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A Clever Dummy (1917)

 -  Short | Comedy  -  15 July 1917 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.0/10 from 76 users  
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Dummy inventor Samuel Tinker has just developed a new life-sized mechanical dummy. He and his partner, Peter Clay, modeled the dummy after a janitor in their building. While the inventor's ... See full summary »


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Complete credited cast:
Ben Turpin ...
A Romantic Janitor
Chester Conklin ...
A Playful Property Man
Patrick Cohen - a Vaudeville Manager
Juanita Hansen ...
A Leading Lady
Claire Anderson ...
Tinker's Daughter - An Object of Affection
James Donnelly ...
Samuel Tinker - Her Inventive Father
James Delano ...
Clarence - His Interested Partner (as James DeLano)


Dummy inventor Samuel Tinker has just developed a new life-sized mechanical dummy. He and his partner, Peter Clay, modeled the dummy after a janitor in their building. While the inventor's daughter is in love and engaged to Clay, the janitor pines for the daughter. A misunderstanding breaks up the partnership, and Tinker forbids his daughter from marrying his now ex-partner. But the daughter hopes a possible lucrative purchase of the dummy from a vaudeville company will be the impetus for her father and Clay to mend their differences, and for them again to be married. The janitor, who sees this rift as an opportunity, hatches his own plan to be near the one he loves, the plan which involves him taking the place of the dummy. Not wanting to blow his cover, the janitor keeps on masquerading as the dummy even after the sale to the vaudeville company. A life-like dummy with a mind of his own on the loose has its own consequences. Written by Huggo

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Short | Comedy





Release Date:

15 July 1917 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Automatic Figure  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Clever It Is
19 September 2012 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

A Clever Dummy (1917)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

An inventor creates a mechanical dummy modeled after a moron (Ben Turpin) who lives in the basement. A vaudeville owner comes to take a look at the dummy but the human dummy replaces himself with it and that night he ends up taking the stage. A CLEVER DUMMY isn't all that clever but it's story is decent enough to where you can get a few laughs at it but it's clear that Turpin is the star of this picture. I was really amazed to see how well he did in the physical portion of the film and especially towards the end when he's up on the stage doing all sorts of tricks. I thought these moments were the highlight of the film because the actor was pretty much just set free to do whatever he wanted. This led to some funny stuff including the "dummy" going back out on stage once the pretty girls started their dance. We're also treated to some fun supporting performances including Chester Conklin and his mustache as well as Wallace Beery in a small role. The film is certainly far from a classic or even a good one for that matter. There simply wasn't enough laughs but it's still worth seeing for Turpin's performance.

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