Monday, May 30, 2016
Bathing Beauties and Big Boobs (USA,1918)
Back to a time when flirting on the beach was not something common yet and women in bathing suits was a new phenomena. The style of girls on the beach had a close resemblance to the Bathing Beauties of Mack Sennett studios, which signals a spoofing of the rival studio by Larry Semon, of Vitagraph Studios. The style of this film is very different from usual films by Semon, which were usually very cartoom-like (Semon used to be a cartoonist in real life) and with expensive special effects. It is also uncommon to see a studio spoofing each other.
In this film, we see a mix of usual 1910s gags, like people running and falling on water from a pier together with more uncommon gags, like the one where Semon flirted with a woman by holding her hand behind na unbrella and all that the audiences could see were shades of the hands, among other interesting stuff. The pace is also slower than those of traditional slapstick comedies, even when total chaos happened.
It is also noteworthy to see that the initial gag of a guy hidden on the sand with a “monocle” was also used in other 1920s shorts, specially by comedian Billy Bevan, with quite funny effects. The gags were also innovative for its era, making the most of sunny beaches, beautiful girls and flirty guys.
Another remarkable thing is the insensitive jokes on both black and chubby people, back to a era when being politically correct was not a habit. The gag towards the black woman and how offended Semon was upon realizing he was flirting with her and her answer in a intertitle with a clearly substandard English is even disturbing for nowadays’ standards.
The plot itself is very simple and it revolved about Semon trying to impress the father of his sweetheart by staging a fake robbery, but unfortunately a real crime happened and he had to solve this problem.
This cute, weird comedy provides lots of fun and it is the witness of the culture of a era when attending the beach to swim and getting a tan was slowly becoming more common and how it could still be daring for some people. A lifestyle that was gone a long time ago, but quite enjoyable anyway.