Billie Ritchie (1874-1921), creator of the most psychotic comedy "star" in the history of movies.
Refusing to devote today's blog entry to the recent passing of larger-than-life, ever-expressive and often damn funny "fat comic" Dom DeLuise, I will instead plug a must-see event for movie buffs and classic comedy geeks: the Cruel And Unusual Comedy film series at The Museum Of Modern Art. If you're within a reasonable distance of the museum (and have as sick a sense of humor as I do), this presentation by Silent Comedy Mafia dons and MOMA historians is not to be missed!
Among the celluloid rarities: one of the very few existing comedy shorts starring the aforementioned Billie Ritchie, star of more than 50 films produced and/or directed by the guru of slapstick comedy excess, Henry "Suicide" Lehrman. Billie, a veteran of England's celebrated Fred Karno troupe, plays the contemptible anti-protagonist of the 1916 L-KO comedy Cold Hearts And Hot Flames, which will be screened in the mayhem-filled Gratuitous Violence program on the evening of May 27. Watch it and decide for yourself if Mr. Ritchie lives up to his rep as the slimiest starring character in the history of comedy films!
Stan Laurel in drag in "Get 'Em Young" (1926)
And, even if you live thousands of miles from New York and can't go, check out these superb program notes.