Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Welcome to the Big V Riot Squad -- January 1, 2014
What is the Big V Riot Squad? Well, back about 100 years ago, the Vitagraph Company was one of the major film producers in the United States. In the early teens, the Vitagraph was known for refined comedies featuring John Bunny, Flora Finch, Mr and Mrs Sidney Drew and others. Keystone started producing less-refined comedies in 1912 and John Bunny died in 1915. The Vitagraph moved away from drawing-room comedy and towards slapstick.
Featured in some of their short comedies was a gang of roughneck comedians who were billed as the Big V Riot Squad. You'll see them mentioned above, in an ad from the Bourbon News of 22-February-1918, in "Sleuths and Surprises." The Vitagraph liked alliterative titles for its comedies. Among the members of the squad was Joe Rock, an acrobatic comedian who made many films teamed with Earl Montgomery. Rock later became a producer. He produced "Lucky Dog," the first film which featured both Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.
I have been working on a blog called The Pneumatic Rolling Sphere Carrier Delusion (http://cablecarguy.blogspot.com/) for about six years now. I have used it to explore many different areas that interest me: San Francisco history, baseball, railroads, and many other things. One of my strongest interests has always been in movies and pre-cinema moving picture devices. I will probably branch off into the stage, early radio and television now and then, but I will mainly concentrate on movies. I am particularly fond of silent movies and silent comedy.
I think the time has come to split my movie interests off into another blog, so here we are. Please find a seat and the show will begin shortly. Ladies will kindly remove their hats.