Harry Edwards flops on every sight gag in All Night Long, seemingly a combination of his inability to direct comedy and star Harry Langdon’s lack of comic timing. However, otherwise Edwards does a great job with the short. He’s got an excellent dinner table sequence and a lot of special effect work is outstanding.
Long has a couple bookends but primarily takes place during World War I in France. Marines Langdon and Vernon Dent fight over a girl. Dent and Natalie Kingston, who plays the girl, are both excellent. Dent’s comic timing is spot on and he makes up for Langdon.
Langdon isn’t so much bad, just unfunny. Long‘s narrative is relatively complicated–a comic take on a melodrama–and Langdon’s wrong for it.
Edwards’s comic failings are mostly forgivable, except when he tries turning grotesque war imagery into belabored sight gags. It’s awkward and tiresome, while Long otherwise isn’t.
Directed by Harry Edwards; written by Hal Conklin and Vernon Smith; directors of photography, Lee Davis and William Williams; edited by William Hornbeck; produced by Mack Sennett; released by Pathé Exchange.
Starring Harry Langdon (Harry Hall), Natalie Kingston (Nanette Burgundy), Vernon Dent (Gale Wyndham), Fanny Kelly (Mrs. Burgundy) and Leo Sulky (Mr. Burgundy).
Posted in 1924, Black and White, Comedy, Not Recommended, Pathé, Short, USA, War
Tagged Fanny Kelly, Hal Conklin, Harry Edwards, Harry Langdon, Lee Davis, Leo Sulky, Mack Sennett, Natalie Kingston, Vernon Dent, Vernon Smith, William Hornbeck, William Williams
Boys Will Be Joys is a strange Our Gang outing, simply because the story doesn’t belong to the Gang. Instead, sixty year-old industrialist Paul Weigel has grown bored being a successful grown-up and just wants to goof off.
Luckily, he happens to be developing a plot of land the Gang has built an incredible amateur amusement park on and they come by his office demanding he stop developing.
There’s a shocking lack of tension to Joys. It’s fairly certain from a few minutes in–after Weigel bats a couple balls with some teenagers in a ballgame–the Gang isn’t going to meet with much resistance from the “adult.” Weigel even orders his subordinates to run the machinery so the boys can enjoy the rides.
McGowan’s got some decent shots and the amusement park set-up is rather impressive.
I think there’s only one gag in the entire picture.
Directed by Robert F. McGowan; written by Hal Roach; titles by H.M. Walker; director of photography, Art Lloyd; edited by Richard C. Currier; produced by F. Richard Jones; released by Pathé Exchange.
Starring Allen ‘Farina’ Hoskins (Farina), Andy Samuel (Andy), Jackie Condon (Jackie), Jannie Hoskins (Jannie), Jay R. Smith (Jay), Johnny Downs (Johnny), Joe Cobb (Joe), Mickey Daniels (Mickey), Mary Kornman (Mary) and Paul Weigel (Henry Mills).
Posted in 1925, Black and White, Comedy, Family, Pathé, Short, USA
Tagged Allen 'Farina' Hoskins, Andy Samuel, Art Lloyd, F. Richard Jones, H.M. Walker, Hal Roach, Jackie Condon, Jannie Hoskins, Jay R. Smith, Joe Cobb, Johnny Downs, Mary Kornman, Mickey Daniels, Paul Weigel, Richard C. Currier, Robert F. McGowan
Calling Love’s Surprises a tepid comedy would be an understatement. Writer-director-star Linder fails to understand the very basics of drama, which puts the whole short in the dumps right off.
It opens with a dinner party. The three men at the party all run off to grab hidden flowers for a girl. Unsurprisingly, they’re all courting the same girl. Only, Linder never establishes why the men are sneaking out or why they wouldn’t admit association with her.
I guess the comedy’s supposed to be in the girl hiding them around her room in closets, pianos or just under a blanket… but it’s not funny. Surprises only comes alive at the end when the girl’s friend shows up and they abuse the hiding men.
For the finish, one of the men apparently “buys” the girl (who isn’t present) from his chums.
Surprises successfully mixes unfunny, odd, discomforting and weird.
Written and directed by Max Linder; released by Pathé Frères.
Starring Max Linder (Max), Lucy d’Orbel (Lili) and Georges Gorby.
I expected an Our Gang short titled War Feathers to be racist, but I was unprepared for how racist it gets.
It opens with the kids torturing a train conductor–and Joe Cobb in blackface. Sorry, “chocolate” face. The poor conductor doesn’t just have to try to contain them, he’s also got them pretending to be good for their parents. Of course the parents don’t believe a black train conductor.
It makes you wonder if the point’s to want to see the kids drown.
Then the kids leave the train and go to an Old West town. There they see a lot of Native Americans. One eventually kidnaps Farina.
In an interesting turn of events, after outlaws kidnap Farina again, he gets sick. They try to help him, making them the nicer than anyone else in Feathers.
It finishes with the Gang stranded in the wilderness. Unfortunately not to stay.
Directed by Robert F. McGowan and Robert A. McGowan; written and produced by Hal Roach; titles by H.M. Walker; edited by Richard C. Currier; released by Pathé Exchange.
Starring Allen ‘Farina’ Hoskins (Farina), Joe Cobb (Joe), Johnny Downs (Johnny), Jannie Hoskins (Mango), Jackie Condon (Jackie), Scooter Lowry (Skooter), Clifton Young (Bonedust), Jay R. Smith (Jay), Peggy Ahearn (Peggy), Mildred Kornman (Mildred), Chet Brandenburg (Rancher at the Whistling Clam), Allan Cavan (Train passenger), George B. French (Rancher at the Whistling Clam), Ham Kinsey (Conductor) and Sam Lufkin (Sheriff).
Posted in 1926, Black and White, Comedy, English, Family, Not Recommended, Pathé, Short, USA
Tagged Allan Cavan, Allen 'Farina' Hoskins, Chet Brandenburg, Clifton Young, George B. French, H.M. Walker, Hal Roach, Ham Kinsey, Jackie Condon, Jannie Hoskins, Jay R. Smith, Joe Cobb, Johnny Downs, Mildred Kornman, Peggy Ahearn, Richard C. Currier, Robert A. McGowan, Robert F. McGowan, Sam Lufkin, Scooter Lowry
Snow Time is another strange cartoon from Foster. It’s wintertime in cute cartoon animal land and everyone’s having a swell time skiing, synchronized skating and so on.
Until this cat’s tale gets cut off because he’s messing around in a ski lane. But Foster and co-director Davis don’t follow his story. Presumably he’s just done… Snow Time skips between all the cute little animals until the finish. About a minute after the cartoon needs a narrative, it gets one.
The cat who’s been off screen for most of the cartoon–apparently walking around the frozen wilderness (he loses his tail at some point)–is dying. A crazy doctor can’t save him, but maybe some whiskey can.
I’m not sure the actual moral of the cartoon is anything like what the filmmakers intended.
There’s a lot more craziness I forgot (an assault, a living hot dog).
Snow Time‘s really strange.
Directed by Mannie Davis and John Foster; produced by Paul Terry and Amadee J. Van Beuren; released by Pathé Exchange.
Posted in 1930, Animation, Black and White, English, Not Recommended, Pathé, Short, USA
Tagged Amadee J. Van Beuren, John Foster, Mannie Davis, Paul Terry
Super-Hooper-Dyne Lizzies explores the dangers of electric cars. Basically, they can be taken over by radio waves and made to do crazy things. If it weren’t for the gasoline dealer (John J. Richardson) being the villain, one could almost see it as twenties gas company propaganda.
The short is a special effects extravaganza and director Lord does pretty well with it. There are all sorts of car effects, some okay wirework and a few other things. Sadly, the rampant racism overshadows any of the short’s positive qualities.
At one point, co-writers Frank Capra and Jefferson Moffitt posit blacks are actually not living creatures. Where’s Robert Riskin when you need him….
There’s also some anti-Semitism, but it might be from title card writers Felix Adler and Al Giebler.
The first half is mildly amusing with the special effects. But the second half makes it Lizzies unpleasant overall.
Directed by Del Lord; screenplay by Frank Capra and Jefferson Moffitt; titles by Felix Adler and Al Giebler; directors of photography, George Spear and George Unholz; edited by William Hornbeck; produced by Mack Sennett; released by Pathé Exchange.
Starring Billy Bevan (Hiram Case), Andy Clyde (Burbank Watts), Lillian Knight (Minnie Watts) and John J. Richardson (T. Potter Doam).
Posted in 1925, Black and White, Comedy, Not Recommended, Pathé, Short, USA
Tagged Al Giebler, Andy Clyde, Billy Bevan, Del Lord, Felix Adler, Frank Capra, George Spear, George Unholz, Jefferson Moffitt, John J. Richardson, Lillian Knight, Mack Sennett, William Hornbeck
In some ways, No Noise has it all. Kids getting high off laughing gas, then enjoying a little electrocution, there’s some cross-dressing… it seems like there’s even more. The threat of Farina being operated on by the Our Gang kids. Actually, Farina’s practically in drag too. I guess boys and girls closes weren’t particularly distinct in the twenties. When Mickey Daniels shows up wearing Mary Kornman’s dress, the other boys don’t even bat an eye.
The short is weak at the start and finish, but relatively strong in the middle. McGowan composes some good shots during the gang’s initial trip to the hospital (to visit Mickey and eat ice cream). It all falls apart at the end with these endless “haunted hospital” gags. The sets look terrible in that sequence.
And the weak open is all Daniels’s fault. An annoying twerp isn’t a good protagonist.
Noise is benignly dreadful.
Directed by Robert F. McGowan; screenplay by Hal Roach; titles by H.M. Walker; produced by Roach; released by Pathé Exchange.
Starring Allen ‘Farina’ Hoskins (Farina), Andy Samuel (Andy), Ernest Morrison (Sunshine Sammy), Jackie Condon (Jackie), Jack Davis (Jack), Joe Cobb (Joe), Mickey Daniels (Mickey), Mary Kornman (Mary) and Beth Darlington (Mickey’s nurse).
Posted in 1923, Black and White, Comedy, Family, Not Recommended, Pathé, Short, USA
Tagged Allen 'Farina' Hoskins, Andy Samuel, Beth Darlington, Ernest Morrison, H.M. Walker, Hal Roach, Jack Davis, Jackie Condon, Joe Cobb, Mary Kornman, Mickey Daniels, Robert F. McGowan
Wood Choppers is not a good cartoon. The animation is weak and director Terry’s approach to the cartoon’s reality is anything goes. Dogs resurrect themselves after being turned into sausages and mice are able to reattach their heads and morph their tails into anything they can imagine.
It’s exceptionally lazy.
But there’s something amazing about it–just how little Terry cares for making any sense. He spends about half the cartoon setting up the elaborate setting. Cats, mice and dogs live in this town where the industry is logging and the mice play on the logs. It has nothing to do with the action of the cartoon, which is a cat chasing a mouse.
The logging does come back at the end, after the cat’s disappeared, and the whole cartoon’s now a romance between mice.
Wood Choppers is gloriously nonsensical. Sadly, the animation’s not good enough to make it worthwhile.
Directed by Paul Terry; produced by Terry and Amadee J. Van Beuren; released by Pathé Exchange.
Dogs of War features some of Robert F. McGowan’s finest directorial work. Sure, he’s aping World War I movies–specifically trench warfare and no man’s land, which seem highly inappropriate subjects for comedy–but it’s incredibly well-directed. A lot of his setups are shockingly good.
The “war” aspect of Dogs only lasts about nine minutes before the short moves into its better setting–a movie studio. The Our Gang kids crash the studio when the girl (the real girl, Mary Kornman, not Allen ‘Farina’ Hoskins, who’s gender-bending this time) gets a bit part.
The movie studio antics are amusing without ever getting particularly funny. The gang–no one stands out, not even Farina–is endearing though and Dogs passes the time nicely.
The Harold Lloyd cameo doesn’t hurt.
After the incredibly uncomfortable and off-putting opening, Dogs turns out to be a rather pleasant outing for the gang.
Directed by Robert F. McGowan; written by Hal Roach; titles by H.M. Walker; director of photography, Harry W. Gerstad; edited by Thomas J. Crizer; produced by Roach; released by Pathé Exchange.
Starring Joe Cobb (Joe), Jackie Condon (Jackie), Mickey Daniels (Mickey), Jack Davis (Jack), Allen ‘Farina’ Hoskins (Farina), Ernest Morrison (Sunshine Sammy), Mary Kornman (Mary), Dick Gilbert (Studio guard) and William Gillespie (Director).
Posted in 1923, Black and White, Comedy, English, Family, Pathé, Recommended, Short, USA
Tagged Allen 'Farina' Hoskins, Dick Gilbert, Ernest Morrison, H.M. Walker, Hal Roach, Harry W. Gerstad, Jack Davis, Jackie Condon, Joe Cobb, Mary Kornman, Mickey Daniels, Robert F. McGowan, Thomas J. Crizer, William Gillespie
Now or Never takes a long time to get to the basic comedic plot–Harold Lloyd is stuck taking care of a little kid on a train ride. The kid, played by Anna Mae Bilson, is absolutely adorable and a perfect foil for Lloyd. She’s his costar, not romantic interest Mildred Davis, which is somewhat unfortunate.
The film takes a kitchen sink approach, with Lloyd not just speeding in a car, but also hopping a train before getting onboard Never‘s principal train. About fifteen minutes could easily come off the front, since it doesn’t feature Lloyd and Bilson together.
Roach and Newmeyer’s direction, even of the pointless parts, is excellent and Lloyd’s good, which makes Never painless (if still overlong). The finale, when Lloyd’s on top of the train–an inevitability for train movies–is fantastic. The stunt work is mesmerizing.
It’s cute and very likable, but fairly shallow overall.
Directed by Fred C. Newmeyer and Hal Roach; written by Sam Taylor; titles by H.M. Walker; director of photography, Walter Lundin; edited by Thomas J. Crizer; produced by Roach; released by Pathé Exchange.
Starring Harold Lloyd (The Boy), Mildred Davis (The Girl) and Anna Mae Bilson (The Lonesome Little Child).
Posted in 1921, Black and White, Comedy, English, Pathé, Recommended, Short, USA
Tagged Anna Mae Bilson, Fred C. Newmeyer, H.M. Walker, Hal Roach, Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis, Roach, Sam Taylor, Thomas J. Crizer, Walter Lundin