Today is the anniversary of the release date of the Charlie Chaplin comedy Laughing Gas.
Chaplin directed this film all on his own; from this point on he would direct every one of his pictures. In this Keystone short, he plays a dentist’s assistant, and the entire film is essentially a riff on a succession of dentist gags which have long since become commonplace, but were all new when Chaplin employed them. A mallet as anaesthesia? Check. Going to great lengths to pull a tooth? Check. Inappropriate conduct with a young lady while she is unconscious? Double check. Lots of familiar faces in the cast: Mack Swain, Slim Summerville, Alice Howell. And Fritz Schade plays “Dr. Pain”, the dentist whose position Charlie will usurp.
For more on silent and slapstick comedy 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 etcFor more on show biz history, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.