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Slapstick Encyclopedia
Page 1Page 2Page 3Page 4Page 5Page 6Page 7Page 8Page 9    by Gary Johnson -- page 6 of 9

Charlie Chaplin stars in "The Rink."
(©1998 KINO ON VIDEO. All rights reserved.)

Volume 5
Chaplin & Co.: The Music Hall Tradition

Volume 5 of the "Slapstick Encyclopedia" revolves around Charlie Chaplin. You'll find shorts that feature Charlie Chaplin himself, shorts that star his imitators, and shorts that star comedians who clearly followed in his tradition.

This video begins with "A Night in the Show" (1915), where Chaplin re-creates his famous music hall routine. He takes a dual role: as the Pest, he plays a drunkard who tries to find his way to a seat in a theater, and as the Rowdy, he plays a character with a wide mustache who looks more like Snub Pollard or Ben Turpin. The Rowdy sits in the balcony and pours beer on the audience below and throws fruit at the performers on stage. "A Night in the Show" became widely imitated--as this tape testifies, with comedians such as Billy West and Lupino Lane filming short comedies very much in the "A Night in the Show" tradition.

"A Night in the Show" contains several inventive pieces of comedy, such as the opening scene where the Pest tries to get a ticket to a concert and he ends up stuck in line behind a statue. However, "A Night in the Show" isn't among Chaplin's best comedies. To find Chaplin at his best, you don't have to look far, though: On this same tape, you'll also find one of Chaplin's all-time best shorts--"The Rink" (1916). It contains several priceless bits of comedy, such as the scene where Chaplin plays a waiter who determines a customer's bill by tallying all the different stains on the customer's shirt. Both of these comedies have previously been available from Kino in their "Early Films of Charlie Chaplin" set. Some people might consider their inclusion here as superfluous, but one of the virtues of this set is its completeness: it provides the best overview of slapstick comedy ever presented on video.

In addition, this volume contains a piece of Chaplin footage never included on any other video, a rare snippet where Chaplin comically conducts an orchestra at a New York fund-raiser.

In addition to the Chaplin material, "Chaplin & Co.: The Music Hall Tradition" includes several additional shorts, including two by Chaplin imitators--Billie Ritchie and Billy West. Ritchie, who was well-established in music halls in the early 1900s, claimed that Chaplin stole material from him. In "Live Wires and Love Sparks" (1916), he stars as a "telephone worker blessed with a large family and a small income." Directed by Charles Parrott (otherwise known as comedian Charley Chase), "He's In Again" (1918) stars Billy West as a bum who tries to sneak into a dance hall/restaurant while Oliver Hardy plays the waiter who consistently throws him out.

Also on this video, you'll find Stan Laurel in "Pie-Eyed" (1925). Before he joined forces with Oliver Hardy, Stan Laurel was Chaplin's own music hall understudy. In "Pie-Eyed," he plays another version of the drunk character that Chaplin created in "A Night in the Show." And in "Only Me" (1929), Lupino Lane (a veteran of British music halls) one-ups Chaplin while assuming the drunk routine from "A Night in the Show" by playing a multitude of characters: he plays the ticket seller, the conductor, a flutist, a female dancer, a baby in a crib, and several other characters.


page 6 of 9


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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