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American Slapstick

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* Format: Box set, Black & White, DVD-Video, Silent, NTSC

Irreverent, anarchic, and truly American! These are the silent comedians: immigrants, outcasts and hard-up outsiders who personified the American Dream, becoming movie stars, heroes, icons. And here are their films! If you're looking for subtlety and refinement, drop this disc and run away. Inside, expect to find: exploding cars, innocent bystanders smacked in the head with hammers, underwear models chased by cross-dressing villains, auctioneers crawling across airplane wings to retrieve false teeth, memory-impaired lovers, somnambulists, drunken reprobates, deranged acrobats, and the Keystone Kops.

17 new-to-DVD silent comedy classics and archival rarities! The first film directed by Charlie Chaplin! The best film by his brother Syd--never before on home video, never on TV, never seen before now! Early screen appearances by Harold Lloyd and Stan Laurel! Billy West, The Cubic-Chaplin-Zirconia of silent film, running amok with Oliver Hardy! Landmark shorts by such comedians as Charley Chase, Snub Pollard, Billy Bevan, and Larry Semon! Sexy comedienne Frances Lee chasing her stolen nightie! PDF reprint of original 1915 Chaplin promotional book! Scores by Ben Model and one film, "The Bond" by Bernie Anderson. The Bond is also included on the "Great Ware and Little Tramp" Collection

THE LANGDON COLLECTION

 

"...the most complex screen character of all the great clowns..." - William K. Everson

Presented with terrific music scores performed by Bernie Anderson on the Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ!

Often considered in the same pantheon as Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd - Harry Langdon is practically forgotten today. For a short period in the mid-to-late 1920s he was a serious rival to the aforementioned big three with over twenty comedies for producer Mack Sennett, followed by three classic features for First National. The features are available on DVD from Kino as "Harry Langdon...the forgotten clown", but the Sennett films have been unavailable on DVD - until now....

This collection presents five of Langdon's best films from the Sennett Studios - showcasing his childlike elfin character in all his glory! All the films were directed by Harry Edwards - with writing by none other than the legendary Frank Capra. Each film features a magnificent Wurlitzer Theatre pipe organ score by Bernie Anderson, Jr. - which really brings these films to life. When played on your stereo, these rich digital recordings provide a near theatrical experience in your own home!

FEET OF MUD (1924) Harry dreams of winning the hand of his girl while benched at the college football game. After winning the game through sheer luck, her father gets him a job as a city street cleaner. Gags and chaos ensue as Harry makes his way from Times Square to Chinatown where he encounters sinister goings-on, replete with a Tong War!

 

 

LUCKY STARS (1925) Advised by a stargazer to follow his destiny, wandering Harry (and his life savings) are taken under the wing of a medicine show charlatan (Vernon Dent). They settle in a Spanish town to ply their trade, but the local druggists' daughter has other ideas. Don't miss Harry's infatuation with a mug of beer!

 

 

SATURDAY AFTERNOON (1926) Henpecked working husband Harry is coerced by a dandy pal (Vernon Dent) to go out on a clandestine double date. Of course, no good will come of the situation, as they encounter streetwalkers, bumpy roads, and the former boyfriends of their dates. And just when things couldn't get worse, the wife shows up! A classic.

 

 

FIDDLESTICKS (1926) Poverty driven Harry is compelled to learn to play the bass fiddle and become a musician. His teacher (Vernon Dent) and family forsake him, so he tries his hand as a street player.....with detritus thrown at him from every window he plays under. A junk man (also Vernon Dent) takes notice and enters into a bizarre yet highly successful partnership with Harry.

 

 

SOLDIER MAN (1926) The Great World War is over - but nobody bothered to tell Harry - who is still wandering the front. After an episode with a cow and dynamite leaves him unscathed, he is nabbed by nefarious powers to be the puppet double of the King of Bomania!

Music scores composed and performed by Bernie Anderson on the Kopp Residence 4/23 Wurlitzer Theatre Organ!

THE GREAT WAR AND THE LITTLE TRAMP

 

Before World War II there was of course....World War I (and prior to WWII, it was known as "The Great War" - which gives one some idea of the gravitis this war once held in the public consciousness.) This DVD offers some important filmic documents of the period.

AMERICA GOES OVER is "The first officially released picture record of our part in the World War compiled by military experts." Our War Department made available this feature assemblage of riveting and remarkable footage (including scenes of combat) chronicling our WWI involvement, to the home market in 1927 (quite possibly to mark the 10th anniversary of America's entry into the fray.)

 

 

SHOULDER ARMS (1918) was Charlie Chaplin's three-reel gift to survivors of The Great War. The comedy was released to great acclaim and success shortly before Armistice and provided very welcome laughter, particularly to returning soldiers. Charlie plays a lowly private who finds himself in the trenches of France, where living conditions are hilariously horrendous. Some of the many highlights include Charlie trying to sleep in flooded quarters, spying as a tree (!) behind enemy lines and posing as a German officer in disguise. The edition presented here is the Pathe reissue from the early 20s and is markedly different (and arguably superior) in takes, camera angles and performances than the later reconstituted version presented in 1959's THE CHAPLIN REVUE.

 

 

THE BOND (1918) [aka "Charlie Chaplin in a Liberty Loan Appeal"] Charlie Chaplin was one of a number of Hollywood stars who made live appearances at bond rallies, using their celebrity and popularity to raise funds for the war effort. Chaplin also made this one-reel film to be exhibited expressly for that same purpose. Charlie appears in a series of stylized comic vignettes that demonstrate the bonds of friendship, love, marriage...and the Liberty Bond. Charlie's brother Sydney appears as The Kaiser - a role he also played in SHOULDER ARMS.

THE SINKING OF THE LUSITANIA (1918) was created by the legendary pioneer animator Winsor McCay and remains a milestone of fluid animation as well as one of the most powerful pieces of wartime propaganda ever created. Despite being released over three years after the actual sinking in May 1915 - the film managed to pack a visceral emotional punch in much the same way that many of the most powerful wartime posters of the day accomplished.

Both films are accompanied by Bernie Anderson on the Union County Arts Center (formerly known as the Rahway Theatre) 2/7 Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ

Made in New Jersey Double Feature!
THE BELOVED BLACKMAILER (1918)
A GIRL'S FOLLY (1917)

 

THE BELOVED BLACKMAILER starring Carlyle Blackwell, Evelyn Greeley and Jack Drumier. Produced in Fort Lee, NJ and directed by Dell Henderson. An ultra-rare Reelclassicdvd exclusive! Tired of doctors and his over-protective mother, a wealthy young man convinces his former college football coach to kidnap him, and make a man out of him at an athletic training camp. Little does he suspect that his girlfriend has come up with the same plan to save her father from financial ruin! A rare, delightful comedy gem!

 

A GIRL'S FOLLY starring Robert Warwick, Doris Kenyon and Chester Barnett. Produced in Fort Lee, NJ and directed by Maurice Tournier. Released elsewhere in an abridged version, this is the complete feature film. A country girl meets a handsome movie star while his company is filming on location. He convinces her to leave her rustic home and return with him to become a star herself. A charming comic film, famous for its behind the scenes footage of filmmaking in New Jersey. Beautifully filmed with the "Tournier touch". Some nitrate decomposition is visible.

Both films are accompanied by Bernie Anderson on the Union County Arts Center (formerly known as the Rahway Theatre) 2/7 Wurlitzer Theatre Organ!

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