Sunday, January 24, 2010

DVD: American Slapstick Volume II #2 -- January 24, 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 Two has two sections: Chaplin Without Chaplin and Sydney Chaplin.

The Chaplin Without Chaplin section starts with cartoons done by Otto Messmer for the Pat Sullivan Studio. A brief clip from "Felix in Hollywood" shows Felix imitating Chaplin, then running into him. A longer excerpt from "Charley at the Beach" shows Chaplin running through some standard beach gags. Messmer's animated Chaplin captured some of the feeling of the real thing. "Out West" shows Charley in a frontier town, then riding out to rescue the beautiful maiden who was captured by the Indians. This one merited a warning about stereotypes. It also dragged. "The Hobo" was the first complete Billy West movie I have seen. My daughter agreed that he looked like Chaplin. The movie made me appreciate how well-structured Charley's movies are. Oliver Hardy and Leo White appeared. A selection from "Oh Shoot!" showed Bobby Dunn looking somewhat like Charley, but not acting much like him. It reminded me of a Larry Semon movie. I liked the Mule.

The Sydney Chaplin section began with two Keystone Gussle movies, "Caught in a Park" and "Gussle's Wayward Path." Gussle reminded me of a character Michael Palin might do in a Monty Python sketch. The family felt that Sydney was copying all of Charlie's mannerisms. My daughter was not happy about Gussle hanging up the little dog. Those films were followed by the feature "Charley's Aunt." This seemed like a standard version of the play, although Sydney was more acrobatic than most Aunties. This was the only feature in the set.

I enjoyed Disc Two.

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