Feature Comedy | 1920 | Silent + Sound | B/W
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Comic sketches from Mack Sennett that reveals how the silent comedies were made. First section is silent while the second has a commentary that was added during the 1950's. Woman in 1920's bathing suit kicks ball. Group of women (all in swimming costumes) on sandy beach chasing the ball. They all run into each other and fall down laughing. The women lying on their fronts throwing the ball in the air while kicking their legs.
Women emerging from unconvincing igloos. They are wearing short dresses with fur at their hems. They begin to throw (fake) snowballs at each other. A man enters wearing a fur hat, lumberjack jacket and scarf. He looks very serious. A group of women talk among themselves. One of them points at him. She throws a snowball, it hits him in the face, it splatters as a custard pie would. He falls to the ground and then sits bolt upright. The women at first laugh and then are shocked.
Angry woman standing near a closed door in a room. She throws a punch at door. On the other side a man in white tie attempts to defend himself against the splintered wood that is being produced by the woman's blows. Her arms begin to flail and she talks to him through the hole in the door. Same couple sitting on a sofa together. He is older than her and she wears an
evening dress. He fumbles with a necklace he has bought her. She looks bored. Eventually he gets the ugly necklace around her neck. He admires it, takes her arm and puts it round his shoulders. She violently withdraws arm and tears necklace off and throws it on floor. Young man and woman standing next to telegraph pole. She has her back to him and appears to be sulking. From behind he offers her a ring. She is pleasantly surprised. She takes the ring and puts it on her finger. Meanwhile she pretends that she will not accept the ring. He tries to win her round, eventually he withdraws ring box only to find it missing, he panics. She shows him ring, she turns and they kiss the ring together.
Women athletes training. One of them walks towards camera and stops. Close up of her face as she applies powder.
Woman removing her jacket to reveal swimming costume. She is standing on diving board at end of pier. She raises her arms in preparation to dive. Fade to woman in 'Little Bo Peep' costume (large dress, parasol, curly hair, holds book). A large stage hand stands in shot as she tries to remember her lines. Production team: director using large megaphone, two men in ties and woman with script sitting, other people stand behind them. Stage hand chewing gum, spits it out. Medium close up of director with megaphone. 'Bo Peep' turns to walk, her left foot will not move. Eventually she pulls it up and the chewing gum to which she is stuck pulls up. She looks at the sole of her shoe and walks away on her heal. Shot of her feet, she drops parasol. Director and megaphone. She puts foot flat on ground, lifts foot and a brick from the path on which she is walking comes out. She walks on confused at the extra height of her left leg.
Woman in cage with large dog. She puts a lion mask on its head and then runs out of cage door which has a sign: 'Danger Keep Away' on it. She locks door and runs away. Real lion on a rope with a man in another cage. The disguised dog is led out of cage, the real lion is put into same cage. Woman returns with bowl of water for dog-lion. As she opens door she spills water which makes her angry. She scratches her head, walks into cage, picks up lion's lead and tries to pull him out. Eventually he follows. Woman walks through studio with rope across shoulder, lion follows. Director with cap and glasses on set lowers glasses when he sees lion. All people on set run off bar one who is sitting at table drinking. He looks out of window, sees lion and runs off. Back to woman with lion, it roars, she realises what has happened and runs off in fright. She enters office by door, lion enters by window. Woman runs into next office in which there is a telephone operator. Shot of telephonist with lion in background, it roars and she runs through door. Original woman is grabbed by lion's paw. Woman opens door in which lion is, she shuts it quickly, lion jumps through window above door. The two women running down corridor towards different doors pursued by lion. They separate, lion jumps on to window ledge above one door. Woman runs out grabs lion's tail and then through other door. Two men sitting at desk run into small toilet followed by woman. Lion jumps through glass and scrapes at toilet door, woman attempts to fend lion off with feather duster. Man enters office with hose pipe. Lion roars, hose pipe is turned on it and it runs off. Woman and men emerge from toilet: 'That's some pussy cat'. Woman walks off holding her head.
Film making as practiced by an opportunistic director. Long shot of moving circular stage: painted scenery moves as the actors run on the spot in front of it. Monkey gets horizontal while holding onto the mast of small boat. Enormous fan/wind making machine. Cowboy on horse. A long shot reveals that he is on a see-saw that is being moved up and down by another man while the scenery is moving behind him. Camera crew (including director with megaphone and camera and cameraman) urge him on in his efforts to look like a horseman. However, he falls off! Actor shouts at director. Cowboy sitting on sloping, tiled, rooftop. He is apparently watching a Rodeo. Rider is bucked (this is original footage) and the 'rider' is thrown to the foot of the camera. The director picks him up and there is a lot of pointing and shouting. Cut to two cowboys tying up a horse. Another man on the sloping roof is applying tar. He accidentally tips some on the side on which the cowboy watching the rodeo is sitting. His backside begins to steam. He stands up, slips. Tar, in the meantime, has dripped onto the saddle of the horse below. The cowboy's fall is broken by the horse and he becomes stuck to the saddle by the tar. The horse begins to buck. The camera crew run after the cowboy who is now the star of the rodeo. Shots of the camera crew filming the action. He eventually comes to halt by camera. The crew pull him off horse and the saddle comes with him. They all fall over with only the camera standing. They stand, actor indicates that saddle is stuck, they all grab it, he walks off and the tar acts like elastic. The camera crew are distracted, let the saddle go which hits actor who is propelled onto the back of a bull and is thrown to the ground. Bull runs at him, camera crew run off pursued by bull. They climb on to roof leaving an actress dressed as a horse rider on the ground. The director panics. Actor realises danger, runs to bull and begins to pull tail. Camera crew are filming from roof. Actor pulls bull into barn by its tail and is thrown through side of barn. Same director on another set is explaining to the actor, who is now wearing fur hat, lumberjack jacket and pick axe across his shoulder, that he will ring his neck if necessary. Actor's eyes go cross eyed (looks ridiculous with his enormous moustache). He turns and walks away but his pick axe catches director behind the neck and pulls him with him. Together they arrive at door, actor goes through it, director is angry. Shot of room, camera crew preparing. Person gets out of chair wearing rug. Large actor dressed as cowboy with whip starts to chastise this person who removes rug revealing a beautiful woman in evening dress (1920's). Big man is amazed and grabs her arms and begins to 'dance' violently with her. Door opens, actor enters. He begins to remove jacket. Woman sees him as her saviour. Close up of his face, eyes shift from left to right rapidly. Big man looks around. Actor expands his chest as if a balloon is beneath his shirt. A button pops of his shirt. Director is looking anxious, tearing up paper. A break in the shooting schedule. Shot and gun powder is poured into a blunderbuss. Director is talking to the big actor. Actor fires blunderbuss but it is blocked and the barrel begins to expand. It explodes and the house / set collapses. Actor stands up in the debris. His face if covered in soot and the gun / rifle is split, he throws it down. The camera crew appear, dazed. Actor runs off, attempts to run through doors above which a sign reads: 'Exit'. But it is only a painting of a set so he falls over, stands, and is then chased by camera crew. Actor spies an open door. He looks behind him, turns and runs at doorway. However, doorway is part of set that is being moved so he misses it and runs into wall instead. Camera crew still in pursuit. Actor standing next to barrel that says 'rubbish' on it. He puts it on his head and runs out of studio. A seated man sees him leave. Actor narrowly missed by moving train. Camera crew appear at studio exit, they talk to seated man. Cars on streets swerve to avoid actor who spins round in middle of street, he stops on tram line, tram approaches, stops and withdraws (he is still wearing barrel). Camera crew have set up camera again. One of the crew fires revolver at barrel. It stands and runs off pursued by crew. Barrel ends up on conveyor belt heading towards circular saw. The crew film it. Sign below saw says 'Danger Keep Away From Saw'. Man in barrel, stands and begins to run away from saw but because of conveyor belt remains in same position. The director thinks this is so funny that he knocks over camera. The actor in the barrel gives up and the barrel is sawn in half. One half falls away and the actor is seen curled up in the other half. Man tied to pole in a room in which water is pouring. The studio scene is being filmed by same camera crew in the corner of the room. In a street outside smoke billows from a building. Horse-drawn fire engine. Director giving advice to camera man in room where man is tied up. Another tells him something, he stands and the whole crew run off (with camera) to see the horse-drawn fire engine approaching. The crew bundle into two cars and follow the tender. Meanwhile the water has reached the waist of the tethered man. Firemen and camera crew reach scene of fire. The director is excited and gives actress a baby. One of the crew reminds the director of the man in the water. The actress enters the building that is on fire. The water has covered the tied up man's head, one of the camera crew dives in and unties him. They swim off. Back at the fire the actress is calling for help from a first floor window. The actor who came close to drowning is ordered to save her by the director and is given a Stetson. He enters building, director is very excited but reemerges from building with an oven that is the source of the smoke (he is a 'real' hero). The director is annoyed because his shot has been ruined. One of the camera crew notices that a petrol tank is attached to the oven. Everyone except the director and the cameraman realise the danger and leave, the tank explodes destroying the car. Hero and heroine appear. Cameraman and director are in rags, cameramen is still turning camera's handle. Actor and actress declare their love.
A curtain rises to a scene of chaos in an office. A person covered in film stock walks out of door, a man is shooting a rifle, there is smoke everywhere. Two men, one of which is Mack Sennett, talk at a desk in the midst of this mayhem. Five prospective actresses in swimming costumes enter and leave. Two men fighting enter. Sennett looks exasperated. A lion enters the office, all leave except the Sennett who is on the telephone. Lion jumps on desk. Sennett stands, claps his hands and tells lion to leave, it does so by the window. Assistant reappears through window.
Swimming pool scene: line of women in bathing costumes (Mack Sennett Bathing Beauties) standing on pool side. One of them walks along diving board. In foreground is a camera crew. Closer shot of woman on diving board. Film's director ( a small man with pince-nez and hat) picks up megaphone and shouts. Woman on diving board has been replaced by man, another enters and fires gun, man on board falls into pool, the resulting splash covers director and the large woman sitting next to him. Cowboy riding along track on horse. Medium close up of cowboy, camera pulls back to reveal the actor sitting on a see-saw being urged on by camera crew. Technician making see-saw go up and down has his trouser full down 'cowboy' falls off horse. Revolving stage, wind machine, monkey and sailing boat gag. Director in boater shouting through megaphone. A cameraman on his left. Charley Murray follows glamorous woman, Louise Carver. Man sawing plank of wood, when cut it falls on Carver's head. She acts dizzy. Murray begins to laugh and is chased by Carver with the piece of wood. He runs through door, appears from door next to it and hides between the two. Initially Carver is confused but then hits the doors, he reappears dazed. He hits her on her backside. He hides behind door, puts chair under door handle, the set collapses and they are once again face-to-face. She chases him. He runs on to revolving stage. Director begins to shout at him. Man next to wind machine opens umbrella, it flies out of his hand and embeds itself into he director's backside. He eventually removes it. Carver and Murray are still running round revolving stage. They jump off.
Return to the drowning man. Shot of camera crew with fire engine. Water up to actor's (Ben Turpin) neck. Dog and cat jump into water and begin to swim around Turpin. The soaked cat climbs on the man's head, it miaows. (Sound has been added). Dog and cat leave. Tethered man begins to breath through nearby air hose. Cars and fire engine arrive at scene of fire. Irene Lance given a baby by director in order to be filmed alongside smoke and flames. The firemen attempt to prevent this madness but they are pushed away by the camera crew. Turpin has disappeared completely and only spurts of water mark his position beneath the water.
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