Sunday, October 11, 2015

DVD: The Mishaps of Musty Suffer, Volume 2 -- October 11, 2015

Moving Picture World, 11-September-1915

In 2014, famous motion picture accompanist Ben Model released The Mishaps of Musty Suffer, a DVD which presented 11 of the 30 one-reelers starring Harry Watson, Jr as Musty Suffer.  All but 5 of the 30 survive.  The Library of Congress acquired the films in 1947 and preserved them. I wrote about the first DVD here:

Harry Watson, Jr and his partner George Bickel started working together in circuses, including Ringling Brothers and Forepaugh-Sells Brothers.  They moved on to vaudeville and then early editions of the Ziegfeld Follies

Producer George Kleine made two features with Bickel and Watson in 1915.  These count as very early slapstick features.  A three-reel re-release version of The Fixer is one of the extras on the DVD.  The pacing was uneven, but I enjoyed it.  I enjoyed seeing Watson in (mostly) civilian clothes.  One of the Mexican generals was played by Snitz Edwards. 

Later in 1915, Kleine produced Keep Moving, a picaresque fantasy feature starring Harry Watson, Jr as Musty Suffer.  Kleine did not release the feature.  Instead, he recut it into a series of one-reelers.  He must have added more material, because the first group included ten films.  Two more groups of ten films each followed.  The last group was released by Essanay, and half of those were produced by that company.  Those are the films that are lost. 

Most of the films open with a title that says "The Mishaps of Musty Suffer in Numerous Whirls."

The first Whirl on this set is "Out of Order" from 1916.  It includes the Fairy Tramp and Musty's magic horseshoe. Musty winds up working in the Busy Bee Amusement Arcade, which includes a dime museum, a shooting gallery a movie theater with escalator, a shoe shine stand, an automat restaurant, a skating rink, a bowling alley and a dance hall.  Musty is called up to work in the ticket booth, the shooting gallery, the shoe shine stand, the movie theater and the museum.  This gives many possibilities for gags.  He also serves as a spieler, and follows his spiel with a wonderful dance.

In "Showing Some Speed," Musty plays the same messenger boy he played in "Blow Your Horn,"with the same abusive boss.

"Strictly Private" is the third Whirl on the set.  "Musty hunts wild horses in the bad land of New Jersey."  He finds a spirited steed, played by two guys in a horse costume.  Musty calls upon the Fairy Tramp for a cabbie's suit and a carriage.  The poor horse has a hard time pulling the carriage.

"Musty's Vacation," the last Whirl on the set, may have been the last one produced.  It has the Essanay Indian logo at the end.  Musty finds a lunch ticket and gets plastic surgery in an attempt to look like the picture on the cover.

The other extra on the set is "The Actor's Fund Field Day," a 1910 Vitagraph short showing fund raising activities at the Polo Grounds, home of the New York Giants.  Bickel and Watson perform their band routine.

Watson was a great clown.  Model's music enhances each item.  I look forward to finding and reading Steve Massa's notes on the movies.

Did I make you anxious to buy it?  Go here:

Moving Picture World, 25-September-1915

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