What would happen if Laurel and Hardy’s long-lost 1927 silent short subject, “Hats Off,” were suddenly found? Once the idea popped into my head, it was hard to let go—instead of dismissing it, I created a work of fiction involving a group of real film historians and L&H experts, some of whom I knew quite well. Fortunately, they were amused and flattered by the idea—which is not all that implausible to me, with new discoveries (such as The Three Stooges’ Technicolor short, “Hello Pop”) being made all the time.
In addition to the Laurel and Hardy adventure, I pondered what would happen if Mary Pickford met George Bernard Shaw. This tale, unlike the first, is adapted from a one-act play I wrote some years ago; their mutual friend, Charles Chaplin, serves as the logical go-between. Both stories are included in my new ebook, “Hats Off to Pordenone,” available from Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FPQY488
Laurel and Hardy and The Three Stooges figured prominently in the career of comedian Charley Chase, who spent the bulk of his career at Hal Roach Studios. He’s likely best known today for his cameo appearance as Hardy’s obnoxious brother-in-law in the duo’s “Sons of the Desert.” Late in his career he directed the Stooges in some of their best shorts. His own films are far less remembered, but not forgotten; a collection of his Columbia shorts is now available on DVD, with a second on the way.
Many of the films James L. Neibaur discusses in “The Charley Chase Talkies: 1929-1940” (available in hardcover from Scarecrow) are difficult to see but that only makes the book more valuable. The author’s thoughtful analyses of these shorts, along with the background context that’s sadly missing from so many books these days—plus shooting and release dates, cast and credits—will make this a must-have for Chase fans. Those unfamiliar with his work are simply missing out.
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How Laurel and Hardy inspired Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’ http://shar.es/pmI2Z
Forgotten funsters of silent screen, rare/lost short films on DVD http://www.examiner.com/article/forgotten-funsters-of-silent-screen-rare...
Disney’s ‘Little Mermaid’ on Blu-ray & 3D, Wellman doc, Maltin guide http://www.examiner.com/article/disney-s-little-mermaid-on-blu-ray-3d-we...
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Leonard Maltin commented to me a while back that we might be the last generation to take advantage of archive and reference libraries. No matter how well-intentioned your efforts, your information is only as good as your sources. A recent case in point is Axel Nissen’s “Mothers, Mammies and Old Maids: 25 Character Actresses of Golden Age Hollywood” (available in paperback from McFarland & Company).
The cast of this volume includes such stalwart supporting players as Helen Broderick, Ethel Waters, Patsy Kelly, Beryl Mercer and Josephine Hull. The writing is informative and enlightening, but one look at Nissen’s footnotes and you have to wonder. He’s obviously done a lot of research, but in addition to The New York Times, his sources include often-inaccurate imdb.com and—god help us—Wikipedia. Nuff said.
Hot tip: Paul Gierucki has announced CineMuseum and Keystone Films have teamed with Flicker Alley to release the restored Mack Sennett collection on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD.
More from Jordan:
DeVito and Hirsch as Simon’s Sunshine Boys http://www.examiner.com/article/devito-and-hirsch-as-simon-s-sunshine-bo...
Margulies’ ‘Time Stands Still’ at The Chance, new paperback theatre anthology http://www.examiner.com/article/margulies-time-stands-still-at-the-chanc...
‘Fast Company’ in debut at South Coast Rep, crime & spy thrillers on DVD http://www.examiner.com/article/fast-company-debut-at-south-coast-rep-cr...
Visit my Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Jordan-R.-Young/e/B001K8E7NW
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