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Saturday Afternoon (1926)

Passed | | Comedy, Short | 31 January 1926 (USA)
Henpecked husband Harry is coerced by a good time pal to go on a clandestine double date. Of course, no good will come of this, as they encounter streetwalkers, bumpy roads, and a couple of toughs previously jilted by their dates.

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(story and scenario), (story and scenario) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Harry Higgins
Alice Ward ...
Mrs. Harry Higgins
...
Steve Smith
...
Pearl
Peggy Montgomery ...
Ruby
Leo Willis ...
Rival Boyfriend
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Storyline

Harry and his friend have planned to go out for an afternoon of fun. But first, Harry must figure out how to slip away from his domineering wife with some money to spend. Once he finally does get away, he finds that his troubles are only beginning. Written by Snow Leopard

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Comedy | Short

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Passed
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31 January 1926 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Repos hebdomadaire  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

Steve Smith picks up a magazine and flips through it. In the next shot, it has disappeared. See more »

Quotes

[first title card]
Title Card: In 1864 when Lincoln declared all men free and equal, did he, or did he not, include husbands?
See more »

Connections

Featured in Frank Capra's American Dream (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A pleasant half-hour with Harry Langdon
23 December 2001 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

Harry Langdon's Saturday Afternoon is often ranked among the best and best-known silent comedies, at least in the short subject category, and therefore may come as a bit of a letdown for some. Unlike some of the other widely recognized classics such as Keaton's Cops or Chaplin's Easy Street this film is in most respects a conventional situation comedy, certainly engaging and amusing but not chock-full of belly laughs; one may even wonder whether Langdon belongs in such rarefied company. I believe he does. Allowing for the familiarity of the premise this a perfectly charming comedy played in a minor-key, and Harry is fascinating to watch.

For a modern viewer raised on TV sitcoms the plot of Saturday Afternoon may suggest The Honeymooners or its many spin-offs: two dim guys, one of whom is married and very much under his wife's thumb, try to sneak out with a couple of good-time girls for a fun afternoon. Everything goes wrong however, and they wind up having to fight the girls' tough guy boyfriends. Does this sound familiar? The premise may have been shopworn when this film was new, but beyond that nothing about Langdon was typical. He was odd, starting with the fact that he looked like a middle-aged baby who was half asleep. Any Freudians watching him here will have a field day with the scenes between this timid, pudgy-faced baby-man and his stern, gently domineering mommy-wife. See in particular the sequence when Harry tries to hide money under the rug, and the Missus catches him in the act and forces him to hand it over. You'd swear you're watching an interaction between a 6 year-old boy and his Mama. Maybe that's why Harry Langdon gave some people the creeps, and why some viewers still find him hard to take.

But he's a compelling screen presence, and it's not what he does so much as the way he does it. In that scene with the money under the rug, for instance, Harry finds the coins by placing one foot before the other, carefully, like a tightrope walker, counting off his paces until he finds the right spot, and his technique is hypnotic. Langdon moved like no one else. Whether or not he makes you laugh, the guy is mesmerizing, seemingly in a world of his own. Where story is concerned Harry is often strangely passive, and almost never drives the plot himself. In the finale of Saturday Afternoon, when the big fistfight is taking place, Harry's co-star Vernon Dent is in the thick of the action, but Harry is in a daze for much of the time. He winds up sort of punch-drunk between two cars, sitting on the running board of one, but with his feet on the other, while the cars race through the streets. It's a memorable image, and, as the critic Walter Kerr wrote, it encapsulates Langdon's screen persona quite perfectly: he's a passive figure who somehow finds himself in the middle of frantic action, blinking sleepily while the world rushes past. It's also worth noting that Langdon and Dent, who worked together frequently, have a rapport in this movie that suggests a blueprint Laurel & Hardy would follow when they teamed up a year or so later. Langdon's style was a likely influence on Stan Laurel, especially here.

Saturday Afternoon and its star may not be for everyone, but the film is well worth a look. This is Harry Langdon in his prime, the silent screen's most unusual and beguiling comedian.


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