Top positive review
19 people found this helpful
Outstanding and most welcome
on November 2, 2007
Silent comedy barely survives, and those few films that do still exist are an important part of our cinematic heritage. These old comedies were indeed made for a production company that paled next to Sennett or Roach. But the films collected here, in beautiful remastered prints from the original 35mm negatives, feature an abundance of clever ideas and hilarious moments from unfairly forgotten comedians such as Ben Turpin and Snub Pollard. Some viewers may indeed be taken aback by the occasional ethnic stereotyping, but its inclusion does allow a historical perspective as to what was considered harmlessly funny during the first half of the 20th century. In an era when political correctness has caused the old Tom and Jerry cartoons on DVD to be heavily edited, it is actually refreshing to find that this collection is warts-and-all, not santized, presented as they were originally released, and therefore maintaining their historical significance. Ben Turpin, a top star with Sennett who invested wisely early in his career and only performed when he wanted to by this time, did some of his best work while "slumming" at Weiss productions. The Weiss-O-Rama collection features three of his funniest and least known films from this period. Old time circus clown Poodles Hanniford has some of his classic routines captured on film here, while Snub Pollard teams with Marvin Lobeck as a small time verison of Laurel and Hardy. No fancy camera angles, no messages, but a lot of truly inspired comedy moments from some wonderfully talented people. Silent comedy is not defined only by the legendary masters like Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, Langdon, and Arbuckle. There are several interesting and hilarious bypaths that offer a great deal of fun if one chooses to venture down any of them. These Weiss-produced comedies are a good example, and I hope the fact that this set is labeled "volume one" means there are more to come.
As a PS, I should add that the musical accompaniment is terrific. So often when silent films are put on DVD, the distributor slaps on some twenties jazz that serves as little more than a distraction. This time, the music is played specifically for each film by two top musicians and the results are wonderful.