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Fatal Footsteps (1926)

Charley is obsessed with learning the Charleston, so he can enter and win a local contest, which promises a large prize and the hand in marriage of a beautiful woman.



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Cast overview:
Bricolo (as Charley Bowers)


Charley is driving everyone in the house nuts with his destructive Charleston lessons, but he is intent on winning a local dance contest. Despite some major setbacks (injuries and sabotaging housemates, not to mention that a local anti-dance organization is run by the head of the household), Charley invents some unique shoes with clever built-in modifications to ensure his success at the contest. Written by Mark Toscano <fiddybop@yahoo.com>

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Plot Keywords:

dance | charleston dance | See All (2) »


Short | Comedy





Release Date:

29 November 1926 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Le Roi du Charleston  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Fourth in a series of 13 Whirlwind Comedies produced by Charles R. Bowers. See more »

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User Reviews

Charley goes Charleston-crazy
6 October 2006 | by See all my reviews

One of the funniest and most satisfying Charley Bowers films, FATAL FOOTSTEPS satirizes the Charleston craze of the twenties. It lacks the awe-inspiring special effects and far-out surrealism of his best work, but makes up for it in sheer fun. Charley always plays a man with a monomania, and this time it's his determination to win a dance contest. He practices obsessively, chalking elaborate dance diagrams on the floor, but his style looks less like the Charleston and more like St. Vitus's Dance. Just seeing this earnest, awkward fellow hopping around in the manner of a Mexican jumping bean is good for a lot of laughs. He causes plaster to rain down in his landlord's parlor and finally dances right through the wall of his second-story bedroom. While recovering from the fall, he invents a pair of shoes stuffed with springs and gears that dance all by themselves (an image foreshadowing Fred Astaire's "Shoes with Wings" number in The Barkley of Broadway thirty years later.) When his dour landlord, the head of a local society to stamp out immoral dancing, accidentally puts the shoes on, he gets up on the table and starts jigging uncontrollably. There's some genuinely impressive eccentric dancing at the competition, but no one can beat Charley in his souped-up shoes. Meanwhile, the landlord's fat daughter nurses a crush on Charley, and what initially seems like a cruel characterization turns into a sweet romance, one of the few convincing ones in a Bowers film. A true eccentric, Charley Bowers was always a marginal figure in silent comedy, and was completely forgotten until the 1950s, when a film archivist in Toulouse, collecting old movies from itinerant gypsy performers, came upon some reels labeled simply "Bricolo." It took years to identify Bricolo as the French nickname for Charley Bowers (a good choice, since "bricolage" is something put together out of odds and ends, and "bricoleur" is someone who potters or does odd jobs). Bowers started out as a cartoonist and animator, then began making live-action films, featuring himself but really starring his extremely skillful stop-motion animation process, which he used to create dream-like, mind-boggling imagery like cars hatching out of eggs, live cats growing out of pussy-willow bushes, and—at the end of FATAL FOOTSTEPS—a goldfish doing the Charleston. Many of Bowers' comedies have sour, downbeat endings, but FATAL FOOTSTEPS is bubbly as a glass of champagne. It will make you feel like dancing.

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