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MoMA Closes More Cruel and Unusual Comedy 10/14

MoMA Presents: More Cruel and Unusual Comedy: Social Commentary in the American Slapstick Film Part 2 October 6-14, 2010

Silent-era slapstick highlighted social, cultural, and aesthetic themes that continue to be central concerns around the world today; issues of race, gender, propriety, and economics have traditionally been among the most vital sources for rude comedy. Drawing on the Museum's holdings of silent comedy, acquired largely in the 1970s and 1980s by former curator Eileen Bowser, Cruel and Unusual Comedy presents an otherwise little-seen body of work to contemporary audiences from an engaging perspective. The series, which first appeared in May 2009, continues with films that take aim at issues of sexual identity, substance abuse, health care, homelessness and economic disparity, and Surrealism. On October 8 at 8PM, Ms Bowser will address the connection between silent comedy and the international film archive movement, when she introduces a program of shorts that take physical comedy to extremes of dream-like invention and destruction.

Audiences today will find the vulgar zest and anarchic spirit of silent slapstick has much in common with contemporary entertainment such as Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, MTV's Jackass and the current Jackass 3-D feature. A majority of the films in the series are archival rarities, often the only known surviving version, and feature lesser-remembered performers on the order of Al St. John, Lloyd Hamilton, Fay Tincher, Hank Mann, Lupino Lane, and even one, Diana Serra Cary (a.k.a. Baby Peggy), who, at 91, is the oldest living silent film star still active. All films are from the U.S. and are silent, with piano accompaniment by Ben Model.
Organized by Ron Magliozzi, Assistant Curator, with Steve Massa, film historian, and Ben Model, film historian and accompanist.

Screening Schedule
More Cruel and Unusual Comedy: Social Commentary in the American Slapstick Film Part 2
October 6-14, 2010
Wednesday, October 6

8:00 Class War: How the Other Half Lives
Bunny and the Bunny Hug (aka Bunny Dips Into Society). 1913. Vitagraph Company. Directed by Wilfrid North. With John Bunny, Earle Williams, Leo Delaney, Ned Finley, Leah Baird, Miss Heyward.
Bunny becomes the mascot of some rich playboys and wins over their girlfriends. 11 min.
Luke's Shattered Sleep. 1916. Pathé. Directed by Hal Roach. With Harold Lloyd, Bebe Daniels, Snub Pollard, Charles Stevenson, Fred C. Newmeyer, Sammy Brooks, Bud Jamison, Earl Mohan Noah Young, Harry Todd, Gus Leonard.
Luke rules the roost at his flophouse. 13 min.
Time Flies. 1926. Lupino Lane Comedy Corp. Educational Pictures. Directed by Jess Robbins. With Lupino Lane, Wallace Lupino, Virginia Vance.
A panhandler finds a valuable watch, making him the envy of high and low life alike. 15 min.
Sweetie. 1923. Century Film Co., Universal Pictures. Directed by Alf Goulding. With Baby Peggy, Jerry Mandy, Louise Lorraine, Max Asher, James T. Kelly, William Irving.
A spunky child of the streets hustles the immigrant population of a Lower East Side neighborhood. 18 min.
The Vagrant. 1921. Mermaid Comedies, Educational Pictures. Directed by Hugh Fay, with Lloyd Hamilton, Hugh Fay, Tom Wilson, Lige Conley, Irene Dalton, Frank J. Coleman.
A homeless man relies on wit and nerve to survive against the police and the public.
This burlesque of life on the street recalls Chaplin's Easy Street (1917). Hamilton's attack on the feet of passersby was praised in original reviews. 18 min.
Program approx. 75 min.

Thursday, October 7

4:30 Unsocialized Medicine: The Health Care Crisis
Bunny Backslides. 1914.Vitagraph Company. Directed by George D. Baker. With John Bunny, Flora Finch, Josie Sadler, Charles Eldridge.
Forced into a diet camp, Bunny romances a plus-sized food addict. 6 min.
A Professional Patient. 1917. Vitagraph Company. Directed by Sidney Drew. With Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Drew, Donald McBride, Bobby Connolly.
A down on his luck man takes a job promoting painless dentistry. 12 min.
The Snow Cure. 1916. Keystone Film Company. Directed by Arvid E. Gillstrom. With Alice Davenport, James Donnelly, Marie Manley, Fritz Schade, Ford Sterling, Slim Summerville, Frank Alexander, Otto Fries, Bert Gillespie, Harold J. Binney, Coy Watson Sr., Bruno the bear.
At a health spa, only Mack Sennett could imagine, large men chase each other around a pool and down a toboggan run to escape a rampaging bear. 8 min.
Naughty Nurses. 1920. Arrow Film Corp. Hank Mann Comedies. Directed by undetermined. With Hank Mann, Madge Kirby, Vernon Dent.
Piano movers end up as the patients of pretty nurses. 20 min.
Good Night Nurse. 1929. Educational Pictures. Directed by Lupino Lane/Henry William George. With Lupino Lane, Wallace Lupino, Fay Holderness, Eleanor Fredericks, Muriel Evans.
A bizarre medical exam lands Lane in a hospital ward. 15 min.
Program approx. 61 min

8:00 Altered States: Under the Influence
Mabel's Married Life. 1914. Keystone. Directed by Charles Chaplin and Mabel Normand. With Chaplin, Normand, Mack Swain, Charles Murray, Harry McCoy, Alice Davenport, Alice Howell, Wallace MacDonald, Eva Nelson, Hank Mann.
A husband who would rather drink than fight meets his match. 12 min.
Mystery of the Leaping Fish. 1915. Triangle/Keystone. Directed by Christy Cabanne, John Emerson. With Douglas Fairbanks, Bessie Love, A.D. Sears, Alma Rubens, Charlie Stevens, George Hall.
A burlesque of Sherlock Holmes as a cocaine addicted junkie, with story by Tod Browning and titles by Anita Loos. 26 min.
How Dry I Am. 1919. Rolin Film Company. Snub Pollard Comedies. Pathe. Directed by Charles Parrott. With Snub Pollard, Ernest "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison, Mildred Davis, Noah Young, Eddie Boland, Gaylord Lloyd.
A travelling Medicine Show brings illegal alcohol to a hotel filled with flirtatious guests. The film is incomplete and ends abruptly. 6 min.
The Gum Riot. 1920. Arrow Film Corp., Hank Mann Comedies. With Hank Mann, Madge Kirby, Vernon Dent, Jess Weldon, Jack Richardson.
Whiskey laced gum causes a riot with prohibition suffering patrons of a restaurant. 20 min.
What a Night. November 30, 1924. Jack White Corp., Educational Pictures. Mermaid Comedies. Directed by Norman Taurog. With Lige Conley, Otto Fries, Louise Carver, Clem Beauchamp, Phil Dunham, Al Thompson, Jack Lloyd, Bert Young.
Two drunks trigger a home invasion comedy. 12 min.
Program approx. 76 min.

Friday, October 8

4:30 Gender Benders: Masculine Women/Feminine Men
Rowdy Ann. 1919. Christie Comedies. Directed by Al E. Christie. With Fay Tincher, Eddie Barry, Katherine Lewis, Harry Depp, Al Haymes, George B. French, Edgar Blue.
As tough as any cowman, Ann is sent back East to learn how to be a lady. 20 min.
Hearts and Flowers. 1919. Mack Sennett. Paramount Pictures. Directed by Edward Cline. With Louise Fazenda, Ford Sterling, Phyllis Haver, Billy Armstrong, Jack Ackroyd, Kalla Pasha, Edgar Kennedy, Bert Roach, Charles Lynn, Eva Thatcher, Virginia Fox, Sybil Sealy, Sennett Bathing Beauties.
A smarmy roué romances a flower girl he thinks is rich. 20 min.
Shanghaied Lovers. 1924. Mack Sennett. Pathé. Directed by Roy Del Ruth. With Harry Langdon, Kalla Pasha, Alice Day, Andy Clyde, Tiny Ward, Joe Young, George Cooper, Gordon Lewis, Eli Stanton.
Kidnapped by pirates, a newly married couple engages in cross-dressing aboard the ship to protect themselves from the advances of a brutish captain. 15 min.
A Sorority Mix-Up. 1927. Bray Productions. Sunkist Comedies. Directed by Joseph Basil. With Buddy Messinger, Anne Porter, Madelynne Field, Henry Roquemore, Mr. X (chimp), Alice Belcher, the Sunkist Bathing Beauties.
Girl school hazing leads to human and animal drag. 14 min.
Crushed. 1924. Hamilton Comedies. Educational. Directed by Fred Hibbard. With Lloyd Hamilton, Dorothy Seastrom, Blanche Payson, Robert McKenzie, Louise Carver, Mark Hamilton, Jack McHugh, Tommy Hicks.
After misadventures on the subway, effete Ham ends up married to bossy Amazon Blanche Payson, who surprises him with a brood of brats. 15 min.
Program approx. 90 min.

8:00 The Surreal Life: Dallying with the Absurd
Some Hero. 1916. Eagle Film Company. Tweedledum Comedies. Directed by Billy Dunn. With Manuel Fernandez Perez (aka Marcel Fabre), Babette Fabre (aka Nilde Barrachi).
When Tweedledum's girl is kidnapped by bad men, he springs into action. 11 min.
A Schoolhouse Scandal. Dec 7, 1919. Fox Film Corp. Sunshine Comedies. Directed by Eddie Cline. With Slim Summerville, Ethel Teare, Tom Kennedy, Polly Moran, Harry Booker, Jack Cooper, James Donnelly, Francis Carpenter.
A surrealistic stew of airplanes, tornadoes, trick mirrors, and underwater car repair. Footage was recycled for the studios' 1920 release Hold Me Tight. 15 min.
Kiss Me Quick. 1920. Directed by John G. Blystone. Fox Sunshine Comedy. With Clyde Cook, Blanche Payson, Bobby Dunn, Frank Alexander.
Clyde is in hot water with his Amazon wife and her tough sailor brother, culminating in a wrestling match and escape by airplane. Also known as Don't Tickle. 17 min.
All Wet. 2 September 1922. Fox Film Corp. Al St. John Comedies. Directed by Al St. John, with Al St. John, Otto Fries, Ford West, Sy Jenks, Tiny Ward.
A newly married couple find that their seaside home is too close to the water in this remake of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle's Keystone short Fatty and Mabel at Drift (1916). The surrealistic undersea and rapid growth visual effects were greeted as a refinement of the slapstick form. This may be the first film Arbuckle directed anonymously after his infamous sex scandal.
20 min.
Egged On. 1926. R. C. Pictures Corp. Whirlwind Comedies. Directed by Charles Bowers, Harold L. Muller. With Bowers, Winifred Leighton.
An inventor of unbreakable eggs hatches himself a brood of infant Model T automobiles. 19 min.
Introduced by Eileen Bowser. Program approx. 72 min.

Saturday, October 9

2:00 The Surreal Life: Dallying with the Absurd (See Friday, October 8)

8:00 Gender Benders: Masculine Women/Feminine Men (See Friday, October 8)

Sunday, October 10

2:00 Class War: How the Other Half Lives (See Wednesday, October 6)

Thursday, October 14

4:30 Altered States: Under the Influence (See Thursday, October 7)

8:00 Unsocialized Medicine: The Health Care Crisis (See Thursday, October 7)

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