Hot Biskits (1931, Spencer Williams)

Hot Biskits refers to lead Thurston Briggs. He’s Hot Biskits, only he uses a pseudonym because he’s a con man. He’s got a cushy job as a miniature golf course manager; the owner is a crooked cop, who’s fine just so long as the managers don’t make any money on the side.

Although Briggs can’t play golf, he’s told everyone he’s the second best player in the world. An old acquantiance happens upon the mini-putt course and recognizes Briggs. Briggs, back in his cardsharp days, promised to take any bet.

Notice how long I’m going on with the recap? Biskits is like ten minutes. Writer, director, and costar Spencer Williams–he plays Briggs’s eventual partner in an attempt to cheat to win the game–Williams is busy. Lots is happening.

Williams has got a good sense of comic timing, both when acting and directing his cast. The only time the short drags is at the front, with Briggs’s pontification about his miniature golf skills. Biskits recovers real fast–after that opening, Briggs is great. That scene just didn’t work.

Most of Biskits works though; Williams makes some ambitious moves, mostly with dialogue comedy but also with the direction. The short’s on a budget and Williams has some ingenuity in keeping costs down. It’s short comedy but not slapstick.

Biskits is fun stuff.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Written and directed by Spencer Williams; director of photography, Glen Gano.

Starring Thurston Briggs (Prof. Zion Williams a.k.a. Hot Biskits) and Spencer Williams (Jim).


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