Walrus-moustached Billy Bevan is one of the most iconic faces of slapstick. However, while many of us know classic gags and routines featuring him, his complete films have often been elusive. Now Dave Glass and Dave Wyatt are planning to remedy that with a follow up to last year’s Lupino Lane BluRay, throwing the spotlight on Mr Bevan. Hooray! The Kickstarter campaign has just been launched – take a look at the video below:
Here’s more detail from Dave Glass:
So here we are again!…. with our 3rd Kickstarter…and this time… we’re throwing the spotlight onto Billy Bevan (cue sound effect!)
Billy was THE face of Sennett slapstick comedies in the 20s. Whenever you watch a compilation of silent comedy clips, his face usually pops up.
And for many of us, when we were young, it was HIS comedies that hypnotized us the most.
So as before, we’ve been in touch with some archives and collectors, to try and unearth some of the best but lesser seen Mack Sennett films that featured Billy Bevan. And we’ve got some real goodies!!
Our first port of call was Lobster Films. Serge Bromberg kindly sent his humungous list of Billies and after we’d been resuscitated, we found some real rarites for starters:
MUSCLEBOUND MUSIC (1926) – extremely rare complete print (35mm French) which contains a couple of scenes familiar to fans of Robert Youngson’s ‘Golden Age of Comedy’.
THE QUACK DOCTOR (1920) – another rarity and a great example of one of the early 20s Sennetts that Billy made with Louise Fazenda. This one co-stars many of the Sennett favourites too including Ben Turpin.
NIP AND TUCK (1923) – a real treat this one. It has a terrific chase with cops galore and Cameo the Wonder Dog! A few minutes worth were used in Youngson’s ‘Golden Age of Comedy’, but other than that, it’s not been available. This is the complete 35mm fine grain camera neg (from the Youngson collection!) – in other words, it looks spectacular. PLUS Lobster will be doing the restoration on this one themselves.
We’ll return to the Lobster farm in a moment….. but in the meantime, we’d contacted Elif at the Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam.
They offered us their super rare 2K scan of CALLING HUBBY’S BLUFF (1929) – which also stars Dot Farley and Vernon Dent and is a very funny example of the late 20s situational style of comedy that Mack Sennett was producing then. Great stuff.
However, we’d also heard that EYE had a real treasure tucked away. One of THE iconic Mack Sennett comedies is a film called LIZZIES OF THE FIELD (1924), which features so many scenes of mayhem that have been used time and time again in comedy compilations. Welllllll….. this film has only ever been available in the world as a 1 reel version…. until NOW! I’d heard that EYE had a TWO REEL version in their basement… and yes, Elif confirmed that was true. Yippeeee!!! And when I happened to tell fellow ‘Lizzies’ fan Serge about this, he said “Yippeeeee” even louder! In fact, he got so excited, he’s now arranged with Elif to borrow and re-scan the original nitrate print, and restore it, using the sparkling Blackhawk film materials, to create the ultimate version of this favourite classic…. for us to use.
….. so there will now be a slight intermission, to allow you to catch your breath and restore your heart beat back to a normal rate…..
ok. ready to continue?…… ok…… sorry, but there’s MORE!!!
Serge told me he’d also been chatting about Billy to fellow fan and film enthusiast Jon Mirsalis, so after a quick chat with Jon, he’s kindly letting us use his super rare print of FROM RAGS TO BRITCHES (1925), which is another hilarious rare Bevan film co-starring Madeline Hurlock and Kewpie Morgan. Lobster have already made a 2K scan of this, so it just needs the restoration work.
And another? Well, this one wasn’t even known to exist… until recently.
If you’re a Sennett / Bevan fan, you’ve probably heard of WANDERING WILLIES and WHISPERING WHISKERS, which both contain some of the most iconic Sennett scenes ever seen!
Right, well hold on to your pants, because we’ve found….. WANDERING WAISTLINES! (1924) – And it’s a real treat!! It’s a similar gag packed slapstick fest, co-starring Sid Smith, Kalla Pasha and some of the most eye ball tickling stunts you’ll ever see. (Even Brent Walker hasn’t seen this one!) Thanks go to the Library of Congress for this print.
So those are the 7 main films in the collection. But there IS more!
As you may know, I’ve been uploading the occasional rare silent comedy to my You Tube channel (‘Reel Comedies’) and there’s one particular film I uploaded a few years ago, which has now gained more views than all of the other films combined. And what film is that Dave? Well Dave…. it’s a Billy Bevan rarity called ON PATROL (1922) which contains so many classic comedy scenes.
This “lost” film only exists in fragments, which have been found in various comedy clip compilations and those have been the main source for the restoration I produced. But it’s in need of an upgrade. So fresh new scans of the various film elements will be made, to provide you with the best possible looking version of this “lost” film that we can. (p.s. the picture on the front cover of Brent Walker’s book is from ON PATROL!)
And the other classic Bevan we’ve been asked to include is the restored version of WALL STREET BLUES (1924), which again doesn’t exist in any archive that we know of, but features some unforgettable scenes. This will be an updated version containing newly scanned footage.
Loads of fantastic content to look forward to there! The great news is that the Kickstarter has already been successful, so the Blu Ray is guaranteed to go ahead; there’s still until the 26th July to make your pledge and grab yourself a copy of what’s sure to be a great disk.