Because James Agee told us so sixty years ago! ("Comedy's Greatest Era," LIFE Magazine, Issue of September 5, 1949)
Now that we've had the "smart-assery by the Pros", I'd like to take a serious and hopefully non-pedantic stab at the rest of the questions, after which the Pros are welcome to slice, dice and make julienne fries out of them.
David B Pearson wrote:Other obvious ones...
Why is ranking beyond that utterly pointless? Why isn't (Fill in the blank) up there with the "Big Three?"
Hey, Robert Youngson tried to make Langdon one of the "Big Three" didn't he? Probably because he couldn't score any Lloyd footage.
The whole ranking thing is pointless because then you have to explain your reasons for the ranking, and before you're even three sentences in, the rest of us are bored stiff. Better than ranking is, "Hey, I just saw my first (Fill in the blank) comedy, and it was a RIOT! I'd like to see more of (name)!"
David B Pearson wrote:Where is the line between a short comedy and a feature comedy.
If there's more than four reels, it's a feature. If it's three reels or less, it's a short. If it's four reels exactly, it's an indulgence.
David B Pearson wrote:Where's the Girl comics forums? Like Dorothy Gish, Dutch Talmadge and Colleen Moore?
Somebody should have asked Agee that question sixty years ago!
David B Pearson wrote:Why aren't there plots in Larry Semon films?
Thrice I have been to theatrical screenings where laughter threatened to blow down the walls around us. One of them was a showing of Semon's "The Bakery." Believe me, that audience didn't give two hoots in hell about a plot. (The other two screenings involved Tex Avery cartoons.)
David B Pearson wrote:Why was Roscoe Arbuckle called Fatty when Mack Swain outweighed him by at least 50 pounds?
Swain looked big and threatening. You don't call a man like that "Fatty" unless you don't want your teeth anymore. By contrast, Arbuckle looked round and jolly.
David B Pearson wrote:Why is Harry Langdon's face so white?
Hey, you'd look like that, too, if Frank Capra was draining the life's blood out of your creativity! Seriously, it's just "clown face" makeup, and everyone used it; some less obviously than others.
David B Pearson wrote:Why is Lloyd Hamilton so much better without Bud Duncan?
Someone else will have to take a stab at this one...
David B Pearson wrote:Why are Laurel and Hardy so darned funny?
Because they're so darned lovable. And if you don't know why they're so lovable, then you haven't seen any of their films, in which case we can no longer help you.
David B Pearson wrote:Why didn't Lupino Lane make it bigger than he did?
Probably because he lacked the intuition to create a memorable character, and depended upon second-echelon talents to guide his destiny. In baseball terms, lack of run support.
David B Pearson wrote:Why is the sky blue, yet looks white on silent film?
Now, that's just silly... it looks white in talkies, too!
David B Pearson wrote:What's a reel anyway?
Approximately ten minutes of film, give or take a minute or two.
David B Pearson wrote:Why did somebody dunk this film into brown and/or blue dye?
Well, blue dye to offset that "white sky" problem you mentioned earlier. Especially for night scenes, as these had to be shot during the day so everyone would be properly lit (I'm not referring to alcohol, here), but you still want your audience to think it's nighttime. I don't think I've ever seen brown dye. Amber, yes, but BROWN???
David B Pearson wrote:What is under/over cranking?
Silent cameras were hand-cranked. Cameramen would turn the crank more slowly (undercrank) so that, when projected, the action appear faster than normal. Vice-versa for overcranking.
David B Pearson wrote:Why didn't Griffith make great comedies? (DW, not Raymond)
Because comedy wasn't his forte. Although, having viewed "Birth of a Nation" as part of a high school film class, you couldn't tell it by US!