Slapstick Summer Series: The Original Queen of Comedy | Laughing Gas (1907)

Significant not just for having the comedic lead portrayed by a woman, but also a woman of color. Bertha Regustus, listed on IMDB with just a single movie credit, is a delight in this film directed by Edwin S. Porter.

Slapstick Summer Series: A Killer Joke | That Fatal Sneeze (1907)

Under-appreciated gem by Lewin Fitzhamon about an elderly man caught in a powerful sneezing fit as a result of retaliatory pepper from a whipper-snapper he mildly pranked at the film’s beginning.

The humorous effects are creative and crescendo appropriately to the grand finale.

Slapstick Summer Series: Key Stepping Stone | The Policemen’s Little Run (1907)

The first intersection of chase movies with slapstick – The Policeman’s Little Run (aka La Course des Sergents de Ville, literally “The Run of the Village Constables”), directed by Ferdinand Zecca.

Preceding the Keystone Cops by 6 years, this slapstick-chase also includes a surprising trick-film sequence for added measure. The wall-climbing effect was previously done by Georges Méliès (and later by Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman & Robin), but here its impact is amplified by the scrolling camera.

 

Slapstick Summer Series: Exhibit E. Porter | Getting Evidence (1906)

Not just an early example of well-executed slapstick, but overall a truly wonderful film – one which seems much more modern than expected, thanks primarily to the skilled direction of Edwin S. Porter. The multiple vignettes offer a nice variety of humorous scenarios, many of which contain superb shot compositions far above what was common for the time.

And, for some reason, I can’t help but imagine Peter Sellers and David Niven in the lead roles.

Slapstick Summer Series! – A Story Well Spun (1906), Pre-Iconic

A lesser-known work from the world’s first female filmmaker, but one which is expertly filmed and a herald of things to come. From the start we see a Tramp-ish character as the lead, immediately pulling our mind toward Chaplin. We are then treated to an excellent chase-less chase sequence almost a decade before The Keystone Cops popularized chase films as a genre. The “stunts”, primarily created with the stop-edit replacement tricks standard for the time, are of the type that Buster Keaton would later perform without the proverbial safety-net.

Bonus: Try to spot the man pushing the barrel on the railroad tracks at the 0:50 mark.

Slapstick Summer Series! – An Interesting Story (1904), The 1st True Slapstick

Directed by James Williamson, An Interesting Story shows a man so engrossed in reading a book that his time is spent dangerously oblivious to everything else happening around him. It is generally considered to be the world’s 1st slapstick film.

Slapstick Summer Series! – The Fat and Lean Wrestling Match (1900), Wrestling w/ Melies

This film, like yesterday’s, is also not considered to be the 1st slapstick movie…but in this case, I’m not exactly sure why. Perhaps this is due to the physical comedy occurring only in an unexpected (and extreme) manner, but not not in an unexpected setting? I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter.