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Offline Paul Pain

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Comedy Slapstick
« on: August 10, 2016, 01:38:34 PM »
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  • I have watched many comedy short subjects over time... about half of the different Columbia shorts lineups (Stooges, Harry Langdon, El Brendel, Shemp Howard, Walter Catlett, etc), Laurel & Hardy, Buster Keaton, Billy Bevan, etc.  They all pretty much have some slapstick element, although some of them not-so-much. 

    What I have noticed, however, is that the Stooges are alone in the true violence.  The head bonks, the eye pokes, the saws on the head, etc.  Once in a while a tool will break on someone's head in a Schilling/Lane or a Vernon/Quillan short, but otherwise this kind of slapstick is absent.  Were these things unique to just the Three Stooges, or have I just not watched the right short subjects to see that kind of thing?

    I'm just curious, as most of these guys are still hilarious in their own ways.
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    Offline metaldams

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    Re: Comedy Slapstick
    « Reply #1 on: August 10, 2016, 05:40:27 PM »
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  • The Stooge style and rhythm of slapstick is pretty unique.  I have also never seen comedians use the eye poke as regularly.  The Stooges also used tools extremely well.  I guess their style is unique.

    That said, if we're talking violent slapstick, early Mack Sennett shorts have tons of slapping and ass kicking, even to women.  The falls they take are also quite amazing.  Early Chaplin can be violent.  There's lot of violence in early slapstick films, but for silents, as the twenties happened, the features were more story oriented with less cartoon violence.


    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: Comedy Slapstick
    « Reply #2 on: August 10, 2016, 05:55:46 PM »
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  • The Stooge style and rhythm of slapstick is pretty unique.  I have also never seen comedians use the eye poke as regularly.  The Stooges also used tools extremely well.  I guess their style is unique.

    That said, if we're talking violent slapstick, early Mack Sennett shorts have tons of slapping and ass kicking, even to women.  The falls they take are also quite amazing.  Early Chaplin can be violent.  There's lot of violence in early slapstick films, but for silents, as the twenties happened, the features were more story oriented with less cartoon violence.

    It was the eyepoke/face-slap/head-bonk stuff I was particularly curious about, as I have never seen this outside the Stooges.  Though there are some pretty Stoogey uses of tools out there, particularly in Columbia shorts.

    All that other stuff is worth mentioning, too, as it is all over the place.  Then you watch a Harry Langdon silent film and there is some impressive plot and character development considering the almost non-use of title cards in some of his shorts.

    It's pretty fun when you can find some of the lesser known stuff out there as it is sometimes as funny as what we consider "classics" and definitely funnier than a Shemp-era 1954 stock-job.
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    Offline metaldams

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    Re: Comedy Slapstick
    « Reply #3 on: August 10, 2016, 08:29:20 PM »
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  • It was the eyepoke/face-slap/head-bonk stuff I was particularly curious about, as I have never seen this outside the Stooges.  Though there are some pretty Stoogey uses of tools out there, particularly in Columbia shorts.

    All that other stuff is worth mentioning, too, as it is all over the place.  Then you watch a Harry Langdon silent film and there is some impressive plot and character development considering the almost non-use of title cards in some of his shorts.

    It's pretty fun when you can find some of the lesser known stuff out there as it is sometimes as funny as what we consider "classics" and definitely funnier than a Shemp-era 1954 stock-job.

    The type of interaction the Stooges have with each other as well as the rhythm of their bonks, pokes, and slaps is what makes the Stooges unique along with their characterizations.  As far as stories and gags?  I was shocked with how much recycled stuff I saw when watching older films, but then again, look at the earlier careers of the Columbia writers.

    Just curious, what Langdons and Keatons have you seen?  Vernon Dent appears in a lot of Langdon silents shorts.  He's especially great in "His Marriage Wow" and "Saturday Afternoon."

    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: Comedy Slapstick
    « Reply #4 on: August 11, 2016, 04:38:31 AM »
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  • Just curious, what Langdons and Keatons have you seen?  Vernon Dent appears in a lot of Langdon silents shorts.  He's especially great in "His Marriage Wow" and "Saturday Afternoon."

    For Harry, I've seen "Plain Clothes" (because I was looking for Vernon Dent) and "Defective Detectives."  Haven't gotten to watch others, though I plan to while I still have time off before class resumes.  Buster I've only watched (but enjoyed) the links you've posted over the years.

    I watched a Gil Lamb RKO short this morning (with Andy Clyde and Emil Sitka on loan), and it quickly became apparent why Columbia's shorts are syndicated and RKO's aren't.
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    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: Comedy Slapstick
    « Reply #5 on: August 12, 2016, 06:11:33 PM »
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  • Well, I just binge-watched four of Keaton's Columbia shorts today :D

    If people, including Keaton himself, say that the Columbia years were the worst, I can't wait to see what his best is like!
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    Offline metaldams

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    Re: Comedy Slapstick
    « Reply #6 on: August 12, 2016, 06:42:11 PM »
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  • Well, I just binge-watched four of Keaton's Columbia shorts today :D

    If people, including Keaton himself, say that the Columbia years were the worst, I can't wait to see what his best is like!

    I'll never forget the first time I saw SHERLOCK, JR.  Was totally blown away and got hooked on silent comedy.  I'd suggest to start either there or a few of his silent shorts.

    Offline metaldams

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    Re: Comedy Slapstick
    « Reply #7 on: August 12, 2016, 07:26:13 PM »
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  • Also, I can understand Keaton himself not liking the Columbia stuff, especially compared to the control, time, and budgets of his silent work.  That said, the Columbia's are fun and have gained a better reputation when they were released on DVD.  Just make sure you save the MGM talking features for last.

    Offline Final Shemp

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    Re: Comedy Slapstick
    « Reply #8 on: August 12, 2016, 11:16:03 PM »
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  • Well, I just binge-watched four of Keaton's Columbia shorts today :D

    If people, including Keaton himself, say that the Columbia years were the worst, I can't wait to see what his best is like!

    My recommended Keaton starter kit:  One Week, The General, and The Cameraman.

    Buster has made many, MANY great shorts and movies, but if you watch these three you'll become an instant fan.

    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: Comedy Slapstick
    « Reply #9 on: August 13, 2016, 04:43:07 AM »
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  • My recommended Keaton starter kit:  One Week, The General, and The Cameraman.

    Buster has made many, MANY great shorts and movies, but if you watch these three you'll become an instant fan.

    Welcome back and happy birthday!

    I'm going to dive deeper and deeper, but I have immensely enjoyed what I seen thus far.  I'm probably going to watch one of the ones you suggested after I finish the Columbia's.
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    Offline metaldams

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    Re: Comedy Slapstick
    « Reply #10 on: August 13, 2016, 06:47:30 PM »
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  • My recommended Keaton starter kit:  One Week, The General, and The Cameraman.

    Buster has made many, MANY great shorts and movies, but if you watch these three you'll become an instant fan.

    I now love THE GENERAL and while it is widely considered a masterpiece, it did not hit me on first viewing.  That is why I always hesitate to suggest it as an absolute Keaton starter.  Of course every Keaton fan should see it, though!  THE CAMERAMAN is brilliant, a beautiful movie, and ONE WEEK is also a must see.  For shorts, along with ONE WEEK, I also love COPS, THE PLAYHOUSE, THE GOAT, NEIGHBORS, and THE BOAT.  That said, even the relatively weaker Keaton silents like MY WIFE'S RELATIONS, THE FROZEN NORTH, THREE AGES and SPITE MARRIAGE are all at least good and worth seeing.  Keaton never made a turkey in the silent era.

    Offline Final Shemp

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    Re: Comedy Slapstick
    « Reply #11 on: August 13, 2016, 07:05:06 PM »
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  • I had the opposite reaction.  When I first saw it, it was love at first sight.  I know a Keaton fan or two who saw it first and instantly turned them on to his filmography.

    If you're just looking for a comedy, then I'd probably replace it with Sherlock Jr. or The Navagator, but The General is a rare film that transcends a single genre.  The movie is funny, yes, but it's also rousing, exciting, intense, dramatic, and stunningly crafted.  Those looking for all that Keaton could bring to the table as a filmmaker should look no further.

    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: Comedy Slapstick
    « Reply #12 on: August 13, 2016, 07:09:07 PM »
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  • Keaton's mainstream, so I'll get to it all eventually!  This guy is a riot.  It's interesting to see how many Stooge routines came from his shorts.
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    Offline metaldams

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    Re: Comedy Slapstick
    « Reply #13 on: August 13, 2016, 07:17:21 PM »
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  • I had the opposite reaction.  When I first saw it, it was love at first sight.  I know a Keaton fan or two who saw it first and instantly turned them on to his filmography.

    If you're just looking for a comedy, then I'd probably replace it with Sherlock Jr. or The Navagator, but The General is a rare film that transcends a single genre.  The movie is funny, yes, but it's also rousing, exciting, intense, dramatic, and stunningly crafted.  Those looking for all that Keaton could bring to the table as a filmmaker should look no further.

    I can agree with that statement about THE GENERAL.  Want to add the photography and natural scenery are all top notch.  My first viewing of THE GENERAL was close to 15 years ago and it was a TCM Silent Sunday Night.  I remember dozing off, but the late hour may have had something to do with it.  I can only have one first viewing, but yeah, I've since grown to love it.  No doubt THE GENERAL transcends comedy.

    Offline metaldams

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    Re: Comedy Slapstick
    « Reply #14 on: August 13, 2016, 07:18:28 PM »
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  • Keaton's mainstream, so I'll get to it all eventually!  This guy is a riot.  It's interesting to see how many Stooge routines came from his shorts.

    Keaton worked a lot with Clyde Bruckman.  So did Harold Lloyd.

    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: Comedy Slapstick
    « Reply #15 on: August 14, 2016, 04:48:40 AM »
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  • Keaton worked a lot with Clyde Bruckman.  So did Harold Lloyd.

    I did notice this about it.  Even some sound effects apparently debuted with Buster, though.
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    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: Comedy Slapstick
    « Reply #16 on: August 28, 2016, 01:56:29 PM »
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  • I have been picking through the world of Buster Keaton silent films: features, shorts, and secondary billings in Roscoe Arbuckle shorts.  I'm completely hooked on this guy.  Every time I think he can't get funnier, he does.  It's easy to understand why a disproportionate number of the films that are on the preservation list and the API top 100 lists are Buster Keaton films.
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    Offline metaldams

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    Re: Comedy Slapstick
    « Reply #17 on: August 28, 2016, 05:27:24 PM »
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  • I have been picking through the world of Buster Keaton silent films: features, shorts, and secondary billings in Roscoe Arbuckle shorts.  I'm completely hooked on this guy.  Every time I think he can't get funnier, he does.  It's easy to understand why a disproportionate number of the films that are on the preservation list and the API top 100 lists are Buster Keaton films.

    Nice!  One of the funniest and most creative comedians ever.  What films have you seen and what are your favorites among them?  Oh, and happy birthday!

    Offline CurlyFan1934

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    Re: Comedy Slapstick
    « Reply #18 on: August 28, 2016, 07:52:09 PM »
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  • Speaking of Buster Keaton, I recently rewatched Coney Island through the eyes of a now silent-film fan. Before, I was into silent films, but was never really hooked on the idea. However, Coney Island was an highly entertaining silent film with a easy to follow plot and enjoyable scenes involving the amusement park. Would recognize this film to silent buffs or overall movie fans.

    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: Comedy Slapstick
    « Reply #19 on: August 28, 2016, 08:07:47 PM »
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  • Nice!  One of the funniest and most creative comedians ever.  What films have you seen and what are your favorites among them?  Oh, and happy birthday!

    Thank you! ;D

    I have seen One Week, The Balloonatic, The Scarecrow, The High Sign, Sherlock Jr., The General, the Columbia shorts, The Bellboy, Goodnight Nurse, Backstage, Convict 13, The Neighbors, The Haunted House, The Goat, Cops, The Love Nest, and The Blacksmith.  I have enjoyed all, but THE GENERAL is the best movie I have ever seen amongst all genres.

    Edit: added two shorts

    I believe Buster Keaton reviews may be coming someday :D
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    Offline CurlyFan1934

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    Re: Comedy Slapstick
    « Reply #20 on: August 29, 2016, 08:04:57 AM »
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  • Just adding to the discussion about Buster Keaton below, I have seen quite a few shorts and I have seen the General. Paul Pain and Metaldams, if I want to further explore Buster Keaton, are there any stand-out shorts or features I should watch of Keaton?

    Offline metaldams

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    Re: Comedy Slapstick
    « Reply #21 on: August 29, 2016, 05:28:18 PM »
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  • Paul's got a good list of what he's seen.  I will list my favorites shorts and features.  That said, even weaker silent Keaton is at least good, I don't think I'd rate anything lower than 7/10, so throw a dart and I promise it won't land on a turkey.

    Shorts

    One Week
    The Goat
    Neighbors
    The Boat
    Cops
    The Playhouse

    Features
    Our Hospitality
    Sherlock, Jr.
    The General
    Steamboat Bill, Jr.
    The Cameraman

    Glad you guys dig Keaton, it's very rewarding discovering his films, and yeah, you will see Stooge gags and plots.  Just make sure you watch the MGM talking features dead last.

    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: Comedy Slapstick
    « Reply #22 on: August 29, 2016, 06:17:35 PM »
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  • Short to try: One Week, much of this can be found in Stooge shorts
    Movie: Sherlock, Jr.
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    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: Comedy Slapstick
    « Reply #23 on: August 29, 2016, 06:18:10 PM »
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  • Just make sure you watch the MGM talking features dead last.

    Will do!
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    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: Comedy Slapstick
    « Reply #24 on: September 05, 2016, 09:16:49 PM »
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  • I have finished the solo Joseph Schenck shorts.  I have several Schenck movies and a few Fatty Arbuckles before I get to the Educational shorts.
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