the comedy team of Collins and Dent destroy an exclusive men's club in this late-silent short
Sometimes referred to as "the poor man's Laurel and Hardy," the team of Monty Collins (the thinner guy with the prominent nose and the mugging facial expressions) and Vernon Dent (the stocky guy, well-known to millions for his Three Stooges appearances, but also a prolific actor in many different kinds of comedy roles at Educational and Columbia)made a number of shorts for Jack White's "Mermaid" production company, distributed by Educational, in the waning days of the silent era. Both actors are instantly familiar to any fan of comedy shorts, and both worked well into the 1940s (and the 50s in Dent's case!), so their voices are familiar to many. However, as a silent comedy team they do a good job. Yes, they were probably a cash-in on Laurel and Hardy's success, but they don't really ape Stan and Ollie that much, and in the shorts I've seen they don't really develop the individual characters that Laurel and Hardy had--Collins and Dent are basically an anarchic duo who enter any situation and destroy whatever order there is. In THOSE TWO BOYS (5/5/1929), the boys are described as rich oil men, and are invited to an exclusive men's club. For the first reel, they trip, stumble, run into, drop, crash, slip, and fall multiple times, turning the main room of the club into a wreck. At the beginning of the second reel, they go to the billiards room, and one can probably predict what happens there with balls, cue sticks, chalk, etc. First they mess with each other, then they mess with the other people playing, then anarchy reigns and everyone is fighting. For the last four minutes of the piece, Collins and Dent mess with each other's ties and trousers. Then they start kicking each other in the butt. Then two other people are kicked in the butt and begin kicking everyone else in the butt, and eventually there are about fifteen people engaged in the butt kicking! In fact, when there is a big group kicking each other, we see the occasional person flying about three feet into the air, presumably from a well-placed kick! My children came into the room during this butt-kicking scene, and couldn't believe it went on for so long. But that's the formula--start small, grow gradually, and then bring everyone into the mêlée. Jack White had an efficient comedy machine going in the silent era, and pretty much most any White production is worth watching for the silent comedy short enthusiast. Those wanting to learn more about White and the era should check out the book BEHIND THE THREE STOOGES: THE WHITE BROTHERS, published by the Director's Guild of America. All three White brothers--Jules, Jack, and Sam--are interviewed at great length and there is also a useful chronological listing of their work.
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