Thursday, March 6, 2014
DVD: Accidentally Preserved, Volume 2 -- March 6, 2014
In January, I reviewed Accidentally Preserved, a DVD made by famous film accompanist Ben Model. Now I have watched Volume 2, which came out in February this year. Again, Model dug into his collection of old 16mm prints, which were mostly made for the home rental or purchase market. Some of the movies only exist in old Kodascope prints. Naturally he also created the musical scores.
The DVD contains nine films, seven short comedies and two public service films.
"Why Wild Men Go Wild" was an Al Christie production directed by William Beaudine. It starred Bobby Vernon, whom I had only seen in Sennett movies. It was silly, but worth watching. There was a cute swimming pool gag at the end.
"Charley on the Farm" was a cartoon produced by Pat Sullivan and animated by Otto Messmer, who later created Felix the Cat. It was one of a series that featured Charlie Chaplin. I think Messmer captured Charlie's movements and gestures. He also recycled many gags from Chaplin's Essanay short "The Tramp."
"Sherlock's Home" was a two-reel entry in the "Telephone Girl" series, starring cute Alberta Vaughn. I thought it dragged in spots, but it was fun. It also featured the team of Al Cooke and Kit Guard, whom I learned about in Steve Massa's excellent Lame Brains and Lunatics. The title came from a light heavyweight boxer called Hurricane Sherlock. His opponent in a match was played by the real Kid McCoy, the dirtiest fighter in history. Mal St Clair directed it and Darryl F Zanuck, later president of 20th Century Fox, wrote it.
"The Little Pest" was a Universal Bluebird one-reeler starring Neely Edwards. When the little boy in the sailor suit arrived, I asked my daughter "The little blond kid. Is he evil?" She looked at him and said "Yes, I've had him in my classes." Bud Jamison played the evil kid's father. I enjoyed it, especially when the kid dismantled Neely's car.
"Papa's Boy," a Lloyd Hamilton two-reeler, was my favorite item. Hamilton's father wanted he-man Glen Cavender to make a man out of his wimpy, butterfly-chasing son. There was a nice series of gags with Hamilton chasing butterflies with a net, some sort of a grabber, and a huge pin. Cavender and Hamilton went camping. There were two nice sequences with an alligator and a tent on fire. Norman Taurog directed.
"Helter Skelter" was an Educational two-reeler, but the first reel of the only surviving print is unprojectable. The second reel is very lively, with Malcom Sebastian (Big Boy) and his dog Mutt leading a merry chase around the house of some rich folks.
"Cook, Papa, Cook" starred Henry Murdock, who was usually a supporting player. He had a fight with his wife, triggered by their mischievous son, and tried to make breakfast. At least it moved quickly.
"How Jimmy Won the Game" was a public service short about blasting cap safety. Until I saw it, I had not remembered that I used to see blasting cap safety ads during kid's shows on television. This one was pretty stark, warning about blowing eyes out or hands off. I was impressed by the crappy condition of the field where the kids played baseball.
The last item was a short animation for Christmas Seals. It may have been animated by Dick Huemer.
I thought the best score was the one for "Papa's Boy."
The Accidentally Preserved website: http://www.accidentallypreserved.com/