Monday, April 23, 2012

Phil attends COMEDY NIGHT at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum-April 21, 2012

Once again I ventured out to the Edison Theatre, home of the world famous Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, for its monthly Comedy Shorts Night show. I started the night off by having a delicious slice of cheese pizza for dinner over at Broncho Billy's Pizza Palace, then I headed off to the museum for a night of a thousand laughs. Providing music for the show was the talented Frederick Hodges! Let the laughs commence!

Charlie Chaplin
The first film shown was THE COUNT (1916), starring Charlie Chaplin, Edna Purviance, and Eddie Campbell. In the film Chaplin plays an apprentice at a tailor's shop. After burning a count's trousers, Chaplin gets fired, while his boss (Campbell) discovers an invitation to Miss Moneybags' (Purviance) dinner party. Soon Chaplin arrives and pretends to be the count and makes Campbell his secretary. Both he and Campbell fight for the affection of Miss Moneybags, but things get even more complicated when the real count arrives.

The film was written and directed by Chaplin, and it was his fifth film he made for the Mutual Film Company, which was released on September 4, 1916. Chaplin signed with Mutual in December of 1915, after being lured away from the Essanay Film Company. The film was also known as Almost a Gentleman. This funny two-reeler comedy was released to theaters on September 4, 1916.

Buster Keaton
The second of the night was THE BOAT (1922) starring Buster Keaton. In this classic two-reeler Keaton is married with two children who both wear the porkpie hat like his. He builds a rather large boat called Damfino inside his house. After destroying his house while trying to tow it out, it's life on the deep blue sea. However Buster and his family are caught in a terrible storm, but it's all for laughs as we see Keaton do what he does best.

Keaton's technical effects man, Fred Gabourie, constructed two boats for the filming. One was designed to sink and the other was a fully working boat for the rest of the filming. Unfortunately, the boat that was designed to sink didn't and the boat that wasn't supposed to sink did! The film was written and directed by Keaton and his collaborator Edward F. Cline and was released to theaters on November 10, 1921.

After a short intermission, the show continued with:

Charley Chase
LOOKING FOR SALLY (1925) starring funny man Charley Chase, Katherine Grant, and Noah Young. In the film Chase portrays Jimmie Jump as he's returning home from traveling to Europe. His parents are their to great him along with an old girl-friend Sally whom he hasn't seen in years. But when he mistakes an ugly women for Sally, he freaks out and runs away and accidentally runs into Sally, but neither one recognizes the other. He searches the city for his love but keeps getting followed by a dumb detective. He finally meets Sally while she volunteers as a temperance worker. To get her attention, he dresses up like a drunken slob, which only adds more confusion.

Chase started off in vaudeville before being hired by Mack Sennett to work for him at Keystone Studios. After making a number of films there, in 1920 he began working as a film director for Hal Roach Studios. He soon graduated to starring in his own series of comedy shorts. The film was produced by Hal Roach Studios and released by MGM to theaters on May 10, 1925.

Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy
The final film of the night was WE FAW DOWN (1928) starring the boys, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. In the film the boys fool their wives and sneak out to a poker game, but they instead get involved with two flirty ladies, one of whom has a very jealous boxer. Things only get worse for our friends as their wives discover they lied to them about going to the theater.

Both Laurel and Hardy had successful solo careers before Hal Roach put them together in one of his films. The rest as they say, is comedy history. The film was produced by Hal Roach Studios and released by MGM on December 29, 1928.

Another great sold out crowd at the Edison Theatre! Remember the museum is open for tours every weekend from 12pm-4pm and every Saturday night there's a silent film show starting at 7:30 (doors open at 7pm). So if you would like to learn more about the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, on how to become a member, and to view their film schedule, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

1 comment:

  1. Wish I could have totally been there. This sounded like a fun night.

    Thank you for the awesome review. Makes me want to breaking into the film vault to watch a classic. Amazing job, hun.