Category Archives: 1924

One Wet Night (1924, William Watson)

One Wet Night is profoundly unfunny. It’s not terrible or anything, just not funny. It even might deserve points for having the idiot butler be a white guy (Bert Roach). But Roach is the butler to two more idiots, a couple played by Alice Howell and Neely Edwards. Wet is a great example why unsympathetic idiots don’t make good protagonists.

Howell gets top-billing in the short, but she has nothing to do. The only moment she gets to herself is the first scene. Then Wet switches between Roach and Edwards. Roach isn’t funny, but he’s genial. Edwards is neither.

Maybe if director Watson brought any personality to the short, it would go along a little: smoother. Unfortunately, every camera setup is mediocre (at best) and Watson can’t make the disaster humor funny.

One Wet Night plays like a spectacle of idiots, without giving them enough to do to amuse.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Written and directed by William Watson; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Alice Howell (The Wife), Neely Edwards (The Husband), Bert Roach (The Butler) and Tiny Sandford (A Guest).


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Diagonal Symphony (1924, Viking Eggeling)

If I knew how Eggeling made the shapes in Diagonal Symphony move–or if I was really into geometry (but probably not)–I might appreciate it more.

The short is some shapes doubling and duplicating until they eventually start rescinding. The shapes aren’t interesting; in fact, when Eggeling does complicate the object, Symphony becomes less engaging. At least the less complicated objects move better together.

Eggeling’s greatest success is the editing. He’ll have two objects of differing sizes moving in different directs and the timing of the cut is dependent on one of them. It’s unpredictable and engaging editing.

Otherwise, Symphony just goes on too long. It could have easily run half its length–especially when the final stage, large object disappears for a minute or two, before returning with no discernible reason.

That ending would be disruptive. Instead, Eggeling shrinks the object down, tilting and repeating the opening in reverse.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Viking Eggeling.


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All Night Long (1924, Harry Edwards)

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.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

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).


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