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The Hansom Cabman (1924)

7.7
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Harry Doolittle wakes up on the day he's to marry Betty Bright. He has a terrible hangover. A strange woman appears in his room saying that he married her the night before, and just then, ... See full summary »

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Title: The Hansom Cabman (1924)

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Cast

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A Bachelor
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His Fiancee
Charlotte Mineau ...
Her Mother
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Her Father
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The Vamp
Leo Sulky ...
A Butler
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Storyline

Harry Doolittle wakes up on the day he's to marry Betty Bright. He has a terrible hangover. A strange woman appears in his room saying that he married her the night before, and just then, his fiancée and her mother arrive. There's anger all around, leading to Harry's arrest. He's jailed while awaiting trial in front of Betty's father, a judge. She visits him in the clink. He escapes and disguises himself as a cabman. The police are looking for him, as are his fiancée and her mother. Will it get straightened out in time for wedding bells to ring? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Short | Comedy

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12 October 1924 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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During the courtroom sequence, the calendar on the judge's desk reads May 19, 1924, as seen in a medium shot. In a closer shot, the calendar suddenly reads May 19, 1925. See more »

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User Reviews

 
A hansom comedy
15 September 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Here is a wonderful Harry Langdon short that sees the great comedian's lost-innocent character totally at a loss to deal with the chaos and malice that results when he is framed as a bigamist for money by his butler. It's a really great example of how Harry can take even scenes where there are few actual jokes or gags and work some kind of comedy necromancy on them to make them hilarious. He's the incongruously still calm in the middle of the storm of violence and ill-will around him. The only time he does try violence, hitting his wife over the head with a bottle, he does it with a hilariously dainty gesture as if he has tapped her with a magic wand, and them charmingly switches without delay to taking care of her and putting her to bed. Of course, this kindness is repayed with a return bottle to the head.

Nobody could do what Harry did -- drawing out one gag for minutes and allowing its humor to build the whole time. This film is a little episodic and Harry's career as a cabman (something it is neat actually to see on screen for a Sherlock Holmes fan such as myself) has scant real connection to the rest of the film, but it's not what matters -- the madder what goes on around Harry is, the funnier and somehow more poignant is placidity is.

There are a lot of wonderful moments here, which are what really make this short memorable for me. Harry's volunteering of the gun immediately after being caught with the second wife he never took and show-bravado in self-sacrifice (and then his metal -pan trick to save himself), and even little gestures like his volunteering of his shoulder to allow himself to be dragged off to jail, are utterly wonderful and charming.

My favorite little moment involved Andy Clyde (who played two of his many miscellaneous roles in this film) as a crazy man talking to a drawing of a man on the wall of the jail. Andy introduces Harry to him, and Harry mimes shaking the drawing's hand heartily. It's funny, and it's a perfect character moment. Harry isn't CRAZY, but he trustingly accepts what the crazy man says without knowing he's crazy.

Harry's characteristic style seems completely present or almost so, giving the lie, as frequently observed, to the old idea that it was invented by Frank Capra.

Harry's support is good here. Look for a scene where Harry fiancée Marceline Day faints onto an obviously very heavily padded couch, which flattens out in the next shot. Maybe she bruised easily. There's a very fun and somewhat uncharacteristic stunt sequence with Harry riding standing on top of cars.

It's wonderful to be able to see this film as it was thought lost for many years until discovered in a Dutch archive, restored, and released on DVD as part of "Lost and Found: The Harry Langdon Collection." It's a lovely little film, so let me take this opportunity to thank heartily the restorers and archivists who allow us to watch it today!


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