Archive for Good Night Nurse

The Sunday Intertitle: Nipper!

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on February 21, 2021 by dcairns

Lupino “Nipper” or “Nip” Lane — Henry William George Lupino — was known to me mainly for his being second cousin to Ida Lupino, and for his vigorous, indeed violent, comic dancing in Lubitsch’s THE LOVE PARADE. But I got lured into helping crowdfund a DVD because the clips were so amazing, and I’m very glad I did.

Nipper, we’re told, wasn’t particularly interested in creating a constant screen persona, he’s a bit chameleonic. The first short we ran was GOOD NIGHT NURSE in which he’s a nervous wreck seeking treatment from Dr. O. Stoppit, played by Nipper’s younger brother Wallace, who looks convincingly decades older but is remarkably spry when the gags require it.

Since gags are what Nipper is interested in, the gags had better be good, right? And they are — there’s a Stan Laurel “freak gag” thing going on, with the double-jointed Lane swelling up like a balloon, having his tongue stretched like elastic, and impersonating a skeleton (a good trick if you can do it). As with Mr. Laurel, this business is at least as disturbing as it is amusing, but there are plenty of other kinds of tricks on display, from the brutal stepping on the gouty foot routine so beloved of Chaplin (and thus probably rooted in the British music hall tradition from which both Charlie and Nipper originated) to the kick up the arse as a surrogate for the handshake or hat tip.

But there’s also REALLY clever stuff. Which makes this disc exciting — we get to see an original comic mind throwing out strange gags and eccentric pay-offs nobody else would think of, and executing them in ways nobody else could physically achieve. Congratulations already to Dave Glass & Dave Wyatt, and I suspect those congrats will only get heartier as I work my way through this collection.