Thanks to COVID-19, upcoming silent film screenings and film festivals have been decimated. But, necessity is the mother of invention, and now you can join a live streaming silent comedy watch party every Sunday!
This terrific idea comes courtesy of historian and silent film accompanist Ben Model and author/historian Steve Massa. After already giving us a string of crowdfunded DVDs and magnificent books between them, the pair have once again proved to be heroes of silent comedy fandom!
How does it work? Ben livestreams the films from his home, giving wonderful accompaniment to them on his piano. Steve contributes introductions to the films via video link. Simple but ingenious.
You can find all the details at https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Movie-Theater/The-Silent-Comedy-Watch-Party-104795847832966/ and https://www.silentfilmmusic.com/category/The-Silent-comedy-watch-party/
Thehttps://www.silentfilmmusic.com/category/The-Silent-comedy-watch-party/ next stream can be found here:
The stream begins at 3pm EDT (that’s 8pm for those of us here in Britain).
Last week’s episode gave us some rare treats. A clever ‘Out of the Inkwell’ cartoon kicked things off followed by Snub Pollard in the wonderful chase comedy FIFTEEN MINUTES. Snub is tired of being dragged around by his wife, and sits on a bench to rest for a little while. Or so he thinks… this is a wonderful example of director Charles Parrott/Charley Chase’s skill at starting with a mundane situation, and escalating it to absurdity. Snub has a washerwoman’s tub of water tipped over him; when he protests, her husband Noah Young comes after him. Soon, he has lost his trousers, is being shot at, has half the L.A police department after him, and ends up stuck in a tree with a bear! Just wonderfully ridiculous (and did I possibly see a cameo from Mr Parrott as one of the men shooting?)
Next up was a real rarity, the surviving reel of a manic Harry Sweet comedy, THE TWO JOHNS. Sweet comes across as a capable but bland performer, and it’s no coincidence he was better known as a director (he directed some of Stan Laurel’s solo shorts, and later initiated the RKO Edgar Kennedy series). No matter, for THE TWO JOHNS was more concerned with elaborate stunts and slapstick than its star performer. Ben and Steve described it as “like a Larry Semon comedy on steroids!” and that’s a great summation. Heaps of fun and wonderful to see one of the rare Fox Sunshine comedies.
Lastly, we had a terrific Joe Rock short called THE WHIRLWIND.
Best known today as a producer, Joe Rock made films both as a team with earl Montgomery and on his own. THE WHIRLWIND is one of those wonderful milkings of a single gag – Joe is stuck in a town being ravaged by a cyclone. There were some great gags, particularly a funny scene as Joe is thrown out of his girl’s house, but repeatedly blown back in by the wind causing the father to become more and more irate.
What a treat this was, and I can’t wait for the next edition. Its so great to see silent film screenings being kept alive at a time when we need laughter more than ever. Make sure you tune in!