Harry Langdon in “Three’s a Crowd”

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Harry Langdon’s feature Three’s Crowd (1927) was released on this date.

Most critics are hard on the films Langdon self-directed, beginning with this one, though I don’t happen to concur. Three’s a Crowd is one of my favorite silent comedy features.

Three’s a Crowd is a moody, highly personal urban fairy tale which basically works variations on Chaplin’s The Vagabond and The Kid. Furniture mover’s assistant Harry takes in a pregnant mother during a blizzard and sees her through childbirth and the earliest days of the new baby’s life. It briefly looks like he will have a family of his own (his most fervent wish), but then the woman patches it up with her husband. Perhaps it doesn’t sound like a barrel of monkeys, but the film contains plenty of inventive gags, including the requisite crazy set piece. (In this one, he is hanging from a carpet, having fallen out of a trap door, high above the pavement below. Every time he opens the trapdoor to get in, the carpet slips a little more, until….I won’t spoil it.) The film is less gag heavy than the previous ones, but it has myriad other virtues, not the least of which is its art direction. Three’s a Crowd’s visuals are as beautiful and memorable as those in The Gold Rush.

To learn more about silent and slapstick comedy history, including Harry Langdon’s Three’s a Crowd, please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Mediaalso available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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