Saturday, January 23, 2010

DVD: American Slapstick Volume II #1 -- January 23, 2010

Allday Entertainment has issued American Slapstick, Volume II, a three-cd collection of slapstick movies, mostly silents, and mostly shorts. Some of the movies are recovered from 9.5mm prints. Others are new reconstructions from multiple sources. All the silents have enjoyable scores, either created new for this set or assembled from contemporary recordings.

Disc One has three sections: Harold Lloyd, Hal Roach's B team, and movies from the Educational (hah) Studio.

The Harold Lloyd section starts with a fragment of "Luke Joins the Navy," which was the longest piece of a Lonesome Luke movie that I have ever seen. There wasn't much to it, although part of it takes place on a battleship (I think). It was more vigorous than funny. I had never been able to tell from stills, but I could see from the movie how Lloyd was imitating Chaplin. My daughter couldn't see it.

"By the Sad Sea Waves" was a complete movie with the "Glass Character." It was vigorous and funny, with a miniature train gag at the end.

"Bliss," "Hey There," and "Don't Shove" were one-reelers which showed Harold gradually developing his acting and his gagging. "Hey There" was set in a movie studio. Bebe Daniels was cute in all of them, and there was a beautiful closeup of her smiling at the skating rink in "Don't Shove."

The B-team section started with "Dodge Your Debts", which is the only Gaylord Lloyd film I have ever seen. I have no idea why it was set in England. It wasn't very funny.

"Whirl of the West" and "The Dippy Dentist" are Snub Pollard and Marie Mosquini movies which I enjoyed. The dentist movie had a strong Prohibition element.

"Shiver and Shake" and "Post No Bills" are the only Jimmy Parrott (brother of Charley Chase) movies I have ever seen. "Post No Bills" was absurdly funny.

The Educational section started with "A Fresh Start," a Lige Conley/Jimmy Adams short. My wife liked the music and the reactions of the characters. It got pretty silly by the time the lions entered from the zoo next to the hotel. Some of the scenes with the leading lady were risque.

"Kid Speed" was a Larry Semon film. I'm partial to old racing cars, and Oliver Hardy was good. I saw the standard Semon mud pits.

"Jonah Jones" and "Breezing Along" were Lloyd Hamilton films. I had not seen much of his work outside of the Youngson compilations. He was very expressive.

Disc One was a very good start.

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