Tag Archives: Tiny Sandford

The Circus (1928, Charles Chaplin)

The Circus has a melancholic tone it doesn’t need and one director Chaplin is never fully invested in. The first half of the film is a series of fantastic gags–well, except the stuff with ring master Al Ernest Garcia being abusive to his daughter, played by Merna Kennedy. But the rest of it is hilarious. Chaplin, as the tramp, bumbles his way into the circus and the audience’s heart (while all the regular acts flop).

Chaplin’s gags are careful and deliberate–there’s a great mirror maze one and the circus act stuff is hilarious. It seems the tramp can’t figure out how to make the audience laugh when he’s trying to do so, only when he’s a bumbler. And he’s unaware of it.

Until around halfway, when Kennedy lets him in on the secret and he gets some bravado. That bravado leads to a decent sequence when he’s full of himself, but he immediately loses it because Harry Crocker shows up (in the late second act) to make a love triangle with Kennedy.

Now, Kennedy never has much of a character, but her friendship with Chaplin’s much better than her romantic interest in Crocker. Chaplin, as director and writer, is invested in the former. The latter is just for melodramatic purposes. Even if the first half does feel like a series of vignettes, they’re fabulous vignettes. The rest of the film is just Chaplin working for that melancholy.

It’s a shame the energy doesn’t maintain throughout the entire film.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Written, edited, directed and produced by Charles Chaplin; director of photography, Roland Totheroh; released by United Artists.

Starring Al Ernest Garcia (The Circus Proprietor and Ring Master), Merna Kennedy (His Step-Daughter – A Circus Rider), Harry Crocker (Rex – A Tight Rope Walker), George Davis (A Magician), Henry Bergman (An Old Clown), Tiny Sandford (The Head Property Man), John Rand (An Assistant Property Man), Steve Murphy (A Pickpocket) and Charles Chaplin (A Tramp).


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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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The Hoose-Gow (1929, James Parrott)

The Hoose-Gow is something of an early talkie mess. The shots are paced for a silent movie, leaving long awkward pauses in the soundtrack. The short’s synchronized sound is a fledgling effort. The stock sounds, when used, are obvious.

Parrott’s direction is problematic throughout, with his main deficiency becomes lucid at the finish. The short ends in a food fight and Parrott goes out of his way to remind the audience where the food (a big mess of rice) is on the frame. His direction’s artless and boring, which means the performers need to make it work. And they don’t. How can they with the awkward pacing of the scene.

The lack of sound hurts Stan Laurel mostly–Oliver Hardy gets more talking, sure–but Laurel’s often left without sound for his nervous tick behavior.

Besides George Stevens’s truly wondrous photography, The Hoose-Gow has nothing to recommend it.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by James Parrott; written by H.M. Walker; director of photography, George Stevens; edited by Richard C. Currier; produced by Hal Roach; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring Stan Laurel (Stan), Oliver Hardy (Ollie), Tiny Sandford (Warden), James Finlayson (Governor) and Leo Willis (Leo).


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