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|25 reviews in total|
Talk about a Hollywood party. This film, hosted by Ken Murray, happens
to be one of the best in the entire Screen Snapshots series. The
premise is a Keystone party hosted by Milton Berle in which all of the
guests are dressed like they are from an old Mack Sennet comedy.
Usually the Screen Snapshots department would dig up film from several
sources to tell it's story but here the footage is all shot for this
Highlights include Patty, Maxine and LaVerne Andrews singing, stars swimming and eating and Billy Gilbert, Polly Moran and Berle attempting a barbershop harmony.
The big thrill is when Buster Keaton teaches the art of pie throwing. One thing leads to another and before the film ends, everyone is covered in pie.
This film was released in Super 8mm by Columbia for home movie collectors so it is easier to see than most of the other entries in the series. Perhaps one day we will see some of these wonderful short subjects make their debut on DVD. They are great viewing and should be seen by modern audiences.
From the moment Joe E Brown is heard narrating, the viewer is in store
for a real treat. Scenes from classic silent films are seen with some
of the most famous names in motion picture comedy. Chaplin is one of
the first followed by Fatty Arbuckle, Charlie Murray, Harold Lloyd,
Charley Chase who is seen in rare footage with his wife and two
daughters and the list goes on.
The sound era is represented by the likes of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Joe E Brown, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Jack Benny and so many more.
This ten minute entry in the Screen Snapshots series was released in Super 8mm by Columbia in 1973 so there are many prints out there for home movie collectors. It is a wonderful way to start off an evening of classic movie comedy.
This re release of an earlier entry in the series features new footage
of Ralph Staub and Jack Carson recalling the days when Jack Benny had
his popular radio show. Screen Snapshots filmed an actual Jack Benny
Radio Broadcast. Appearing with Jack are Mary Livingston, Eddie
Anderson, Phil Harris, Don Wilson, Dennis Day and more. It is a rare
look at how the radio show was broadcast and performed.
The Jack Carson footage contains moments of him clowning around with series creator Ralph Staub. Carson shows off his ability to do impressions.
A wonderful piece of history.
During the 1950's, Ralph Staub re released several of his films in this
series from a financial point of view. However the footage wasn't
available for viewing as easily as we can do today so sending the films
out again to theaters was most welcome to audiences. As a bonus, Staub
would film a few wrap around sequences to make the film seem fresh. In
this case, he recalls the twenty fifth anniversary of the Screen
Snapshots series, eight years later, for newcomer John Derek who asks
to see these films which he was too young to view the first time
Stars seen from actual film sequences and off the set include the Hall Room Boys, Hobart Bosworth, Beverly Baine, Francis X. Bushman, Anita Stewart, Norma Talmadge, Hope Hamilton, Frank Clark, Jackie Coogan, as a child star, Clara Kimball Young, Lon Chaney,Sr., Douglas Fairbanks, Tom Mix, Jean Harlow, Leslie Howard, Fred Astaire, and Rosalind Russell. Cecil B. DeMille, Louella Parsons and Walt Disney film special remarks congratulating the series on its silver anniversary.
There is a section dedicated in tribute to the stars who have passed on including Charley Chase in rare private footage, Thelma Todd, Jean Harlow, Marie Dressler, John Barrymore and many more.
This ten minute film contains so many clips, it's amazing it fits into the short time frame. One hopes that a collection of this series will be made available to the public some day.
Thank goodness "Uncle" Carl Laemmle was around near the beginning of
the Motion Picture Industry as he was as great a showman and promoter
as anyone today. This truly fascinating glimpse of the Universal City
Studio in 1925 utilizes the entire lot, most of its stars and sets and
gives a preview for, at the time of its premiere, unreleased film clips
for future release.
The cast is seen in either new footage unique to this short subject or from an actual film in production. Using the premise of giving a studio tour to an important visitor from out of town, we get a private view of the land of Universal Pictures make believe. Along the way, we get to meet many of the top talents at the studio.
The property and its mountain landscape haven't changed over the past hundred years but the buildings have. This film takes you back to a different time and as some of the photography shows, you can almost imagine being in front of the Notre Dame church that Lon Chaney rescued Patsy Ruth Miller or the front office that so many people went through.
This film can boast of more talent from 1925 than almost any other film. Universal Pictures had the good sense to make behind the scenes films over the decades; this offering is one of the best from any studio at any time. Thank you "Uncle" Carl.
Bobby Vernon performs some of his most daring work in this very rare
Educational comedy. Taking a cue from Harold Lloyd, Vernon finds
himself accidentally hanging out a window ledge near the top of a tall
building. A new twist on a classic Lloyd comedy, the outdoor sequences
are filmed very much in the style of the 1923 classic comedy, "Safety
Last". Perfect camera angles and actual filming high above downtown Los
Angeles give audiences the same feeling that Harold Lloyd gave them
three years earlier.
The sky high sequences were filmed on Broadway with the camera facing the old Western Costumes building; the same building Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy used for their one thrill comedy, "Liberty" released in 1929. You can clearly see the top section of the structure Laurel & Hardy used for their film in this picture. It would be a great double bill to show "Page Me" followed by "Liberty".
Bobby Vernon is very funny here and his "indoor" sequences are filled with great comic timing. Hank Mann can be seen in this picture as well as William Irving, who would work at the Hal Roach Studios. Bobby's leading lady is Francis Lee. She was Charley Chase's leading lady in his 1932 comedy, "The Tabasco Kid". Forgotten today, this actress, who stood at only five feet tall, is as lovely as any girl next door has a right to be. She made fifty films in only eleven years (1924-1935) and lived to be age 94 spending her last years in Cardiff-by-the Sea in Southern California.
Page Me is a highlight in the career of Bobby Vernon and would continue to delight audiences today if it were only readily available. There are a few prints out there in the world (I am one of the fortunate holders of one of them) but the sad fact is that so many of the Christie comedies are gone forever or they have been truncated and badly duplicated to a shadow of their former self. Happily, the version I have archived is reasonably complete and was struck from the original 35mm material so it is a visual joy to behold.
Hang on fans, there is hope that more of these films will resurface and be restored. Perhaps one day, these comedies will gain new fans. Vernon made over one hundred shorts for Al Christie. Jimmie Adams, Jack Duffy, Anne Cornwall to name a few, made many films with Christie as well. Not all of them survive but what does shows modern audiences that the shorts are very entertaining. In the case of Bobby Vernon, who died too young at the age of forty two, he was a pleasing performer that could hold his own with the top comics of his time and some day he may regain his rightful place in screen history.
Chaplin's Art Of Comedy is a re release of the original 1918 Essanay
compilation film, Chase Me Charlie. It has been issued and reissued
over the decades by various companies. The 1932 release included a
score by radio composer Elias Breeskin and narration by Teddy Bergman
who later changed his name to Alan Reed and would gain fame as the
original voice of Fred Flintstone. The verbal puns are strange as it
tries to add laughs to what Chaplin is doing on the screen and often
distract rather than enhance. The Breeskin music is wonderful and was
issued on LP in the sixties.
For the release of Chaplin's Art Of Comedy, the Breeskin score remained but a new narrative was written as well as a brief prologue showing stills and footage of Hollywood from the early years of the motion picture industry to the 1960's. It's the same old film in a new package. For more information, please see my entry for Chase Me Charlie.
Chase Me Charlie began as a result of a lost lawsuit between Charles
Chaplin and the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company. When the company
issued a new Chaplin film that Chaplin never actually made, he took
legal action. Essanay used footage Chaplin never released from a non
completed film, filmed new sequences with many of the same actors who
appear with Chaplin in older footage and titled the collection "Triple
Trouble". Two years earlier, the studio tampered with another Chaplin
film, a spoof of the opera Carmen, by adding two additional reels of
material featuring Ben Turpin.
Since the courts ruled in favor of the company, stating that they and not Chaplin owned the material outright, they did one more release without Chaplin's consent. This compilation film was the result. Fourteen years later it was re released, this time with music and narration. The score was written by Elias Breeskin and the narration was spoken by Teddy Bergman who later changed his name to Alan Reed and would gain fame as the original voice of Fred Flintstone. His gift for mimicry adds to the film but not necessarily for the good. It is made up of cheap jokes and takes away from the Chaplin footage. He actually tells Charlie to do things as if he is in control. Maybe it was funny in 1932 but it is disruptive today. This was Reed's first participation in a theatrical release.
In 1966, producer Sam Sherman re released the film with the Breeskin score, replaced the 1932 comic narration, added a prologue about Hollywood then and now and retitled the film, "Chaplin's Art Of Comedy".
Which version is best is up to the viewer yet it's interesting to see the two narrated versions in comparison. Three decades apart, the spoken audio belongs to its own place in time. It would be just as fascinating to see another release with a contemporary track to put it in a current perspective.
Note: This film is extant and has been saved from obscurity but is in
need of preservation. What follows are some general notes from my
viewing of this picture.
The popular Charley Chase was riding high in 1927. The previous year listed him as the number one box office draw in short subjects. Theaters would frequently advertise his films along side the main feature attraction. By the time of this summer release, Chase had firmly established his screen character and many of the comic devices that kept him at the top of his game. With this in mind, he varied his role in this film a bit by playing a terribly girl shy teacher in an all girls school as opposed to his usual dapper and confident happy go lucky and good time Charley.
Joining him and hoping to cure him and lure him is an eighteen year old newcomer in her very first film role, Lupe Velez. It has been reported that she has nothing more than a bit part in this film but I am happy to divulge that is false. In fact, she is the female lead, although it isn't a very large part. She plays the dean's daughter. It is evident that Ms. Velez is confident and very capable of holding her own on screen; the camera loves her. Also included is the wonderful and sadly forgotten comedienne, Gale Henry. A personal friend of Charley Chase, he would hire her to play key roles in his films whenever he needed a skilled and particular type of comic foil. She can best be seen in his films, "A One Mama Man", "Now We'll Tell One", "Skip The Maloo", among others.
The cabin exteriors were shot in Riverside County, California. Chase and his family had a home in the San Jacinto Mountains and he knew that in winter there would be the right conditions for the sequences that take place in the snow. This cabin and the interior set used were also seen in his short, "The Caretaker's Daughter", released two years earlier. The film contains one of the earliest uses of process photography. Charley is filmed in front of a screen as he tries to run away from a girl; the background being a film does all the moving as he runs in place. This process was first used by Hal Roach Studios earlier that same year in an Our Gang short, "Seeing The World". Primitive by today's standards, it was new to audiences in 1927. Other photographic tricks were used including several optical dissolves and double exposures, enhancing Chase's nervous feelings at the sight of all the girls. Their faces fade in over other faces, his face is seen showing all his fears, more female faces dissolve in and out. This may be arguably the most photographically complicated film Chase ever made. Kudos must go to Len Powers, the photographer of the film, Richard Currier, the editor and a great nod must be paid to its director, James Parrott who was Charley's actual brother.
A prop mannequin, used to comic heights by Chase two releases earlier in "Fluttering Hearts", is brought out of retirement once again. It could be argued that since she was such a hit in the first film, audiences would remember her and be delighted to see what Charley would put himself through this time under her spell. They wouldn't be disappointed.
One of the last Hal Roach produced films released through Pathe before the new deal with Metro Goldwyn Mayer, this entry in the Charley Chase series is one of the harder to see yet not impossible to find comedies. If you do locate it, grab it and run; it's a great one.
It was a privilege and pleasure to screen this long lost Universal
Pictures silent for an audience on January 27th., 2011. The print is
considered to be the only surviving element on this title known to
exist. Tinted in sepia for daytime, blue for night and red for fire and
explosions, this film is enjoyable and brisk as it runs just an hour.
Neil Hamilton, best remembered for the television series Batman, takes the lead as Jack MacDowell, a young officer with the Los Angeles Police Department, following in the footsteps of his father, played by Ralph Lewis. Along the way, they have to stop a crime ring and this takes Jack to the air in an LAPD plane for a nice fight with the enemy in another plane.
Playing a secretary and a bad girl is Thelma Todd, as beautiful as always. The cast is very good and the story is intriguing with much of the film shot on location all around Los Angeles.
At the screening was an executive from Universal and cards were exchanged so this may very well be used for preservation. We shall see and maybe you will as well.
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