Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Slapstick Masters (1916 - 1929)

Never thought Chaplin could be so intimidating as a pig...

Genre: Silent Action Comedy

Starring: Keaton, Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy, Monty Banks

Overview: This collection of shorts highlights some of the classic moments of slapstick comedy in early cinema

Acting: Well we all know my opinion of the silent Chaplin and Keaton, but Laurel and Hardy make a great team (malicious as they are). The new face to me here, Monty Banks (below), seems more like the average Joe without a gimmick like Keaton tends to play. I don't know why he didn't stand the test of time, but he's a great actor.
Rating: 8

Cinematography: Monty Banks' short, Chasing Choo-Choos, has him pulling insane stunts on a train more daring than the ones Keaton did in The General. I'm talking jumping from moving cars just before said car explodes by getting hit by the oncoming train on the other track. He also does some plank walking and roof hopping on the moving engine. He's effin' crazy.
Rating: 9

Script: Simple as can be. Insert girl, reason to save her, then go to it. The jokes in this one aren't as plentiful, but they more than make up for that in the madness, like Keaton's One Week, where he builds a 'make your own house' all wrong and it ends up on some train tracks. You can guess what happens, no script necessary.
Rating: 8

Plot: This was the perfect collection. I've seen a few of these so far, and usually they're a collection of one person's work, including some of the not as impressive or funny moments. Not only is this four more-obscure films that I've never seen, but they're also absolutely terrific. Simple short stories, funny and full of stunts. Good times.
Rating: 8

Mood: Holy intense. Chaplin plays a cop trying to take in a brute that can't be knocked out or taken down by 8 pigs, so that one's all ramblin fisticuffs, Keaton does the old (and extremely dangerous) side of the house falls on me but I happen to be standing where the window is, Monty's a total nutcase and Laurel & Hardy have some fun freaking out on some poor guy's house. Really captivating, and the whole feel of the 20s with the cars and clothes. This is really fun.
Rating: 9

Psychosis is very difficult to spot, unless it's jumping from a moving train.

Overall Rating: 84% (Slap This Into Your DVD Player, Boy.)

Aftertaste: I'm thinking hard, and this is probably the best compilation of silent stuff I've seen yet, just because every film is gold. Not only that but they're all short and versatile. This is a very nice wrapped up example of the kind of comedic cinema that was going on during this era, and I genuinely think everyone would get a kick out of this.