Slapsticon Notes: TAKING THE COUNT (1929) Ben Turpin

Interact with your favorite SCM authors, producers, directors, historians, archivists and silent comedy savants. Or just read along. Whatever.
Richard M Roberts
Godfather
Posts: 2040
Joined: Sun May 31, 2009 6:30 pm

Slapsticon Notes: TAKING THE COUNT (1929) Ben Turpin

Postby Richard M Roberts » Tue Oct 09, 2018 3:02 am

TAKING THE COUNT (Weiss Brothers- Artclass released 1929)

Director: Jess Robbins

Cast: Ben Turpin, Leo White, Addie McPhail.

Here’s another rare Weiss Brother epic starring former Sennett Superstar Ben Turpin, picking up a buck after the end of his career as Mack’s biggest money-maker of the twenties. Here Ben is mistaken for royalty at a swank dinner-party (well, swank by Weiss standards) where he wreaks havoc until the real Count shows up, who is, in fact, venerable supporting comic and Turpin’s former Essanay and Chaplin collaborator Leo White, expert in fussy-frenchmen portrayals and generally troublesome European types. White had been displaying coute’ hauteur in comedies for more than a decade, he probably owned his own top-hats and Von Stroheim uniforms.

As may have been said before, the nice thing about Ben Turpin’s work at Weiss was that, due to financial limitations and the lack of Sennett’s Special Effects Department, Ben was actually forced to perform far harder than his usual just showing up, putting on the Parka, Cowboy Hat or Rodney St. Clair costumes and look unlikely in whatever exotic locale Sennett’s gagmen had put him into this week. Despite what some contemporaries interviews may have intimated, Turpin was a capable comic, perhaps not on a Chaplin or Stan Laurel level (though he had held his own with the former), but certainly on-par with most others, despite the fact that he was nearing sixty years of age during his Weiss period and still performing physical comedy with impressive agility.

Turpin’s leading lady in TAKING THE COUNT is the statuesque Addie McPhail, who would also be the future wife and widow of Roscoe Arbuckle. Addie had come to movies in 1927, following a disastrous marriage to musician Lindsey McPhail that left her estranged from her husband and wit a child to support. Silent comedy beckoned the tall beauty, and she had been busy in the Stern Brothers Comedies when she detoured over to the Weiss Brothers, who seemed to have a number of connections with the Sterns. Addie’s height made her an imposing foil for Turpin and other comics, and she had moved to Educational when talkies came in where Addie worked in films directed by Arbuckle. Though her marriage to Roscoe would last only a year, ending with his death in June, 1933, Addie lived to a very ripe old age, passing away just recently in 2003 and doing what she could to keep alive Roscoe’s memory and fight the sometimes viscious rumors surrounding his scandal.

TAKING THE COUNT is, like all Weiss Brother Comedies, no breathtaking masterpiece of humor, but this bread and butter product still entertains, with pros like Turpin and White reunited with one more alumni of the Essanay Days, Director Jess Robbins, doing what they spent their lives learning to do well. As the Silent Era came to a close, the Weiss Brothers became one of the last outposts for this kind of comedy, and therefore deserve some sort of light nod in appreciation for carrying the rapidly extinguishing torch.


RICHARD M ROBERTS

Steve Rydzewski
Associate
Posts: 104
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 12:12 pm

Re: Slapsticon Notes: TAKING THE COUNT (1929) Ben Turpin

Postby Steve Rydzewski » Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:10 pm

Years ago I had a complete and gorgeous print of this one, Richard. Later it was one of several I had sold to a 16mm comedy collector named Dan Bursik. It's not one of Ben's best for the little company, agreed, but would have been great to see again on Weiss-A-Rama Two. Also in the cast were Joe Bonner and Alfred Hewston (aka Houston), and I actually think this was Turpin's first for the Brothers Weiss.

Years later when I bought a 35mm reel from Turpin's estate (priorly in the possession of Ben's 3rd wife Babette's nephew Herbert Dietz's widow, Hazel), the film included a couple minutes of outtakes from "Taking the Count" among other things. It was on the same reel as that early 30's Turpin promo, "Coming In Person" that Chris put on one of Unknown Videos DVDs, that I wish someone would upload to YouTube.

Take care Richard!

- SteveR

Richard M Roberts
Godfather
Posts: 2040
Joined: Sun May 31, 2009 6:30 pm

Re: Slapsticon Notes: TAKING THE COUNT (1929) Ben Turpin

Postby Richard M Roberts » Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:28 pm

Steve Rydzewski wrote:Years ago I had a complete and gorgeous print of this one, Richard. Later it was one of several I had sold to a 16mm comedy collector named Dan Bursik. It's not one of Ben's best for the little company, agreed, but would have been great to see again on Weiss-A-Rama Two. Also in the cast were Joe Bonner and Alfred Hewston (aka Houston), and I actually think this was Turpin's first for the Brothers Weiss.

Years later when I bought a 35mm reel from Turpin's estate (priorly in the possession of Ben's 3rd wife Babette's nephew Herbert Dietz's widow, Hazel), the film included a couple minutes of outtakes from "Taking the Count" among other things. It was on the same reel as that early 30's Turpin promo, "Coming In Person" that Chris put on one of Unknown Videos DVDs, that I wish someone would upload to YouTube.

Take care Richard!

- SteveR


Hi Steve, it was my nice old original on TAKING THE COUNT we showed at Slapsticon, but I don't believe it was Turpin's first for the Weiss's, but it was one of the first as all the ones directed by Jess Robbins were the first handful he made.

Chris Snowden is a mafia member, maybe we could convince him to upload it to Youtube.

RICHARD M ROBERTS


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests