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Slapstick in Other Countries

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Is slapstick mostly an American thing or are there examples from other countries. I think England has examples, but what about France, Japan, Russia, etc.

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Is slapstick mostly an American thing or are there examples from other countries. I think England has examples, but what about France, Japan, Russia, etc.

 

I'm not really sure about slapstick from countries besides the United States, but one example from the list of movies appearing on TCM for this course is Mon Oncle, a 1958 Jacques Tati film from France. It's very charming, but for me, it really calls into question one of the five criteria for defining slapstick: violence. I don't recall anyone getting slapped or falling on any banana peels, although a group of young boys try to get passersby to walk into a light pole, and some of the passersby do.

 

The humor throughout the film is very physical, though, which meets one of the five criteria.

 

Any other examples of films from other countries that come to mind for others? I would love to know more about this myself.

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I like to think that all countries have been somewhat influenced by slapstick? Personally, I find that Mexico's Golden Cinema era is filled with slapstick comedy movies! One of my favorite comedian's German Vales (Tin-Tan) to me, is a prime example of this. I will link a piece of one of his movies, that is the prime example of what is to me, and what I feel falls in each point that has been given to us on what makes a "Slapstick" Sadly this does not have any form of subtitles, but I thought it would be nice to share?
 
Tin Tan's 1953 "Dios Los Cria" (best translated as "God Creates Them")

 

 

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There's a series of films from Denmark, the Olsen-banden films, about three hapless criminals which are quite popular and very slapsticky.  There's a great sequence in one of them, where they break into an theatre during an orchestral performance masking their efforts in time to the music.  Exquisite.

 

 

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There's a series of films from Denmark, the Olsen-banden films, about three hapless criminals which are quite popular and very slapsticky.  There's a great sequence in one of them, where they break into an theatre during an orchestral performance masking their efforts in time to the music.  Exquisite.

 

 

 

I had just finished watching the third season, episode 1 of Borgen when I played your attached clip. I couldn't stop laughing. Were the Olsen-Banden series full length movies or just clips.

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There are cultural differences in comic tastes, but the basic visual gags seem to be universal.

 

For example, the sudden loss of clothing.

 

Compare Laurel's inadvertent "flash", when a breeze from a sidewalk blows his kilt up in the air, in "Putting Pants on Phillip"...to Mr. Bean's losing his swim-trunks in the public pool...to the big trouser-ripping fight in "You're Darn Tootin"...to Jean Harlow's skirt being inadvertently torn off in "Double Whoopie". When I was a kid, I saw a *Russian* skating show that had a comedy swordfight routine that had the pants-falling-down gag.

 

Another universal gag: a man getting injured in the place where he is most vulnerable. They couldn't show it on-screen until comparatively recently, but it goes back thousands of years.

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And then there's French slapstick.

 

Chaplin called Max Linder "the master", and it was Max who first performed the famous "mirror routine" on film. We'll see it tonight, in "Seven Years Bad Luck".

 

YouTube has many of Max's films, but most of the 500 or so films he made are now lost forever. Fortunately, his very first film is among the survivors: "Debuts d'un Patineur" ("Max Learns to Skate"). It has pratfalls a plenty.

 

YouTube also has a documentary ("Max Linder: The Man in the Silk Hat") produced and narrated by Max's daughter, Maude, in 1983. Seeing this documentary on TV back then, was my introduction to Max.

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There were 14 Danish feature-length films, followed by a few animated films.  There are also Norwegian and Swedish remakes of them.  Sadly, I can't find subtitled versions of the Danish ones.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olsen_Gang

 

I had just finished watching the third season, episode 1 of Borgen when I played your attached clip. I couldn't stop laughing. Were the Olsen-Banden series full length movies or just clips.

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Another example to me, of Slapstick Comedy in Mexican media is the famous TV series "El Chavo Del Ocho" while this sadly doesn't have any subtitles, I thought it would be nice to share as well. Might I mention that the actor that plays "Don Ramon" played by Ramon Valde(s)z, is brother of German "Tin-Tan" Vale(s)z.

 

The series overall surrounds a young orphan boy (El Chavo played by Roberto Gomez Bolaños) who lives in a barrel that is located in a poor townhouse. 

 

This episode is called "Clases De Boxeo" (Boxing Lessons)

 

 

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Then there's this completely Canadian slapstick film, made by the National Film Board of Canada. (Bonus points if you spot the Shakespeare reference.)

 

 

 

 

Here's another NFB film, rich in slapstick. This one has a deliciously evil streak. (Despite our legendary politeness, our humour can be surprisingly warped.)

 

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All 

 

Another example to me, of Slapstick Comedy in Mexican media is the famous TV series "El Chavo Del Ocho" while this sadly doesn't have any subtitles, I thought it would be nice to share as well. Might I mention that the actor that plays "Don Ramon" played by Ramon Valde(s)z, is brother of German "Tin-Tan" Vale(s)z.

 

The series overall surrounds a young orphan boy (El Chavo played by Roberto Gomez Bolaños) who lives in a barrel that is located in a poor townhouse. 

 

This episode is called "Clases De Boxeo" (Boxing Lessons)

 

 

 

All of Chespirito's (Gómez Bolaños nickname) comedy borrows a lot from that silent era and slapstick. He has many characters aside of El Chavo that play along the same line (Chapulín Colorado, Chaparrón Bonaparte, Chompiras, etc.) As a matter of fact, I was just thinking about him as I was seeing the DDoD#2 with Chaplin eating cakes, because Chespirito borrowed that gag many times. Being a Latin myself, I was exposed to Chespirito from a very early age, and I loved him. I still think his comedy was the best.

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The Benny Hill Show from the UK certainly had elements of slapstick and first aired in the mid 1950's and had a tremendous run for many years.

Benny Hill freely borrowed fom the best: Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, Laurel & Hardy...

 

Among the gags: Keaton's "falling house-front" (but it falls rather flat, when done with a very lightweight scenery-flat).

 

Benny loved the slapstick masters, but he especially idolized Chaplin. Several years after Chaplin's death, Benny was invited to receive an award at Chaplin's mansion in Switzerland. During a private tour of the house, Benny was amazed to discover that Chaplin had off-air VHS tapes of every one of Benny's TV shows to-date. Not only that, but he was told that Chaplin loved watching them over and over. Imagine that... While Benny had been idolizing Chaplin, his idol had been idolizing HIM!

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Here's some slapstick from Scotland.  It's "The Baldy Man", played by Gregor Fisher.  The series came out shortly after Mr. Bean paved the way for silent (or relatively so) slapstick comedy TV shows.

 

Since the characters speak only in gibberish, when they speak at all, the series was syndicated to Russia and other non-English-speaking countries, with no need for translation except for signage and closing credits.

 

In this segment, Baldy and a friend do some redecorating.  The premise is one of the standard slapstick scenes in traditional English panto, going back over 150 years.

 

 

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While watching "Nosferatu" on TCM, I've just stumbled on a 1923 German surrealist/Dada slapstick short, written by Berthold Brecht, and with Max Schreck ("Nosferatu") in the cast!

 

The film was just a fun way for Brecht and his friends to kill some time before starting work on their next feature, and was never released. It was soon lost and forgotten...until it was discoveted in an archive in Moscow, in the 1970s. It's now considered a very important film in the development of German cinema.

 

According to one of the cast, Brecht didn't write a complete script, just "notes" and "parts of a manuscript" and intended the actors to improvise the action. This is the standard scripting method for silent slapstick.

 

Here's "Mysterien eines Frisiersalons" ("Mysteries of a Barbershop")

 

 

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=XxLd3MR7-WQ

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