Breaking Even (1932, Aubrey Scotto)

Breaking Even has a number of surprises. Its star, Tom Howard, came from vaudeville and it shows. Not in a bad way, the short’s structured for his style. The only bad thing about Even is its editing. Director Scotto can direct dialogue sequences fine, but when he’s got to move the camera, it always ends in a bad edit. The disjointed cuts are probably his fault and not the uncredited editor’s.

Anyway, Howard plays a know-it-all who tries to talk a man in distress (George Shelton) out of committing suicide. It doesn’t going expectedly. The best parts are when Howard and Shelton are clearly making the other want to laugh.

In addition to the back and forth, there are a couple impressive sight gags. The final one’s a little obvious–and not the best joke for the situation–but Even’s a fairly amusing short. Howard’s always moving.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Aubrey Scotto; written by Harry W. Conn; released by Paramount Pictures.

Starring Tom Howard (the shopowner) and George Shelton (the businessman).

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