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  1. 1. Pertaining to color in this scene, it really doesn't add much to the gags, except for the mud on Lucy's pink pyjamas and red hair. It's not as if there was a joke about say, "Turn the red knob!" "Which knob?" "The red knob!" Then the knobturner doesn't hear and turns the blue knob where fun ensues. The whole discussion of color versus black and white was best summed up by Roger Ebert on Siskel and Ebert when they were discussing colorizing old movies. Ebert said that you had to be more beautiful in black and white because the colour wasn't obscuring anything. Same here, I think. Does colour mute somewhat our perception of what we see on the screen? Are we more observant when we watch a black and white movie? 2. In the 50s, Lucy's show was shot with five cameras on a set, stuck in a location like a stage play. With this clip we cut outside to the jack. Lucy is able to fly out the door. We see the mud puddle and rain. It was shot in a tight set. Minnelli was able to shoot as many takes as was necessary to get the performances he wanted and he had the ability to edit. Even in modern television shows like Big Bang, they usually do two performances in front of an audience and the best parts of each are edited into the show that goes to air. 3. Lucy's most famous contribution to comedy is the chocolate factory scene.
  2. The dangerous and somewhat sad outcome of a cameo, especially like the ones in Anchorman is the joke can become outdated very quickly. In this course, we have enjoyed 100 year old gags, that are still universally funny today. Something tells me that in 90 years, there will be no humor when Tim Robbins steps on the screen for the rumble.
  3. (Full disclosure - huge Charley Chase fan. Thank you for providing this study of his work.) 1. In this clip, and in many of Chase's sound films, it's like his comedy is wearing a harness. There is little exaggeration in his performance, the physicality is limited-to-non-existent and there is little of the make believe. That said, the perfume machine gag is repetitive and probably painful, but not to the extent of Keaton with his props. All of this was probably due to the limitations of the early sound recording equipment. Chase would have had to have been close to the microphone and consequently the camera couldn't dolly or get very wide during a dialogue scene. 2. Yes, the viewer gets the impression that his greatest emotion is exasperation. Chase's comedy is probably the closest to being a precursor to the television sitcom. He often reminds me of Dick Van Dyke on his eponymous TV show. Van Dyke's favourite comedian is Stan Laurel, but one can see that on his TV show, he was more Chase than Laurel. One can also see where John Cleese might have found some of Basil Fawlty's character. 3. The music is strictly used to provide background music of the party/dance hall and has no impact on the gags. It's nice to hear the sound effect for the squirting perfume machine and the man reading the paper adds background to the shaving sequence, but the gags aren't reliant on sound. Again, this is all due to the limitations of sound recording and the fact that sound mixing didn't start to happen until about 1933. Chase shone in his silent films - a wonderful example is Movie Night. Try to check them out.
  4. 1. All are important, but costume not so much. (Why, in all of these questions, doesn't editing ever get mentioned? Take a look at some of these films with editing in mind.) 2. Keaton's comedy is more situational - more of the everyman - but not as much as other silent comedians. Chaplin's tramp was a specific character that most of us can't relate to. Who among us has lived on the streets? Keaton in One Week is DIYing his house - we have TV networks devoted to those shows, but without the comedy. 3. Keaton's comedy was prop comedy. He could take almost any object and find a gag in it. The NFB made an amazing film of the making of Keaton's short The Railrodder, which is called Buster Keaton Rides Again. In it, there is a moment when a train is slowing to a halt. For a lark, Keaton grabs a hand rail on it and it appears as if he is pulling the train to a stop.
  5. 1. Film scholars would probably agree that the silent era consitutes the "golden age of comedy." Ask the average Joe on the street and he would probably say Mel Brooks' movies or Will Ferrell's movies. 2. I disagree that the jokes were entirely visual. Many of the silent comedies had very clever title cards which would provide a laugh. The comedy evolved in the sound era. It didn't have to rely almost solely on visual humor. With the addition of dialogue and synchronized sound effects and music, it "took the heat off" delivering humor in a strictly physical way. It didn't disappear, of course, but you could say that it mellowed, or matured. 3. The Youngson compilation films that were made in the 50s and 60s were my entree to the works of the silent comedians. I saw them on TV in the 70s and probably never would have encountered my favourite silent comedian - Charley Chase - if I hadn't watched them. It almost seems like some enterprising documentary producer should revisit these once again. As a kid, I watched Chaplin on TV - he would be on the tail end of the Saturday morning line up. Today a kid would have to seek them out intentionally as the kids' cable channels wouldn't touch Chaplin (or anything in black and white) with a ten foot pole.
  6. I just watched Mickey, the Mabel Normand film, which is recommended viewing for Week 1. Can anyone explain to me why this movie is an example of slapstick comedy? It seems like a drama to me, what with the wanting to put down her dog, the greed of her relatives and her near rape towards the end of the film. There might be a couple of lighter moments, but there is almost none of the broad humor that Normand brought to Tillie's Punctured Romance. Calling Mickey a comedy is like calling Silverado a comedy just because John Cleese happens to be in it.
  7. I seem to remember a cartoon (probably Warner Brothers) that took this joke further. Man is using a hose. Boy stands on hose. Hose blows up and soaks boy. Although the Lumiere joke was probably fresh to the viewers, it eventually became cliché. Putting a further twist on the joke freshens it. Chaplin once described how to set up a joke. You show a banana peel. You show a man walking toward the banana peel. The man steps around the banana peel and falls into a open manhole.
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