Cinema Across Media: The 1920s
Friday, February 25, 2011
7:00 p.m. Silent Comedies of the 1920s
Paolo Cherchi Usai
Judith Rosenberg on Piano
Paolo Cherchi Usai is director of the Haghefilm Foundation in Amsterdam.
Thousands of short comedies were produced in the United States during the 1920s, but only a handful have acquired “canonical” status, thanks especially to iconic personalities such as Buster Keaton and Laurel and Hardy. Other stars have been rediscovered in recent years, such as Max Davidson, whose deadpan masterpiece Pass the Gravy has become a festival hit. The vast majority of American slapstick, however, still awaits proper restoration or is available only through copies of uneven quality. Fortunately, the collaboration between film collectors, archives, and museums is gradually bearing fruit. Among the jewels deserving a fresh look are Springtime Saps, with its outlandish gag involving Billy Bevan and a pair of female stockings, and Should Men Walk Home, in which Mabel Normand and Oliver Hardy (sans Stan Laurel) find themselves in trouble—for different reasons—in the course of a cocktail party.
—Paolo Cherchi Usai
Springtime Saps (Les Goodwin, U.S., 1927, 23 mins, Silent with English intertitles, B&W, 35mm, Preserved print courtesy of the Library of Congress). Should Men Walk Home? (Leo McCarey, U.S., 1927, 20 mins, Silent with English intertitles, B&W, 35mm, From British Film Institute). Pass the Gravy (Fred L. Guiol, U.S., 1928, 22 mins, Silent with English intertitles, B&W, 35mm, From George Eastman House)
• Total running time: 105 mins including lecture
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