December 19, 1927 was the release date of the lost film Two Flaming Youths starring W.C. Fields and Chester Conklin. For a period of a few months Paramount tried the pair as a team, hoping to bolster the box office pull of both comedians, although unfortunately the move had the opposite effect. Fields left films in 1928, only to return two years later when talkies came in. The lack of interest in this film at the time resulted in its complete disappearance, and fans today count it as a great loss. Also in the film was Mary Brian, her second with Fields.
Two Flaming Youths had a carnival setting that anticipated You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man . It was chock full of cameos by top vaudevillians, including Weber and Fields, Clark and McCullough, The Duncan Sisters, Savoy and Brennan, Moran and Mack, Kolb and Dill, Jack Pearl, et al, AND it featured some bona fide sideshow freaks, including Fat Lady Anna Magruder. Thus its loss was not just a blow to comedy fans but to theatre history buffs as well. But ya never know. It just may turn up, though time is running out. The title seems a reference to the 1923 Flaming Youth, starring Colleen Moore.
For more on silent and slapstick comedy, including films of W.C. Fields and Chester Conklin like “Two Flaming Youths” please see my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube