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Mack Sennett's Fun Factory Hardcover – December 8, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Although Mack Sennett has a permanent place in film history, his contribution has not been fully documented until now. This exhaustive survey of Sennett, his films, and his studio is divided into three parts. The first, “Mack Sennett and the Movies: A Historical Overview,” describes Sennett’s early career as an actor, his move from New York to Hollywood, his involvement with various studios, the transition from two-reelers to feature films, and then the emergence of sound. In the filmography that forms part 2, nearly 1,000 short films are arranged chronologically by the studios that distributed them, from the Biograph Company (1908–1912) to Paramount (1932–1933). For each film, author Walker provides title, release date, footage length, technical credits, cast information, and a synopsis. Additional information may include filming and shipping dates, production cost, and archives that have prints. The 18 feature-length films Sennett produced between 1914 and 1932 are listed separately. Part 2 also lists other Sennett film credits (consisting of 5 educational films); his Broadway, radio, and television appearances; and theatrical compilations that use footage from his comedies. Part 3 of the volume comprises several hundred biographies of people who worked at the Mack Sennett studio 1912–1933, divided into separate sections for performers and those who worked behind the scenes. A bibliography and index complete the work. Some 280 illustrations include photographs from different films as well as candids taken on the set. Although it may appeal to fans of silent film, this volume will be especially useful for researchers. It belongs in any comprehensive film-studies collection. --Patricia Hogan


"This volume will be especially useful for researchers. It belongs in any comprehensive film-studies collection...useful...exhaustive." --Booklist/RBB

"The most thorough resource to date on Sennett and his wacky world of gags, speedy comic chases, and the inevitable abuse of human bodies and property. Recommended" --Choice

"Brent E Walker has compiled and published an impressively detailed compendium comprising an exhaustive and chronologically presented filmography...a welcome and seminal addition that should be a core part of personal, academic, and community library American Film history reference collections." --Midwest Book Review

"Decades of careful expert look at each phase of Sennett's career...indispensible, one of the most perfect film history books ever to be excuse to not own Mack Sennett's Fun describe this book as impressive is putting it mildly...a beautiful work of scholarship and a remarkable accomplishment...fascinating information. As a reference work and as a guide to a important slice of film history, this work has few equals."

"Mammoth study that is not only the first and last word on Sennett's screen work, it is one of the most comprehensive and beautifully mounted film books that I have seen in nearly 50 years of movie geekdom. I can offer no greater praise than to state that anyone with even a remote interest in early cinema should own this book. For libraries and study centers it is essential. For comedy film buffs, it is indispensable. Mack Sennett's Fun Factory is what this reviewer would call a perfect book." --Rogue Cinema --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 671 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland (December 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786436107
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786436101
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.5 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,081,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By William J. Cassara on February 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a highly anticipated book. My first impression was beyond anything I could ever have hoped for. I had read the "Father Goose" book and the Kalton C. Lahue books which only touched on Mack Sennett's comedy contributions to cinema.

If you can imagine circa 1951 when Sennett donated his warehouse full of papers to the Margaret Herrick Library. Now imagine condensing it into readable form; it must have been close to an incomprehensible task to catagorize. Author Brent Walker did the impossible; he made this not only a reference book, it is very entertaining reading. Walker had access to all the scripts and made good use of them. He confirms facts that were previously guessed at by other authors and web sites.

Open the book at any point and start in. I began by leafing through the photos, which is worth the price alone. Then go to your favorite Sennett actors and read informative and condensed bios on each. The filmography contains jewels of information you would expect, but Brent includes mentions of the evolution of certain film gags and in what form they morphed. For instance the Billy Bevan scene where the clam (in the chowder)fights back. How many times have we seen that? Until this book, we didn't know who was responsible for the gags and who did them since.

Simply said, this book is a masterpiece. It is liken to one person writing the Encyclopedia Britannica. No wonder it took so many years; and it shows. The index alone must have taken a year to do.

Attention all educators: This book belongs in every library in existance. That's over a million right there. Thank you Mr. Brent Walker for your lifetime contribution.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By David S. Ort on January 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Walker's done all the leg work for us fans of silent comedy. Dispelling myth and misinformation, he takes us on a detailed tour of Mack Sennett's profession life, mentioning not only the work of the actors in Sennett's 20-year output as the King of Comedy, but also mentioning the contributions of the directors, writers, animators and stuntmen. He even provides details into the administration of Sennett's business operations.

Additionally, the author has provided the most detailed and accurate list of Sennett's entire film catalogue, including identifying uncredited performers from actual viewings of most existing films.

If that weren't enough, he includes a separate section with detailed mini-biographies of the comics, directors, writers, bathing beauties and technical staff.

Anyone with an interest in these old silent comedies deserves to treat themselves with this book. In addition to being a fun, fascinating read for lovers of the early days of screen comedy, it provides a wealth of photos never before published in book form.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Debra Davis on January 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have just received my copy of Brent E. Walker's massive volume on the Mack Sennett films, and I can't put it down (which is saying a lot, since the book is quite heavy). What I wouldn't have given to have had this reference book when I first started studying the silent film industry, more than forty years ago. But, according to what I have read recently, it took Mr. Walker almost that long (thirty years, anyway) to assemble this richly researched, prodigiously illustrated, exhaustively documented volume. In the process, he even validated my late friend Robert Cox's claim that he was a former Keystone Cop. I wish I could show this book to Mr. Cox now, not to mention Mack Sennett, Billy Bevan, Hank Mann, Chester Conklin, Mabel Normand, Vernon Dent, Del Lord, and the hundreds of other pioneers of the early days of film comedy. How proud and grateful they would be.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Paul Volpe on January 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Walker spent some twenty-five years doing research for this book, and it shows on every page. The entire history of the Sennett studios is covered, along with a complete filmography and biographical information on the Sennett players and other members (directors, writers, etc). Packed with so much interesting, and just plain fun information, that you won't know where to begin reading. Terrific photos as well, many, if not all of which have never been published before. Don't pay attention to the price, you get what you pay for and you are getting what could very well be the greatest book on silent comedy that has ever been written. If you are a Sennett fan and fan of silent comedy, there is no way you can be without this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Reeder on January 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an absolutely incredible book, jam-packed with a stunning amount of new and fascinating information, lavishly illustrated, and with a detailed filmography that renders all previous efforts obsolete. Brent Walker has devoted a considerable portion of his life researching Sennett and his studios, resulting in a staggering amount of new information that fills in the gaps and goes a long way towards correcting the errors of previous authors and historians. With only a handful of exceptions, the huge number of accompanying photos are new to print, and are an indispensable aid when placing names to the faces in the films that still exist and are accessible. As so many participants in silent film comedy worked for Sennett at one time or another, the lengthy section of biographies of the actors, actresses, and studio personnel almost serves as an encyclopedia of silent film comedy, albeit with some notable exceptions, most of whom are well-documented elsewhere. If you are serious about silent film comedy, this book is a must, and will prove a pleasurable read for those of you who are only marginally interested.
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