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Before Keysone

Author: boblipton from New York City
18 November 2007

I don't like Sennett's usual comedy character, the one he cultivated at Keystone, a pickle-faced rube. But there was a Sennett before Keystone, writing and producing and directing, and with D.W. Griffith to turn to and bosses who didn't want anything far out, his style of slapstick farce was held in check. And the result, as shown here, I think, is often superior.

Here we have a typical pick-up comedy: there's an event going on, let's shoot some footage and figure the story out later -- Chaplin's first picture, KID AUTO RACES AT VENICE, is one of these, Here it's the Shriner's Parade in Los Angeles, and Sennett is an easily distracted fellow whose friends play a practical joke on him. It's all very human and much more appealing to me than the skillful but heartless stuff that Keystone was famous for -- although, to be fair, Sennett produced many comedies in a wide range of styles.

Sennett's Biograph works are hard to find. But if you can find some of them, you might find them as rewarding as I do.

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