Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose of Doozy #1: Comedy's Golden Age-The View from the 1950s

185 posts in this topic

1. Do you agree or disagree with Agee and Youngson's statements that the silent films from 1912 – 1930 constituted "comedy's greatest era" or its "golden age?" Why or why not?

 

This period was certainly IMPORTANT to comedy's greatest era and its golden age, but I don't believe 1930 constituted the end of the era. (Well, certainly the end of the Roaring 20s and the beginning of the Depression, but not necessarily the end of comedy's era! (During the 30s with the Great Depression, of course, it was harder to laugh!)

 

During the period (1912-1930) above, comedy evolved from the circus and vaudeville and the gags grew more sophisticated with longer film reels, different camera angles, the introduction of editing (instead of a fixed camera), more cohesive character motivation and narrative flow (due, in part, to longer reels, scripts), etc. But, to me, this period seems like it provided more a FOUNDATION rather than AN ERA itself.  In later years, other influences were added with the introduction of sound - sound effects, language use in scripts, themselves, etc.

 

2. Do you agree with the film's narrator that in the silent film era the "gags were completely visual—a form of wit that has all but disappeared from the land, but which experts now agree were among the most imaginative and enduring comedy of all…?” Did this form of comedy "disappear" or did it simply evolve in the sound era?

 

As noted above, I do believe it evolved with the introduction of sound and other technical innovations in film.  The script could better support comedy, in the words the actors spoke, as well as sound effects and the like.  Visuals did not have to carry the whole gag.  

 

I don't believe this form of wit as disappeared, but again, the comment above was made in 1957, before the days of America's Funniest Home videos, or global enjoyment of pratfalls on You Tube.  (And note - You Tube and Funniest Home Videos CAN be enjoyed when muted.) But who knew in 1957 this evolution was coming?  But even so, the advent of sound had a tremendous impact on this form of comedy.  

 

3. What impact do you think documentaries, compilation films, and essays like these have had on popular opinion about the silent film era? 

 

Certainly they help define and shape public opinion,  since they form the body of scholarship that we have on the subject. That which is observed and preserved has an impact on public opinion.  

 

Of course, the nature of public opinion changes within the cultural context - witness the many comments that have been posted already in the course regarding the nature of violence in slapstick.  Not so much an issue at the time these films were produced, but worthy of comment by many in the postings found in our message boards.

 

So, documentation helps record eras, but the view of these eras gets further analysis within the context of the times.

 

 

 

 

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I find it difficult to agree or disagree with these sweeping generalizations when we're only a few days into the course. 

 

Thanks for the comment, Ameliajc. It gives me a chance to propose another way of discussing today's Daily Dose.

 

Part of what interested me in the clip I selected was that this 1957 compilation film, The Golden Age of Comedy, is making a very specific argument about films made between 1912 and 1928. The compilation film is not called "Revisiting Silent Comedy" or "Return to Comedy's Yesteryear" - it is called "The Golden Age of Comedy," which is already a value judgment or a critical assessment of large body of films made over a 16 year period, and that value judgement is embedded in the title of the compilation film.

 

Second, this opening clip advances a fairly typical "golden age" argument and offers, through the voiceover and the careful selection of clips, reasons for considering silent film comedy, especially its reliance on visual gags, as superior to more contemporary comedies in the 1950s.

 

In the opening note of the Daily Dose, I was proposing that films like this establish a frame of reference that becomes pervasive over time. In other words, beyond the innate quality of the silent films themselves, if enough people start to call something a "golden age" or the "high point," then that observation / judgement / critical opinion can become a dominant frame of reference for the culture itself. In many ways, this film's basic approach to the silent film era has been replicated many times. With carefully selected clips and a few "genius" pioneers, a film like this operates as a retrospective appreciation that both aids in our continued fascination with older forms of slapstick, as well as unintentionally in most ways, limiting what artists, films, and comedians remain well known to the next generation of film lovers. 

 

That said, it is also worth carefully looking at how the film goes about making its argument: What clips did it pick to make this point? Who is at the center of attention in this clip and singled out for initial praise (Hint: his initials are M.S.)? What elements of silent slapstick did this compilation film highlight? 

 

In other words, at this point in the course, I am not looking students to make large generalizations about this period, but rather to see how filmmakers such as Youngson did make generalizations about this period and how those generalizations have had a long term impact on which stars of the silent era maintained their status as pioneers and stars, and which ones are less remembered nowadays.

 

But as always, I want us to build our case on what we are seeing in the Daily Dose clip, and I think this clip is a fascinating look at how the silent film era was beginning to be remembered just 30 years after the period ended. Now we have hindsight of almost 80 years - and another question we can ask: do we still agree with the judgment of Youngson in 1957? Or would we select different clips, different starting points, different stars from our current vantage point?  

 

Keep up all the great discussions - I love reading all the comments here on the TCM boards!!

 

Best, Dr. E. 

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1. Do you agree or disagree with Agee and Youngson's statements that the silent films from 1912 – 1930 constituted "comedy's greatest era" or its "golden age?" Why or why not?


I disagree that the silent films from 1912-1930 constituted "comedy's greatest era". These films were the golden age of 'silent' films.  However, with the advent of talkies the comedy became even better. The verbal humor added wit.  This toned down the violence and made the comedy less dependent on someone getting physically abused.


 


2. Do you agree with the film's narrator that in the silent film era the "gags were completely visual—a form of wit that has all but disappeared from the land, but which experts now agree were among the most imaginative and enduring comedy of all…?” Did this form of comedy "disappear" or did it simply evolve in the sound era?


 


The visual gag didn't disappear in the sound era it simply evolved.  Just look at the the Abbott and Costello films. Costello's humor was quite physical.


 


3. What impact do you think documentaries, compilation films, and essays like these have had on popular opinion about the silent film era? 


 


I think documentaries & essays introduce viewers to films we may not be familiar with and help us to appreciate and understand them better.


 


 


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DDD QUESTIONS:

 

1) Do I agree w/Agee & Youngston's statements that the silent films from 1912-1930 constituted 'Comedy's Greatest Era' or its "Golden Age'....YES, WHY...You take Chaplin, Lloyd, Keaton (along with the women of that era) were the Pioneers of Slapstick. A bulk of them started out in vaudeville and got their training doing gags and stunts on stage. If you have ever performed on stage and heard your very first applause YOU ARE HOOKED! The feeling of entertaining someone & hearing their reaction is addicting. And those actors went out on stage and entertained the masses but there were those few who want MORE!! They literally risk life & limb to perfect bigger & better 'stunts and gags'. So when film was invented & filmmakers started making films of all kinds, these vaudevillans saw a new avenue to showcase their acts in a bigger and grander way thru film. Chaplin & the others could now take what they wanted to do and it up right (by their standards). Playing off each other almost in an competition style their stunts grew and became immortalized.

 

2) Do I agree w/the film's narrator that in the silent film era the 'gags were completely VISUAL-a form of wit that has all but disappeared from the land, but which experts now agree were among the most imaginative & enduring comedy'...NO & YES....NO that the didn't disappear because well up til now you still have Slapstick movies coming out, bigger & better than ever. And YES Slapstick has endure hence they are STILL making Slapstick comedies.

 

    Did this form of comedy disappear or evolve in the sound era...NOOO not hardly, if anything Slapstick comedy has improved more with the evolution of sound. Sound when it was introduced into movies captivated  the audiences by no longer needing to use your imagination to know what sound went with what. You now could hear the actual impact of a pie hitting the face of a person and hearing their reaction to getting hit. You heard the donk of a foot to the butt of the person who just got kicked and hearing the people in the scene reacting to all of this going on. SOUND impacted films from then on. Giving us the audience a lot more to appreciate when watching movie magic.

 

3) What impact do I think documentaries, etc. like those have on popular opinion about the silent film era.....I believe that these 'tools' (documentaries, compilations, films, & essays) have a BIG IMPACT on the silent era of films. Being such a fan of movies and of docs, bios, etc. I LOVE to learn anything and everything about the subject. And for people like Agee & Youngston & others to take the time to research these subjects and to put it out there for the masses is just GREAT. These films, docs, etc. preserve that time and space where we see Chaplin become 'The Little Tramp' and perform such miraculous stunts. A good documentary can literally take you to that particular place & time and make you feel apart of it. You learn about the individual or the event no matter how important or trivial it may be and find out facts that educate and entertain you. I believe we all should try to learn something new at least once a day (regardless of its importance in our lives). Education shouldn't just stop after school...life is one big classroom to learn from & we should do that.

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I think the silent era was a golden age of visual comedy, but in the 30s and 40s with the Marx Brothers and the screwball comedies, yes, they depended on wordplay, but they also had the legacy of the visual gags at their disposal.  So that was definitely a golden age too.   

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I agree that is was a golden age. Today we think that silent films were mostly comedies. People forget that there was just as much drama silent films. Most of the comedy stars are remembered today but only few silent dramatic actors. 

 

"disappear" Had a quick look on they type of comedy that was happening during the time the film was made in 1957. It might have seem to have disappeared at the time movie was made. Looks like Abbott and Costello, Martin and Lewis, Bowery Boys were active. Might have to look into it more. Looks like this was a time for more domestic, relationship comedy and not zany characters.

 

This doc might have helped star a new age of old comedy with teen films in the 60s. 

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The early 20th century could certainly be labeled a "golden age" of silent comedy, though to label it more broadly as a golden age of screen comedy in general would be to overlook the fact that silent film and sound film are distinct art forms. The silent comedians worked in a primarily visual style that fit the limits of their form. The little clip from Robert Youngston's "The Golden Age of Comedy" on Mack Sennett does at least illustrate the level of daring, both physical and comedic, that was needed to create pantomimic comedy.

 

David Kalat makes a good point in his article "The History of the History of Silent Comedy" that compilations like this are largely nostalgic, and for a time now a century before our own. 

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Several of the later films in this series feature comics who got their basic training in improvisation: Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis (The Second City) or Will Ferrell (The Groundlings) for example.

One little correction: Rick Moranis didn't come from the Second City troupe. He made his only Second City stage appearance in a benefit show with his "SCTV" castmates, in 1981. Rick began as a radio DJ (which he spoofed on "SCTV" as "Gerry Todd"), and had done some work with Ken Finkleman (who later wrote and directed "Airplane II").

 

Dave Thomas met Rick at a party; they instantly clicked, and started jamming with the onstage band. "SCTV" needed some new cast members, and Rick was ideal. When Rick & Dave's "Bob & Doug McKenzie" characters became a huge fad, Rick's lack of Second City background added to their castmates' resentment that these two members of what was an ensemble cast where everyone was equal, were suddenly big stars.

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1. Do you agree or disagree with Agee and Youngson's statements that the silent films from 1912 – 1930 constituted "comedy's greatest era" or its "golden age?" Why or why not?

I would agree with Agee & Youngson's statements that the silent films from 1912-1930 did constitute comedy's greatest era because of the ratio of comedies made compared to all the other silent film genres, be it drama, action or any other themes.  Considering this time period was a huge turning point for the country (and the world) reacting to the far reaching effects of the industrial revolution where so much of the population that had been agriculturally based and rural were migrating more and more to the nation's rapidly growing metropolitan cities. 

This generation was experiencing the new technologies of air planes, automobiles, air conditioning, neon lights, safety razors, motorized movie cameras (replacing hand-cranked cameras), Cellophane, wire photos,  as well as World War I...these people needed to laugh. 

This could have been the golden age of comedy simply because of supply & demand and this is what they needed or preferred the most from their entertainment in 1912-1930.

2. Do you agree with the film's narrator that in the silent film era the "gags were completely visual—a form of wit that has all but disappeared from the land, but which experts now agree were among the most imaginative and enduring comedy of all…?” Did this form of comedy "disappear" or did it simply evolve in the sound era?

The gags were almost completely visual until they evolved with the film making technologies involving sound and editing techniques but certainly have not disappeared.

3. What impact do you think documentaries, compilation films, and essays like these have had on popular opinion about the silent film era?

I believe we rely a great deal a great deal on documentary films and essays for historical references to illustrate the history of film and the social/political environment of when they were made.  How else can we learn and appreciate an era of events before our time.

    

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yes agree with to a certain point because with the advent of sound it I think it was only the beginning of bigger and better forms of comedy. The narrator had a valid point about the gags being basically visual  but that same kind a wit exists today it just evolved with the times. I think that these types of essays and so forth have had a positive impact on opinion polols about the silent era.
 

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3. What impact do you think documentaries, compilation films, and essays like these have had on popular opinion about the silent film era?

 

Judging from my limited viewing of slapstick compared to what I know about it and what images my mind conjures up about it, I’d say a lot.  Slapstick is a genre that had never interested me much.  I could appreciate the genius of the gags and performances, but I don’t think I’ve seen one complete film by the big three – Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd…clips, yes, but not an entire film.  (A travesty, I know, and as a film buff, I’ve been meaning to rectify that for years.)  Now, as a kid I think I watched some Three Stooges.  And I’m a huge Woody Allen fan, mostly of the verbal wit, but I do also like the visual and physical comedy which he still employs in his films today.  Through Woody’s work I came to love the Marx Brothers.  And that’s about where my slapstick experience ends.

 

But when I think of the comedies of the silent film era, guess who I think of?  Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd…and the standard clips that everyone has seen.  So, I’d say historians, documentarians, and theorists have had a major impact on popular opinion of the silent film area, especially if you’re unwilling or unable to search out the films and filmmakers for yourself.  They shape what we think and what we’re aware of based on their focus and intent, and are great resources to expose us to new subjects and to get us to think about new ideas, but unless additional or alternate views are presented, some people or events may be lost to history, or at least lost to our personal experience.  One of the reasons this course excites me is that it’s finally getting me to watch some films and learn about some film history that I hadn’t known before, filling in some gaps in my knowledge and giving me more inspiration to draw from in my own life and work… and maybe I’ll enjoy something that I never thought I would.

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Silent vs. Voiced gags: one led to the other. But both are still being used in film. Steve Martin demonstrates this in "L. A. Story," when he goes roller skating past classical art works. No words needed. And in many silent films you see the actors talking—watch carefully and you can often decipher what they are saying. They were acting, but the camera was unable to pick up their voices. So, silent or with sound, a good gag works, whether physical or verbal. The genius is in the performer, not the recording device.

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While 1912 to 1930 definitely constitute an era of experimentation and discovery, I wouldn't call it a "golden age". Much of what came after the arrival of "talkies" took the slapstick framework and expanded on it in many marvelous and engaging ways. The screwball comedies of the thirties, Preston Sturges in the forties, the character driven wordplay of The Marx Brothers and WC fields, even Chaplin's "The Great Dictator", all enhanced the basic slapstick formula. As for the gags being completely visual, there were many extremely funny title cards being written during the silents, especially those of "Beanie" Walker for Hal Roach, as well as a variety of humorous sound effects provided by the live accompaniment, in some cases incorporating bells, whistles and gunshots 

As to the undeniable value of essays and documentaries, while they serve to perpetuate an interest in the art form, they should in no way be construed as dogma. For instance, I would not include Harry Langdon in the quartet of geniuses. As wonderful and unique as Langon was, the best thing about his features was Frank Capra. As an illustration, watch the first few minutes of "Long Pants". We don't even see Langdon. It's all Capra and it beautifully establishes Langdon's character. The astute observations of critics like James Agee and Walter Kerr along with the affectionate compilations by Robert Youngson provide a springboard for further exploration that will guide the curious and provide context for the discussion.

No, the form never disappeared, it was incorporated into an ever broadening palette, and no, I'm not talking about Eugene. 

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An assignment on Labor Day is brutal. Next time I suggest giving an assignment on the Thursday before Labor Day and skipping the holiday weekend.

 

I disagree with James Agee. I think it is generally accepted that the genius behind Harry Langdon was Frank Capra. When Langdon left Capra, who created the Langdon character, no more genius.

 

Question 1. I do not agree that the silent comedies are the golden age of comedy. In my view adding dialogue to film greatly enhanced film's ability to communicate comedic ideas to the audience.

 

When I think of comedies with great physical comedy scenes, I think of screwball comedies of the '30s and '40s. For example, Preston Sturges' "The Lady Eve" has pratfalls, animal encounters, servants dumping food on Henry Fonda, and all manner of slapstick. What brings that horseplay into something more sophisticated is Sturges' sparkling dialogue, delivered by actors who have wonderful comedic timing.

 

Question 2. I think silent comedy evolved. Although I think that Chaplin was able to bring subtlety to his silent comedies, broad physical comedy coupled with dialogue allows the director to achieve complexity which was not really possible by pantomime alone.

 

Question 3. Those who have scholarship, and have thought through various propositions can bring perspective to the subject of viewing various art forms. To the extent that their views have exposure, scholars can shape opinion about slapstick.

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"Comedy's Golden Era"?  I don't believe so.  Way back in my art training I learned that the arts are a form of language.  Languages change and evolve, and build upon one another.  When the film was silent, it emphasized the physical side; the later screwball comedies emphasized the play of words, but the physical component was still there too.

 

Recent documentaries have introduced the silent era to new audiences, and they are able to connect the beginning form to the more recent.  Appreciation of a subject is always furthered when you understand all the parts.  I found the blog post from Movie Morlocks rather sad, because so many of the silent players seemed to set themselves apart from the art form of film rather than see themselves as a foundation for it.  The blog emphasizes, however, that the true artists of the era are recognized in any age.

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1.  I do agree with Agee and Youngston that silent comedy was the greatest era.  They had to act thru the forms of slapstick to get their point across.   

 

2.  I also agree with the narrator that gags during the silent era were part of the films wit.  The slapstick of the time was woven into each story line and plot twist.  Most of this comedy disappeared but some did evolve even into the addition of sound.  

 

3.  I think that documentaries, compilation films and essays have a way of expressing the author's view point.  However these forms of discussion only cement the silent era AS THE GOLDEN AGE OF COMEDY.  These actors, directors and screen writers had to act out their ideas to get their point across.  They could not audibly speak their mind but they showed it WITH OUT THE USE OF CRUDE HUMOR OR CGI.  The silent era will always been seen as the best because it was the first form of comedy which even today we compare all other comedy to.  Thank you ;)

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I must agree it is part of a Classical Era. The history of 1912-1930 regarding films is a time of beginnings with within an era. Dialogue between actors was immensely focused to details in order for people to understand and follow.  As images and visual techniques improved thus did the films. 

  I don't think the completely visual form of wit totally disappeared, yet in today's world films and movies alike have evolved into today's era where people want to identify with what the characters are going through. 

   Documentaries have provided opportunities over the numerous years to educate us while at the same time making history. 

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1.  I do agree with Agee and Youngston that silent comedy was the greatest era.  They had to act thru the forms of slapstick to get their point across.   

 

2.  I also agree with the narrator that gags during the silent era were part of the films wit.  The slapstick of the time was woven into each story line and plot twist.  Most of this comedy disappeared but some did evolve even into the addition of sound.  

 

3.  I think that documentaries, compilation films and essays have a way of expressing the author's view point.  However these forms of discussion only cement the silent era AS THE GOLDEN AGE OF COMEDY.  These actors, directors and screen writers had to act out their ideas to get their point across.  They could not audibly speak their mind but they showed it WITH OUT THE USE OF CRUDE HUMOR OR CGI.  The silent era will always been seen as the best because it was the first form of comedy which even today we compare all other comedy to.  Thank you ;)

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I agree with documentaries are a great way of expression, and giving the viewpoint of the author while also educating people. Acting is definitely the key attribute is getting a point across. I too believe this is GOLDEN!

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Re the week two "Breakdown of a Gag" video discussion, I will tell you upfront that is is virtually impossible for me to be objective about the great Buster Keaton. 

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Nice  first  clip  on Mack Sennett    

 

Sennett  was  born  Micheal  Sinnott in Richmond  Quebec..  The father of  slapstick, the Keystone cops , Sennett's bathing beauties etc  was  Canadian. He moved to Connecticut when he was 17.  Lots of  us Canadians  down there in film including Mary Pickford, Norma Shearer,  Fifi  D Orsay even  Marie  Dressler  from TILLIE 'S PUNCTURED ROMANCE.

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1. Do you agree or disagree with Agee and Youngson's statements that the silent films from 1912 – 1930 constituted "comedy's greatest era" or its "golden age?" Why or why not?


 


I think this era needs to be re-catogorized.  Perhaps "Comedy Film Most Prolific Era."  Or the "Era When Comedic Film Rules Were Established."  Just like all filmmakers during this era, comedy filmmakers were writing the language and rules of cinema through shot composition, editing, storytelling,etc.   Many of the rules and language developed by filmmakers of this era were used by subsequent filmmakers like Jerry Lewis.  During the Fifties and Sixties, comedians like Ernie Kovacs "borrowed" many of the techniques of filmmakers of the early 20th century and applied them to the new technology of TV.  See Best of Ernie Kovacs.  Not sure about the term "comedy's greatest era" but perhaps "comedy film's most influential era."


 


2. Do you agree with the film's narrator that in the silent film era the "gags were completely visual—a form of wit that has all but disappeared from the land, but which experts now agree were among the most imaginative and enduring comedy of all…?” Did this form of comedy "disappear" or did it simply evolve in the sound era?


 


Dovetailing on the above comment, comedy filmmakers established the rules and language of comedy used by subsequent filmmakers.  This form of comedy did not disappear but evolved with new filmmakers, performers, and cinema techniques.  See


 


3. What impact do you think documentaries, compilation films, and essays like these have had on popular opinion about the silent film era?


 


These documentary films and essays contribute to a feeling of nostalgia and isolate silent comedy to a bygone era that fails to fully appreciate the cinematic contributions these filmmakers and performers made to the history of film in general and comedy films specifically.  Just as dramatic filmmakers today are influentials by the storytelling techniques, editing, shot composition of early cinema pioneers, comedic filmmakers and television performers are still using some of the same techniques used by comedy film pioneers from "comedy's golden era."


 


 


 


 


 


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Silent vs. Voiced gags: one led to the other. But both are still being used in film. Steve Martin demonstrates this in "L. A. Story," when he goes roller skating past classical art works. No words needed. And in many silent films you see the actors talking—watch carefully and you can often decipher what they are saying. They were acting, but the camera was unable to pick up their voices. So, silent or with sound, a good gag works, whether physical or verbal. The genius is in the performer, not the recording device.

Some of the early fims made after the coming of sound demonstrate the awkward transition period. Performers either felt they had to talk constantly, to make the most of the expensive new technology (and tge gimmick of talking pictures), or they forgot that every word was being recorded, and let fly an expletive or two out of habit.

 

Laurel & Hardy's "Perfect Day" (1929) is an example of the best and worst of transitioning to sound.

 

The Worst: Dialogue was mostly improvised, and everyone felt they had to talk constantly. Reactions, especially from the women, consist primarily of tut-tutting and, "Oh dear. Look at that..." By the 4th time, I feel like yelling at them to shut up. Edgar Kennedy (as the gouty, grouchy father-in-law) mutters throughout the movie, and, at one point (when the family sees the minister approaching), he forgets it's a talking picture, and mutters, "Oh, s***." This little gem was just quiet enough to slip past generations of censors.

 

The Best: The resounding CLANG when Ollie clonks Stan on the head with the car's clutch. This sound effect made the gag even funnier. Soon, Stan and Ollie, and later, the Three Stooges, would make the most of this technique.

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3. What impact do you think documentaries, compilation films, and essays like these have had on popular opinion about the silent film era?

 

A lot, although perhaps not as much as later comedians reaching out to the comics who inspired them. I remember being introduced to Buster Keaton through the NFB's The Railrodder and the accompanying documentary Buster Keaton Rides Again in a long ago summer day camp.

 

https://www.nfb.ca/film/railrodder/

 

https://www.nfb.ca/film/buster_keaton_rides_again/

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1​.  I would agree to a degree because in this era-it was business as usual - which was to be the best at delivering the joke and so they all had to top one another at their business - which was comedy.  However, it would need a new classification because we still have the Marx Brothers to come, the timing of Carole Lombard and others as they not only delivered great lines, but could also do physical comedy (think of Cary Grant and what he could do with a line and with props).  I believe it also can be viewed differently when you examine the age of the people who are responding and their background in watching comedies.

 

​2.  I do believe everything was visual for a reason.  One, still working on sound and foley affects so that couldn't take away from a comedic sketch.  Second, they had to do it visually - think of the audiences coming in to pay and watch-many are immigrants without English as their first language.  Some words and ideas don't translate well and when you hear certain words - you can have different concepts of the punctuation.  Tomato - how different can it be sad?  Three, visual gags can be quickly done, move onto the next gag - if an actor has to learn lines and you have to put sound effects with it - it will slow them down.  Fourth, this is business - so the more you do, the more money you make, visual gags allow you to transcend all ages, backgrounds and languages to get your point across.

 

​3.  I think it opens it up to a society that has forgotten that a comic now is building upon someone else's work and just doing parts differently.  Saturday Night Live is a throw back to vaudeville and each person has only so much time to get it across.  We have people of all backgrounds who have never been exposed to these artists because of all the ways one can watch movies and shows now - so show them how it started and how the roots are in everything we watch today.

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1. Do you agree or disagree with Agee and Youngson's statements that the silent films from 1912 – 1930 constituted "comedy's greatest era" or its "golden age?" Why or why not?

 

My response: To say it's "comedy's greatest era", that statement is rather subjective, as in, people view comedy in different ways. Some would say that the silent era is the best. Others would say the films of the '60s and '70s. However, calling the silent era the "golden age of comedy" is more fitting, because they relied on having the visuals and physical actions do the talking as opposed to the actors themselves. As they say, "actions speak louder than words". In short, I wouldn't say it's comedy's greatest era, but I do agree that it is practically the golden age.

 

2. Do you agree with the film's narrator that in the silent film era the "gags were completely visual—a form of wit that has all but disappeared from the land, but which experts now agree were among the most imaginative and enduring comedy of all…?” Did this form of comedy "disappear" or did it simply evolve in the sound era?

 

My response: I agree that gags from the silent film era were completely visual, because instead of exaggerating the gag with sound effects, they had to rely on exaggerating the gag itself by playing around with it to see what gets the most laughs. This form of comedy is far from gone, as comedians to this day also rely on visual gags to get their point across. In film, it evolved, as what many a film starring the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, and even the Looney Tunes shorts from the '30s to the '60s have proven.

 

3. What impact do you think documentaries, compilation films, and essays like these have had on popular opinion about the silent film era?

 

My response: A huge impact, especially for those who weren't around during that specific time period. In order to move forward in any industry, you have to look back at its history. By learning from watching these films and reading essays, we can have a better understanding of what makes these films special and important to historians and those who are interested in the field.

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