John Bunny seems to have been the first popular American screen comedian. By 1915, Bunny would be dead and Charlie Chaplin was becoming the top clown. Most of these short comedies from the early 1910s and before don't seem funny today, so their main appeal now is mostly historical. Bunny preceded Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle to the screen the good-natured fat man type. Working for the Vitagraph Company, Bunny's comedy wasn't the knockabout slapstick that Keystone and others made, which is where Arbuckle and Chaplin began, although Bunny still occasionally hits a few people. His films were more situational and plot oriented; at two reels, "Hearts and Diamonds" is longer than most early comedies and allows more time for narrative.
In this two-reeler, Bunny courts the wealthy Miss Whipple (played by his usual leading lady, who's contrastingly tall and thin, Flora Finch). He hides his daughters with their uncle because he believes Miss Whipple will favor a bachelor over a widower. He plays in a rigged baseball exhibition game because of her stated adoration of ballplayers. Some of it's tiresome, but, overall, not a bad comedy for 1914. The gags involving the near-deafness of the uncle work the best.
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