CRUEL & UNUSUAL COMEDY: Slapstick films at MOMA (NY) 11/5-12/10
This looks to be a great class, and a wonderful opportunity to see some rare and exciting early clown and comedy films. Ben Model is a fount of information, and a great silent film accompanist as well. If you've got the time and the dough, you'll be in for a real treat.
"Cruel and Unusual Comedy: Social Commentary in the American Slapstick Film"
Five Wednesdays, 6:30–8:30 p.m., 11/5, 11/12, 11/19, 12/3,12/10, (no class 11/26)
Instructors: Ron Magliozzi, Steve Massa, Ben Model and Special Guests. Musical accompaniment for silent films by Ben Model
This course considers how silent era slapstick comedy treats social, cultural, and political subjects that have continued to be central concerns in America to this day. Industrialization, race, ethnicity, gender, public order, violence, and substance abuse have traditionally been among the most vital sources for the "rude" forms of comedy that have entertained mass audiences. Drawing on a body of work that is a particular strength of the Museum's film collection, classes consist of screenings, with historical lectures and classroom discussion.
Five-part courses are $260; $220 for members. Sign up for Museum membership starting at $75 and receive free admission to the Museum for a year and the discounted course prices. For more information on MoMA Courses, e-mail [email protected] or call (212) 408-8441.
Class One: November 5
Drag Shows: Cross-Dressing the Sexes
Guest speaker: John Epperson (a/k/a “Lypsinka”)
GETTING RID OF TROUBLE (1912) Biograph. Dir: Del Henderson. Cast: Charles Murray, Eddie Dillon, Kathleen Butler. 1 reel. A tough Irish cook takes care of mashers.
GOOD NIGHT NURSE (1917) Comique. Dir: Roscoe Arbuckle. Cast: Arbuckle, Buster Keaton, Al St John, Alice Lake. 2 reels. Fatty’s wife checks him into a sanitarium in order to cure his carousing.
SWEEDIE LEARNS TO SWIM (1914) Essanay. Dir: Wallace Beery (?). Cast: Wallace Beery, Betty Brown, Ben Turpin, Leo White. 1 reel. Wallace Beery starred in this series as a big lummox Swedish girl, and in this entry Sweedie wants to be a beach bunny.
CHASING THE CHASER (1925) Hal Roach. Dir: Stan Laurel. Cast: James Finlayson, Lyle Tayo, Fred Kovert. 1 reel. A suspicious wife hires a detective to trap her philandering husband, who poses as a woman to do it.
GET ‘EM YOUNG (1926) Hal Roach. Dir: Fred Guiol. Cast: Harry Myers, Stan Laurel, Max Davidson. 2 reels. Dissolute playboy Harry has to marry to get an inheritance, so he makes his valet dress as his bride.
Class Two: November 12
The Machine Age: Mack Sennett and Henry Ford
Guest speaker: Eileen Bowser, Curator Emerita, The Museum of Modern Art
HIS BREAD AND BUTTER (1916) Keystone/Triangle. Dir: Edward Cline & Hank Mann. Cast: Hank Mann, Peggy Pearce, Slim Summerville, Bobby Dunn. 2 reels. Hank gets more than he bargained for when he puts his wife to work.
GET OUT AND GET UNDER (1920) Hal Roach. Dir: Hal Roach. Cast: Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis, “Sunshine Sammy” Morrison. 2 reels. Harold has many trials and tribulations getting to his sweetheart’s performance.
LIZZIES OF THE FIELDS (1924) Sennett. Dir: Del Lord. Cast: Billy Bevan, Sid Smith, Barbara Pierce, Jack Richardson. 2 reels. All bets are off in a Mack Sennett auto race.
ALL WET (1924) Hal Roach. Dir: Leo McCarey. Cast: Charley Chase, William Gillespie, Martin “Tonnage” Wolfkeil. 1 reel. Charley has a good deal of trouble with his new automated status symbol.
SUPER-HOOPER-DYNE LIZZIES (1925) Sennett. Dir: Del Lord. Cast: Billy Bevan, Lillian Knight, Andy Clyde, Jack Richardson, Irving Bacon, Leo Sulky, James Donnelly. 2 reels. A scientist has a patent for remote controlled cars.
Class Three: November 19
Guest speaker: TBA
BLACK AND WHITE (1913) Biograph. Dir: Del Henderson. Cast: Dave Morris, Clarence Barr, Sylvia Ashton. 1 reel. Two hoboes, one white the other black, look around for handouts. The white hobo treats his servant terribly until the tables are turned.
A CHANGE OF COMPLEXION (1914) Crystal. Dir: Phillips Smalley. Cast: Henry Bergman, Vivian Prescott, Caroline Rankin. ? reel. A disgruntled cook blacks up her employers for revenge.
COME SEBEN, LEBEN (1913) Biograph. Dir: Del Henderson. Cast: Gus Pixley, Dave Morris, S ylvia Ashton, Clarence Barr. 1 reel. Denziens of the black community all try their luck in the local crap game.
A NATURAL BORN GAMBLER (1916) Biograph. Dir: ? Cast: Bert Williams. 2 reels. The great stage comic Bert Williams stars in this comedy about a black gambling club, which captures on film his famous pantomimed poker game routine.
HAUNTED SPOOKS (1920) Hal Roach. Dir: Hal Roach & Alf Goulding. Cast: Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis, “Sunshine Sammy” Morrison, Edgar Blue, Wallace Howe, William Gillespie. 2 reels. Harold sabotages a plot to swindle a young heiress with the help of the black servants.
Class Four: December 3
No Harm Done: Children & Animals
Guest speaker: Sandra DeFeo, The Humane Society of New York
AN ELEPHANT ON THEIR HANDS (1912) Vitagraph. Dir: Frederick Thomson. Cast: George Ober, Kate Price, Flora Finch, Lillian Walker, Robert Gaillard, Charles Eldridge, Hughie Mack. 1 reel. A surprise inheritance from a rich uncle eats peanuts and weighs 11,000 pounds.
THE KNOCKOUT (1923) Hal Roach. Dir & Photo: Len Powers. Cast: The Dippy-Doo-Dads. 1 reel. Intelligent monkeys, dogs and ducks enact a spoof of boxing dramas.
MIND THE BABY (1924) Century Comedy. Dir: Al Herman. Cast: Pal, Lillian Biron, Fred Spencer. 2 reels. Pal the dog saves a kidnapped baby from raging waterfalls and hungry alligators.
WHEN SUMMER COMES (1922) Mack Sennett. Dir: Roy Del Ruth. Cast: Billy Bevan, Mildred June, Kewpie Morgan, Billy Armstrong, Jack Cooper, Tiny Ward, Hughie Mack, Edgar Blue, John Rand, Cubby. 2 reels. Rampaging lions on the loose in a hunting lodge.
CAT, DOG AND CO. (1929) Hal Roach. Dir: Anthony Mack. Cast: Our Gang (Joe Cobb, Wheezer, Farina, Mary Ann Jackson, Jean Darling, Harry Spear, Pete the pup), Hedda Hopper, Dorothy Vernon, Syd Saylor, Silas Wilcox, Robert McGowan. 2 reels. Wheezer enjoys mistreating animals, until they take their revenge.
Class Five: December 10
Gratuitous Violence: No Turn Unstoned
Guest speaker: Trav S.D., author No Applause- Just Throw Money
THEIR FIRST EXCECUTION (1913) Keystone. Dir: Mack Sennett. Cast: Sennett, Ford Sterling, Edgar Kennedy, Charles Avery, Raymond Hatton, Nick Cogley, Joseph Swickard, Glen Cavender, Rube Miller, Bill Hauber, Dave Anderson. 1 reel. When a convict escapes before his high publicized execution, Ford Sterling is picked to fill the empty electric chair.
THE PHONEY CANNIBAL (1915) Kalem. Dir: Chance E. Ward. Cast: Lloyd Hamilton, Bud Duncan, Charles Insley, Martin Kinney. 1 reel. Ham & Bud battle each other, and anyone else who comes onscreen, while exhibiting Bud as a phoney “wild man.”
COLD HEARTS AND HOT FLAMES (1916) L-Ko. Dir: John G. Blystone. Cast: Billie Ritchie, Monty Banks, Robert McKenzie, Bert Roach, Joe Murphy, James T. Kelly, Charles Lakin, Eva McKenzie. 2 reels. Using dynamite to exact his revenge, Billie Ritchie causes mayhem which results in fire, blasting fire hoses, mud, and bodies careening on piano wires.
THE ROUGH HOUSE (1917) Comique. Dir: Roscoe Arbuckle. Cast: Arbuckle, Buster Keaton, Al St John, Alice Lake, Agnes Neilson. 2 reels. Director Arbuckle choreographs roughhouse on such a grand scale that it becomes slapstick ballet, with a lot of help from Al and Buster.
SWEET PAPA (1924) Fox. Dir: Henry Lehrman. Cast: James Parrott, Mildred June, Kalla Pasha, Bobby Burns, Hilliard Karr, Jerry Mandy, Cameo. 2 reels. A shanghaied sailor runs afoul of a tyrannical sea captain and his crew.