The Golden Age of Comedy (1958)

76 or 78 mins | Comedy, Documentary | March 1958

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HISTORY

An opening onscreen credit reads: "Associate producer Herbert G. Gelbspan, Hal Roach Studios." According to DV and LAEx reviews, the film was culled from 2,000 reels of Mack Sennett and Hal Roach short film comedies. The film was divided into eight acts with a prologue and finale which provided a loose chronicle of silent film comedy. The acts include the following films: Prologue: Super-Hooper-Dyne Lizzies (1925), Remember When? (1925), Angora Love (1929); Act I: The Laugh Factory: Hollywood Kid (1924), The Daredevil (1923), Wandering Willies (1926), Muscle Bound Music (1926), Wall Street Blues (1924), Circus Today (1926); Act II: Nobody Liked Them but the Public: Habeas Corpus (1928), The Second Hundred Years (1927), We Faw Down (1928), Battle of the Century (1927); Act III: The Cowboy Who Became a Legend: Going to Congress (1924), Uncensored Movies (1923), Big Moments from Little Pictures (1924); Act IV: Two Unforgettable Girls: Run, Girl, Run (1928), Double Whoopee (1929); Act V: The Great Actor: The Jolly Jilter (1927), A Harem Knight (1926), Yukon Jake (1924), Ten Dollars or Ten Days (1924), The Prodigal Bridegroom (1926); Act VI: A Comedy Classic: Two Tars (1928); Act VII: So Funny, So Sad: Luck o' the Foolish (1924); Act VIII: Animal Comedy: The Sting of Stings (1927), His Unlucky Night (1928), Nip and Tuck ... More Less

An opening onscreen credit reads: "Associate producer Herbert G. Gelbspan, Hal Roach Studios." According to DV and LAEx reviews, the film was culled from 2,000 reels of Mack Sennett and Hal Roach short film comedies. The film was divided into eight acts with a prologue and finale which provided a loose chronicle of silent film comedy. The acts include the following films: Prologue: Super-Hooper-Dyne Lizzies (1925), Remember When? (1925), Angora Love (1929); Act I: The Laugh Factory: Hollywood Kid (1924), The Daredevil (1923), Wandering Willies (1926), Muscle Bound Music (1926), Wall Street Blues (1924), Circus Today (1926); Act II: Nobody Liked Them but the Public: Habeas Corpus (1928), The Second Hundred Years (1927), We Faw Down (1928), Battle of the Century (1927); Act III: The Cowboy Who Became a Legend: Going to Congress (1924), Uncensored Movies (1923), Big Moments from Little Pictures (1924); Act IV: Two Unforgettable Girls: Run, Girl, Run (1928), Double Whoopee (1929); Act V: The Great Actor: The Jolly Jilter (1927), A Harem Knight (1926), Yukon Jake (1924), Ten Dollars or Ten Days (1924), The Prodigal Bridegroom (1926); Act VI: A Comedy Classic: Two Tars (1928); Act VII: So Funny, So Sad: Luck o' the Foolish (1924); Act VIII: Animal Comedy: The Sting of Stings (1927), His Unlucky Night (1928), Nip and Tuck (1923); Finale: Two Men on a Street: You're Darn Tootin' (1927).
       Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy's onscreen credit reads "Laurel and Hardy." The NYT review praised the release of the compilation film noting: "Anyone who gives the public the chance to view these old movies again -- and as a consequence revives interest in the problem of saving them -- deserves an automatic debt of gratitude." More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
20 Jan 1958.
---
Daily Variety
3 Mar 58
p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner
6 Mar 1958.
---
New York Times
27 Dec 57
p. 23.
Variety
8 Jan 1958.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
RO-CO Corp.
A Robert Youngson Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
FILM EDITORS
Ed asst
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Mus supv
Mus supv
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Opt eff
Opt eff
PRODUCTION MISC
Narr by
Narr by
Prod asst
Prod asst
DETAILS
Release Date:
March 1958
Copyright Claimant:
RO-CO Corp.
Copyright Date:
25 December 1957
Copyright Number:
LP10098
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
76 or 78
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18623
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

The film chronicles the variety of comedic styles and talent at the height of Hollywood’s silent era. In the early 1920s, producer Mack Sennett, who specialized in creating visual absurdities, released a number of short films starring the fetching but disaster-prone Bathing Beauties. The Prologue demonstrates how Sennett was the first to utilize a revolving stage to create the illusion that the actors were in constant, frenetic motion. Act One features the “Everyman” features of actors Charlie Murray and Billy Bevan and notes that Sennett capitalized on real-life situations, several of which featured the antics of children with dogs and other animals. The frantic, prolonged chase scene soon became the hallmark of Sennett comedy shorts. Act Two features Sennett’s rival, producer Hal Roach, who launched the team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. The ridiculous dilemmas of the rotund Laurel and slender Hardy were initially dismissed by critics, but enormously popular with the public. A stream of physical comedy gags used by the pair was enhanced by Roach, who successfully revived the pie-in-the-face routine in a Laurel and Hardy classic which featured a wild, free-for-all pie hurling battle. Act Three presents Will Rogers, who went from cowboy to philosopher and became legendary for his ability to poke fun at anyone without giving offense. In the early 1920s Rogers filmed several of his most famous skits featuring his great talent for parody. Rogers successfully mimicked the athletic Douglas Fairbanks, the daring horseback riding feats of Tom Mix and the antics of Keystone Kop Ford Sterling. Act Four reveals that two of Hollywood’s later leading ladies and deft comedians, Carole Lomabrd ... +


The film chronicles the variety of comedic styles and talent at the height of Hollywood’s silent era. In the early 1920s, producer Mack Sennett, who specialized in creating visual absurdities, released a number of short films starring the fetching but disaster-prone Bathing Beauties. The Prologue demonstrates how Sennett was the first to utilize a revolving stage to create the illusion that the actors were in constant, frenetic motion. Act One features the “Everyman” features of actors Charlie Murray and Billy Bevan and notes that Sennett capitalized on real-life situations, several of which featured the antics of children with dogs and other animals. The frantic, prolonged chase scene soon became the hallmark of Sennett comedy shorts. Act Two features Sennett’s rival, producer Hal Roach, who launched the team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. The ridiculous dilemmas of the rotund Laurel and slender Hardy were initially dismissed by critics, but enormously popular with the public. A stream of physical comedy gags used by the pair was enhanced by Roach, who successfully revived the pie-in-the-face routine in a Laurel and Hardy classic which featured a wild, free-for-all pie hurling battle. Act Three presents Will Rogers, who went from cowboy to philosopher and became legendary for his ability to poke fun at anyone without giving offense. In the early 1920s Rogers filmed several of his most famous skits featuring his great talent for parody. Rogers successfully mimicked the athletic Douglas Fairbanks, the daring horseback riding feats of Tom Mix and the antics of Keystone Kop Ford Sterling. Act Four reveals that two of Hollywood’s later leading ladies and deft comedians, Carole Lomabrd and Jean Harlow, got their start in comedy shorts. The young, energetic Lombard represented the flapper and youth craze of the day. A sultry, teenage Harlow made a brief but memorable appearance in a Laurel and Hardy short well before her own successful career as a screen comedian and sensational “bombshell.” Act Five shows how Sennett took advantage of the versatility of Ben Turpin and created a number of personalities for the comic, including a sophisticated playboy and a fearless stuntman. Many times Sennett and other comedy producers took advantage of real-life activities, such as fires, to film footage; Turpin proved to be at ease with the off-the-cuff improvisation these situations often required from actors. Act Six details that two future directors, Leo McCarey and George Stevens, worked on a Roach production of a Laurel and Hardy classic in which the pair, as sailors on leave, turned a country road into a massive traffic pile-up. Described as having the face of a “fiendish baby,” the funny but melancholy Harry Langdon soared to popularity in the mid-1920s with his low-key but hilarious clowning, as chronicled in Act Seven. Sadly, by the end of the silent era, Langdon’s style became passé and the actor faded into obscurity and died young. In Act Eight, Sennett is shown as recognizing the innate humor in animal behavior, especially when people and animals come together. In addition to poking fun at human-animal encounters in unusual circumstances, Sennett made a star of a terrier mix mutt named Cameo, who with Billy Bevan rose to success in exciting adventures that often included the famous Keystone Kops. The Finale is a salute to an era that utilized physical, slapstick comedy and split-second timing. The film closes with another example of Laurel and Hardy’s simple but witty tribute to the perils of everyday life. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.