Well, the programme for Kennington Bioscope’s Silent Laughter Weekend is here at last! There are still a few additions and potential small changes to come, as well as exact show times, but the majority of the films being shown are now online.
The idea is to showcase silent comedy beyond Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd. That’s not to put down the magnificence of the eternal trio, but to give a broader picture of the many other fine talents whose films don’t see the light of day enough. Of course, the old favourites make appearances in the programme too, so hopefully there’s something for all silent comedy fans, from those with a casual interest to the more seasoned enthusiasts! All but a handful of these films are unavailable on DVD, and we’re also proud to be presenting several UK premieres of newly rediscovered or restored films.
Below is the programme, mirrored from www.silentlaughter.org. All events take place at London’s Cinema Museum, Kennington.
Each day’s films will begin at 10am. Exact show times to be announced soon!
SATURDAY 22ND OCTOBER
KID BOOTS (1926)
Great American entertainer Eddie Cantor made his screen debut in this adaptation of his 1923 Broadway musical. ‘IT’ girl Clara Bow is wonderfully perky as his love interest. the result is a sparky romantic comedy featuring two American jazz age icons for the price of one! We’re proud to present the premiere of a newly restored version of this wonderful film.
Before Chaplin and Keystone, when Hollywood was still just a sunkissed patch of orange groves, the world centre of film-making was in Europe. Legendary film historian David Robinson introduces the first film comedy stars – Max Linder (deemed ‘the professor’ by Chaplin), Charles Prince and more. The prints being shown today are on the archaic 28mm gauge, and are very nearly as old as the films themselves. Chris Bird and Brian Giles, who will be running them on equally vintage projectors, are a little younger!
LAUREL & HARDY – AND STILL THEY COME!
It’s hard to believe, but unseen Laurel and Hardy footage is still turning up almost 70 years after their last on-camera appearance. We present a treat for L & H fans, with a host of UK premieres of long lost footage. Among them are ‘new versions’ of classic silent shorts from Robert Youngson’s personal collection, featuring scenes not seen since their original release. Also showing will be two of L & H’s solo films, recently restored by the Cinemateca Nazionale: Stan Laurel’s Pythonesque Rudolph Valentino parody ‘MONSIEUR DON’T CARE’, and the Hardy solo film ‘MAIDS AND MUSLIN’.
HOME JAMES! (1928)
Laura La Plante, best known for Universal’s ‘THE CAT & THE CANARY’, had several hits in comedy roles. This rarely seen film shows her to winning effect, as a small town girl trying to make it big in a New York department store. Introduced by legendary film historian Kevin Brownlow, from whose collection this print comes.
LUPINO LANE – A LOCAL HERO
British comedian Lupino Lane was something of a local hero to this part of town, being the originator of the ‘Lambeth Walk’ dance craze in his hit musical ‘ME AND MY GIRL’. Long before that, he made a string of wonderful silent comedy shorts, featuring finely honed slapstick and acrobatic skills to surpass even Buster Keaton! We revisit his career with the aid of film clips and extracts from Lane’s book ‘HOW TO BECOME A COMEDIAN’. Includes a full showing of the rare two reel comedy ‘A HALF PINT HERO’ (1927).
THE LAMBETH WALK (1939)
Did someone mention Lambeth? We sneak into the sound era to show this exuberant, long-lost film version of ‘ME AND MY GIRL’. Starring Lupino Lane, it enables him to show off several of his favourite silent comedy routines.
SUNDAY 23RD OCTOBER:
Our first programme of the day will contain a few surprises! Among them, we are hoping to show a very rare Harold Lloyd short, and a few more familiar faces…
SLAPSTICK IN SKIRTS
While silent comedy was dominated by males, it was by no means an exclusive field; there were some terrifically talented female comedy stars out there, too. Michelle Facey showcases two overlooked ladies; Dorothy Devore rivals Harold Lloyd’s high-rise antics in ‘HOLD YOUR BREATH’, while Martha Sleeper shines in the Max Davidson classic ‘PASS THE GRAVY’.
MACK SENNETT’S FUN FACTORY
Mack Sennett was the silent era’s first ‘King of Comedy’, responsible for starting the film careers of Chaplin, Harry Langdon, Roscoe Arbuckle and many others. David Glass explains what made his studio so great, assisted by Brent Walker (author of the definitive Sennett book). Includes clips and films restored by David himself.
TRAMP, TRAMP, TRAMP(1926)
Eternal baby Harry Langdon was at one point considered to be Chaplin’s successor. Today, his idiosyncratic talent is sadly neglected, but he made some wonderfully individual films. Featuring Harry as hapless participant in a cross-country race, this is one of his greatest and funniest films. Matthew Ross introduces the film, and the context in which Langdon’s unique talent developed.
WAIT AND SEE (1927)
Walter Forde, Britain’s best silent comedian, and later an eminent director, in his first (and perhaps funniest) feature film. A great chance to see classic silent comedy played out against vintage English backdrops. Introduced by Geoff Brown, author of the only book on Walter Forde.
THE BETTER ‘OLE (1926)
Warner Brothers’ first comedy feature to have a Vitaphone soundtrack, this features Charlie Chaplin’s brother Syd in an adaptation of the wartime comic strip by Captain Bruce Bairnsfather. The sterling cast also includes Edgar Kennedy and Harold Goodwin. Introduced by Barbara Witemeyer, daughter of chief Vitaphone sound engineer Jack Watkins.
Tickets are available through www.kenningtonbioscope.com