Summer is fast coming to a close and SIFF Cinema Uptown has programmed a week of classic film comedy to help your kids cool off on these warm late August evenings. The schedule includes classic silent comedy from a variety of early masters like Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd and lesser known gems from Charlie Chase and Charlie Bowers. There are also “talkies” from the Marx Brothers and Laurel & Hardy as well as a generous helping of slaps, bonks, tweaks, and whoop-whoop-whoops from the Three Stooges.
Early physical comedy had a marvelous inventiveness that still has the power to surprise and delight. When my kids first saw Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush (in a museum exhibit) I thought they would quickly become bored with this old black and white story with no dialogue. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The lack of sound forced the filmmakers to communicate through expression and body language in a way that’s both easy to understand and surprisingly sophisticated.
This program is ideal for tweens and teens ages 8 and up. Some younger kids may enjoy it but as you may remember the Three Stooges non-stop cartoonish violence is not to everyone’s taste.
Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Chase & Bowers
The Gold Rush and Safety Last! are two of the greatest comedies of the silent era. Kids will delight in the extended scene of the cabin teetering on the edge of a cliff in The Gold Rush and Safety Last! is packed with inventive detail like Harold Lloyd hiding by climbing into an overcoat and hanging it on a coat rack. You have to see it to believe it.
The Three Stooges
I have to admit I’ve laughed at the Three Stooges even though their inventiveness centers primarily on increasingly elaborate ways to hit each other (with accompanying sound effects). There tends to be a gender divide with the Stooges so this may just be an evening for the boys.
Laurel & Hardy
The Laurel & Hardy shorts are a perfect example of situations where sound was available but all the story and the jokes needed were the wonderfully inventive physical gags.
The Marx Brothers
In any list of best Marx Brothers movies Duck Soup and Animal Crackers would definitely be at the top. From the mirror scene in Duck Soup to “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don’t know” from Animal Crackers the jokes come thick and very fast.
Keaton has always been a personal favorite and these two examples, as well as the shorts sprinkled throughout the program, are fine examples of his comic genius. For Keaton simply falling down wasn’t enough. He somehow managed to fall and spin and twist with a grace and athleticism that will leave you wondering, “how did he do that?”
SIFF Slapstick Savants runs August 23-29 at the SIFF Cinema Uptown
511 Queen Anne Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109
Regular price admission $11
$6 for SIFF members
Tickets for each screening sold separately.
Vouchers and passes are valid for admission.
$50 for non-members
$35 SIFF members
Includes all screenings in the Slapstick Savants program.
Click here to purchase