The Sound Of Silents

Bristol played host to its third silent comedy festival this weekend and I thought it would be a nice treat to take my father to a show. Paul Merton compèred three old American films and a composer called Neil Brand played new scores for each of them.

Harold Lloyd does little for me but there's a great sequence in Get Out And Get Under where he drives over a bump in the road and his case falls out of the car. He gets out to retrieve it and then has to catch up with the driver-less still-moving vehicle before it crashes! I watched a lot of Laurel and Hardy when I was younger so there was nostalgia value in this for me as well as for Pops. Apparently a third of their catalogue is silent, and they lasted all the way to colour.

I'd never seen Buster Keaton's work before, however, so I viewed Steamboat Bill Jr. with fresh eyes. The jokes stood up well after 79 years, especially the one where he clumsily knocks a life preserver over the side of a boat... and it sinks out of sight. He's fearlessly physical and his deadpan face kills me. No sound, no colour, no tits, no explosions: with luck, his films will be cheap as chips on eBay.


Blogger The Paranoid Mod said...

I've been loving the documentaries on bbc4, particularly, as you say, Buster Keaton. Man's a god.
And Laurel and Hardy in silence is weird, but it makes you realise there's a lot more to them than "This is another fine mess..." and so on.

Blogger thisismarcus said...

Pedant's Corner: the phrase is often misquoted. Ollie says "Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into." Another Fine Mess is the title of one of their short movies. No offence!

I just ordered a Buster Keaton D.V.D. for two quid on Amazon (Marketplace). Woot!

Anonymous tone said...

I looked up some old Will Hay films on ebay the other day - they're black and white comedies with sound. According to the sellers, these are now out of copyright they're so old, so you can buy them all on a couple of DVDr's for about a fiver. I expect you'll find the same is true for most old films. I've no idea what the quality is like tho...


Blogger Trundling Grunt said...

God, I loved Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton. I must go and find some. There used to be a programme that used to show these gems when I were a lad. The fact that they were black and white didn't seem such a handicap back then.


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