Slapstick Encyclopedia, Volume 6: Hal Roach’s All-Star Comedians

Welcome to the sixth week of TMP’s Slapstick Encyclopedia journey! This time around we’re taking a look at the big stars who churned out fantastic comedic performances at Hal Roach’s studio, including Stan Laurel and Harold Lloyd. Volume 6 of the Slapstick Encyclopedia once again includes five films.

(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

Oranges and Lemons (1923)
Directed by: George Jeske
Starring: Stan Laurel
Run time: 12 minutes
This one-reeler features Stan Laurel in what the Encyclopedia intro describes as a “dazzling, fast-moving sprite” of a film. There are a couple of great gags here (like a ladder that seems to be made of noodles) but overall the short didn’t capture my attention as much as I hoped it would.

(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

Get Out and Get Under (1920)
Directed by: Hal Roach
Starring: Harold Lloyd and Mildred Davis
Run time: 25 minutes
Harold Lloyd was a rising star as the 1920s began, as was Mildred Davis, his frequent co-star and eventual wife. I really love Harold Lloyd, and I really love he and Mildred Davis together, so I was pretty sure I’d enjoy this little film and I was right. Lloyd’s use of facial expression is brilliant, from the very first hilarious scene, where he’s being posed for a portrait and little creatures (a fly, a mouse) keep distracting him and making him move. Aaaand we’ve got ourselves another CUTE PUPPY BONUS. A pup gets in the way when Harold is trying to fix his car.

(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

Mighty Like a Moose (1926)
Directed by: Leo McCarey
Starring: Charley Chase
Run time: 22 minutes
Fun fact from the introduction: Charley Chase advertised himself as “Appearing in a Series of Comedies of the Higher Type with Hal E. Roach.” What a tagline! I must confess, I  hadn’t seen many of Chase’s films before watching this one. His final film was released in 1940 and he completed nearly 300 projects throughout his career, but he worked mostly in shorts, so I’d missed out on fully appreciating this talented man until now. He’s incredibly funny and, like Harold Lloyd, displays a great talent for the absolutely brilliant use of facial expression.

(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

Big Moments from Little Pictures (1924)
Directed by: Roy Clements
Starring: Will Rogers
Run time: 20 minutes
The introduction to this film describes Will Rogers’ films as “more sophisticated than the average two-reeler in planning, writing and photography,” though their star was a man from rural Oklahoma. The introduction also states that the witty subtitles are often the best part of Rogers’ films. I’d agree, based on this short. See the image above for an example. The titles are great, and many of them are much lengthier than has been seen in most of the other shorts so far in the set.

(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

Haunted Spooks (1920)
Directed by: Alfred J. Goulding and Hal Roach
Starring: Harold Lloyd and Mildred Davis
Run time: 25 minutes
More Harold Lloyd and Mildred Davis to round out the sixth volume of the Slapstick Encyclopedia! The basic premise of this film is that Davis’ grandfather has just died and left her a hefty fortune… if she and her husband are willing to live in the old family mansion for a year. If the terms of the will aren’t fulfilled, all of the money will go to the uncle of Mildred’s character. The trouble? She isn’t married! This frantically-paced film is a riot to watch. Harold Lloyd is perfect, as usual, and the film includes the famous gag in which Lloyd tries to jump from a bridge to his death, only to land in very shallow water. He then tries again, only to land in a canoe. Gotta love that morbid humor!

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