The art of silent comedy is highlighted with a focus on the work of the four great clowns of the era: Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Harry Langdon.


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Episode credited cast:
Himself - Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Georgie Harris ...
William Hornbeck ...
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)


The art of silent comedy is highlighted in archival footage with a focus on the work of the four great clowns of the era: Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Harry Langdon. The two great comedic producers, Mack Sennett and Hal Roach, are profiled, the latter in an interview. Written by

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Release Date:

26 February 1980 (UK)  »

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Technical Specs

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Features Cops (1922) See more »


William Tell Overture
Composed by Gioachino Rossini (1829)
Heard during comedy montage
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User Reviews

Hollywood Episode 8
28 August 2010 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

Hollywood: Comedy - A Serious Business (1980)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

This entry in the series takes a look at laughter as well as those comedy legends like Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, Charles Chaplin and Harry Langdon. This documentary pretty much gives each man a little over ten-minutes as we learn about their styles and see clips from dozen of their films. The first part of the film shows us a few clips from Mack Sennett and Keystone. Frank Capra gets interviewed for a good portion here as he worked with Sennett and discusses a few nice stories about he and D.W. Griffith. Capra also worked with Langdon during a famous part of his career but those expecting some dirt to fly won't find it here. What happened between Capra and Langdon has become part folk lore now but the director really doesn't throw any dirt and instead goes a more classy route. It's funny that the Chaplin segment shows a lot of his shorts and then THE KID but skips over the majority of the features. Jackie Coogan gets the spotlight here and gets to tell some great stories about what type of director Chaplin was and how he was discovered. The Buster Keaton sequence has a stuntman talking about how he never knew of anyone filling in for the star and we get to see some nice clips from STEAMBOAT BILL, JR. and a couple others. The Lloyd sequence features a vintage 1968 interview with the man himself and we hear what type of comedian he thought he was. This episode is pretty good, although it should be noted that director Brownlow would eventually expand this in other documentaries on Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd. All of them are highly recommended and really round out this episode.

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