A Clown and Silent Comedy News Omnibus Post Containing Timely Information

This happens from time to time — a critical mass of related news accrues, sufficient to bundle the various items into a single post. Here are several items we think will be interesting to fans of slapstick and silent comedy.

Tomorrow, January 22, our friends at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum will be showing (online) several comedies by British performer and director Walter Forde, whom I wrote about here. Much like his countryman Lupino Lane, Forde is more widely remembered today as a director than what he was at the beginning of his career, a music hall, vaudeville, and silent movie comedian. At least two of the films in the line-up are a century old: Walter Finds a Father (1921) and Footing the Bill (1922). The rest are from 1926: Walter the Prodigal, Walter’s Paying Policy, and Walter the Sleuth. Even better, the films are being presented by Michael Aus, a distant cousin of Texas Guinan’s, who also has made available a DVD collection of Guinan’s silent westerns, as well as an edition of these Forde comedies, available to purchase through the museum. Go here for more!

On Sunday, January 23, no less than the great Leonard Maltin will be joining our friends from the Silent Clowns Film series for their weekly Silent Comedy Watch Party. They’re celebrating two milestones: their 75th episode and their 200th film. They’re showing comedies starring Our Gang, Clyde Cook and others, but this is one time the discussion is bound to be just as rewarding as the films (actually it ALWAYS is, but who doesn’t love Leonard Maltin, especially on the topic of classic comedy?) Details on that online event are here.

Tuesday, January 25 will be the official release date of Camera Man, Dana Stevens terrific new book about Buster Keaton, which we reviewed here.

Many of my clown and bouffon friends have studied under the great French master Philippe Gaulier or one of his disciples. As we wrote here, his most famous protégé  is probably Sacha Baron Cohen. A couple of days ago my old editor Jason Zinoman wrote a terrific profile about him for The New York Times. Read that here.

And, as the San Francisco Chronicle reports, the Castro Theatre is getting a major makeover slated to keep the place closed for many months. As the Castro is home to the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, this development has a number of folks concerned. Read about it here.

Also please don’t miss our program about the William Desmond Taylor Murder on February 1: details here. There are still more items to report about some upcoming clown/silent film releases but we’ll share that in another omnibus post in about a week!