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In the pioneer days of the internet.... - CinemaDave

Dec. 9th, 2005 07:23 am In the pioneer days of the internet....

In the pioneer days of the internet, there was a website called "Cinemamania." One of the contributors to the website was
Leonard Maltin and I sent him an e-mail, complimenting his books,
"Movie Comedy Teams" and "The Great Movie Shorts."
Months later I received a reply from Mr. Maltin thanking me.

I do not know what happened to "Cinemamania,"
but Leonard Maltin survives and thrives.
This is the link to his website;

More so than most critics,
Mr. Maltin is a historian.
Therefore, I hate to use the word "critic" when I describe
Mr. Maltin's movie reviews.

Among his sidelines, Maltin introduces and provides a historical perspective for DVDs. For the "Warner Brothers' Gangsters release," Maltin introduces "Warner's Night at the Movies," which features cartoons,
short subjects and newsreel footage preceding the feature motion picture.

I recently heard a story about Stan Laurel.
The comedian was watching one of his short subjects on television and he was upset with the poor timing of the commercial interruptions. Mr. Laurel called the station manager and offered to come to the television station and edit the shorts FOR FREE. The station manger refused the offer. With this story in mind, take a peek at Mr. Maltin's take on DVD marketing;

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Date:December 24th, 2005 09:45 am (UTC)

Early Film Comedy Stars

Dick Van Dyke in an interview I saw a few years ago said he was acquainted with Stan Laurel and other great early film comedy stars, including Buster Keaton.

In some of his films Keaton would be standing next to a table. He wud put one leg on top of the table, then the other leg, and remain for a time magically suspended beyond the table's edge defying gravity, before realizing it was physically impossible which would lead to a comical fall.

Van Dyke said there was no movie magic involved. Keaton did it with physical strength and athleticism, and was still able to do demonstrate the stunt for Van Dyke during a visit with Keaton when Buster was 68 years of age.

North Star
Date:December 24th, 2005 12:28 pm (UTC)

Re: Early Film Comedy Stars

As "Saturday Night Live' began to gain momentum, Dick Van Dyke hosted a variety show in 1976 called, "Van Dyke and Company." It only last 13 episodes, but it featured Chevy Chase in his prime, Richard Kiel before James Bond, Sid Cesar past his prime and Andy Kaufman.

"Van Dyke and Company" seemed to mark the end of an era in comedy, physical comedy hasn't seeemed so graceful...if Stan Laurel and Buster Keaton begat Dick Van Dyke, then who has Dick Van Dyke successfully mentored...?
Date:December 24th, 2005 05:22 pm (UTC)

Re: Early Film Comedy Stars

Jim Carrey's physical comedy to some extent reminds me of Van Dyke, Keaton and Harold Lloyd to name just a few. I've seen Steve Martin, Tom Hanks and the recently departed John Ritter do effective physical comedy that cracked me up. The already mentioned Chevy Chase, John and Jim Belushi, Ackroyd, the late John Candy and company come to mind. Kevin James and Ben Stiller do some funny physical business.

I wonder if physical comedy is looked down on by some of the producers, directors and stars in the film industry. Maybe they feel it is too simple and that it has too much of the we've seen that before syndrome going back to 1912 or whenever, so that today it's often a brief sideline in big films or confined to low budget movies and TV comedy shows. But audiences everywhere have always loved it when it's done well and I don't think it will completely vanish anytime soon.

North Star
Date:December 25th, 2005 07:17 pm (UTC)

Re: Early Film Comedy Stars

You are correct,
Jim Carrey did seem to capture the fire from Mount Chaplin, Keaton, Laurel & Hardy. Carrey may have been the best of the recent generation, he seems to have both the brains and the brawn to pull off the most outrageous.

I also agree that if it something well done, ticket buyers will respond. Whether it was comedy or horror or westerns or romance or musicals....

Date:December 26th, 2005 04:33 am (UTC)

Re: Early Film Comedy Stars

I would love to see Jim Carrey do a biographical role playing one of the great silent clowns. Perhaps he could do a fictionalized composite of several of them. I enjoyed Robert Downey's depiction of Charlie Chaplin some years ago and I'm sure the gifted Carrey would be brilliant in a similar role.

There is quite a lot of silent film info to explore online. Many of the little things are really fascinating. In some of his early films Stan Laurel's eyes did not photograph very well and he wore heavy eye makeup to compensate. Producer Hal Roach felt Laurel had the "dead eyes" look. Improved film technology soon came along and Laurel's eyes photographed normally but without this advance I wonder where Laurel's film career would have gone.

The famous scene in the first Godfather film with the decapitated horse's head had a possible silent film connection. According to some online sites the exteriors were filmed at the Harold Lloyd Estate in California. The interior scenes may have been filmed at the Guggenheim Estate, Sands Point, Long Island.

North Star