|Index||4 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
100 years ago Mack Sennett started producing comedy shorts like this
one. While all of them can not be classics like Charlie Chaplin,
Sennett had a flair for entertaining with more than just the depth of a
slap stick comedy.
The romance of the manicure shows some of the basics of things to come. It is the 10th short that Mack Directed. As with many early films there are scenes where the actors and actresses heads are cut off. Vivian Prescott who would do 206 short films from 1909 to 1917 is the manicure lady and shows that she is an actress who fits well in the early comedy mold.
Amazingly a recent restoration of the film brings out the picture well enough that it is easier to read some of the signs on the walls in the scenes which often make more comment about the times than the actors or the story. Overall a decent effort here.
This comedy is a bit unusual because in his earliest directorial
assignments for Biograph Studios, Mack Sennett not only was behind the
camera but starred in the short films. Now at first sight you might not
think this is Sennett, as he bore a rather strong similarity in look to
the very famous French comic, Max Linder. I don't know if Sennett
cultivated this look on purpose or if it was just chance.
Sennett works as a barber and he's obviously in love with the manicurist. The problem is that lots of men coming to the salon really like her and one rich guy in particular pursues her. Eventually, Sennett has had enough of watching the two of them and springs into action--leading to a pretty amazing moving shot for 1911. Not a brilliant comedy but unlike many of the day, it tells a complete story and is MUCH more plot-driven than usual and has none of the usual bonking and slapping. Worth your time.
It's fairly typical flirting in this comedy, as pretty Vivian Prescott
is torn between Eddie Dillon (who would take over the Biograph comedy
unit after Sennett departed for Keystone) and unhappy barber Mack
Sennett, who can't compete on those terms with a rich dude, at least
until he rescues her from the clutches of the dastardly fellow and his
chauffeured car. Sennett tosses Dillon and his driver out and slips a
ring on the lady's finger.
Sennett's Biographs are much more naturalistic and restrained than his work at Keystone. Part may have been that his wild slapstick may have been tough to get by the bosses -- even though Griffith directed THE CURTAIN POLE from Sennett's script in 1908 -- but I suspect had more to do with the wardrobe department. A clown, ran the understandings of the time, had to look bizarre, and given that they were costuming the cast from the same department as Griffith, they wore normal clothes in which people looked good. Decent for 1911 but not a patch on what Sennett would produce on his own.
The manicure lady (Vivian Prescott) spurns the barber (Mack Sennett)
and dates a rich cad instead.
Of the early Mack Sennett films, at least those that have survived, this one is not all that interesting. I suppose it is somewhat interesting how he made a point of having leading ladies... once upon a time it was not all men in cinema. Is Vivian Prescott a big name? No. But it is still interesting.
But this is not as funny as "The Curtain Pole" or as important historically as "Dash Through the Clouds", so unless you need to see every Sennett film, you can skip it.
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