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Ham in a Harem (1915)

3.5
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Ratings: 3.5/10 from 6 users  
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Disguised as messengers, Ham and Bud sneak into a harem and try to make time with the girls.

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(as Chance E. Ward)

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(scenario)
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Cast

Cast overview:
Lloyd Hamilton ...
Ham (as Lloyd V. Hamilton)
Bud Duncan ...
Bud
Charles Inslee ...
The Sultan (as C.E. Inslee)
Marin Sais ...
Fatima - the Sultan's Favorite
Martin Kinney ...
Abdul El Cohen - the Royal Money Lender
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Storyline

Disguised as messengers, Ham and Bud sneak into a harem and try to make time with the girls.

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Genres:

Comedy | Short

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Details

Country:

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Release Date:

30 March 1915 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ham and the Harem  »

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Ham & Bud go to Egypt and solve the Middle East crisis
20 January 2007 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

Lloyd "Ham" Hamilton is a comedian who deserves to be better known, so it's good news for silent comedy fans that several of his films have been restored for DVD by a company based in New England called Looser Than Loose. The recently issued set of Hamilton comedies kicks off with a few of the Ham & Bud comedies in which he appeared with diminutive sidekick Bud Duncan, produced during the 1914-17 period. To put it plainly, these early efforts strike me as primitive and only sporadically funny, but the situation is analogous to that of Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, and the other greats: if you're interested in their work you'll want to see as much as you can, the early material as well as the best material, and that means sitting through some pretty crude stuff. In Chaplin's Keystones and Lloyd's Lonesome Luke series you'll find occasional, fleeting touches of the artistry that would soon be refined into something special. In the Ham & Bud comedies, I have to say, artistry is scarce and absolutely nothing is "refined," but there are hints of the skilled comic Hamilton would become in his 1920s heyday.

Ham in a Harem is set in Egypt, so I guess it goes without saying that Politically Correct behavior should not be expected from the none-too-lovable scamps whose adventures we follow. In the very first shot we see a dozen or so Muslims kneeling in prayer to Mecca. Ham & Bud, who are dressed like bums, impatiently make their way through the worshipers like visitors who have wandered from their tour group into the wrong neighborhood; and yet, instead of showing humility or even basic civility, they're rude to the locals. For no reason at all Ham kicks one of the worshipers, then sits on another; Bud follows suit. So much for diplomacy. Soon they notice Fatima, the favorite of local Sultan "Old Abdul Harem Scarem," whose wacky facial hair makes his head look like a big starfish. (So much for subtlety, too). Our heroes are turned on by Fatima, and decide to disguise themselves as messengers in order to infiltrate the harem. This proves to be easy. Once they're inside, Ham & Bud dance with the girls, and are soon caught and taken before the Sultan. While the Sultan interrogates the intruders, Fatima entertains her handsome young lover. It all degenerates into lots of head-bopping, dashing about, and falls into a pool. The footage was a bit choppy towards the end, and I kind of lost the thread of what was happening, but it didn't seem to matter much.

This is not what I would call a good comedy short, but in the midst of the crudeness Lloyd Hamilton seizes an opportunity to demonstrate his talent: while attempting to distract the Sultan he performs a very brief magic act, making it appear that his partner has coughed up a handkerchief (Eeuuwww!). He then mimes a sword-swallowing bit. It isn't much, but it's adeptly handled and suggests that this guy deserved better vehicles for his comic skill than Ham in a Harem. Happily, after a long apprenticeship, those opportunities would eventually come his way.


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