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When Comedy Was King (1960)

A feature-length documentary devoted to the great clowns of silent comedy.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
edited from 'Fatty & Mabel Adrift' (archive footage) (as Fatty Arbuckle)
edited from 'Teddy at The throttle' (archive footage)
edited from 'His Trysting Place, ' 'The Masqurader, ' and 'Kid Auto at Venice.' (archive footage) (as Charlie Chaplin)
edited from 'Movie Night' (archive footage) (as Charlie Chase)
edited from 'Cops' (archive footage)
edited from 'A Pair of Tights' (archive footage)
Keystone Kops ...
(archive footage) (as The Keystone Cops)
edited from 'The First 100 Years' (archive footage)
edited from 'Big Business' (archive footage) (as Laurel)
edited from 'Big Business' (archive footage) (as Hardy)
edited from 'Fatty & Mabel Adrift' (archive footage)
The Sennett Girls ...
edited from 'Yukon Jake' (archive footage)
edited from 'Teddy at the Throttle' (archive footage)
edited from 'Yukon Jake' (archive footage)
edited from 'Super Duper Dyne Lizzies, ' 'The Lion's Whiskers, ' 'Wall Street Blues, ' and' Wandering Willies' (archive footage)


Robert Youngson's affectionate, nostalgic retrospective of the Golden Age of Silent Comedy with special attention to the three acknowledged comic geniuses of the period: Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keatonm and Harry Landon. The two major comedy studios of the era, Mack Sennett and Hal Roach, especially Laurel an Hardy, are given credit as the great innovators of slapstick visual comedy. Written by duke1029@aol.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy is king. (Posters). See more »


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Release Date:

29 March 1960 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Als Lachen Trumpf war  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Footage excerpted from Movie Night (1929), Fatty and Mabel Adrift (1916), Teddy at the Throttle (1917), The First 100 Years (1924), It's a Gift (1923), A Pair of Tights (1929), Cops (1922), Yukon Jake (1924), Big Business (1929) and others. See more »


In the prologue, narrator Dwight Weist invites the viewer to enjoy "for the next 90 minutes..." The film runs only 81 minutes. See more »


Narrator: [Last lines] So ends our visit to the era of the great silent clowns who mass-produced laughter and sold happiness and who passed into oblivian just before the years when the world needed them the most.
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Edited from Teddy at the Throttle (1917) See more »


Bahn Frei
(also known as "The Fast Track Polka")
by Eduard Strauss
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User Reviews

REALLY tough to rate,...plus, it's missing something
26 April 2006 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

First, I must point out that it is VERY VERY hard to give a rating score to a movie that is really just a compilation film. The only original content is the mostly good narration, sound effects and music. So a good score is 100% impossible--so take my 8 with a "grain of salt".

Second, while I loved watching this film, it makes a serious omission. It talks about the "3 great comics" but never even mentions Harold Lloyd--who, for a while, was the highest paid and most popular comic alive. The problem was that when the movie was made, Lloyd retained ownership of his films and Robert Youngson (who created this film) couldn't show Lloyd clips. While I do understand this, it was a great disservice to Lloyd and probably contributed to his being forgotten for many years. A discussion of slapstick without mentioning Lloyd is akin to doing the same and not mentioning Keton or Chaplin--it just isn't right.

However, despite this, the clips chosen were very funny and well worth seeing. In particular, I loved the Snub Pollard clip with his amazing car!! I use this film for my history classes, as it's a great introduction to slapstick American comedy.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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