of physical safety, extras and basic human decency, the infamous Henry "Suicide" Lehrman. Both are covered by fascinating segments in Steve Massa's book.
Now, curiously enough, one of the directors who found his way to the historically important yet misbegotten L-KO studio gets a chapter in Lame Brains And Lunatics: The Good, The Bad And The Forgotten Of Silent Comedy for his remarkable work as a prolific director of everything from slapstick to genteel farce. . . Charles Parrott, a.k.a. Charley Chase. The chapter on Parrott's highly varied directorial career in the Steve Massa book is in itself worth the price of admission, and, as fate would have it, Charley is also the topic of the second book recommendation here.
Author James L. Neibaur finishes a new, crisply written and extremely enjoyable film history book about every 5 minutes and has done it yet again in 2013 with The Charley Chase Talkies 1929-1940. Your Correspondent fully expects to blast through Jim's new book cover-to-cover in short order! After directing a gazillion comedy shorts for every studio around from 1916-1924, Chase began his own starring series, producing masterpiece after masterpiece 's absurdist 2-reel masterpieces in silents had the funniest jokes, the most beautiful and winsome comediennes, the most sophisticated storylines and by far the most adult sensibility. Nobody else there, not even the iconic Harold Lloyd and Laurel & Hardy, are close.
A new bar line has been set for brenT walker Anthony Balducci's two silent comedy books Lloy ham and Eighteen Comedians Of Silent Film steve rydzewshis BEN turpin No one is a bigger Hal Roach Studio-o-phile than whatever isn't covered, without a doubt shall be discussed in detail in the comedy film history by richard m roberts. ' and will be turning up from time to time in the TCM Mack Sennett retrospective this month.
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stellar, lesser- known yet frequently highly original and brilliant
Monday, May 20, 2013
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Since Robert Mitchum's career-long m.o. was giving the appearance that he couldn't care less, while privately rehearsing with Ninja-like intensity, it would not surprise Your Correspondent one bit if this album is good. The girl with Bob and the bottle is Jolene Brand, soon to make history of her own as a stock company player on the 1961 Ernie Kovacs Show, still the most creative and innovative sketch comedy program in television history.
Friday, May 10, 2013
Thursday, May 09, 2013
It's a good bet that all of us dyed-in-the-wool classic movie buffs have been affected by the passing of the incomparable Ray Harryhausen at 92 earlier this week.
The many Ray Harryhausen action-adventure-science fiction-fantasy epics - all populated by his remarkably otherworldly creatures - sparked that THIS IS SO COOL sense of wonder and astonishment, not just on the first viewing, but every time.
Leonard Maltin's superb tribute The Game-Changer: Ray Harryhausen said it most eloquently - better than even this equally Movie Crazy scribe can.
So today, Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog pays tribute to one imaginative stop-motion animation innovator with cool films by another, Norman McLaren.
There could never be enough tips of the Jimmie Hatlo and Fred Astaire top hats to the creative and ingenious Mr. Harryhausen and Mr. McLaren.
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Pondering the recent passing of animation giant Ray Harryhausen, I forgot that today, May 8, 2013 is the centennial of Bob Clampett's birth.
Now, the project Bob may have been the most proud of was one he didn't get to complete: his plan for an animated feature based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter Of Mars. The excerpts seen here recall the Fleischer Superman series in style and approach. Perhaps animation experts Mark Kausler, Jerry Beck, Leonard Maltin and Mike Barrier know the specifics of why the project was shelved, and who Bob pitched it to.
We'll follow that "what might have been" clip with several choice morsels of animated mayhem, crazy classic cartoon delirium by Mr. B and the talented Termite Terrace boys!
(Sorry, not posting any Clampett WB cartoons from the infamous Censored 11 - the readership at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog is paltry enough as it is!)
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
Mr. Blogmeister has been seeking - and for the most part not finding - examples of Down Under cartoon goodness. What I did find was the following, all by the Eric Porter Studios.
The studio debuted with Waste Not, Want Not, a 1939 educational cartoon promoting saving for a rainy day and starring the ravishing big spender Willie The Wombat. The Porter cartoons at times demonstrate that certain bent synthesis of primitive animation and startlingly off-the-wall ideas rampant (and much beloved) in the early talkie Aesop's Fables and Don & Waffles series by New York's Terrytoons and Van Beuren studios.
Curiously, Eric Porter's Color Classics share a series title and main character name (Bimbo) with another New York cartoon studio of note, Fleischer's, although the anthropomorphized car in the following cartoon, Bimbo's Auto may well have been inspired by a viewing of Friz Freleng's 1937 WB cartoon, Streamlined Greta Green.
More lucrative for the studio: a series of ads for Aeroplane Pure Fruit Jellies, featuring the ever-plucky Bertie.
Since the technique in Bimbo's Auto is definitely less advanced than the following animated ad starring the iconic Bertie The Jet, the theatrical cartoon's frequently cited 1954 production date seems a tad suspect. Perhaps the Australian equivalents of The Motion Picture Herald and Harrison's Reports would yield the answers regarding when these cartoons were released theatrically. Even the excellent Animation In Australia piece from the Australian government website is primarily an overview.
The following Eric Porter Studio opus, Rabbit Stew, at least at the moment appears to be only available on YouTube and Daily Motion in the following silent print. Blackhawk Films struck prints of it and Bimbo's Auto for the home 16mm and 8mm market. Unfortunately, the third Porter Color Classics cartoon, Bimbo's Clock, was never completed. Again, Rabbit Stew, said to have been produced in 1952, looks like a cartoon made in America around 1939.
Porter himself frequently shifted over to directing live-action movies and television programs between his studio's projects thoughout his career, but in 1972 returned to animation with the epic fantasy feature Marco Polo Vs. The Red Dragon. The story goes that the ambitious film did very poorly at the box office and lost so much money that the studio was forced to shut down. Although your correspondent has never seen it, perhaps the film (A.K.A. Marco Polo, Jr.) is available on DVD in Australia and New Zealand.
Last but not least, for various clips in today's posting, Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog thanks the outstanding film preservationists at the National Archives Of Australia, the National Film And Sound Archive, and those who authored the Australian Film Institute website. Cheers, mates!