Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Phil attends COMEDY SHORTS NIGHT at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum-August 14, 2011

It's been a while since I was at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, but tonight I returned, and it was Comedy Night! Five of the silent film era's funniest comedians showed us why they are cinema's best of the best. Tonight on the piano was the incredible Judy Rosenberg.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1917)
The first film of the night was THE IMMIGRANT starring our little Tramp, Charlie Chaplin and his lovely costar Edna Purviance. In the film, Charlie and Edna are immigrants on a ship heading to America to start a new life. Joining the cast are Eddie Campbell as a waiter who is also the its enforcer by beating the hell out of customers who cannot pay their bill! Also making an appearance in the film is Henry Bergman who appeared in several of Chaplin's films. This was one of films Chaplin made for the Mutual Film Company, which he signed with in early 1916 after leaving the Essanay Film Manufacturing Film Company. Mutual offered Chaplin a $150,000 signing bonus and his own production company called Lone Star Corporation. This is one of my favorite shorts from the Chaplin/Mutual era. The film was released on June 17, 1917.

Theatrical Poster (1925)
The second film of the night starred the other funny Charley: Charley Chase! The film INNOCENT HUSBANDS showcased Chase's amazing comedic timing as he plays a married husband who's wife is just a tad on the jealous side. OK, she is a crazy, jealous wife, which leads to some very funny sight gags and hilarious scenarios. The reason Chase isn't to well known is that he never made the transition to feature length films. The one film he did appear in was SONS OF THE DESERT, which starred Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. This short is a perfect example of a forgotten comedian who was just fantastic, and should be rediscovered. Charley Chase belongs in the ranks of the best comedian actors, such as Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Ben Turpin. The film was produced by Hal Roach Studios, distributed by Pathe, and released in theaters on August 2, 1925. Charley Chase and his films are defiantly worth checking out, so go out and rediscover this long lost and talented actor!

Buster Keaton in THE LOVE NEST (1923)
After a brief intermission, the show continued with Old Stone Face himself, Buster Keaton. In the film THE LOVE NEST, a broken-hearted Keaton tries to forget about his ex-girlfriend by sailing the seven seas. Soon he caught by pirates and soon learns the life of a pirate, albeit the hard way! This was a film that I haven't seen before, and I've pretty much seen all of his short films. This was real treat to see, as it showcased his dark sense of humor. Keaton co-directed the film with his long time collaborator Edward F. Cline, and was released into theaters in March of 1923.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1927)
The final film of the night was SAILORS, BEWARE! starring the boys; Laurel and Hardy! Now this film was one of the earliest films that the boys teamed up in, but it wasn't a full fledged Laurel & Hardy film yet. The film has Laurel as a taxi cab driver who is accidentally brought on board (along with his taxi cab). Since the captain doesn't like stowaways, he enlists Hardy to be his boss and makes him work on the boat. Little do they realize that a con artist (Anita Garvin) and her midget partner who's dressed like her infant son (Harry Earles) are robbing the ship's passengers. Another Hal Roach film, and with this a legendary comedic duo is formed, only Roach didn't realize yet. Soon Laurel & Hardy became household names, and when to star in several shorts, and soon major motion pictures. The film was produced Roach Studios, and was released to theaters by Pathe on September 25, 1927.

Another fun-filled night at the 'ol Edison Theater. If you would like to visit the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, view their film schedule, and learn how to become a member, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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