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 agree, but only to an extent. As other posters have said, film comedy has experienced many "Golden Ages" since the silent era and like so much of film, what films constitutes the "greatest " of a particular genre is incredibly subjective. Also, as Dr. Edwards suggested in his lecture this week, comedy between 1912 and 1930 underwent significant changes and thus viewing silent comedy as a kind of staid, monolithic entity seems counterproductive. 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?
While it is is fair to say that silent film gags were primarily visual, I do think that the intertitles were often contributed to the gags through clever wordplay, irony and other forms of written wit. Also, I do think that the success of the gags were often reliant on the context of said gags. For example, as we saw in the "Breakdown of a Gag" from Week 1, the visual of Chaplin slipping on a banana peel is funny but Chaplin eluding the police, given that we know of Chaplin's propensity to poke fun at and criticize authority figures, is even funnier.
This form of comedy definitely didn't disappear after the arrival of sound; I would argue that at different points in film comedy history, primarily visual gags may have been superseded by a focus on dialogue and vice versa which would definitely be an evolution of sorts. 3.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 that all of them have certainly had a significant impact on how we remember the silent film era and who we remember from the silent era; they play a big role in shaping the history of the history of the silent film era, an idea more thoroughly explored in moviemorlock's TCM blogpost. These documentaries, compilations and essays also serve as a gateway to the silent film era, too as they provide us with kind of the "greatest hits" of silent comedy.