As I see more of Larry Semon's work I'm beginning to appreciate it more purely on its own terms, which I think it has to be appreciated. Unlike other comedians before, during, and since his career, Larry wasn't really interested much in developing funny plots, scenes, characters, or personas. His films are gag-fests, which give him the opportunity to indulge in hugely creative, impressive, and often funny visual nonsense on a big scale.
Just look at the title of this one. It's just called "Golf." No reference to the events of a story involving golf, because it's really a showcase for crazy Larry Semon gags involving golf. Some semblance of a situation is introduced in the beginning. At first it seems like an excuse to set up some very punny title cards (which I must admit appreciating), but then it becomes clear that it's also setting up a funny bit wherein Larry is introduced rather destructively playing golf indoors. Oliver Hardy and Vernon Dent, both to go on to very long and successful comedy careers away from Semon are competing over his sister, and Hardy is in full burly-moustache-man mode.
We then move to probably the highlight of this short -- a very funny and really stunningly-orchestrated sequence involving a burrowing rodent moving Larry's golf ball back and forth as he tries to play it. Animals seemed to be a mine for his imagination as there are a bunch of them here.
Now, ethnic humor was far from uncommon in the films of this time, but it's impossible not to notice that almost every one of Larry Semon's films in particular seems to feature at least one sequence mocking black people. This one is no different, with an extended bit based on the stereotype of black servants being shuddering cowards. A pattern like this, I think, makes it safe to say that Semon's films display racist tendencies, to a greater extent than can be written off as a consequence of his being "a product of his time." I think we have to try to enjoy and evaluate his legitimate talents separately from the evidence of his character flaws.
After more fun and disconnected business at the golf course (including a funny but completely impossible scene in which Larry accidentally hits an egg with his golf club -- the egg doesn't break when the club hits it, but then flies through the air only to break when it lands on an unsuspecting victim), we are taken back to the family we originally met for a brief wrap-up.
I personally happen to enjoy the kind of human, personal comedy based on characters that Larry Semon tended to ignore, but "Golf" is a good example of him doing his specialty -- big, funny, spectacular gags -- well.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this