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When Comedy Was King (1960)

A feature-length documentary devoted to the great clowns of silent comedy.


Robert Youngson


Robert Youngson


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle ... edited from 'Fatty & Mabel Adrift' (archive footage) (as Fatty Arbuckle)
Wallace Beery ... edited from 'Teddy at The throttle' (archive footage)
Charles Chaplin ... edited from 'His Trysting Place, ' 'The Masqurader, ' and 'Kid Auto at Venice.' (archive footage) (as Charlie Chaplin)
Charley Chase ... edited from 'Movie Night' (archive footage) (as Charlie Chase)
Buster Keaton ... edited from 'Cops' (archive footage)
Edgar Kennedy ... edited from 'A Pair of Tights' (archive footage)
Keystone Kops Keystone Kops ... (archive footage) (as The Keystone Cops)
Harry Langdon ... edited from 'The First 100 Years' (archive footage)
Stan Laurel ... edited from 'Big Business' (archive footage) (as Laurel)
Oliver Hardy ... edited from 'Big Business' (archive footage) (as Hardy)
Mabel Normand ... edited from 'Fatty & Mabel Adrift' (archive footage)
The Sennett Girls The Sennett Girls ... edited from 'Yukon Jake' (archive footage)
Gloria Swanson ... Gloria Dawn - Bobby's Sweetheart (archive footage)
Ben Turpin ... edited from 'Yukon Jake' (archive footage)
Billy Bevan ... edited from 'Super Duper Dyne Lizzies, ' 'The Lion's Whiskers, ' 'Wall Street Blues, ' and' Wandering Willies' (archive footage)


Robert Youngson's affectionate, nostalgic retrospective of the Golden Age of Silent Comedy with special attention to the three acknowledged comic geniuses of the period: Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keatonm and Harry Landon. The two major comedy studios of the era, Mack Sennett and Hal Roach, especially Laurel an Hardy, are given credit as the great innovators of slapstick visual comedy. Written by duke1029@aol.com

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New York opening smashes 45 year record! (Posters). See more »


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Release Date:

29 March 1960 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Als Lachen Trumpf war See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


At one point, the narrator remarks that a quarter century has passed since the death of Harry Langdon. In fact, he died in December of 1944, just over 15 years before this film was released. See more »


Narrator: [Last lines] So ends our visit to the era of the great silent clowns who mass-produced laughter and sold happiness and who passed into oblivian just before the years when the world needed them the most.
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References The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) See more »


The Ride of the Valkyries
Music by Richard Wagner
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User Reviews

REALLY tough to rate,...plus, it's missing something
26 April 2006 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

First, I must point out that it is VERY VERY hard to give a rating score to a movie that is really just a compilation film. The only original content is the mostly good narration, sound effects and music. So a good score is 100% impossible--so take my 8 with a "grain of salt".

Second, while I loved watching this film, it makes a serious omission. It talks about the "3 great comics" but never even mentions Harold Lloyd--who, for a while, was the highest paid and most popular comic alive. The problem was that when the movie was made, Lloyd retained ownership of his films and Robert Youngson (who created this film) couldn't show Lloyd clips. While I do understand this, it was a great disservice to Lloyd and probably contributed to his being forgotten for many years. A discussion of slapstick without mentioning Lloyd is akin to doing the same and not mentioning Keton or Chaplin--it just isn't right.

However, despite this, the clips chosen were very funny and well worth seeing. In particular, I loved the Snub Pollard clip with his amazing car!! I use this film for my history classes, as it's a great introduction to slapstick American comedy.

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