WHEN COMEDY WAS KING
(director/writer: Robert Youngson; music: Ted Royal; cast: Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, Ben Turpin, Fatty Arbuckle, Wallace Beery, Gloria Swanson, Mabel Normand, The Keystone Cops, Charlie Chase, Edgar Kennedy, The Sennett Girls, Stuart Erwin, Andy Clyde, Chester Conklin, Snub Pollard, Al St. John, Jimmy Finlayson, Billy Devan, Mack Swain, Madeline Hurlock, Vernon Dent, Bobby Vernon, Keystone Teddy, Harry Langdon; Runtime: 81; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Robert Youngson; 20th Century Fox; 1960)
“Homage documentary on the noteworthy silent era comics.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Robert Youngson (“The Golden Age of Comedy”/”Days of Thrills and Laughter”/”30 Years of Fun”)is writer/director/producer of this homage documentary on the noteworthy silent era comics. It’s a compilation of funny scenes from that golden era of comedy, that has every great comic except for Harold Lloyd–he owned his own films and was making his own film about his career, the reason he refused to be in this one. It starts off in 1914 with the Mack Sennett studio and how their shorts featured the Keystone Cops and in whose studio both Charlie Chaplin and Fatty Arbuckle reached fame.
It shows how slapstick and the sight gag got started, with the often filmed chase scenes and pie fights. It ends showing the classic 1929 Laurel and Hardy “Big Business,” who get into a jam selling Christmas trees in Southern California.
The film shows its love for the three great comedians of the silents: Charlie Chaplin as the Tramp (archive footage edited from ‘His Trysting Place,’ ‘The Masquerader,’ and ‘Kid Auto at Venice’); Harry Langdon as the baby-faced comedian (archive footage edited from The First Hundred Years); and, my favorite, Buster Keaton as the Great Stone Face (archive footage edited from ‘Cops’). It’s invaluable for those who are in need of nostalgia and want to get a sniff of how those comics operated and also for those who fondly remember those great films, but is a weak substitute for seeing the original films.
It’s narrated by Dwight Weist.
REVIEWED ON 11/8/2010 GRADE: B-