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Don Jaun/80 Anneversery of Vitaphone


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Did any of you guys see Don Juan last night? It was really good. I can't belive it's been 80 years since the first films were made with vitaphone. It's remarkable how much the movies have changed since then.

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Don Juan was terrific - Barrymore at his finest. The shorts were also extremely interesting: I had never seen or heard Efrem Zimbalist perform, and Roy Smeck was akin to the Ry Cooder of his era. I can't imagine what the New York audience must have thought. Also fascinating to see that weasel Will Hays introducing the programme - what a weirdo! Could he have been more contrived?

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I have seen DON JUAN several times, and even made a DVD-R out of it. While this is a very good movie, the real highlight of the evening, or in this case morning was actually Syd Chaplin's THE BETTER OLE' (1926), for me!

 

Apparently only the second Vita-Phone track feature, this film deserved a much better time slot, than it received! Everyone seems to have missed out on it! What a pity, since as far as I know the last time this picture was shown was a Silent Sunday Nights presentation clear back in 2001? So quite a gap between broadcast?s! I had missed much of it on that occasion too!

 

A largely unknown film today, this production is a strong contender in my mind, for the funniest movie of 1926! For that matter, I might be even be so bold as to rate it as the Funniest, ahead of both Harold Lloyd's FOR HEAVENS SAKE, and Buster Keaton's BATTLING BUTLER!

 

The elder Sydney gives his much more famous younger brother, a serious run for money here! Proving himself to be a brilliant Mine, and screen comic in his own right! His loveable "OLD BILL" character seemed virtually as memorable as "THE LITTLE TRAMP", himself! At least in this feature! This film honestly made me laugh more than anything, I have seen in some time!

 

The gag where Bill and his youthful pal, try to elude capture by the tipsy Germans disguised as a horse, is one of the most perfectly executed gag sequences in any Silent comedy! Milked to absolute the hilt! Simply hilarious stuff! If you went to bed, and did not record this picture, than you missed out on something special folks! Ask TCM to please schedule it again, at a decent hour soon!

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>

> The gag where Bill and his youthful pal, try to elude

> capture by the tipsy Germans disguised as a horse, is

> one of the most perfectly executed gag sequences in

> any Silent comedy! Milked to absolute the hilt!

> Simply hilarious stuff!

 

When the head falls off the horse and scares the German soldier, I said to myself, "Hmm, I don't suppose Coppola ever saw this movie?"

 

The second funniest sight gag was when Sydney is sitting on top of the German soldier in the barrel, and arranges the soldier's legs to look like his (Chaplin's) own legs in order to hide the situation from the German officer. I knew this gag was used by the Marx Bros. in Horse Feathers, but was removed from the subsequent rereleases because the production code thought it was too risque: a woman was sitting on top of Groucho to hide him from her husband who had come back unexpectedly (supposedly this print was shown on the BBC in 1950 but has disappeared). Woody Allen and Lynn Regrave did this in "Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex*". Woody couldn't have watched the BBC in 1950; I figured it was an old vaudeville gag. Now I bet that Woody saw "The Better 'Ole" and said to himself, "I bet that would really funny with a man and a woman."

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