OUCH! A Salute to Slapstick - Films of the 1930s
Posted 14 September 2016 - 09:37 AM
I'll read on...
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Posted 14 September 2016 - 07:51 AM
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Posted 14 September 2016 - 06:36 AM
Sweet Music: Certainly this type of slapstick music, really the only slapstick in this film, was already popularized enough in order to be on film, and it was even directly referenced as such by Vallee when he remarks to the band something to the effect of, "Let's give them the old vaudeville routine." But it was the forerunner of the ever more popular Spike Jones in the 1940s and 1950s.
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Posted 14 September 2016 - 06:28 AM
If it were not for Harpo and the Marx Brothers films, I do not believe I would be familiar with the Harp.
A Night at the Opera comes with beautiful opera melodies, plenty of punch lines delivered by Grouch, and lots of funny gags. It is one of my favorite zany slapsticks and always a delight to watch.
Lassparri: Never in my life, have I received such treatment. They threw an apple at me!
Driftwood: Well, watermelons are out of season.
Groucho could be so vivid!
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Posted 14 September 2016 - 06:27 AM
The Music Box: Does the addition of sound effects really make it funnier? Backing up into the pool…straight out of Chaplin; carrying the piano back down wasn’t slapstick, it was stupid; and this is where abject stupidity takes the place of simple accident in creating slapstick. This is not to say that the entire concept was stupid, because Larynxa was spot-on, I think, in capturing what Laurel, Hardy and Parrot were up to in terms of reproducing the ancient myth on a comedic level. I simply think it failed at this one point and "rose" to that level of ridiculousness Keaton referenced in regard to the Marx Brothers.
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Posted 14 September 2016 - 12:37 AM
There are a lot of great scenes in Night at the Opera but a small one that stood out was when Harpo knocks the one guy out (watched the film last week, & forget the context). Harpo then tries to relieve him and Chico says he's "Sorry," but no, Harpo knocks the guy out a second time. This works so well because of the character Harpo establishes, of being a sweetheart who would never hurt anyone, and the innocent look he maintains afterwards.
Completely different note but one thing I appreciated about The Pip of Pittsburgh is the structure to it. Charlie Chase's character tries to sabotage his date by doing three things and then backtracks to fix these exact same three things when he realizes his date is the amazing Thelma Todd. It goes back to idea of knowing in advance what Charlie's going to do, so the surprise comes instead from not knowing how he will do it.
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Posted 13 September 2016 - 10:59 PM
The “party of the first part” scene in A Night at the Opera is just wonderful. The “stateroom” scene is another favorite of mine. Both of these scenes got a Daily Dose and a Breakdown of a Gag treatment, respectively, and deservedly so.
And kudos to Kitty Carlisle: what a set of pipes! Leave it to the Marx Brothers to mix opera and slapstick. On the DVD version of the film, Kitty Carlisle says that she gets praise from her children and grandchildren for being in a Marx Brothers movie, not for her singing.
- HEYMOE likes this
Posted 13 September 2016 - 10:17 PM
The physical comedy is so strong that this film could work as a silent comedy, with the dialogue conveyed with title-cards. However, we'd lose the fabulous sound effects, which were done live, just out of shot. Even the player-piano's medley was actually played live by Marvin Hatley, just out of shot.
The crated piano is almost a character itself, with a malicious instinct. So is Susie the horse who pulls Stan & Ollie's moving-wagon.
Stan, Ollie, and every other character could exist in the real world. Their traits and behaviours are exaggerated, but they're rooted in reality...except one, who is a complete cartoon.
Billy Gilbert's "Professor Schwartzenhoffen" shows Billy's limitations as an actor. He played every character so far over the top that he was halfway down the other side. This worked well in earlier Mack Sennett-style slapstick films with their outrageous characters and gags, but feels out of place in later films with more realistic characters and situations. It's as if everyone else is playing through a range of "6" to "9", but Billy's turned up all the way to "11", all the way through.
I've seen him in a couple of "Taxi Boys" shorts on YouTube, and he's doing the same over-the-top blustery schtick as he did in "The Music Box" and "County Hospital" and every other film I've seen him in, except "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (as the voice of "Sneezy") and "Fun and Fancy Free" (as the voice of "Willie the Giant").
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Posted 13 September 2016 - 08:24 PM
Tuesday, September 13, 2016 features slapstick films from the 1930s.
Use this thread to discuss your thoughts about the following films:
- Dollar Dizzy
- The Pip from Pittsburgh
- Sons of the Desert
- The Music Box
- A Night at the Opera
- Hips, Hips, Hooray
- Elmer the Great
- Movie Crazy
- Sweet Music
- Gold Diggers of Paris
Enjoy the discussions - this is a great group of films that showcase how slapstick evolved after the silent film era.
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Richard Edwards, PhD
Ball State University
Instructor: TCM Presents: Into the Darkness: Investigating Film Noir (2015)
Instructor: TCM Presents: Painfully Funny: Exploring Slapstick in the Movies (2016)
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