At Home, BluRay/DVD Reviews

ACCIDENTALLY PRESERVED – VOLUME THREE

By • Nov 28th, 2015 •

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It’s cool to have very rare films in your DVD collection. It’s extra cool when those rare films are really fun to watch. That’s the case with Undercrank Productions’ release of ACCIDENTALLY PRESERVED – VOLUME THREE, nine short comedies from the silent/early sound era.

Before home video, public libraries would rent to the public 16mm prints of 35mm films. Many of these films were older, and in public domain. When the libraries converted to VHS, and were ready to toss what they thought were worthless films into dumpsters, film collectors came to the rescue and grabbed up these almost doomed films. Outside of these collectors, many of these silent films were considered lost. Then along comes film historian/musician Ben Model who puts these treasures onto DVD.

You’ll get laughs from these films, along with a look at the unafraid, unashamed nature of 1920’s humor. One film, A CITRATE SPECIAL, is unidentified, but it appears to be a joke film meant only for studio employees. In it, a studio worker feels nature calling, and goes through some wild misadventures finding an un-crowded bathroom, a corner, anyplace to relieve himself. In LOVE’S YOUNG SCREAM, a young couple tries to get married. An elderly Mayor (Jack Duffy, who often worked with Buster Keaton) performs the ceremony. As the couple ride off to their honeymoon, the Mayor chases after their car. As he runs, he clutches his chest, collapses, and obviously dies. It’s unashamed barroom humor that is seldom dared today.

Some of the films here have sight gags worthy of Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd. In THE WHIRLWIND, a strong wind kicks up in a small town. In-camera special effects create humorous, surreal disaster-movie images. In NO VACANCIES, set in a hotel, marriage is depicted as it normally is in silent comedy – a nightmare. Laurel and Hardy’s wives acted like disapproving moms, but the shrewish wives in NO VACANCIES are like scary jailers!

Before each short film, there is a paragraph-long text telling of the actors, directors and studios involved in these films. HOT LUCK, a comedy starring energetic kids, is described as a film made to cash in on the current OUR GANG popularity. These notes tell that LOVE’S YOUNG SCREAM was made at the Christie Studios, a successful silent era studio that cast comics like Harold Lloyd, Fatty Arbuckle and Anita Garvin in their first roles. Christie Studios were hard hit by the 1929 Stock Market crash and in a few years, folded.

Ben Model has packaged together a collection of short silent comedy gems that were saved from oblivion by accident. ACCIDENTALLY PRESERVED is truly one “happy accident”!

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