Good News for Silent Comedy Fans

I have a confession to make. My fandom, even with respect to my favorite obessions, is flighty. I binge, I max out, I’m filled to the brim, and then I have to stay away for a while. It may be a little perplexing for some when I release a book like Chain of Fools, and then seem sort of cool toward silent comedy all the sudden. But the truth is, I watched SO much silent and slapstick comedy during that period (2012 and 2013), it was like having chocolate for dinner for many, many meals in a row. While I continue to share my writing about my favorite silent comedies, I’ve seldom watched any over the past few years! But all the sudden, I’m kind of feeling ready again. In particular, I’m feeling the need to watch my favorite Chaplin shorts again. So here’s my first bit of good news.

Criterion at present has Chaplin’s Mutuals on their streaming service, As I wrote in this centennial appreciation, by some measures, these are Chaplin best, purest comedies. There are 12 of them, and you can bet I’ll be watching them all in coming days. They also have a TERRIFIC documentary about Chaplin’s foil during the Mutual period, Eric Campbell. Entitled Chaplin’s Goliath, this 1996 doc features Campbell’s grandaughter Brenda Bull, as well as scholars like David Robinson, Sam Gill, et al.

Also on Criterion at present, numerous hand-tinted fairy tales and other adventure films and fantasms by the endlessly charming Georges Méliès. This is the pioneer magician and film-maker who first unlocked the imaginative possibilities of the cinema, These early films are well over a century old now, and still have the power to awe, dazzle and inspire.

Also check out the Niles Silent Film Museum’s recent online colloquy and screenings of the films of Al Christie, featuring 12 short films, and commentary by Steve Massa, Sam Gill et all. Access it here.

Lastly, our most time sensitive bit of news: our old friends Ben Model and Steve Massa are presenting the 50th edition/ one year anniversary installment of their Silent Comedy Watch Party today at 3pm. These gents more typically present live screening events, where they show offbeat silent comedies and speak entertainingly about the films. Model is also one of the world’s top live silent film accompianists; Massa is a walking encyclopedia. Not even a pandemic could stop these guys from sharing the films they love so much, so now they do it online. They stream it live on Facebook and on Youtube, They leave the old epiosdes up to enjoy thereafter. Today they’re showing Hank Mann, Ko-Ko the Klown and Wanda Wiley. Don’t miss it!