Monday, November 21, 2011

Phil attends COMEDY SHORTS NIGHT at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum-November 19, 2011

This past Saturday night I ventured back to the Edison Theatre, home of the world famous Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, where they were having their popular Comedy Shorts Night. So I took my good friend Amanda, her son Brian with me to have some silent film fun. First we stopped off to eat dinner at Bronco Billy's Pizza Palace, where we filled up on burgers, pizzas, and garlic cheese bread, severed by my long time friend Heather. Afterwards, the three of us made our way to the theatre.

Not only it was comedy night, but there was also a special book signing at the museum as well. Authors Gary Meyer and Julie Lindow were there signing their book Left in the Dark: Portraits of San Francisco Movie Theatres. Also there was Jack Tillmany with his Arcadia book Theatres of the San Francisco Peninsula. During the opening introductions, all three authors came up to talk about their respective books and thanked the museum for hosting and providing a wonderful environment to show these great silent films. Tonight's program consisted of four hilarious shorts:

Snub Pollard (1889-1962)
COURTSHIP OF MILES SANDWICH (1923): Starring funnyman Snub Pollard. In the film Snub plays Papa, who tells his son the story about the very first Thanksgiving. It's a funny story involving Pilgrims, Indians, Pilgrims driving Fords, renting skis, exploding peace pipes, and other funny sight gags. The film was directed by Charley Chase, who went on to star in his own series of comedy shorts. The film was produced by Hal Roach studios and was released to theaters on June 24, 1923.

Max Davidson (1875-1950)
PASS THE GRAVY (1929): Starring Max Davidson, Spec O'Donnell, Martha Sleeper, Bert Sprotte, and Gene Morgan. The museum's Thanksgiving short film they screen every year, the film is the best 20 minutes you'll have laughing at a movie! Words cannot begin to describe the film, so I'll try to do my best here. Max and his neighbor Shultz (Sprotte) can't seem to get along, due to the fact that Sprotte breeds chickens, which eat up his plant seeds. However, Max's daughter (Sleeper) and Shultz's son (Morgan) are now engaed, and to celebrate, Max sends his youngest son (Spec) to buy a $2 chicken. But his son finds a chicken that will do just fine for dinner. But the catch is this: that chicken was Shultz's prize winning rooster Brigham! As of course, some comedic shenanigans ensues, and thus comedy gold is shown right before your very eyes! The film was produced by Hal Roach Studios and released to theaters by MGM on January 7, 1928.

After a brief intermission, the show continued with:

Charley Chase (1893-1940)
MOVIE NIGHT (1929): Starring comedian Charley Chase, Spec O'Donnell, Eugenia Gilbert, and Edith Fellows. In the film Chase and his family are getting ready for the weekly outing to the movies. But poor Chase can't seem to get a break. First he tries to pass off his wife's brother (O'Donnell) as a minor to save some money but to no avail, then his daughter (Fellows) has a severe case of the hiccups, which she passes on to Chase. Then he's being harassed by the theatre manager for interrupting the picture for the audience. Things get even wilder when Chase wins a duck during the theatre's raffle! This was on of the last silent films that Hal Roach Studios produced and it was Chase's last silent film ever. The film was released by MGM on May 11, 1929.

S. Laurel (1890-1965) O. Hardy (1892-1957)
DO DETECTIVES THINK? (1927): Starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. In this film, the boys play Ferdinand Finkleberry (Laurel) and Sherlock Pinkham (Hardy), two of the worst detectives ever who have been assigned to watch over Judge Foozle (James Finlayson), whose life is threatened when The Tipton Slasher (Noah Young) escapes from prison and targets the Foozle as his next victim. This is Laurel and Hardy at their best! The film is a long lost classic that has never been released on DVD! The film was produced by Hal Roach Studios (noticed the theme of tonight?) and released into theatres on November 20, 1927.

Another great Comedy Shorts Night at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum! If you would like to learn more about the museum, their film schedule, and how to become a member, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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