Saturday, June 01, 2013

More Silent Comedy Clips

Following up the last post about Steve Massa's new book, here are some more imaginative bits of classic comedy goodness from the days of silent pictures.

First and foremost: Mr. Lloyd "Ham" Hamilton.

Marcel Perez, A.K.A. Tweedy and Tweedledum, among that first wave of screen comedians (along with Andre Deed and Max Linder) is becoming a favorite at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog. Not many Perez films survive (he died in 1929), but those that do show a highly creative and original comic mind.

Perez' sense of humor is wacky, surreal, outrageous and a bit risque, by comparison to American comedies from the same period. Here are examples of Perez' early Robinet series.

The aforementioned and always dapper Max Linder was one of the greatest movie comedians who ever lived and, like Perez, preceded Chaplin as a star of his own short subjects series, befire going on to feature films.

Watching 1941, Stephen Spielberg's effects-laden epic (in the vein of Stanley Kramer's It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World and Blake Edwards' The Great Race) on Turner Classic Movies last night, I couldn't help thinking of Larry Semon, the prolific silent film comedian, director and cartoonist who loved sight gags on an operatic scale.

Mr. Semon would have adored 1941, still the last word in epic cartoonish set pieces and "mass destruction of property is good for a laugh".

Semon began his career directing and writing films for other comedians at Vitagraph, including the team of Earl Montgomery and (future comedy film producer) Joe Rock.

In retrospect, it's too bad Semon, who died in 1928, didn't live long enough to write gags for animated cartoons in talkies. One could imagine him dreaming up way-out stuff for Van Beuren, Fleischer or Terrytoons.

Here's Larry at his manic peak, supported deftly by, among others, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.

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