A Year-Long Short

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Damned odd. I couldn’t work out what was the point of this strange, expensive-looking Snub Pollard comedy from 1922 until I realised it was a riff on Buster Keaton’s ONE WEEK. It has house built from kits, one of which ends up on a railway line, just as in the Keaton, and so it also has a time-based title and structure — for it was originally released as 365 DAYS. (home-cine print has been retitled for some damned reason.) It even has the same actor, Noah Young, playing the villain, only here they neglect to give him any real villainy.

Lots of things get neglected here — the plot hinges, somewhat creakily, upon the idea of a bunch of relatives living together for a year, but the action we see could easily be completed in a day. The magnificent setting, all those houses built from kits stacked on top of one another, seems ripe for comedy spectacle, and fairly boggles the mind, even with the fairly crude special effects balloon trip, but the gags don’t really exploit the large-scale potential.

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Still, Snub gets a bathing scene, and we are disconcerted to discover that the mustachioed funnyman has a body like Arnold Schwartzenegger. “A body like Arnold with a Snub Pollard face,” as Salt ‘n’ Peppa didn’t sing. Future comedy star Charley Chase directs. Although the set-up is, nominally, domestic, and Chase would be the champ of dom-com, everything is too elaborately fantastical to allow him to stretch his nascent situation comedy skills.

But there are some good gags, especially the accordion, and the whole thing’s odd enough to be worth watching.

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3 Responses to “A Year-Long Short”

  1. Why didn’t I guess his wife would be called Mrs. Snub?
    Great fun–it feels like the premise was too big for the running time. It could sustain a short feature or a two reeler. Keaton could have had a ball with it, if he didn’t mind its derivative nature.

    Incidentally, a much less elaborate Snub Pollard short was discovered in New Zealand a couple years ago: http://www.filmpreservation.org/preserved-films/screening-room/run-em-ragged-1920

    Going further off topic, I saw a Wheeler and Woolsey film that reminded me of this blog: in THE RAINMAKERS there’s a shot of a villain in front of a newsstand that features “Shadoplay” [sic] magazine. I thought the film itself was quite charming, but the only book on W&W gives it a trashing.

  2. “Shadoplay” must be the in-house theatrical magazine for members of SHADO, the anti-flying saucer task force in Gerry Anderson’s UFO series.

    Now I’ll have to see The Rainmakers.

    It strikes me anyone undertaking a book on W&W is probably a little eccentric in his tastes to begin with.

    I suspect Buster would have called 365 Days “an unbelievable farce-type plot.”

  3. revelator60 Says:

    After a bit of googling, I learned that “Shadoplay” was a short-lived ten-cent periodical from the publisher of “Photoplay” (which cost 25 cents). It was intended to compete with the other ten-cent fan magazines and consisted of lightweight news and gossip. Around 1935 it merged with “Movie Mirror.”

    The premise of 365 Days has a one or two similarities with the original Seven Chances, another farce Buster disliked. However, he was okay with unbelievable gags in his shorts, and 365 Days would benefited from being a two-reeler. But my quibble doesn’t ultimately matter, since Buster didn’t look to other comedians’ shorts for inspiration.

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