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The Janitor (1919)

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A mild-mannered, well-meaning but bumbling janitor gets unwittingly involved in a battle between two opposing political groups, with each side trying to use him to destroy the other, and ... See full summary »

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Title: The Janitor (1919)

The Janitor (1919) on IMDb 5/10

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Cast

Cast overview:
Hank Mann ...
The janitor
Madge Kirby ...
Cuckoo Carrie
Merta Sterling ...
Hefty Hilda
Dorothy Vernon
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Storyline

A mild-mannered, well-meaning but bumbling janitor gets unwittingly involved in a battle between two opposing political groups, with each side trying to use him to destroy the other, and the secret police--who have already thrown him out of their office when he worked there--watching all of them. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

janitor | bomb | revolution

Genres:

Comedy

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Details

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Release Date:

November 1919 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Jazz Janitor  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Trivia

First film of producer Morris R. Schlank. See more »

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User Reviews

My first look at Hank Mann.
16 June 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Last night was my first experience with a Hank Mann short, though I had read about him. He was one of Mack Sennett's first Keystone Kops, and he evidently became very popular in the late teens, early '20s.

His character in The Janitor is timid and, of course, accident prone. He plays the Janitor and, as the dialog cards tell us, he "Janits." The story is complex for a silent comedy. Written at about the time of the infamous Russian Revolution, it pits the Black Doves/Peace Doves against the White Doves, who, it turns out, have been infiltrated by the Secret Service, the equivalent, probably, of the FBI.

The Black Doves are a nasty organization, its leader with a bushy, Bolshevik moustache. It's members are menacing, hooded, and they have a comical secret signal, which resembles a throat slash and a knife through the heart. It's comical to watch them do it.

They need a messenger to deliver a bomb to the White Doves, and they decide to hire as a dupe a janitor. That's Mann, who had just had a hilarious sequence in the secret service office, turning around with mops, causing people to duck. (They throw him out, of course.) When Mann walks to the hideout of the Black Doves to apply for the "janitor" post, he notes that Peace Doves (the name they use) sounds good, but he doesn't like the number: 13. He notes that "Steve Broadie took a chance." A little Googling told me that Steve Brodie was the man who claimed to have jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge in 1886 and claimed to have survived. So that's a neat little bit of nostalgic trivia to date the film nicely.

There are some funny sequences when Mann gets the bomb to the home of the White Doves, involving false pictures and revolving walls. The bomb itself is a stereotype: a round, black ball with a wick.

The movie ends well – involving love interests – and II do think I would rank Hank Mann higher than the Chaplin imitators or the early Stan Laurel if I were able to see more of him. The character doesn't have the rapport with the modern view that the better known comedians have, simply through familiarity. Taken by itself, it has some funny spots (including Mann's character), and if you're a fan, you should want to see more of his stuff. I wonder what is out there.


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