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Slapstick Encyclopedia
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Louise Fazenda (left) in "Hearts and Flowers."
(©1998 KINO ON VIDEO. All rights reserved.)

Volume 3
Funny Girls

Volume Three of the "Slapstick Encyclopedia" concentrates on the "Funny Girls" of silent screen comedy. However, this volume is somewhat misnamed. The comediennes frequently share screen time with the men and sometimes even play supporting roles, as in Charley Chase's "Mighty Like a Moose." But in at least two cases, the comediennes take center stage: Gale Henry's "The Detectress" and Fay Tincher's "Rowdy Ann." Unfortunately, "The Detectress" (1919) is one of the weaker comedies in the "Slapstick Encyclopedia" collection. Its manic pace quickly becomes quite wearying and repetitive, as Gale Henry does some free lance detective work in Chinatown. Henry is served much better by her supporting role in "Mighty Like a Moose" (1926) where she plays a gawky spinster who dogs Chase at a dance. She only knows one dance step--a polka!--which she launches into at the drop of a hat. Vivian Oakland is also on hand in "Mighty Like a Moose," but it's a Charley Chase vehicle all the way--and one of his best at that: Chase and Oakland play a homely-looking husband and wife. He has huge buckteeth and she has a nose that hooks like an eagle's beak. Unknown to their mates, Chases sees an oral surgeon to fix his teeth and Oakland has a nose job. Afterwards, they don't recognize each other.

Of the six comedies on this video, Fay Tincher's "Rowdy Ann" (1919) makes the best case of presenting us with a great silent-era comedienne. Fay Tincher plays a headstrong woman who refuses to give up her tom-boyish ways. She wears a gun belt and carries a lasso, which at one point she uses to drag her father from a bar. She even gets into a boxing match with a man who made unwarranted advances--and she wins by stepping on his corns: as he winces she delivers the knockout punch. Her father sends her off to college to "larn to be a lady." And soon enough the professors try dressing her up as a Greek nymph--but she insists on wearing her cowboy boots, hat, and gun holsters.

Other shorts on this volume include Dorothy DeVore in "Know They Wife" (1918), Alice Howell, Neely Edwards, and Bert Roach in "One Wet Night" (1924), and Louise Fazenda, Ford Sterling, and Phyllis Haver in "Hearts and Flowers" (1919). Directed by Eddie Cline, who would later work with Buster Keaton and W.C. Fields, "Hearts and Flowers" gives us Louise Fazenda as a dim-witted cigarette girl who falls for a pompous band leader, but he doesn't much care for her. He says she "has the grace of a hippopotamus but none of the charm." But when someone passes him a note that says she has recently inherited $2,000,000, he suddenly changes his mind. (If you're looking for the Sennett bathing beauties, "Hearts and Flowers" is the place to look.)

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Intro Page

Vol.1: In the Beginning:
Film Comedy Pioneers

Vol.2: Keystone Tonight!
The Mack Sennett Comedies

Vol.3: Funny Girls

Vol.4: Keaton, Arbuckle and St. John

Vol.5: Chaplin & Co.
The Music Hall Tradition

Vol.6: Hal Roach: The Lot of Fun

Vol.7: The Race is On!

Vol.8: Tons of Fun:
Comedy's Anarchic Fringe


"Slapstick Encyclopedia" is an eight-cassette boxed set from KINO ON VIDEO. Each video has a running time of approximately two hours. Volume 1: "In the Beginning: Film Comedy Pioneers." Volume 2: "Keystone Tonight! The Mack Sennett Comedies." Volume 3: "Funny Girls." And Volume 4: "Keaton, Arbuckle and St. John." Volume 5: "Chaplin & Co.: The Music Hall Tradition." Volume 6: "Hal Roach: The Lot of Fun." Volume 7: "The Race is On!" Volume 8: "Tons of Fun: Comedy's Anarchic Fringe." Suggested retail price: $24.95 each. For more information, we suggest you check out the Kino Web site:


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