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About ln040150

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  1. Track down Robert Israel. He has been recording original music for silent film for many years.
  2. Thanks, Cynthia, for setting up this post, and thanks to all for a wonderful class, especially Dr. Edwards who has once again set aside so much of his time for us and put up such a great effort for us all.
  3. I’ll wear my heart on my sleeve and say in this case that I really loved Sidewalk Stories, which is one film that I never saw previously, although I did hear about it at the time. It does remind one, chiming in with Roger Ebert, that silent film causes the audience to engage with the film emotionally, to work with the filmmaker, rather than merely sit inactive, having the film thrust upon you with words, virtually explained to you at every moment (or made more confusing for you at times). I very much appreciated the fact that it was an homage to The Kid, but brought up to date on the social context of homelessness in the 80s. Lane very much knew what he was doing and all the elements of slapstick were present. There was even a bit of a cameo, of sorts, as Edie Falco, before her prime, was seen as the paramour riding in that horse-drawn carriage.
  4. Even though it never followed through with anything, you had to have Japanese tourists in Foul Play because of The Mikado. And the car chases, again, were something of an obligatory homage to Bullit (they were in San Francisco, after all...).
  5. Although not used to great effect in this clip, I believe the ZAZ team is using an additional influence in their films—still cartoons, particularly those from MAD magazine—and this can be seen in the background and “marginal” slapstick gags that occur from time to time, which is a common element in satirical cartoon illustration. There’s almost always a lot of “business” going on in a ZAZ scene, so much so that one might think they anticipated VCR tape and DVD sales so that people might replay over and over to get full justice out of every take. Here we see the use of science, technology and a scientist—just as in “Young Frankenstein”—taken to a comic extreme. The zany gadgets a la James Bond or Maxwell Smart (dart-shooting cuff links, Swiss army shoe, paint-spraying walls) and normal gadgets gone berserk (airbags multiplying out of nowhere and apparently developing consciousness) all speak to a parody of the spy/police genre where such tools are commonly displayed. Dreben often carries himself in a portentous manner similar to Clouseau. However, Nielsen has the temerity more common to characters in the American style of casually staring back at the camera every once in a while. I think that Drebin is also modeled upon something of the later Clouseau, perhaps, who was capable of even more forced silliness than the earlier character we found in “The Pink Panther” and “A Shot in the Dark” who was more accidental and clumsy.
  6. From "Foul Play": Chuck McCann was a well-known bit-player in film but better-known to children around the country as a former Bozo-the-Clown and even better as the helmsman for many a children’s broadcast showcasing the classic sound film of the Hal Roach Studios. Billy Barty was an old Hollywood comedy stunt man, often seen on early television and in the films of the 50s and 60s.
  7. The unfortunate problem with the great horror classics of the 1930s was that they fed into the already-rampant anti-intellectualism of the American public by painting a picture of scientists as so far above them, so isolated in their thinking, that they would never sink to considering the possibilities that occurred to the everyday woman or man. “Preposterous” and “ridiculous” became standard vocabulary in scripts. Young Frankenstein plays upon this tradition in spades by creating a character in Frederick whose very neurosis is bound into the denial of what the common person takes for granted. His long argument with the “wormy” student is representative of this attitude throughout the early part of the film. We’ve seen these “medical exam” skits before, especially with the Marx Bros., but also with Sid Caesar, Martin and Lewis, the Stooges, etc. With the others it is always played for the broadest comedy effect. Here we have a lot of jargon introduced, however, and with an evenness of tone that slows down the pace, even though some of it may be specious. This tends to makes the humor more intellectual in effect, but not really. The impact is only in contrast, a set for the pure slapstick coming. Liam Dunn (Mr. Hilltop) so closely resembles Ben Turpin when he crosses his eyes that it becomes something of an homage to that often-forgotten great. If we see the film as homage, there certainly can be no sense in having it filmed in color, despite the extra expense involved (at this point in time there actually was extra cost for filming in black and white, if I am correct). It is a tone poem about the past and color would have spoiled the effect at every turn, even in this particular scene, set in the modern period in a modern room.
  8. Allen isn’t so much parodying film (although there are film references, like to The Quiet American and The Green Berets) as much as he is parodying the sturm und drang of the idealism of revolutionary politics ala Franz Fanon, Che Guevera and Eldridge Cleaver. He uses slapstick clearly here and we can see the five elements at work in the over-the-top exaggeration of the delicatessen order, the make-believe element in it in the utter implausibility of it’s being created and catered at the end, the implied and impending violence required to have it “paid” for and served up, the physicality of all these machinations. The only element missing (and replaced) is that of ritual, now supplanted by the invention of such an impossible gag. That Allen would go so far in making intellectual demands upon his audience, rather than simply playing on their memories as Blake Edwards did a few years earlier, is testament to his trust in their intelligence.
  9. And, since it is Sunday, going off-topic... The Goonies were recorded and partly produced by a young George Martin, who went on to produce a bunch of raggedy muffins called The Beatles. Anyone heard of them? A bit of slapstick in their films, thanks to Richard Lester.
  10. What a good catch! I, too, loved Lewis as a child, grew to dislike that screaming humor later, but then have grown to appreciate him more later in life all over again. But then to have the insight to bring in Dudley Moore, one of the last--until recently and poorly revived by Russell Brand--to use the classic vaudeville character of "The Drunk" to comic effect as public taste grew tired of seeing what was now taken as a disease made fun of..
  11. Curtis and Lemmon were absolutely perfect in an absolutely perfect film directed by a genius.I was also a devoted fan of the Stooges, mimicking all they did (as best I could) with my friends...when I was in elementary school. But the repetition does grow old, even if repetition is one of the conditions of slapstick.
  12. Perhaps it was at this point that comic filmmakers--and filmmakers in general--began to understand the pure distinction between "homage" and "remake" to the point where many of their own tastes took a turn for the better. Or, at least, forced them to consider new ways of searching for comedic forms. (Of course, studio execs often didn't feel this way, which is why we still see debacles like "The Magnificent Seven Redux." Rule: we should only see remakes of poorly made films, never remakes of perfectly made films.) The pie fight scene, as colorful and playful as it may be, is simply over the top for the sake of being over the top. Unlike Lucille Ball and a handful of others who knew how to take an original gag and wring something new out of it, this was merely playing something out over and over ad nauseum while the actors involved--some of whom could often be coaxed into really fine comedy--flopped about like fish out of water. The one great thing to come out of it was the era of creativity that followed, even with all of its brashness, stumbles and great fumbles, forced by this seeming emptiness.
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