Saturday, June 25, 2011

Phil attends the 14th Annual Broncho Billy Silent Film Festival: Day Two, Part Two: Mack Sennett in the Twenties-June 25, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to my LIVE up-to-the-minute blogging on the 14th Annual Broncho Billy Silent Film Festival, hosted by the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum! Magic is being made here at the Edison Theater here in the Niles District of Fremont, so let's not waste any more time. Let's talk about this afternoon's program!

Mack Sennett (1880-1960)
The focus of Mack Sennet continued with the late afternoon program entitled Mack Sennett in the Twenties. Four two-reel comedy shorts were shown showcasing how Sennett's comedic style evolved during this era. Around this time, many events were transpiring. The most obvious was his main competitor Hal Roach started he's own film studio, Hal Roach Studios, and he was making a dent in Sennett's profits (also his films as well as Roach's were being distributed by Pathe). Roach Studios was the home to several top comedic stars such as Charley Chase, Laurel and Hardy, and the Our Gang/Little Rascal series. Audiences were into the more mature, well defined comedic offerings from Roach than the frantic, fast paced slapstick offering from Sennett. To ensure revenue, Sennett offered audiences several new films that showcased his new roster of talent. The films shown this afternoon were some of the funniest films that I was privileged to view. Once again historians Richard Roberts and Brent walker did the film introductions and the wonderful Judy Rosenberg provided the music accompaniment.

WANDERING WILLIES : Starring Billy Bevan and Andy Clyde, this comedic duo play homeless bums who hatch out a scheme to scam free food at a restaurant. Comedy is defiantly on the menu in this funny short. Produced by Mack Sennett Comedies and distributed by Pathe on March 28, 1926.

BROKE IN CHINA: Another classic Ben Turpin film, who first got started in the industry working for the Essanay Studios in Chicago along with Gloria Swanson. Turpin portrays a sailor who is flat broke in China and longs for his lost love of his life, who married another guy. The ending of the film was great, which begs the question if George Lucas saw this film and ripped off the ending. Directed by Edward F. Cline (who directed films for Buster Keaton) and released by Sennett on April 23, 1927.

THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE: Starring Mack Swain, Dot Farley, Daphne Pollard, and a young and sexy Carol Lombard, the film was mainly made to feature Sennett's Bathing Beauties, which by the way were very beautiful. It also features some very funny scenarios that one would come to expect from a Sennett shoot. Also for all you Lombard fans out there, this was one of her earliest screen appearances. In the film her name is spelled out "Carolle." The film was directed once again by Edward F. Cline and was released on December 11, 1927.

SMITH'S PICNIC: The final film for this afternoon's program, the film's about a group of friends heading out to the beach for some picnic fun. Featuring Raymond McKee, Ruth Hiatt, Irving Bacon, Sunshine Hart, Mary Ann Jackson, and Mildred June, the film was released to theaters on December 12, 1928.

That's it for this afternoon. There is still an evening show, which is sure to be a sellout show! And yours truly will be back with another live blog for the special screening of THE EXTRA GIRL starring the lovely Mabel Normand. If you'd like to come check out the festival, be sure to visit the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum's website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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