The Liars Club is holding their contest to see who can tell the most unbelievable story, with a gold medallion waiting to be awarded to the winner. Disappointed with the other members' ... See full summary »
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Mr. Bowers (as Charley Bowers)
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Storyline

The Liars Club is holding their contest to see who can tell the most unbelievable story, with a gold medallion waiting to be awarded to the winner. Disappointed with the other members' bland efforts, one member brings in Charley Bowers, who has an extraordinary tale to tell. Charley claims to have invented a magic potion that enables him to grow absolutely anything by a simple grafting process, and he proceeds to tell his story to the club. Written by Snow Leopard

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surrealism | stop motion | See All (2) »

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Short | Comedy

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Release Date:

27 December 1926 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Fifth in a series of 13 Whirlwind Comedies produced by Charles R. Bowers. See more »

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This film is a MUST for fans of animation, silent comedy, and Le Cinema Bizarre!
8 January 2005 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

Although I've been a silent comedy buff practically all my life I never heard of Charley Bowers until quite recently, but after one look at his amazing two-reel short Now You Tell One I wanted to see as much of his work as I could find. Take my word for it, once you see a Charley Bowers film you'll want to see more, and you'll want to know more about the guy, too. Unfortunately, several of his films are missing, and biographical info about the man is sparse, but as in recent years, as interest in this unusual artist has grown, all of his surviving movies have been restored and released on home video and DVD. I've managed to see several of Bowers' other comedies, but keep coming back to this one, which I feel stands as his most accomplished and surreal comedy.

The premise is ideal for Bowers' off-the-wall imagination: the story concerns an organization known as the Liars' Club, whose members bestow an annual award upon the Champion Liar. The film kicks off with three brief whoppers related by club members (one of which involves impressive animation depicting a herd of elephants marching into the U.S. Capitol building), but this is merely a warm-up for the main event. Once Charley arrives on the scene and launches into his own tall tale we're truly in Never Never Land, with imagery that rivals Salvador Dali's most feverish nightmares. And make no mistake, what Bowers gives us is more dream-like than funny, in the traditional sense, although you may well laugh at the sheer craziness of it all. The imagery includes boots that lace themselves, a straw hat that sprouts on a man's head, terrorist mice firing pistols, a Christmas tree -- complete with ornaments and tinsel -- which grows before our eyes from the handle of a farmer's plow, and, most disturbing of all, a pussy willow sprig that produces actual cats. When it's all over you may feel the way you do after viewing the most outrageous Fleischer cartoons, goggle-eyed and dazed.

This fascinating film was first made widely available a few years ago as part of Kino's "Slapstick Encyclopedia" video collection, where it was included in a cassette of the more offbeat or semi-forgotten comedians. Seen in this context, alongside the comparatively famous Ben Turpin and Larry Semon, Bowers' obscurity is all the more bewildering. The guy was so original, so amazingly creative, why wasn't he better known? His work jumps right out at you, but maybe that in itself was the problem -- perhaps he was just too weird for widespread, mainstream appreciation. Whatever it was, we're lucky that any of Charley Bowers' work survives at all, and movie buffs with an interest in silent comedy, animation, or screen surrealism should make it a priority to see his films and spread the word about this unsung, eccentric artiste!


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