Stars of Slapstick #63: Alf Goulding

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Today is the birthday of comedy director of Alf Goulding (1896-1972).

The timing of his birthday couldn’t be more fortuitous, because yesterday I received in the mail the new DVD containing Rosco Arbuckle’s talkies for Warner Brothers, three of which (Hey Pop, Buzzin’ Around, and How’ve You Bean?) were directed by Goulding. I was excited I wasted no time, and popped it in the DVD player last night. They are interesting (and funny) films, essentially remakes of Arbuckle’s classic Comique shorts, and wonderful showcases for Arbuckle, whose voice sounds just like you think it would sound. If you are burning with curiosity (as I was) the disk is available here.

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Goulding was a stage comedian and director first, working first in his native Australia (including a stretch with Pollard’s Liliputians, which gave us Snub Pollard and Daphne Pollard), and in England (where he worked with Stan Laurel). In 1916 he broke into films, first as an actor, then as a director, working at practically every studio. At Roach in the late teens and early 20s he directed Harold Lloyd and Snub Pollard shorts. At various other stdioes he directed Monty Banks, Joe Rock and Baby Peggy. He was Harry Langdon’s first director at Principal Pictures in 1923. In the late 20s he directed Lloyd Hamilton at Educational and Slim Summerville at Universal. In the talkie era he directed those Arbuckle shorts (1932-33) and several with Edgar Kennedy at RKO. After 1935, he moved to Britain, where he continued to direct for another 25 years. His most famous feature during this time (indeed probably the most famous film of his career) was A Chump at Oxford with Laurel and Hardy in 1938.

Here’s a clip from one of his early films with Lloyd, By the Sad Sea Waves:

To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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And don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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