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George LeRoi Clarke ...
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Short | Comedy

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What vaudeville must have been like for those living in small towns
5 June 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I stumbled across this short as an added extra to the wonderful Rin-Tin-Tin silent film Lighthouse by the Sea put out by Grapevine Video. I don't understand the significance of the title but the story is about a touring vaudeville troupe putting on a show at the Opera House of a small town and constantly being put upon by the janitor and general town dogsbody (George Clarke). I had never heard of Clarke - a tall, gangly, kinda homely comic with a Hitler type mustache. I only have this one short to go on, but he wasn't very funny. What makes this film fascinating is that the troupe presents a couple of the vaudeville acts, including – "Salome's Dance" and "The Ventriloquist." These acts were so very bad and I suspect they accurately reflect the talent level of many of the vaudeville companies touring the hinterlands. The funniest scene was during the ventriloquist act. A real man plays the "dummy". A drunk in the audience slingshots the "dummy" who of course jumps up. The audience then pelts the actors with vegetables. I like this short mostly for nostalgic reasons – in the early 70s, I traveled throughout South-central Nebraska and visited dozens of small towns. I remember one that still had its Opera House at the corner of the village square – a beautiful sight. I imagine that this old Opera House had seen many a vaudeville show as that depicted in this film.


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