Friday, June 09, 2017
Fundraiser For 2nd DVD collection of Marcel Perez: The International Mirth-Maker
There's a Kickstarter drive to raise the backing for a new DVD release of classic film rarities - The Marcel Perez Collection Volume 2 - starring Madrid-born silent movie comedian Marcel Perez (1884-1929).
This Kickstarter covers all production costs for the DVD's production and release, as well as of the making of and shipping of backer DVDs. All eight of the classic comedies on the collection, unseen since their original release, will be presented on DVD in new digital scans of archival 35mm materials preserved by the Library of Congress and the Museum of Modern Art film department. The DVD box art will be created by professional graphic designer and silent film aficionado Marlene Weisman.
For those who haven't seen Marcel Perez, also known as Ferdinand Perez and Marcel Fabre, he was an irreverent and dancer-like comedian who gleefully thumbed his nose at the conventions of the early 20th century. His style combined outrageous and over-the-top physical comedy with the more subtle elements of European style sophisticated farce.
Among the earliest screen clowns, along with André Deed and Max Linder, he is one of many talented performers from circuses and vaudeville who, while not necessarily as elegant as Chaplin, as brilliant a filmmaker as Keaton (who is?), as upbeat an action-adventure-comedy star as Harold Lloyd or as boldly unorthodox as Harry Langdon, still demonstrated creativity, formidable physical humor mojo, a highly inventive mind and an original approach both in performances and concepts; after all, in silent era screen comedy, contrary to popular belief, there are numerous stellar performers, strong individual films and cinematic stories beyond "The Big 4".
Between 1907 and 1923, Perez starred in 200+ films under a slew of different character names (Robinet, Bungles, Tweedy, Tweedledum, Twede-Dan), both in Europe and America. Nilde Barrachi, frequent co-star, was a superb supporting player and comedienne in her own right.
Beginning as Robinette in the European films, Nilde would co-star in most of the Marcel Perez comedies through 1918 and prove an excellent foil to his wacky antics.
In the 1920's American films, arguably Perez' best, his leading lady would be the winsome actress (and future wife) Dorothy Earle, whose low-key presence adds to the Mirth Comedies series as Edna Purviance's relaxed screen persona deftly complements Chaplin.
The European Perez films (the Robinet series) tend to stress bedroom farce and battle of the sexes themes, while his starring vehicles from the late teens and early 20's present more of a European spin on American slapstick.
We at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog were happy to be among those who supported the Kickstarter that led to the first collection of Perez comedies getting released on DVD in 2015. The Marcel Perez Collection DVD received an award in the "Special Mention" category on July 3, 2015 at the Il Cinema Ritrovato Festival in Bologna.
The film historian mojo behind the two collections: Ben Model, accompanist and contributor to The Silent Clowns Film Series at the New York Public Library and author Steve Massa, who devoted a chapter to Marcel Perez in his book, Lame Brains And Lunatics: The Good, The Bad And The Forgotten Of Silent Comedy.
The duo, who have presented vintage comedy events at New York City MoMA and other venues for quite some time now, have found 8 Perez films since the Kickstarter that enabled the release of the first Marcel Perez DVD.
The second Perez collection kicks off with his first film, The Short-Sighted Cyclist (1907)
The remainder of the titles scheduled to be on The Marcel Perez Collection Volume 2 are his American films, beginning with three Eagle Comedies produced in Jacksonville, FLA in 1916.
Lend Me Your Wife (1916)
Some Hero (1916)
A Scrambled Honeymoon (1916)
There are two entries from his Jester Comedies series, produced in 1918-1919, starting with Oh! What a Day (1918)
And followed by Chickens in Turkey (1919)
The last three subjects on the collection are from Perez' last starring series, the Mirth Comedies, released by Reelcraft.
Friday the 13th (1923) - fragment only
The Kickstarter ends at 8:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, June 13. The hope is that the drive will surpass the fundraising goal to the extent that if any more Marcel Perez films turn up, they can be added to the collection.
The DVDs of The Marcel Perez Collection Volume 2 shall be made available for sale on Amazon.com via Amazon's CreateSpace publishing-on-demand service.