Archive for Teddy at the Throttle

The Sunday Intertitle: Curses!

Posted in Comics, FILM with tags , , , , , , on May 8, 2016 by dcairns

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Thanks to Donald Benson for the heads-up re Hairbreadth Harry‘s movie adaptations. I managed to locate one, DANGER AHEAD.

Don B. nailed it — the thing isn’t exactly hilarious but it’s sort of zesty and unusual. Director Scott Pembroke specialised in broad parody, helming some of Stan Laurel’s early adventures, such as DR. PICKLE AND MR. PRYDE, whose title tells you all you really need to know about both the subject and the level of wit involved.

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Interesting that the tied-to-the-railway-tracks trope and moustache-twirling villain, long associated in the popular imagination with early silents, were never more than pastiche elements spoofing stage melodrama. TEDDY AT THE THROTTLE also makes this clear.

Twenty-year-old Earl McCarthy makes an ideal Harry, throwing himself into genuinely dangerous business with locomotives and moveable bridges, as do the rest of the cast. It wasn’t the stunts that got Earl — he died of a heart attack at twenty-six.

Still, DANGER AHEAD lacks the lunatic invention of its strip cartoon source material, which is a shame. Since the early days, comic adaptations have tended to leave out the crazier elements which make their inspiration memorable, while usually failing to provide the greater depth of character which live actors can provide.

DANGER AHEAD’s intertitles keep up the parodic pace, with nearly every one of them a mockery of heroic hokum and laden with puns and nonsense. But nothing has the slangy wit of Relentless Rudolph’s dialogue in the newspaper strip, where he tosses off caddish remarks such as “I must throw the glooms into this shindig!” and the incorrigible Phil Lander declares “Ah sweetums! Effulgent as the roseate morn! Those eyes! Those nose! Them lips!”

 

The Sunday Intertitle: Harem Scarem

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on January 16, 2011 by dcairns

THE SULTAN’S WIFE is another Keystone comedy with Gloria Swanson and Bobby Vernon and Teddy the Wonder Dog, also directed by Clarence Badger — so why did I watch it? Possibly for the same reason I watched TEDDY AT THE THROTTLE — the need for something to write about: when time is tight, save time by watching shorts. I believe it was Lacan who said that.

This little movie was actually an improvement on the previous one: Gloria gets more chance to register emotion amid the pratfalling, even if what she mainly registers is outrage at the indignity of making this piece of junk. Teddy the Great Dane befriends a monkey in a sailor suit who rides on his back, and the “plot” eschews complex legal machinations and concentrates on the time-honoured comedy potential of white slavery — as the intertitles make clear, the original release title was CAUGHT IN A HAREM.

Presenting: possibly the internet’s first Phyllis Haver butt shot.

The scenario allows for plenty of gratuitous walk-ons for the Mack Sennett Bathing Beauties, in surprisingly translucent costumes, and delivers some rather baffling title cards and the occasional arresting image ~

That’s Gloria in drag, attempting to escape execution (the headsman’s small son hopes to follow in daddy’s footsteps) while elsewhere, Bobby entertains the rajah with a belly dance. Bobby went on to shed the harem pants and become Robert Vernon, comedy supervisor at Paramount, proving Sennett’s ability to discover talent, and his inability to hang onto it or exploit it properly. Swanson, of course, became a screen legend, harem girl Phyllis Haver donned less see-through clothing to play Roxie Hart in the silent CHICAGO, while Teddy the Wonder Dog was briefly head of production at Columbia.

Lost Silent Classics Collection: The Danger Girl (1916) / A Hash House Fraud (1915) / Teddy at the Throttle (1917)

The Gloria Swanson Collection

Dances with Dogs

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on January 13, 2011 by dcairns

Gloria Swanson (left) strums her little banjolele as Teddy the Wonder Dog waltzes with more enthusiasm than skill, a description which could well apply to the entire film covered in this week’s edition of The Forgotten, over at The Daily Notebook.

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