Sunday, September 9, 2012

Those Country Kids - 1914


Country: United States
Language: English
Stars: Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, Mabel Normand and Al St. John
Release Date: 20 August 1914 (USA)
Production Co: Keystone Film Company
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Genres: Short | Comedy

The Gusher - 1913


Country: United States
Language: English
Director: Mack Sennett
Stars: Ford Sterling, Mabel Normand and Charles Inslee
Release Date: 15 December 1913 (USA)
Production Co: Keystone Film Company
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Genres: Comedy | Short
When Mack Sennett formed Keystone in 1912 he took Mabel Normand with him. The studio was built in Edendale near down-town Los Angeles. "The Gusher" is one of the many, many movies he made at this time.
Mabel has two suitors - an oily con man, whom she mocks in a very funny scene where she is shown twiddling a fake moustache and making her feelings very clearly felt. Even in this early comedy her natural fun comes through. The one she really loves is clumsy yokel Ford Sterling, who is determined to buy an oil well that the con man has for sale. The conman gets a local fellow to pour oil over the property. Ford falls for it and buys it - Mabel and he are to be married. Then the fellow confesses that it was just a scam - there was no oil. Of course, the next minute oil really is discovered and Ford and Mabel are over-joyed. Just as they are about to get married the conman comes back on the scene. He throws a lighted match on the oil and the screen spectacularly erupts in a crimson fire ball. Everyone then gets in on the act - there are all the townsfolk, Mabel in her wedding veil, the Keystone Cops make a brief appearance, Mabel has to fend off the con- man's oily advances and Ford has to stop falling over his own feet.
The film ends on a positive note. The fire is still polluting the skies but Ford has proved he is a man and not a mouse by fighting the conman and protecting Mabel's honour.

Her Torpedoed Love - 1917


Country: United States
Director: Frank Griffin
Stars: Louise Fazenda, Ford Sterling and Wayland Trask
Release Date: 13 May 1917 (USA)
Production Co: Keystone Film Company, Triangle Film Corporation
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Two Reeler
Genres: Short | Comedy

Getting Evidence - 1906


Country: United States
Language: English
Director: Edwin S. Porter
Stars: Paul Panzer
Release Date: October 1906 (USA)
Also known as: Getting Evidence, Showing the Trials and Tribulations of a Private Detective (USA - long title)
Filming Locations: Asbury Park, New Jersey, USA; New York City, New York, USA
Production Co: Edison Manufacturing Company
Runtime: 14 min
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Cuckold
Genres: Short | Comedy
A jealous husband arrives in the office of Hawkshaw, a private detective. The husband is certain that his wife is being unfaithful, and he wants the detective to produce photographic evidence. The detective tails the wife, and thinks he has caught her, but a sudden mishap prevents him from getting a photo. Despite this and further setbacks, the dedicated detective presses on, determined to fulfill his assignment.
Connections
Featured in Edison: The Invention of the Movies (2005) (Video). The entire film is included on the DVD

A Strong Revenge - 1913


Country: United States
Language: English (intertitles)
Director: Mack Sennett
Stars: Mack Sennett, Mabel Normand and Ford Sterling
Release Date: 10 March 1913 (USA)
Also known as: The Rivals (USA - reissue title); The Shoemaker's Revenge (USA - working title)
Production Co: Keystone Film Company
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Genres: Short | Comedy

That Little Band of Gold - 1915


Country: United States
Language: English
Stars: Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, Mabel Normand and Phyllis Allen
Release Date:15 March 1915 (USA)
Also known as: Before and After Marriage (USA - working title), For Better or Worse (undefined)
Production Co: Keystone Film Company
Runtime: 25 min (2005 alternate version)
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Opera | Divorce | Alimony | Kiss | Flirtation  | Mother In Law | Ring | Jealousy | Drunkenness | Tattletale | Mother Daughter Relationship | Wedding | Engagement | Maid | Restaurant | Wine | Smoking | Butler
Genres: Comedy | Short
A happy young couple become engaged, and soon afterwards they are married. But after their marriage, the husband begins to stay out carousing with his friends, leaving his wife at home with her mother. Then, when the three of them go to the opera together, the husband spots one of his friends in another box. Soon the domestic difficulties reach their peak.  

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Rivals - 1907


Country: United States
Language: English
Director: Edwin S. Porter
Stars: Jinnie Frazer, Mrs. George Gebhardt and Mr. Shelley
Release Date: 14 September 1907 (USA)
Production Co: Edison Manufacturing Company
Sound Mix: Silent  | Silent
Color: Black and White
Genres: Short | Comedy
Two young men are both in love with the same woman, and they play a series of tricks on each other as each tries to gain the upper hand. They are willing to resort to sabotage, deceit, and practical jokes. As their rivalry becomes even more heated, a third party offers to help them settle things.
Trivia
Based on the comic strip "Chollie and George" by T. E. Powers.
Connections
Featured in Edison: The Invention of the Movies (2005) (Video). The entire film is included on the DVD

Cohen Saves the Flag - 1913


Country: United States
Language: English
Director: Mack Sennett
Stars: Ford Sterling, Mabel Normand and Henry Lehrman
Release Date: 27 November 1913 (USA)
Production Co: Keystone Film Company
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Jewish | Silent
Genres: Short | Comedy | War
Cohen is a sergeant in the Union Army and the bitter rival of another officer for the attentions of Rebecca. Like most burlesque Jewish characters of this period, this caricature borders on anti-semitism. Yet Cohen is also the hero of the film.
'Cohen Saves the Flag' is a very early Keystone comedy, one of several starring Ford Sterling as a scruffy coward named Izzy Cohen. All of the instalments in the 'Cohen' series feature some humour based on Jewish stereotypes, which has dated badly; fortunately, these films also have clever storylines and non-ethnic slapstick gags, so (with the possible exception of 'Cohen Collects a Debt') these films are still funny in spite of some (arguably) anti-Semitic content. All of the other 'Cohen' shorts are set in the contemporary present; 'Cohen Saves the Flag' backdates Izzy Cohen to 1861 in order to put him in a Civil War setting.
The Keystone comedies were filmed on the cheap, but Keystone's directors often employed the clever device of filming their actors in front of some elaborate public event, thus enhancing a quickie movie's production values. The best-known examples of this are the soapbox derby gate-crashed by Chaplin's tramp in 'Kid Auto Races at Venice' and the parade in 'A Busy Day'. For 'Cohen Saves the Flag', ingeniously, producer/director Mack Sennett was able to piggyback on the filming of 'Battle of Gettysburg', an elaborate Civil War drama produced by Thomas Ince. (Ince's big-budget dramas and Mack Sennett's low-budget comedies were both bankrolled by the same financiers, so Keystone actually had permission to shoot 'Cohen Saves the Flag' on the sidelines of Ince's war film!)
In the opening scene (which unconvincingly depicts 1861), Cohen (Ford Sterling) and his rival Goldberg (Henry Lehrman) are competing for the affections of dainty Mabel Normand. The men resolve their differences intelligently by poking each other's eyes and biting each other's ears. I suspect that there was meant to be some ethnic subtext here: ie, supposedly, Jews fight 'dirty' ... but in fairness, there are many Keystone comedies that feature dirty fighting among non-ethnic characters. Anyway, I laughed heartily while these two 'Jewish' characters noshed and gnashed each other.
Suddenly the Civil War breaks out. Mostly to impress Mabel, cowardly Cohen enlists in the Union army and somehow receives a sergeant's stripes. Goldberg enlists too ... and becomes a lieutenant, with Cohen under his command. Gleefully, Lieutenant Goldberg sends Cohen into battle, confident that he'll get killed.
The battlefield sequences in this cheapjack comedy are genuinely impressive; Mack Sennett (underrated as a director) manages to frame the action so that Ince's costume extras in the background actually seem to be in the same movie as the Keystone clowns in the foreground. More by accident than anything else, Cohen rescues a Union flag during his terrified efforts to escape the cannon fire. Goldberg finds Cohen guilty of desertion, and convenes a firing-squad to shoot him. The climax of this comedy - with some good work by Normand - is unexpectedly exciting as well as funny.
Ford Sterling is now almost completely forgotten, which is a great shame. He was an extremely talented and versatile comedian. Funny, too. Even people who are familiar with Ford Sterling's work seldom realise how extremely *influential* he was on the work of later comedians. Harvey Korman built an entire career out of imitating Ford Sterling. You may have noticed that, whenever modern actors imitate silent-film comedians, they always do a little hop straight up into the air. This cliche has been around at least as far back as 1928's 'Show People', a silent-film comedy *about* silent-film comedians. But in fact, Ford Sterling was the silent-film comedian who *invented* this bit ... and the only one who consistently used it. Sterling had a vast repertory of gestures and facial expressions, which he used for expressing an astonishingly subtle range of emotions. And Sterling proved his ability as a dramatic actor in 'He Who Gets Slapped', in which he had the great honour of applying makeup (on-camera) to Lon Chaney. Sterling successfully made the transition to talking-picture roles (notably as the White King in 'Alice in Wonderland'), but an accident caused him to lose a leg, forcing his retirement and hastening his death.
Connections
Features The Battle of Gettysburg (1913).

The Usurer's Grip - 1912


Country: United States
Language: English
Director: Bannister Merwin
Writers: Bannister Merwin (scenario), Theodora Huntington (story)
Stars: Walter Edwin, Gertrude McCoy and Edna May Weick
Release Date: 5 October 1912 (USA)
Production Co: Edison Company
Runtime: 15 min
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Genres: Drama | Short
THE USURER'S GRIP is, not surprisingly, a film decrying the evil of usurers--people who charge ridiculously high (and illegal) interest rates for loans. A family is in need of some extra money. They see an ad promising low-interest loans and easy payment plans. However, after taking out this loan, the family finds they've been conned and are unable to make their payments. A female employee of the usurer shows up at the poor man's job to bawl him out and ruins his reputation in front of his boss. The result of this is that the employee is fired--and falls even further behind on the loan! Then a "trailer" is then hired to follow the man to his next job and the lady comes once again to bawl him out and hound him--making it impossible to pay the loan when he could get fired again. However, the new boss is a swell fella and helps the man get a low-interest loan to pay off the original loan. In the meantime, however, the loan shark arrives at the same time at the man's house and the wife watches as they cart away his furniture--even the bed where his sick child is sleeping! What are they to do?! Well, see it for yourself to find out if the family can be saved.

Dogs of War - 1923


Country: United States
Language: English (intertitles)
Director: Robert F. McGowan
Writers: Hal Roach (story), H.M. Walker (titles)
Stars: Hal Roach's Rascals, Elmo Billings and Roy Brooks
Release Date: 1 July 1923 (USA)
Filming Locations: Hal Roach Studios - 8822 Washington Blvd., Culver City, California, USA
Production Co: Hal Roach Studios
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Children | Our Gang | Reference To Theda Bara | Actor Shares First Name With Character
Genres: Comedy | Family | Short
The gang wages war using old vegetables as munitions. Later, they ruin a movie in progress when they double-expose the film.
Two groups of children are staging a mock trench battle in a tomato patch. When the battle ends, one girl's mother comes to take her to her job at the nearby motion picture studio. The other children decide that it might be fun to work there, too, and they sneak into the unsuspecting studio.
Trivia
Filmed alongside Harold Lloyd's Why Worry?, using the South American town set built for that film, and featuring Lloyd and Jobyna Ralston as themselves.
Connections
References Why Worry? (1923)
Featured in American Masters: Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius (1989) (TV Episode)  

The Campus Carmen - 1928


Country: United States
Language: English
Director: Alfred J. Goulding
Writers: Jefferson Moffitt (story), Paul Perez (titles), Earle Rodney (story), Mack Sennett (scenario)
Stars: Daphne Pollard, Johnny Burke and Carole Lombard
Release Date: 23 September 1928 (USA)
Production Co: Mack Sennett Comedies
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White  | Color (2-strip Technicolor) (some sequences)
Plot Keywords: Two Strip Technicolor | Character Name In Title
Genres: Comedy | Short

Fatty and Mabel Adrift - 1916


Country: United States
Language: English (intertitles)
Director: Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle
Writer: Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle
Stars: Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, Mabel Normand and Al St. John
Release Date: 9 January 1916 (USA)
Also known as: Concrete Biscuits (USA - 8mm release title), Fatty y Mabel a la deriva (Venezuela), House at Sea (USA- working title)
Filming Locations: Fort Lee, New Jersey, USA; Los Angeles Harbor, San Pedro, Los Angeles, California, USA
Production Co: Keystone Film Company
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Character Name In Title
Genres: Comedy | Short
The beach front house, where Fatty and Mabel live, has been "launched" out to sea by the villains. When Fatty and Mabel arise, they find the beds floating in a sea of water.  
Factual errors
The opening credits site Teddy the Keystone Dog as appearing in the film although it is in fact Luke (dog of Roscoe Arbuckle and Minta Durfee) who appears in the film.
Connections
Edited into When Comedy Was King (1960)
Featured in Hollywood: Single Beds and Double Standards (1980) (TV Episode) - Clip near the beach
Hollywood (1980) (TV Mini-Series)

Quake! - 1933


Country: United States
Release Date:1933 (USA)
Also known as: Quake! Its Effect on Long Beach and Compton California (USA - long title)
Filming Locations: Compton, California, USA; Long Beach, California, USA
Plot Keywords: Damage | Earthquake | Compton California | Earthquake Rubble | Damaged Car  | Intertitle | Earthquake Aftermath | Long Beach California
Genres: Documentary | Short
The Long Beach earthquake of 1933 took place on March 10, 1933 at 17:55 PST (March 11, 01:55 UTC), with a magnitude of 6.4, causing widespread damage to buildings throughout Southern California. The epicenter was offshore, southeast of Long Beach on the Newport-Inglewood Fault. Forty million dollars property damage resulted, and 115 lives were lost. Many of these fatalities occurred as people ran out of buildings and were hit by falling debris.
The major damage occurred in the thickly settled district from Long Beach to the industrial section south of Los Angeles, where unfavorable geological conditions (made land, water-soaked alluvium) combined with poor structural work to increase the damage. At Long Beach, buildings collapsed, tanks fell through roofs, and houses displaced on foundations. School buildings were among those structures most generally and severely damaged.
The earthquake eliminated all doubts regarding the need for earthquake resistant design for structures in California. So many school buildings were damaged that the Field Act was passed by the California State Legislature on April 10, 1933. The Field Act mandated that school buildings must be earthquake-resistant. If the earthquake had occurred during school hours, the death toll would have been much higher.
The earthquake struck during the filming of the comedy International House (1933), and film exists of the quake striking the soundstage during shooting. (However, the director of the film, A. Edward Sutherland, later claimed that the footage was a hoax, concocted by himself and W.C. Fields, the star of the film.)
The earthquake also interrupted filming of "The Shadow Waltz," a musical scene in Gold Diggers of 1933, nearly throwing choreographer Busby Berkeley from a camera boom, and rattling dancers on a 30-foot (9.1 m)-high platform.

Anything Once! - 1927


Country: United States
Language: English
Directors: F. Richard Jones, Hal Yates
Stars: Mabel Normand, James Finlayson and Max Davidson
Release Date: 2 January 1927 (USA)
Production Co: Hal Roach Studios
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Genres: Comedy | Short
This pleasant two-reel comedy marked one of the last screen appearances of Mabel Normand, the legendary screen comedienne who established her reputation at Keystone during that studio's glory days. Mabel was a founding member of the company back in 1912, and her fortunes were closely tied (off-screen and on) with those of producer Mack Sennett, but once she left Keystone and went to work for other filmmakers her career began to teeter while her private life grew increasingly rocky. Mabel's behavior was erratic, and scandals seemed to erupt all around her. There were rumors of substance abuse problems, and her health declined. Long before Britney Spears or Michael Jackson there was Mabel, and sadly it was she who established the template for Celebrity Meltdown Syndrome.
By the time she signed with producer Hal Roach for a series of films in the mid-1920s Mabel was in precarious shape. She was still in her early 30s but the years of difficulty had taken a toll: she could no longer handle the reckless knockabout comedy of Keystone days, and the fresh beauty of her early film appearances had faded. The Mabel Normand of the Roach series often looks frail and heavily powdered: sometimes gaunt, sometimes puffy. Expert assistance was on hand, however, as she was surrounded with top comedy professionals both behind the scenes and in her supporting casts. As it happens Mabel's four surviving Roach comedies (out of five produced) are generally enjoyable, surprisingly so considering the circumstances under which they were made.
ANYTHING ONCE! is a Cinderella story. Mabel works in a tailor shop, pressing clothes and dreaming of a better life. We're told that she's taken a lot of bumps in life and doesn't know where the next bump is coming from, which sounds uncomfortably close to the leading lady's real-life situation. Her boss is Jimmy Finlayson, but instead of playing the expected sourpuss Finn is quite benign here, and doesn't even punish Mabel when she accidentally sets his toupee on fire. Mabel (oddly identified only as "the Little Girl") struggles to prepare a gown for a haughty society lady named Mrs. De Puyster, who plans to wear it to a costume ball where she hopes to impress Prince Chevalier, a highly eligible bachelor of royal pedigree. Mabel has to carry the gown to its owner via mass transit—i.e., on a streetcar—which means of course that she must deal with the hoards of stampeding commuters so familiar from silent comedies. The streetcar sequences are lively and amusing, and demonstrate that Mabel could still summon up the energy for a fair amount of slapstick when the occasion demanded. After a few plot twists Mabel winds up going to the ball in Mrs. De Puyster's costume, complete with a towering Marie Antoinette-style wig, and of course she charms the Prince and dances with him in her rival's place. There's a nice comic moment when the real De Puyster shows up and charges across the dance floor to confront the impostor, while Mabel tries to escape by dancing away with the Prince at an ever-increasing tempo. Eventually, the high-born lady is married off to the prince's imposing chancellor (played by that imposing character actor with the unforgettable name, Gustav Von Seyffertitz) and Mabel winds up with her handsome royal beau. The fade-out gag is a bit anti-climactic, but the film leaves a pleasant aftertaste; pleasant, that is, until we recall that behind the scenes its leading lady was in such fragile condition.
ANYTHING ONCE! provides a nice quota of laughs, and features a running gag about Mrs. De Puyster's recent face-lift that still feels topical. The lady's surgeon tells her that she must avoid high emotion or else her new face will fall. The actress playing this role, Nora Hayden, managed to simulate the weird, stretched look of a woman who has "had work done" that looks eerily genuine.

Fatty and Mabel's Simple Life - 1915


Country: United States
Director: Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle
Stars: Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, Mabel Normand and Al St. John
Release Date: 18 January 1915 (USA)
Also known as: Mabel and Fatty's Simple Life (USA - alternative title)
Production Co: Keystone Film Corporation
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Farm | Farm Hand | Mortgage | Farmers Daughter | Cow  |  Well | Romantic Rivalry | Milking | Tree | Boyfriend Girlfriend Relationship | Rope | Slapstick | Hose | Chase | Wedding | Automobile | Character Name In Title
Genres: Comedy | Short
Fatty is a farm hand at Mabel's father's place. He and Mabel love each other, but dad wants to marry Mabel off to the landowner's son in exchange for tearing up the mortgage. When Mabel and Fatty find out dad's plan, they elope, pursued by dad, the hopeful suitor, and the local constables. 
Although the title must have been intended ironically, life sure does look simple for Mabel Normand and Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle in this pleasant little Keystone comedy. Roscoe works on a farm owned by Mabel's father, and the two of them are secretly betrothed. Mabel, introduced by a title card simply reading "She was happy," is shown handling (and kissing) a calf. Roscoe, who is introduced with the phrase "Poor but honest," deals with the cattle, and rural life seems idyllic. Before long, of course, knockabout comedy erupts when Roscoe has a bit of a run-in with farm hand Joe Bordeaux, and we're also offered a memorable sample of barnyard humor when Mabel squirts milk from a cow's udder through a knothole in a fence, right into Roscoe's eye.
Trouble erupts when young Mr. Jenkins, the wealthy squire's son-- an uncharacteristically dapper Al St. John --shows up to collect the rent. Mabel's father, who drinks on the sly, offers the young man a snort, and Jenkins' reaction makes it clear that the stuff is turpentine in all but name. Once he's recovered, Jenkins conveys the news that his father would be willing to tear up the mortgage if Mabel were to marry his son, i.e. Jenkins Jr. This arrangement sounds perfectly acceptable to Mabel's father, but when Mabel rejects it out of hand she is locked in her room. Roscoe comes to the rescue, and the lovers have no choice but to elope in a fast car-- a car that turns out to have a mind of its own and an ornery "personality" --while Mabel's father, the squire's son, and the local constabulary give chase on bicycles.

Friday, September 7, 2012

In the Dough - 1932


Country: United States
Language: English
Director: Ray McCarey
Writer: Jack Henley (story)
Stars: Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle
Release Date: 15 November 1933 (USA)
Production Co: The Vitaphone Corporation, Warner Bros. Pictures
Plot Keywords: Slapstick
Genres: Short | Comedy
"In the Dough" is very funny. It's one of the six short comedies that Roscoe Arbuckle filmed at Warner Brothers' Vitaphone studio in Brooklyn in the early talkie era. The funniest of these is "Buzzin' Around", but "In the Dough" is a close second in hilarity. Roscoe is at the top of his form, and Shemp Howard (the sometime Stooge) is funny here too.
Roscoe applies for a job in a bakery. When asked why he wants to be a baker, Roscoe grins broadly and replies: "Because I knead the dough."
Just when Roscoe is mixing a big vat of dough, along comes a hoodlum running a protection racket, played by the gifted comic actor Lionel Stander. One thing leads to six others, and soon Roscoe and Lionel have begun a bitter battle in the boiling biscuit batter. I usually don't see anything funny about actors getting splattered with sticky goo, but "In the Dough" is an exception.
There's a nice running gag about a Karl LaFong-ish customer who orders a birthday cake with very specific decorations: he wants "a large 'S' ... a capital 'S'." But this gag has been re-used by other comedians, so you probably know the punchline.
When I saw "In the Dough" at the American Museum of the Moving Image, with an audience full of New Yorkers, most of the audience members laughed at a stock shot of a police car stopping near a billboard for the Greenpoint Savings Bank. Apparently this is funny to New Yorkers.
The same stock shot turned up in another of Arbuckle's Vitaphone movies, and the audience laughed even harder the second time it showed up.
"In the Dough" was directed by Ray McCarey, brother of comedy legend Leo McCarey. While definitely not as talented as his brother, Ray McCarey made some excellent films and he deserves to be remembered as an efficient comedy director in his own right.
Trivia
Vitaphone production reels #1568-1569.

One Touch of Nature - 1914


Country: United States
Language: English (intertitles)
Director: Ashley Miller
Writer: Courtney Ryley Cooper (story)
Stars: John Sturgeon, Elizabeth Miller and T. Tamamoto
Release Date: 8 August 1914 (USA)
Production Co: Edison Company
Runtime: 16 min
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Genres: Short | Comedy
Mr. Bradley has been getting increasingly irritable, and today he is annoyed by everything, constantly snapping at the servants and at his wife. Then, as he is being driven by his chauffeur, the car stalls. Mr. Bradley becomes impatient with the chauffeur's repair work, and wanders off into a nearby woods. When he sees a boy fishing in a stream, he strikes up a conversation with him. Soon Mr. Bradley starts to think that a little time spent outdoors might be just what he needs to calm his nerves.
Trivia
A copy of this film survives at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. 

Super-Hooper-Dyne Lizzies - 1925


Country: United States
Director: Del Lord
Writers: Frank Capra, Felix Adler (titles), Al Giebler (titles - as A.H. Giebler), Jefferson Moffitt            
Stars: Billy Bevan, Andy Clyde and Lillian Knight
Release Date: 14 June 1925 (USA)
Production Co: Mack Sennett Comedies
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Automobile
Genres: Short | Comedy
An eccentric inventor has thought of a way that automobiles can run on radio waves, without gasoline. His plans put him in conflict with the owner of an oil company, who is also pursuing the inventor's daughter. This rival begins to scheme against the inventor, and it is left up to the inventor's hired man to try to stop him. 
The story here is of a man named Watts who is way ahead of his time inventing the radio remote controlled electric car. The only thing is, he invents a way to power all the cars with electric radio waves & not use gasoline. The cars even seem to be able to navigate all the roads by themselves. It is a modern environmentalist paradise until everything goes wrong.
The guy who is known as Mr Gas Can tries to hire someone to sabotage all the electric cars. That is because he needs to sell gas. There is an actress named Lillian Knight who plays Watt's daughter who is being approached by Mr Gas Can to be married. Ms. Knight looks very good in the picture.
Billy Bevan & Andy Clyde, both veteran actors of silents are the main players in this one. Mack Sennett asks his players to start at a slower pace in this movie. It does start a little slow. The last half of the film has gags at a rapid pace. Not all of them work, though if the car would have I think we'd be saving a lot of gas today. 
Connections
Edited into When Comedy Was King (1960) Mack Sennett segment 

Hello, Mabel - 1914


Country: United States
Language: English
Stars: Mabel Normand, Mack Swain and Alice Davenport
Release Date: 8 October 1914 (USA)
Also known as: Hola, Mabel (Venezuela); On a Busy Wire (USA - reissue title)
Production Co: Keystone Film Company
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Genres: Short | Comedy

Sold at Auction - 1923


Country: United States
Director: Charles Parrott
Writer: H.M. Walker (titles)
Stars: 'Snub' Pollard, Wallace Howe and James Finlayson
Release Date: 27 May 1923 (USA)
Production Co: Hal Roach Studios
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Genres: Short | Comedy
This film starts with some of the wildest and most spectacular car stunts you'll ever see in a silent film. Eventually, Snub is tossed hundreds of feet into an auction house and his sudden appearance actually encourages the listless audience to start bidding. The auction house owner then gets an idea--hire Snub and arrange scores of "accidents" just outside the auction house to help sell merchandise. Amazingly, it works, though Snub is beaten senseless in each case.
Later, due to a mix up, the auction house accidentally sells the furnishings of James Finlayson's house. Finlayson is naturally enraged and it's up to the hapless Snub to retrieve everything. What is so funny here is the extremes to which he goes to get everything--ranging from starting fights to stealing an airplane! The sight gags abound and you certainly can't fall asleep during all this frenetic action. In fact, the film is so fast-paced and violent that it doesn't look like a Hal Roach Studios production (which it is) but is actually more reminiscent of the best of Keystone (Sennett) Studios.
A lovely and funny film thanks to great direction, gags and Snub.

The Little Teacher - 1915


Country: United States
Director: Mack Sennett
Stars: Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, Mabel Normand and Mack Sennett
Release Date: 21 June 1915 (USA)
Also known as: A Small Town Bully (undefined), Small Town School (USA - working title)
Filming Locations: Hollenbeck Park - 415 S. St. Louis Street, Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, California, USA
Production Co: Keystone Film Company
Runtime: 21 min
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: School | Rural | Schoolteacher | Rescue | One Room Schoolhouse
Genres: Short | Comedy
The new school teacher fresh from the city struggles with her unruly bumpkin students, while she awaits the arrival of her fiancé. 

Old Ironsides - 1926


Country: United States
Director: James Cruze
Writers: Laurence Stallings (story), Harry Carr (suggested and adapted by), Walter Woods (suggested and adapted by), Rupert Hughes (titles), Dorothy Arzner (uncredited)
Oliver Wendell Holmes (poem - uncredited)
Stars: Charles Farrell, Esther Ralston and Wallace Beery
Release Date: 6 December 1926 (USA)
Also known as: Fragata Invicta (Portugal); Havets Befrier (Denmark); Korsaren (Austria); Old Ironsides (Spain); Schrecken der Meere (Austria); Sons of the Sea (UK); Tan i epi tas (Greece - transliterated ISO-LATIN-1 title); Trípoli (Spain)
Filming Locations: Santa Catalina Island, Channel Islands, California, USA
Production Co: Paramount Pictures
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Sea | Epic
Taglines
WHAT A YARN! (original print ad - all caps)
A farmer lad shipped to sea for adventure -- and finds it -- and romance, too! On the blood-stained decks of Old Ironsides!
Two seafaring roughnecks, always ready for a fight! They find a mutual friend in "Loud Lucy," that six-pound gun on the quarterdeck!
PRISONERS---held for ransom!---lovers at the mercy of Barbary pirates! Captives on an American vessel, with the frowning guns of Tripoli threatening the outlet to the sea and freedom! Then came ---- "OLD IRONSIDES"
Genres: Drama | History
Early in the 19th century, the USS Constitution is launched as part of an effort to stop piracy in the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, a young man determined to go to sea is befriended by the bos'n of the merchant ship Esther, and he joins her crew. When the Esther reaches the Mediterranean, she too, along with the Constitution, becomes involved in the battle against the pirates.
With plenty of action, an interesting story, and a cast headed by Wallace Beery and George Bancroft, this works well as an adventure movie. It adds good shipboard atmosphere, and it also includes the re-enactment of some of the history that is used as background to the story. Although the historical setting is stylized to some degree, it seems to give a pretty good feel for what it was like in the days when ships from the young USA did battle with the coastal pirates of the Mediterranean.
Beery and Bancroft work quite well together, and they are entertaining, too. Beery's boisterous style can work particularly well in silent movies, since the personality of a character is more prominent than the dialogue. Charles Farrell, as the young man who sails with Beery and Bancroft, is usually rather bland, but then again his innocent, reserved character serves as a contrast to the other two. Esther Ralston is an appealing heroine, and a few of the other characters also get some good moments.
The story is interesting, with most of it following characters on "Old Ironsides" and other ships as they sail, maneuver, and battle. The shipboard atmosphere is convincing, showing the crews both in tense times and in lighter moments. It's enjoyable to see the recreation of the old sailing ships and the ways they worked. Between the details of the ships, and the interesting crew members, there are times when you almost feel as if you're aboard with them.
"Old Ironsides" is one of the many silent movies that deserve to be better known and remembered. It's worthwhile both for the story and for its recreation of the age of the great sailing ships.
Trivia: This was the first film to be shown using the Magnascope system.
A real ship (the S. N. Castle, built in 1886) was burned and sunk for the movie.
Connections
Referenced in Hollywood's Magical Island: Catalina (2003) - poster shown.
Featured in Hollywood (1980) (TV Mini-Series)
Spoofed in Old Tin Sides (1927) (Short), Young Ironsides (1932) (Short)
PS= This is an excerpt of a battle scene of the film. 

Should Men Walk Home? - 1927


Country: United States
Language: English
Director: Leo McCarey
Writers: Albert Austin, Alfred J. Goulding (screenplay), H.M. Walker (titles)
Stars: Mabel Normand, Oliver Hardy and Creighton Hale
Release Date: 30 January 1927 (USA)
Production Co: Hal Roach Studios
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Genres: Comedy | Short
Mabel Normand, one of the silent screen's greatest comediennes, made her last films for producer Hal Roach in the late 1920s. By the time she arrived at the Roach lot Mabel's reputation and career had been damaged by two major scandals and a lot of whispered innuendo. She had a substance abuse problem and her health was poor. It would seem that she was not in the best position to create great comedy, and yet, despite the odds, she nonetheless managed to rise to the occasion and produce some surprisingly enjoyable work. Mabel's debut for Roach, RAGGEDY ROSE, is entertaining but far more sentimental than anything she did back in Keystone days. There Mabel was cast as a Cinderella type, an exploited slavey who toils in a sweat-shop. It's safe to assume that this approach was the studio's strategy to counter their new star's negative personal publicity by working up audience sympathy for her. Mabel's next short THE NICKEL-HOPPER was funnier, though the leading lady was once again cast sympathetically as an under-appreciated working stiff who supports her family. But SHOULD MEN WALK HOME? marked a new approach entirely: here there's no effort to tug at our heartstrings: this is an unapologetic, freewheeling romp with lots of great gags, a strong supporting cast and a steady procession of comic set-pieces.
Mabel plays an out-and-out crook, a "Girl Bandit," no less, who might remind some viewers of Miriam Hopkins' character in TROUBLE IN PARADISE. And like Hopkins she quickly hooks up with a male partner in crime, in this case a Gentleman Crook played by perpetually grinning Creighton Hale. Mabel seems a little livelier in this film than in some of her other late works. In the very first scene we find her hitch-hiking, and she's forced to make a mad dash for cover when Hale's car nearly hits her. (The scene was under-cranked but she still looks pretty nimble.) Soon they team up and crash a swanky party in a mansion to steal a jewel from the host's safe. The host has hired a dim-witted private detective to guard the goods, a nice juicy role for character actor Eugene Palette. The detective is aware almost immediately that these two are up to no good, but he doesn't eject them . . . because then we wouldn't have much of a movie, would we? Instead he tries to out-wit them, and when they succeed in getting the goods from the safe the game is on as the crooks struggle to hide the jewel, find it again, and elude the cop.
One of the comic high-points involves an elaborate, grotesque indoor fountain decorated with cherubs which bear a striking resemblance to Creighton Hale. When he dives into the water to recover the jewel there are several amusing underwater shots that suggest the fountain is as deep as an Olympic-sized pool; and when he surfaces it leads to a routine in which Hale must try to fool the cop into thinking that he is one of the cherubs. (Hale's struggle to keep a straight face in this sequence appears to be quite genuine.) The bit was later developed into a more elaborate routine for the Roach Studio's 1928 comedy EARLY TO BED featuring Laurel & Hardy. And speaking of L&H, Oliver Hardy makes a brief but memorable appearance in this film as a party guest who repeatedly attempts to get a glass of punch, only to be thwarted by Mabel, Hale, and finally by himself. Ollie makes a strong impression but Mabel is very much the star of the show. When we compare this film to her early Keystone work it's apparent that her style became ever more nuanced with time; by this point she could get laughs with just a raised eyebrow or a puckered look of exasperation.
Perhaps if Mabel Normand had kept her health and continued working in the movies this sort of role (i.e. the crook with the heart of gold) might have held possibilities for further development. Sadly, however, this was one of her last films: she died of tuberculosis only three years later at the age of 37. There's no sign of any difficulty or impending trouble behind the scenes as we watch this two-reeler unfold. SHOULD MEN WALK HOME? is one of Mabel's cheeriest and funniest late comedies, with a breezy tone that is poignant only in retrospect.

He Did and He Didn't - 1916


Country: United States
Language: English
Director: Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle
Writer: Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle (uncredited)
Stars: Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, Mabel Normand and William Jefferson
Release Date: 30 January 1916 (USA)
Filming Locations: Fort Lee, New Jersey, USA
Production Co: Keystone Film Company
Runtime: 20 min (TCM print) (2005)
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White (tinted)
Genres: Short | Comedy | Drama
A doctor, very much in love with his beautiful wife, comes to suspect that her visiting childhood friend Jack is more than just a friend. Jack's intentions are honorable, but everything he does tends to show his actions in a suspicious light, especially when burglars invade the house and Jack and the wife are caught together in their nightclothes.
Connections
Featured in Hollywood: Single Beds and Double Standards (1980) (TV Episode) Clip with Fatty Arbuckle; Hollywood (1980) (TV Mini-Series)   

Empire State Express - 1902


Country: United States
An early Biograph film of the Empire State Express train on the New York Central & Hudson River line in 1902. To purchase a DVD of this film for personal home use or educational use contact us at questions@archivesfarms.com
To license footage from this film visit: www.travelfilmarchive.com