Thursday, March 12, 2015

DVD REVIEW! THE MISHAPS OF MUSTY SUFFER starring Mr. Harry Watson Jr. (in numerous whirls)

If Charlie Chaplin was the Beatles of silent film comedy then Harry Watson was definitely Randy Alvey and Green Fuz. On one end we got an act that began as interesting and innovative but eventually developed into something that became so big that even his/their worst moments, aspects and utterances were considered beyond sacred while on the other we got some rinkydink under-produced entity that hardly anybody knows about or remembers, but whose comparatively slim output continues to resonate in beautiful primitive pulsations even these many years later.

Harry Watson wasn't exactly a household name even back when these 1916-17 comedies were being produced, but given his career with Ringling Brothers and the Ziegfeld Follies he just might have been as good as all of the other fanablas who were trying to jump on the BIG SILENT MOOM PITCHER COMEDY BANDWAGON. Given these credentials, Watson seemed like just the type to get in on this big bux bonanza, and thanks to producer George Kleine he did appear in front of the camera for a number of one-reel shorts, the surviving ones of which appear on a brand new DVD collection of which I have been honored with a rather decent dub considering all of the restoration that hadda go into this thing.

Funny stuff here, though nothing that'll get you laughing as hard as the time your turdler nephew began asking all those sorta embarrassing genitalia questions during Thanksgiving Dinner. But funny enough what with the sitegag pratfalls and various predicaments that Suffer (a less pathetic tramp'n Chaplin ever was) goes through, what with the guy being taken through the usual patented silent moom rigmarole to varying results. Sometimes they work and others, eh!, but still it is nice to see some of the old moldies being trotted out once again like the infamous staircase that instantly becomes a sliding board or father-in-law moving in with the new wife.

Still there's a certain something that keeps these shorts from being the top notch comedy classics they coulda been. Maybe Watson just ain't as sympathetic a character as Lloyd Hamilton or the supporting actors as copasetic as Vernon Dent and Bud Jamieson.  For that matter the direction, while typical of the Sennett era of silent film, still seems comparatively primitive and more of the pre-BIRTH OF A NATION days. Maybe the word "staid" comes to mind, but I will say that next to some of the silent film comedy turdballs out there (ever see Larry Semon or Monte Banks?) Watson at least has a better handle on the whys and wherefores of delivering a funny gag, which come to think of it died out around the time true humor did once the hippoid generation got their mitts on the POWER and ruined everything.

If you're that interested in finding out for yerself, why not click here and be prepared to part with a nice portion of your precious kopecks. As the old saying goes you could do worse and you have, and what's best about the deal is that the music used sounds authentic and not a Boston Pops goo-fest the kind you hear on TCM whenever they run those pre-talkie schmoozers! 

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