Rightwing Film Geek

Slapsticon — Thursday

I arrived at Slapsticon on Thursday evening in the middle of the Abbott & Costello feature AFRICA SCREAMS, so I sat in the lobby until the Abbott & Costello rarities, came on. The highlights of that rarities program were: (1) a complete live-TV sketch involving a diamond necklace, with each man trying to palm it off on the other, where you could see the two break up on camera and the very bad and obvious sound effects add to the charm; (2) a very funny all-verbal short routine involving “two tens for a five”; (3) Costello’s home movies of a Europe trip that, via narration and framing material, he turns into a pomo Pete Smith short. Also there were two more versions of the “Who’s on First” routine, which frankly isn’t as clever as it thinks it is. It’s too smoothly performed, with the lickety-split lines: Lou should be getting more enraged.

COVERED SCHOONER (Harry Edwards / Monty Banks, 1923) — 7 — Best gags involve a suicide attempt (really) and attempts to close flower shop. Banks is appealing and goofy, a kind of less-uptight Charley Chase style Everyman. And the “gorilla” is unconvincing enough to be quite funny. Very enjoyable.

TOO MANY KISSES (Paul Sloane / Richard Dix, 1925) — 4 — You can imagine Harold Lloyd make this movie, and frankly I wished he had. Dix, who also starred in DeMille’s silent TEN COMMANDMENTS where he was at least well cast, is just not funny to me and has all of Douglas Fairbanks Sr.’s pretty boy looks and none of his physical gifts, best I can tell here. The plot involving a ne’er-do-well send to de-facto womanless town (Basques won’t marry foreigners) isn’t taken seriously enough to engag.

July 15, 2010 Posted by | Slapsticon 2010 | Leave a comment

Slapsticon returns

Right now, I’m sitting in the lobby of the Spectrum Theater in Arlington, having finally made it to this year’s Slapsticon, which is back in Rosslyn after a year off (the festival took a year off, that is … no way I would miss it).

The festival shows silent and early-sound comedies, mostly short subjects and is a permanent feature on my filmgoing calendar. Gratifying to have been here only about 10-15 minutes and already to her hearty “welcome back” handshakes and hugs from people I see here every year — Agnes McFadden, Linda Shah, Steve Massa, Rob Farr, Brent Walker, and Richard Roberts already with at least a dozen others expected. According to a couple of people, my absence from the opening Thursday afternoon program (because of inability to get off work for Thursday) was noticed and commented/speculated on — which is kind of awesome when you think about the fact I have no professional ties to most of these people and interact with them one week in 52. (I told Richard Roberts that I was not going to deprive him of his audience barometer.)

I’ll also be renewing acquaintanceships with the likes of Lupino Lane, Mr. & Mrs. Sidney Drew, Harry Langdon, Larry Semon and a score of others not nearly well-known enough or DVD’d enough.

But beyond any doubt, the Highlight of this year’s program involves the one silent star that no literate human being doesn’t at least recognize. A THIEF CATCHER is a 1914 film with Charlie Chaplin near the very start of Chaplin’s career, at Mack Sennett’s studio, that was thought to have been lost. Just confirmed that it was indeed found by Paul Gierucki and that Saturday night’s show will be its first public showing in 90 years. Even if the movie’s no good, it will be awesome.

Between shows, I’ll be tweeting about the films I see that are worth mentioning, using a new account that I intend to use as a screening log, @vjmfilms, the feed for which can be seen at the right.

July 15, 2010 Posted by | Slapsticon 2010 | Leave a comment